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School of Hard Rocks

february 10, 2012

This week we touch on one of the greatest games of all time, Final Fantasy Tactics! It's a "tactical RPG," originally produced and released by Squaresoft for the Playstation in 1997. If you're a gamer interested in anything with RPG elements and haven't tried this game, we heavily suggest you do so. Even if you think strategy games aren't your thing, this game just might make you a "believer!"

The most well known and prominent draw to the game is the Job change system. Jobs are character classes that have specific abilities associated to them such as how a priest would often learn healing skills while a thief would learn stealing skills. You start out with a small number of base jobs such as a squire and a chemist and newer jobs become available as you gain levels in those jobs. Some Jobs open through advancing linearly down a magic or melee path, but there are some jobs that require a specific mix. As you play, you'll be spending Job Points to learn abilities. Every job has a certain number of slots in which you can place an ability you've learned, even abilities from other Jobs -allowing you to mix, match, and experiment! Is your White Mage feeling too squishy? Give him the knight's ability to parry attacks with their weapon! =D There are so many abilities and classes to play around with!

A huge fun strategy component of the game is dealing with spells that have cast time. Cast time in FFT allows you to pull off strategies like targeting a spell on one of your own units and having him run into position just before the spell activates, hitting units normally far out of the casters range. It's also a great feeling being able to disrupt or kill off enemy units just before they're able to cast. =)

Every character in the game is associated to a zodiac sign which affects the performance of their attacks and skills on other characters depending on their affinity. Though I never really paid attention to this when in battles, I thought it was an interesting addition and to an added effect, made me look at my party members more as characters than just "units." All characters in the game also have two strong stats, Brave and Faith; Brave affects their physical strength and resistances while Faith affects the strength and success rate of magic cast by and on them. The mix of these simple elements and a little imagination can go a long way in making your units feel more human.

Enemies you encounter throughout the game have varying elemental weaknesses and strengths, even enemies that are not obviously element associated. It feels so great finding your enemy's weakness and using it to get the upper hand, especially when you're going up against something really tough.

There's so much to admire about FFT, its beautiful art style, story, characters, special effects, music, battle system, play control, its "job change" and ability systems; if I had to mention anything about the game that I'm not so fond of, it would be:

1) if you've "mastered" a character job you really love (white mage for example) there's little reason to keep the character in that job because doing so will hinder them from learning more cool abilities by changing to a different job.

2) Because there are so many Jobs and interesting and useful abilities to learn and because you learn them at such a fast rate, it's very compelling to grind job levels. All successful actions made by your characters will reward them with experience and Job Points. You even get points from buffing and attacking your own team mates, thus the concept of this week's comic.

I labeled these two facets as being ones I'm "not so fond of" but am aware that it's my own fault due to my OCD to be efficient in the game; @_@ so take it with a grain of salt, but remember, ye be warned. XD

The game has had a number of port releases and spin-offs, all of which I think don't do the original game justice. A modified port of Final Fantasy Tactics came out for the PSP in 2007 sporting two new secret characters, two new jobs, added story scenes, retranslated script and menus, and a few cinematic videos. It was a very frustrating time for me because the media kept spouting that the port was a "remake" when it was clearly just a flawed port of the Playstation version (I have a pet peeve of people calling "ports" "remakes." @_@). The game seems to suffer from a huge drop in frame rate during skill and spell animations and I'm not fond of them trying to take an old English approach to the script. Seriously... spelling "magic" with a "K?" (magick) That just seems so unnecessarily corny. -_-

A lot of current gamers who've had a chance to pick up the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance series, a spin-off series made for the Nintendo portable systems, and think FFT has nothing different to offer, you are severely mistaken! The FFTA's are technically very stripped down system-wise. I admit that though I like some aspects of their skill learning system and its effect on character progression, they just can't compare to the original.

Like I said, Bear and I highly recommend this game! -I'm pretty sure anyone who's played it probably will too! XD I'm not sure how hard it is to get a Playstation 1 disc of the game, but if you have a PS3, you can download it off of the Playstation Network for $10, definitely worth the money. >.< There's also a version for IOS, but I hear it has serious speed issues... '_'

School of Hard Rocks

february 10, 2012

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