Final Fantasy Tactics War of the Lions
Playstation Portable
Reviewed: 10/26/2007

Technical holdups somewhat bog down the PSP iteration of Final Fantasy Tactics, though the new additions make up for most of the transitional struggle.

Fundamentally, Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions is a PSP version of Final Fantasy Tactics, with some added extras. The best of these additions would certainly be the game’s animated cutscenes, which really bring the characters and story to life. The artwork in them is great, and the sequences, which play fairly often, add quite a bit of value to the game overall.

Piling onto the good modifications are two new playable job classes and playable stars of other Ivalice-based Final Fantasy games. Balthier of Final Fantasy XII and Luso from Final Fantasy Tactics A2 appear in this game, with just enough backstory to make sense, while not putting overly gigantic twists on the already established plot. While useful, the characters don’t necessarily become as vital to the party as other characters like Agrias or Mustadio. They are nice to have, though, and in certain scenarios, can definitely prove useful. Regarding the new classes, a Dark Knight is very nifty to have, since originally this was just Gafgarian’s class; meanwhile the Onion Knight starts out virtually useless, but gets stronger as the character in question masters other job classes. There is also ad-hoc multiplayer available.

For this English version of the game, voice acting has been added to the new cinemas. A couple of the voices sound kinda stupid, but the voice acting does overall add quite a bit to the game. They were still enjoyable in the Japanese vresion of the game, in their own way, but the voice acting gives the characters and story a little more punch.

A new English script is in place–a good thing, since the original’s translation was fairly widely mocked. All of the text has been overhauled, mostly to match Final Fantasy XII‘s, though even more formal and a little more “old English” in some ways. Problem is, XII had voice acting all over the place, whereas War of the Lions only has it during scattered, occasional cinemas, so a lot of the language that might sound perfectly fine when spoken is exposed as sounding slightly awkward. For example, when Ramza’s father is telling the Beoulve brothers to respect Ramza, even though he is only their half brother, he says, “Though he be not issue of the womb that bore you, still my blood courses his veins.” It makes sense, sure, but a lot of the text seems to sound overly poetic, and at times, it seemed like the game ought to be called Final Fantasy Tactics: The King James Version. Nevertheless, the new translation does make the complex, political plot more understandable, and that’s a big plus.

Screen Shot
Having this game portable is either ridiculously fun, or a bit of a disappointment, depending on who ya are.

But with the good also comes the bad, the widely discussed lag and slowdown. Much like the import version, the slowdown in War of the Lions runs rampant, showing up for almost all special actions, though strangely…counter attacking goes much quicker in this version. However, there are still occasional glitches within the new cinema sequences. How much this bothers a given player will vary greatly from one person to the next; some will find (or rather “have found”) it to be game breaking, while others would claim the lag to not be a problem. Over time, the lag does become less of a big deal, but that’s not to say gamers should have to adjust or “get used to” a big programming flaw such as inordinate slowdown. As well, the sound effects have suffered greatly in the transition to PSP.

Meanwhile, everything else that made the original Final Fantasy Tactics great is left intact. The job system, the battle system, the visuals, the music, the plot–all the original ingredients are still there, and it’s for that reason that the game is still enjoyable. It’s pretty hard to screw up Final Fantasy Freaking Tactics. What it will come down to for many players is the ultrasubjective issue of lag, which will bother some while having no effect on others.

All that said, Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions is a great game that was almost perfect.

-Heath Hindman

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Very Good
Story Great
Graphics Great
Sound/Music Below Average
Replay Value Good
The Verdict: 8