Saturday, May 28, 2011

Final Fantasy Tactics



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Final Fantasy Tactics
Developer - Square
Publisher - Square Electronic Arts
Release date - January 28, 1998

Final Fantasy Tactics is a tactical role-playing game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) for the Sony PlayStation video game console. It is the first game of the Final Fantasy Tactics series and was released in Japan in June 1997 and in the United States in January 1998. The game combines thematic elements of the Final Fantasy video game series with a game engine and battle system unlike those previously seen in the franchise. In contrast to other 32-bit era Final Fantasy titles, Final Fantasy Tactics uses a 3D, isometric, rotatable playing field, with bitmap sprite characters.


Story

The story takes place in the kingdom of Ivalice, located in a peninsula surrounded by sea on the north, west and south, with a headland south of the landmass. Its geography features ranging landscapes, from plains to mountains ranges to deserts and forests. It is heavily populated by human beings, although intelligent monsters can be found living in less populated areas. Magic is predominant in the land, although ruins and artifacts indicated that past populace had relied on machinery, such as airships and robots.

Ivalice is a kingdom of seven territories; Fovoham, Gallione, Limberry, Lionel, Zeltennia, the Holy Territory of Murond (Mullonde in later versions), and the Royal Capital of Lesalie (Lesalia in later versions), Ivalice's neighbors are the kingdom of Ordalia in the east and Romanda, a military nation to the north, across the Rhana Strait. While the three nations share common royal bloodlines, major wars have taken place between them. An influential religious institution known as the Murond Glabados Church heads the dominant faith, centering around a religious figure known as Saint Ajora.

The story takes place after Ivalice ended its war with the two nations in what is known as the Fifty Years War, and is facing economic problems and political strife. Adding to its problems is the recent death of the king, whose heir is only an infant. A regent is needed to rule in place of the prince, and the kingdom is split between Prince Goltana, represented by the Black Lion, and Prince Large, symbolized by the White Lion. The conflict leads to what is known in the game as the Lion War. Behind this backdrop is a revelation by the game's historian Alazlam J. Durai, who seeks to reveal the story of an unknown character whose role in the Lion War was major but was covered up by the kingdom's church. The setting is based around this character, named by default as Ramza, and revolves around his early life and the future conflicts he faced while the events that changed the kingdom unfold.


Characters

Central to the plot of the game are two main characters, Ramza Beoulve and Delita Heiral. The two characters are childhood friends, and while both are born of differing social classes; Ramza a noble and Delita a commoner, both disregarded this fact and grew up together believing in justice and honor, as taught by Ramza's father Balbanes. However, as the story progresses, the two characters faced many conflicts that changed their viewpoint on life; Delita seeks to manipulate the upper class to achieve his dreams, while Ramza believes in justice and honor regardless of name and class.

The game's plot is then portrayed through the eyes of Ramza Beoulve, who is the player character of the story. His exploits in the war introduced him to a number of characters; each with their own roles and agenda concerning the war and the fictional world, Ivalice, that they inhabit. The most prominent factions at the beginning of the story are those of Prince Goltana and Prince Large, both are nobles seeking to obtain control of the throne by being the guardian to the monarch's young heir and were thus engaged in a war. The story progresses to include characters from the Murond Glabados Church, which have been controlling Ivalice silently and engineering the war in question.

As the game progresses, players are able to recruit generic player characters and customize them using the Job system of the Final Fantasy series. Several battles also feature "Guest" characters that are controlled via the game's A.I., which may be recruited later in the game according to the story proper. Aside from original characters, the developers have also incorporated cameo roles from other Square games. The characters were designed by Akihiko Yoshida, who was also in charge of the illustration and character designs of games such as Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Final Fantasy XII, and Vagrant Story.


Gameplay

The gameplay of Final Fantasy Tactics differs in several key areas from other titles in the Final Fantasy series. Instead of a generic battle screen, with the player's characters on one side and the enemies on the other, encounters take place on three-dimensional, isometric fields. Characters move on a battlefield composed of square tiles; movement and action ranges are determined by the character's statistics and job class. Battles are turn-based; a unit may act when its CT (Charge Time) reaches 100. Charge time is increased once every CT unit (a measure of time in battles) by an amount equal to the unit's speed statistic. When CT reaches 100 or greater, the unit may act. During battle, whenever a unit performs an action successfully, it gains Experience Points (EXP) and Job Points (JP).


