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Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions

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Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (ファイナルファンタジータクティクス 獅子戦争 Fainaru Fantajī Takutikusu Shishi Sensō?) is a tactical role-playing game developed by Square Enix and published by Square Enix for the Sony PlayStation Portable. The game is an updated version of Final Fantasy Tactics for the PlayStation video game console.[1]

The War of the Lions is the second announced game in the "Ivalice Alliance" campaign, a promotion of video games set in the Ivalice fictional world. The first is Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, a sequel to Final Fantasy XII, for the Nintendo DS, and the third is Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift.[2]

Gameplay

Following the trend of Final Fantasy video games on PlayStation systems, The War of the Lions features full motion video during certain scenes. These videos are rendered using cel-shading, a technique giving the illusion of hand drawn animation.[3] Because of the PlayStation Portable's screen size, the game features a 16:9 aspect ratio, as opposed to the previous 4:3.[4] The developers added sequences with visual arts illustrated by Akihiko Yoshida, and the game is complete with new episodes and cutscenes that were not in the original title. Developers wanted the game to suit both new players and players that have experienced the original title.[5]

The game adds two new character classes; the Onion Knight, taken from Final Fantasy III, and the Dark Knight, which was previously only available to one character, Gaffgarion. The Dark Knight in this game has added abilities and thus the original Dark Knight class was renamed to "Fell Knight". The Fell Knight class is still unique to Gaffgarion.[3] In addition, The War of the Lions contains new characters, including Balthier from Final Fantasy XII.[6] Balthier is said to have an "important role", branded as a heretic in search of the "Cache of Glabados". He joins Ramza, the protagonist while he searches for his sister.[7] Another new character, a monster hunter named Luso from Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift also joins Ramza.[8]

Another addition to the game is a wireless multiplayer mode, both for co-operative and competitive play. In competitive play, opposing teams may place traps onto the battlefield, and these traps are hidden from the opponent. To ease identification, teams are assigned colors. The battle ends after a set number of rounds, and the team with the most remaining HP is declared the winner. The winner may then receive an item randomly generated from treasure chests.[5]

Other additions include new items and equipment and an increased character party limit, as well as new scenes that flesh out the backstory of existing characters and explaining more events beyond what the player sees through Ramza's eyes.

Plot

Setting

The War of the Lions retains the setting of the PlayStation version, in which the fictional kingdom of Ivalice has just ended a lengthy conflict (dubbed the Fifty Years' War) with its neighbor, Ordalia. In the PSP version, a complete retranslation changed various location and character names in addition to the overall tone of the dialogue and plot. The game revolves around the War of the Lions, a conflict occurring due to the death of the Ivalician monarch, King Ondoria. The heir to the throne, Prince Orinus, is but an infant - a regent must therefore be selected to rule in the prince's stead. Loyalists of the crown choose Duke Large as their candidate to serve in conjunction with the power-hungry Queen Louveria, while the nobles' council backs Duke Goltanna and the ascension of Princess Ovelia. Each of these men served as distinguished generals in the Fifty Years' War under the banner of the White Lion and Black Lion respectively.

Characters

As with the PlayStation version, The War of the Lions possesses the same large cast supporting a deep, complex story. With the unfolding political drama between Large and Goltanna serving as the backdrop, the game follows the story of two friends: Ramza, the youngest scion of the noble house Beouvle, and Delita Heiral, the son of a commoner-farmer. Though they have been companions since childhood, the eventual treachery of Delita's sister's death creates a lasting rift between the two that leads them along different paths through the myriad of conspiracies surrounding the nobles' conflict. Among the names afforded a new translation are Delita's sister Teta becoming Tietra, Olan becoming Orran, Zalbag becoming Zalbaag, and Orlandu changing to Orlandeau.

Two new unlockable characters include Balthier from Final Fantasy XII, and Luso from Final Fantasy Tactics A2.

