Final Fantasy Tactics: War Of The Lions
When Yasumi Matsuno joined prominent RPG developer Level-5 in June, certain corners of videogame fandom went crazy with excitement. Why? Well, Matsuno hasn’t done much videogame work in several years outside of the odd remake or script.
But back when he was active he produced a string of substantial hardcore favourites including Ogre Battle, Tactics Ogre, Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy XII and, of course, Final Fantasy Tactics.
Matsuno is known and liked primarily for his rich, deep stories threaded with multi-faceted plot-lines and complex dialogue voiced by a huge cast of characters. If you’re not paying attention you’ll be lost within minutes, and the same can be said about his game design.
What initially seems simple in Final Fantasy Tactics – an easily accessible strategy RPG in which positioning is just as important as levelling – can quickly become a headache as you get bogged down in party management, wading through the Job System to tailor your squad into the ultimate team.
Allow Final Fantasy Tactics to truly take hold of your attention and you just may lose yourself to its infinite variables and permutations, spending just as many hours tinkering in the menus as you do fighting on the battlefield.
Or you’ll simply commit to the grind, stock up on potions and Phoenix Downs, then tackle everything head on and win through sheer attrition and trial and error. Either way, you’re in for a good time.
First released on PlayStation in 1997, Final Fantasy Tactics was re-released a decade later under the name War Of The Lions on PSP, complete with a raft of new additions such as anime cut-scenes, new characters and jobs and updated widescreen visuals, and it’s this version that now finds itself on the iPhone.
Well, sort of. The PSP’s multiplayer functionality has been removed from this version but, well, nobody ever bothered to use that anyway. What this edition does have over previous versions is touch control – and not the lazy ‘virtual d-pad’ controls you’ll find on other SRPG iPhone conversions like Shining Force, but true touch controls that give you seamless control over each individual unit.
War Of The Lions improves on the original’s story.
There’s no more dragging a cursor around (although you can do that if you really insist). Instead, you just tap where you want your unit to go and tap where you want to attack. Simple.
It’s worth noting at this point that War Of The Lions is currently only available for iPhone and iPod Touch, with a separate iPad edition planned for later in the year.
We tested the app on a first generation iPad, however, and found that it ran perfectly and looked great, even when upscaled to fit the device’s larger screen. If you’ve been planning to hold out on the iPad edition then you might prefer to jump in with this one if you just can’t wait.
Just about the only criticism that can be levelled at War Of The Lions is the price. At £10.99 the iPhone conversion actually comes in three pounds more expensive than the download release of the PSP edition, so if you own Sony’s console then you may prefer to get that version, which was released just two weeks ago.
For iOS gamers, however, this may cost more than you’re used to paying for most games, but it’s also going to give you several more hours entertainment and a deeper experience than most games too.
This minor quibble aside, iPhone’s War Of The Lions is still, at its core, one of the greatest strategy RPGs of all time and it’s one that deserves to be experienced, or even revisited if it’s been a few years. If you’re at all interested in the genre then you absolutely will not regret shelling out for this one.