Another difference is the manner in which random battles are encountered. Like other Final Fantasy games, random battles occur on the world map. However, in Final Fantasy Tactics, random battles only occur in pre-set locations, marked in green on the world map. Passing over one of these spots may result in a random encounter. Another major aspect of battles is magical attacks. Certain magical attacks cause area of effect damage, and many of the more powerful magical attacks require several turns of charging. Hit Points of enemy units are also visible to the player (except in the case of certain bosses), allowing the player to know exactly how much damage they still have to inflict on a particular unit.

Movement on the world map is limited to predefined paths connecting the towns and battle points. When the character icon is over a town, a menu can be opened with several options: "Bar" for taking sidequest job offers, "Shop" for buying supplies and equipment, and "Soldier Office" for recruiting new characters. Later in the game, some towns contain "Fur Shops" for obtaining items by way of poaching monsters.


Like several installments in the series, Final Fantasy Tactics features a character class system, which allows players to customize characters into various roles. The game makes extensive use of most of the original character classes seen in earlier Final Fantasy games, including Summoners, Wizards (Black Mages), Priests (White Mages), Monks, Lancers (Dragoons), and Thieves. New recruits start out as either a Squire or a Chemist, the base classes for warrior and magician jobs, respectively. The game features twenty jobs accessible by normal characters.

Throughout the game, unique characters also join the party. As well, some characters join as "guests", which are computer-controlled characters that fight on your side. Many of the unique characters have custom classes that replace the base squire class. It's also possible to recruit monsters into the party. Monsters have unique abilities, but cannot change jobs. Monsters can be captured from battles or bred from existing monsters.

In battle, JP are rewarded for every successful action. JP are used to learn new abilities within each job class. Accumulating enough JP results in a job level up; new jobs are unlocked by attaining a certain level in the current job class (for instance, to become a Priest or Wizard, the unit must first attain Job Level 2 as a Chemist), which also allows the character to gain more JP in that class in battles. Once all the abilities of a job class have been learned, the class is "Mastered". A soldier in a specific Job always has its innate skill equipped (Wizards always have "Black Magic," Knights always have "Battle Skill") but a second job-skill slot and several other ability slots (Reaction, Support, and Movement) can be filled with any skill the particular soldier has learned from any job class. This deep level of customization and flexibility grants nigh-infinite replayability, contributing to the game's unusually enduring popularity.


Development

Final Fantasy Tactics was produced mostly by the team that made Ogre Battle and Tactics Ogre, and was Yasumi Matsuno's first project with Square following his departure from Quest in 1995. In an interview with Akito Inoue, an assistant professor at the International University of Japan, Inoue mentions that Final Fantasy Tactics was made because of how casual gamers are usually put off by games with branching storylines found in other Matsuno's titles such as Tactics Ogre.

Several historical and mythological references were altered by translators: for instance, the Norse World Tree, Yggdrasil, makes an appearance as Yugodorasil; the word "breath" is consistently rendered as "bracelet" in attack names; and Wiegraf's name is nearly homonymous with a character from Beowulf but rendered differently. The in-game tutorial function also shows examples of Engrish - poorly translated English - including lines such as "This was the darkened Items won't appear.

The game also includes references to several Final Fantasy specific characters, places, and situations from earlier games in the Final Fantasy series — Final Fantasy VII's Cloud Strife is a playable character, and through the "Proposition" system in bars scattered around the world map, treasures and lost areas such as "Matoya Cave" (a reference to the first Final Fantasy) and various colors of materia can be found.[60] To keep with tradition, Olan's adoptive father, Cidolfas Orlandu, is nicknamed "T.G. Cid", and chocobos are present in the game as well. Additionally, most of the monsters appear in one Final Fantasy game or another, although the Lucavi are entirely new monsters altogether.


Music

The original score for Final Fantasy Tactics was composed, arranged, and produced by Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata. Matsuno approached his longtime friends Sakimoto and Iwata to compose the music soon after the initial release of Final Fantasy VII in January 1997. Sakimoto composed 47 tracks for the game, and Iwata was left to compose the other 24. The orchestral timbres of the game's music were synthesized, with performance by Katsutoshi Kashiwabara and sound programming by Hidenori Suzuki. The album was first released on two Compact Discs by now-defunct DigiCube on June 21, 1997, bearing the catalog number SSCX-10008, and was re-released by Square Enix on March 24, 2006, with the catalog number SQEX-10066/7. It spans two discs and 71 tracks, covering a duration of 2:31:03.

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