Story

War of the Lions has retained much of the original storyline from Final Fantasy Tactics. The game is told through the framing device of a historian, Arazlam Durai, who is seeking to shed light on an era of Ivalice's history: specifically, the War of the Lions, and King Delita Heiral's rise to power. It is his contention that another man, Ramza Beoulve, is the true hero of the era. To prove it, the game flashes back to Ramza's day, finding him a mercenary employed as a bodyguard to Princess Ovelia as she prepares to leave Orbonne Monastery. Though Ramza and his companions defend the monastery against an apparent attack by Goltanna's knights, a rogue kidnapper sneaks in the back and makes off with the princess: none other than Delita Heiral, future king and Ramza's former best friend.

The game's first chapter depicts the past friendship between the noble-born Ramza and Delita, a commoner. Both are squire-cadets enrolled in the Order of the Northern Sky's Akademy, burdened by moral conflict as the Order (under the command of Ramza's brothers Dycedarg and Zalbaag, as well as Duke Large) seeks to eradicate a brigade of disenfranchised peasant-soldiers. Successive battles against Millueda and Wiegraf Folles of this so-called Corpse Brigade further erode Ramza and Delita's faith in their purpose as aspiring cadets. The harsh reality of their world's social stratification is finally made obvious when Delita's sister, Tietra, is sacrified by Zalbaag to quell the remaining element of the peasant uprising. Ramza and Delita both turn against their Order and their former comrade Argath, with Delita swearing to direct his wrath at Ramza and 'all' the nobles of Ivalice once immediate vengeance is satisfied. For turning against his family and birthright, a disillusioned Ramza is stripped of the Beouvle name, while Delita is seemingly killed in the fiery aftermath of the Order's purge.

The second chapter opens outside Orbonne immediately after Ovelia's kidnapping. Ramza, together with his mercenary captain Gaffgarion and Ovelia's personal bodyguard Agrias catch up to Delita as he is beset by the Order of the Northern Sky, helping save the princess. Gaffgarion betrays Ramza and Agrias, revealing he was ultimately hired by Dycedarg and Large to facilitate her assassination, removing the only obstacle to Large's declaration as regent. Ramza and Agrias agree to escort Ovelia to Cardinal Delacroix of Lionel, a province of Ivalice controlled by the powerful Church of Glabados - the one authority neither the White nor Black Lions will dare offend. En route they encounter Mustadio Bunansa, who is on the run from the Baert Trading Company; Mustadio is in possession of a mystical artifact known as auracite. Eventually reaching the Cardinal in Lionel's capital, Delacroix explains that this auracite is one of the Zodiac Stones, relics from an ancient Ivalician tale: that of the Zodiac Braves, heroes who once defeated a demon summoned to Ivalice by a king with more ambition than sense. Though Delacroix promises to put an end to Baert, it transpires that he is actually part of a faction within the Glabados Church that is trying to collect the Zodiac Stones for their own purposes. This faction is also manipulating and motivating the entire war, secretly provoking Dukes Large and Goltanna in an effort to destroy both men and cripple their knightly Orders. Misled by Delacroix after witnessing Baert still active in the Clockwork City of Goug, Ramza and Mustadio encounter Agrias under pursuit from the Cardinal's forces. She informs the pair that Ovelia is due to be executed; rushing to intervene, Ramza is instead led into a trap laid by Gaffgarion. Though his former captain escapes, Ramza finally puts an end to him at Delacroix's stronghold before confronting the Cardinal himself. Delacroix then invokes the auracite's true power, merging with the demonic Lucavi known as Cúchulainn. Though Ramza defeats the abomination, Glabados brands him a heretic.

