the resigned gamer, everything I hate about the thing I love the most

Final Fantasy Tactics: the third rail of video games

Posted by Sir Cucumber at 11:13 PM on Thursday, March 19, 2009

original final fantasy tactics, playstation, sir cucumber's bitter corner, the resigned gamer

Let me first say that I humbly apologize.

My last post kicked up a little shit storm on Gaming Reddit, mostly because the submission’s title implied I was talking about the original Final Fantasy Tactics when I was really reviewing Final Fantasy Tactics A2.

That was misleading and wrong of me.

And now that we’ve kissed and made up, let’s pick the scab:

The original Final Fantasy Tactics was an overrated approximation of a Tactics game. Its action was onerous, rules of engagement unadventurous, and if all I cared about were plot and its presentation, then I’d go watch a Deadwood. Clearly what’s left of Square isn’t blinded with nostalgia for FFT’s tangled web of high-falutin’ noble talk, given they followed it with not one but two third grade reading level knockoffs of The Never Ending Story, so why should we be?

My non-level-pumped game was saved and lost at Wiegraf too, people, and started over so I could shed a tear for Delita both times, so let’s just talk about this in gaming terms:

The entire job system, much less advancement past Wiegraf, was based on grinding. How hard can your decisions about spending job points be when walking back and forth is not only an option, but expected of you? And speaking of random battles, do you think that just maybe they might be a little more tolerable if you could skip the animations? The greatest improvement Tactics Advance and A2 made was not forcing you to fight…And yet they still forced you to watch…

And what of the battles? Even if you are on an even playing field with your enemy, what about that field and the rules in which you fight upon it affect your tactics? Besides height affecting attack power, where are the terrain influences? Where are the fields of influence around people that prevent you from just walking right past someone and stabbing them in the back? Who cares if someone dies when you can just raise them or use a phoenix down? Who cares if they aren’t dead forever, or at least face some kind of penalty? It’s not like gil doesn’t grow on trees. Come to think of it, I really wish gil would stop doing that.

And don’t give me that shit about this game being too busy “defining a genre” to care about such niggling tactical complexities- everything above had already been done:

Terrain Effects – Dai Senryaku
Field of Influence – Civilization
Death actually meaning something – Warsong
Resource scarcity – Fire Emblem
“Tactical RPG” character development without excessive grinding – Shining Force

In conclusion, I believe that the nostalgia we feel about FFT and the Final Fantasy series in general has let these games stagnate. Forget the phoned in plot – for FFTA2 to be so insultingly non user-friendly, unchallenging and simplified, or, gosh, fun to play, in a world where Advance Wars exists, is a crime. That crime began with the original FFT, and Square-Enix gets away with it because we let them.