The word surprising comes to mind. As Final Fantasy protagonists began to take on a harder, lone wolf exterior with the beginning of the PlayStation era (Cloud Strife and Squall Leonhart) Ramza Beoulve was a throwback to all of the heroes who were good simply because they knew good had to be done not because he had to go through a lifetime of ordeals or a gargantuan event to convince him to do so. Ramza was refreshing as was the game he belonged to: Final Fantasy Tactics. While Final Fantasy VII introduced to the RPG to many gamers, Final Fantasy Tactics undoubtedly introduced the Strategy Role-Playing Game to many.
Before any of the technical achievements of Final Fantasy Tactics’ game play is even marginally addressed, the most integral part of the RPG, strategy or not, must be addressed in whole. Final Fantasy Tactics was by no means the easiest story to understand, even though he contained the most basic if plot elements: mystery, betrayal, love, among others. The carnage that was beginning to ensnare Ivalice had so many integral players pulling strings and manipulating those beneath and around them that it was hard to tell the good from the bad. All that was left was for the main character, Ramza, to trust his instincts and do what he felt was right. Thankfully, Ramza took after his father, the most noble of knights and simply sought to do good wherever he could and save his beloved sister from certain doom. The plot would eventually shine corruption over the church which sought to manipulate a war but it also revealed that the church was being manipulated by the very demons it condemned. The devil, known as Lucavi, took several forms, all of which sought to rip Ramza to shreds, but alas, he persevered and even succeeded in bringing the end to a senseless war-though it would be some time before he was finally recognized for it.
The job system returns in Final Fantasy Tactics and in full force with over twenty jobs to earn and choose from while forming your battle party. Though some may seem better than others at first, the right combination of skills can make one seemingly useless job extremely powerful. This is the mainstay of Tactcis’ game play: allowing the player to fool around however they pleased and formulate their own battle strategies in the chest like structure. Turns were based upon the speed of the unit and their ability to move across the isometric battlefield. While simply blistering along may work early on in the game, doing so later will undoubtedly put your party in the middle of a gigantic spell, bringing a world of hurt down on everyone.
The battles also featured tracks from an amazing soundtrack that ranged from loose and joyful to dark and brooding. Among other things, every character met was recorded in the “Brave Story” along with every piece of treasure and hidden land discovered from propositions. Hours could be spent simply reading through these descriptions that added an entire mythos to the land of Ivalice where the game takes place.
For its contribution to the genre, which has since taken off into massive popularity with titles such as Disgaea and its sequel, Final Fantasy Tactics is undoubtedly one of the greatest RPGs ever. However, the game’s replay value, incredible story and nearly every other factor that contributes to the game can all be pointed to as factors as well.