Various cut scenes depict the worsening war and Delita's rise to power by means of manipulation. In chapter three, Ramza seeks answers and help first from his estranged family in the Ivalician capital of Lesalia; there he is rebuked by Zalbaag, though his sister, Alma, believes his tales of deeper corruption and accompanies him, citing the wisdom of the hermetic priest Simon Penn-Lachishat Orbonne Monastery. Before departing, Ramza and Alma are accosted by Confessor Zalmour and his charges of heresy, but is driven off. At Orbonne, the pair are surprised to discover the Knights Templar, the militant wing of Glabados, sacking and plundering its own monastery. Within, Ramza first confronts Isilud as he makes off with yet another piece of auracite recovered from the bowels of Orbonne's labyrinthine library. In pursuit, Wiegraf Folles (now himself a Templar) challenges Ramza to avenge the death of Milleuda, but is to cut down. Crawling limply from the steps of the monastery, his Zodiac Stone activates, transforming Wiegraf into another Lucavi, Belias. Choosing not to fight, Belias departs, leaving Ramza clutching the dying Simon, who turns over the one thing that can thwart the church's ambitions to manipulate the Lion War: the ancient Scriptures of Germonique, a truthful biography of the life of St. Ajora Glabados. Within the text Ramza discovers the legend of the Zodiac Braves is a falsehood, and Ajora's supposedly divine nature nothing less than a fabrication. Ramza is shortly thereafter confronted by an agent of Grand Duke Barrington, claiming possession of Alma, whom Isilud had kidnapped upon fleeing Orbonne. Pursuing his sister, Ramza is first beset by Marach and Rapha, mage assassins in the Duke's employ - Rapha defects to Ramza, and as they travel, Barrington meets with Folmarv, commander of the Templars, presenting his captured son, Isilud, and relaying Glabados' entire plan, threatening to expose the church and elevate himself to the throne, to which Volmarv merely transforms into a Lucavi and sets about slaughtering the castle's inhabitants. Ramza arrives after this devastation, confronted by Belias once more, whom he defeats. It is on the castle's roof that Ramza protects Rapha from the demonically-possessed Marquis Elmdore, after Elmdore's assassins have dispatched Barrington. Afterwards, Rapha appeals to the auracite much as Wiegraf had, though this succeeds in resurrecting her fallen brother rather than manifesting another demon. The three question whether auracite is a gateway to an infernal realm, or merely a window into the human heart.

The final chapter of the game involves Ramza's fight against the Knights Templar's leadership, revealed as the orchestrators of every conspiracy behind the Lion War, having even deluded the priesthood of Glabados. This faction is controlled by the Lucavi and is attempting to resurrect Ajora Glabados, the chosen host Lucavi's leader, the High Seraph Ultima. Ramza traverses across all of Ivalice in pursuit of Folmarv and his lieutenants Cleitienne and Woffrey. As the Templar's agenda becomes more overt, they cause increasing chaos, as Ultima's resurrection requires the sacrifice of an incomprehensible magnitude of bloodshed. Among the slain are Dukes Large and Goltanna after the battle of Fort Besselat, as well as Dycedarg and Zalbaag Beoulve. Ramza's sister Alma is retained by Folmarv in anticipation of a more insidious fate: it will be her body that substitutes for Ajora's as a container for Ultima. After the death of the Glabados Church's high priest, Marcel Funebris, Ramza and his party travel to the long-sunken Necrohol of Mullonde, where they save Alma and defeat Ultima, saving Ivalice from destruction.

The epilogue reveals that neither Ramza nor his compatriots were ever confirmed to have survived the battle. In this same epilogue, Orran Durai sees both Ramza and Alma riding off on Chocobos, though it is never confirmed that they were truly there. He later compiles records of the Church's deceit, preparing to publish the tale. However, captured and burned at the stake as a heretic, his records, the "Durai Papers," lay unheeded for more than four centuries until their release from the Church and dissemination by Orran's descendant: the game's narrator, Arazlam Durai. In the final scene, Ovelia accuses Delita of having manipulated her as he does everyone and stabs him in anger. Delita kills her, and then staggers backwards, questioning whether his pursuits yielded the end he truly desired.

Development

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions was revealed on December 13, 2006 in the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine as a PlayStation Portable port of Final Fantasy Tactics. The magazine stated additions of cel-shaded full motion videos, and extra job classes among other new features.[9]

The title was originally made for the PlayStation console in 1997. Takamasa Shiba, the current game's producer, said that Square Enix decided to "re-envision the game a decade later". Because of the extensive gameplay and deep storyline, the PlayStation version would compel players to spend hours playing it. Shiba cited this as one of the main reasons why Square chose to develop it for the PSP, and because of its portability. The subtitle of The War of the Lions was chosen as it illustrates "the backdrop for the story of the two main characters Ramza and Delita", as well as illustrating the multiplayer gameplay.[10]

The North American localization of The War of the Lions has full audio voice acting for the video sequences in the game.[11] The slowdown and sound downgrade, though acknowledged by the localizers, was not a priority for them to fix, being stated as "out of their hands."[12] Various reviewers have differing opinions about how the slowdown issue has been addressed; one of the previews of the North American version claims that the slowdown has been reduced, stating that "now the technical issues are about on par with the minor slowdown exhibited in the PS1 release and are no longer distracting", while others stated that the slowdowns still "occur when performing attacks or spells in battle".[13][14]

A port of the game to iPhone was revealed at E3 2010, alongside a remake of Secret of Mana, to be released sometime this year.

