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Square Enix  
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
From: Square Enix
For: PlayStation Portable
Genre: RPG, Strategy, Tactical
ESRB Rating: Teen (13+)
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions is a remake (with some new content) of the PlayStation One’s turn-based tactical game rooted in the well-known Final Fantasy universe. It's an enjoyable game, but only if you have patience, dedication and a lot of free time on your hands.
Posted October 30, 2007
In Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, all dungeon crawling, sky ship flying and chocobo riding from the Final Fantasy series you may have known has been replaced with a series of turn-based melees on small battlefields. That is to say, you control a group of combatants and take turns using each member of your squad to attack enemies, then you wait as those enemies take their turn to attack you. It's much like a board game, except on a three-dimensional battlefield, where positioning, orientation, and elevation directly affects the amount of damage your characters give and receive.

War of the Lions' story line is the tale of a ruthless power struggle for the crown, involving nobles, the church, and the gods. Themes of rebellion, romance and royalty are articulated in a mature script, with a splash of melodrama and fantasy. The story is slowly revealed through a series of in-game dialogue and cel-shaded CGI cutscenes that all come together in a very slick presentation.

You build an army of knights, mages, monks, and others to tag along with you and fight through a lengthy single player campaign. With a limited squad, the key to winning each battle is the use of a divergent group with differing skill sets and then coordinating attacks.

Character design is reminiscent of early Final Fantasy games, albeit with greater detail than their 8-bit ancestors. In fact, the characters and battlefields are all rendered 3-D to great effect -- sometimes too great, as when an environmental object blocks your view of an enemy, which makes it difficult to get the most out of your assault or defense.

Building a powerful squad requires a great deal of work and deciding on which warrior to recruit or which mage to dismiss, customizing each character, upgrading their skills and magical abilities throughout the campaign -- AKA "leveling" -- is an exhaustive affair. However, spending all that time with your digital posse fosters an odd attachment them, and the investment is needed anyway, because, just like a stock portfolio, a diversified group will help you handle any situation. Unfortunately, figuring out how to get the best out of each class does take a lot of testing, and a lot of trial and error.

In fact, that game is just so big is its biggest deterrent. Developing a party over many hours, battling through early levels with little more than gut instinct, and purchasing the right equipment for each member with differing needs can be intimidating to even a hardcore player. The game does offer tutorials on the basics of gameplay, but getting a handle on everything takes some serious sweat and tons of tenacity -- most of it with very little guidance.

Still, Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions is great game for fans of tactical strategy in general and Final Fantasy aficionados alike. For the uninitiated, War of the Lions might be a bigger bite than you can chew, but with production values of this caliber, it's also a great place to cut your teeth.
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Bang for your buck:
Good New Purchase 
Great Pre-played 
Excellent Bargain-bin Buy 

Score:  3.75  (out of 5)