By , on August 9, 2011

Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5


  • Detailed RPG system; manage and combine jobs to create the ultimate team.
  • Converted from the PSP re-release; updated dialogue and cutscenes as compared to the PS1 original.
  • Grand storyline with a political (and supernatural) edge.
  • Unlockable special characters for extra gameplay.


  • Detailed and complex tactical system requires a lot of time investment; constant interruptions (iPhone) can become tiresome.
  • Text scaling too small; blurry on third gen devices.


The first decision you have to make when considering Final Fantasy Tactics is, "Do I have the spare time for something like this?", if yes then consider yourself lucky to be able to experience such a deep and provoking tactical RPG, if not then you can rest knowing that you can still pick it up for your PS1 or PSP (should you have access to them).

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Although many consumers may not realize it, the existence of Final Fantasy Tactics on the App Store brings a whole host of interesting and complex questions related mostly to what we as gamers expect of our time with iOS devices. Premium AAA titles aren't in a huge supply, partially due to the market still finding its feet with regards to what does and doesn't work and how much to charge (or how to split up the charges), so when a game like Tactics is released it grabs everyone's attention as it provides a good indicator of how a high-priced, high-content game performs on a platform that encourages casual playing.

Thirteen years ago, Final Fantasy Tactics was the first in a host of games yet to come as it explored an otherwise niche corner of the RPG world, the tactical RPG. Set within the politically charged world of Ivalice, players follow the story of Ramza as he uncovers a sinister plot taking place behind the scenes of a conflict over who the new regent of the kingdom should be (the so-called 'War of the Lions' to be precise). Instead of the usual simplistic JRPG approach of smashing swords/rods/whatever else you're holding against the face of an enemy, players must fight within a 3D battlefield where positioning is as important as your 'level' and 'equipment' or skills.

Strategy is as important as the tactics you use and players will need to spend a lot of time grinding out experience to spend on unlockable 'jobs' to define and round out the skills of the characters in your party. Having a robust team will make later encounters much easier, though without the aid of a guide you can expect a lot of time to be spent failing over and over as you pinpoint what your weak links are (with something as simple as the 'star sign' of a character playing a huge role in whether they'll survive or die horribly in a given encounter).

Being set in a 3D world means there's the likelihood that the terrain will get in the way of what you're trying to see, so handy controls for panning, tilting and rotating the screen are available. Most actions require players to tap specific squares or units to set a target and barring an awkward angle the game picks up on where you're touching intelligently. The menus themselves are far less accommodating, with the text being incredibly small even on Retina devices, making it hard to select the ability or option you're after from the large set of menus they're buried in.

Once you've mastered the basics of the gameplay the rabbit-hole only goes deeper as you tinker with and explore the available routes of growth for Ramza and his crew of men, women and various other creatures. Be careful though as non-critical friendly units can die permanently, meaning you'll need to save often to avoid a bad outcome.

What's most important about the decision to buy a game like Final Fantasy Tactics is whether or not you're after something this deep on a platform that will constantly interrupt you (in the case of iPhones) or isn't well suited to long-term play (in the case of iPads). In terms of gameplay, depth and content, Tactics provides an experience that's far from comparable and the decision ultimately comes down to whether or not you're willing to invest the time required to unlock the complex story contained within.

Fans of the series looking to complete their collection need not fear any loss of quality in Final Fantasy Tactics for the iOS (although third-gen users will have some performance issues) and fans of tactical RPGs should relish the opportunity to absorb such a challenging title. If you haven't dipped your toe in to the world of tactical titles yet, this may be a much harder game to start off with, but it's still a tried and tested classic worth checking out.


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