Reception

 Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
Electronic Gaming Monthly A-
Eurogamer 9/10[15]
Game Informer 9.5/10
GamePro 4.25/5
GameSpot 8/10[16]
GameSpy 5/5[17]
IGN 9/10[18]
PSM 9.5/10
GameZone 9/10[19]

The War of the Lions reached the top of Japanese gaming charts, and sold 100,000 copies in the first month of release in the United States.[20] The game was the 53rd best-selling game of 2007 in Japan at 301,796 copies according to Famitsu magazine.[21]

As of December 18, 2007, The War of the Lions has a score of 88/100 at the aggregate review site Metacritic, based on 39 reviews.[22] In comparison, the original Final Fantasy Tactics scored 83 from 12 reviews.[23]

The War of the Lions has been criticized for slowdowns during battles and decreased audio quality.[24]

References

  1. Square Enix (2007-05-14). Square Enix Allies Dragon Quest and Ivalice For North America. PR News Wire. Retrieved on 2007-05-14.
  2. IGN Staff (2006-12-13). IGN: Final Fantasy Tactics Returns. IGN.com. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Calonne, Stéphane (2006-12-21). FF Tactics : The Lion War scanné (French). JeuxFrance.com. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  4. Lumb, Jonathon (2006-12-13). Final Fantasy Tactics to be Updated on PSP from IGN.com. IGN.com. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Jeriaska (2007-03-17). Final Fantasy Tactics goes multiplayer. SquareHaven.com. Retrieved on 2007-04-16.
  6. Jeriaska (2007-01-15). Balthier Bunansa all over Ivalice. squarehaven.com. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  7. GameBase staff (2006-12-13). PSP『FFT 獅子戦争』にFF12のバルフレアが登場 (Japanese). GameBase.jp. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.[dead link]
  8. Spencer (2007-04-05). Tying the world of Ivalice together: FF Tactics A2 crosses with the Lion War. siliconera.com. Retrieved on 2007-04-16.
  9. Nutt, Christian (2006-12-13). Games Radar - DS news -- A remake and an original game both go portable - get ready. Games Radar.com. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  10. Square Enix. (2007-09-23). An Inside Look: Episode 2 About the Game. [Podcast]. Japan. 
  11. Ricardo Torres (2007-05-13). Final Fantasy Tactics: War of Lions Hands-On. Gamespot. Retrieved on 2007-05-14.
  12. Michael Cunningham (2007-06-01). Run to the Sun - Square Enix Interview. Retrieved on 2007-06-14.
  13. Jeremy Parish (2007-08-24). Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions Playstation Portable Preview, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions PSP Preview. Retrieved on 2007-08-27.
  14. Jem Alexander (2007-10-14). PSP Fanboy review: Final Fantasy Tactics. Retrieved on 2008-02-02.
  15. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions Review // PSP /// Eurogamer
  16. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions for PSP - Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions Sony PSP - Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions PSP Game
  17. GameSpy: Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of The Lions Review
  18. IGN: Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of The Lions Review
  19. FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: The War of the Lions Review - PSP
  20. David Radd (2007-12-05). Chart Toppers: Square Enix Strategizes a Hit with Final Fantasy Tactics. Retrieved on 2008-02-28.
  21. Takahashi (June 18, 2008). Famitsu Top 500 of 2007. Gemaga.com. Retrieved on 2009-01-01.
  22. Metacritic (2007-12-18). Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions at Metacritic. Retrieved on 2007-12-18.
  23. Metacritic (2007-11-04). Final Fantasy Tactics at Metacritic. Retrieved on 2007-11-04.
  24. GameBrink (2007-05-09). Final Fantasy Tactics Inferior on PSP. Archived from the original on 2007-05-12 Retrieved on 2007-06-14.

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