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Comic-Con 07: Final Fantasy Tactics The War of the Lions

We take a closer look at Square's PSP pride

Comic-Con 07: Final Fantasy Tactics The War of the Lions

Square Enix is currently on a PSP remake rampage, and Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions is high on our list as one of the most exciting. We caught up with the game at Comic-Con 07, the comic book convention in San Diego.

For those unfamiliar with it, a little recap: Enhancing one of the rarest and most beloved instalments in the Final Fantasy franchise (but without changing its core gameplay), you play as Ramza Beoulve, a young man caught in a burgeoning war between rival nations.

The story is convoluted, even for a Final Fantasy game, with innumerable twists and turns that will leave your head spinning. However, the experience's really about the gameplay, which this remix promises to deliver in spades.

Through the course of the lengthy campaign, you tactically engage enemies in turn-based battles. The battle mechanics mirror those used in the PlayStation original, with each character's turn enabling both movement and action. From spells to weapon attacks to special abilities, everything remains intact from the original.

But although the core remains unaltered, The War of the Lions does feature some additions and changes. Two new classes will complement an already large list that includes black and white mages, priests, dragoons, knights, and others. Later stages of the game open up characters to the Onion and Dark Knight classes. Onion knights are useful in that they can equip any weapon in game, whereas Dark Knights can steal enemies' health or magic points.

One of the most significant additions will be head-to-head matches via ad-hoc mode. Pairing up with a buddy, you can play against each other or even cooperate for matches against the computer. Given the length of a typical battle – anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours – the lack of a centralised infrastructure mode is an understandable and perhaps forgivable move.

As far as changes to the game are concerned, the western edition features a completely new English localisation, with all of the dialogue from the original being reworked.

Complementing the new translation are hand-drawn cut-scenes with full voice acting. Much like Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, which was also recently remade from PlayStation for its portable little brother, these new, gorgeously rendered cinematics ought to raise the aesthetic value of the game.

The slate of features propping up this portable remake are certainly promising. Nevertheless, we're a little concerned that, at their core, the game's length and tactical battle system aren't entirely designed for portable play, while questions regarding the save system and other handheld-specific features also have yet to be answered.

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions will be released in Europe during October.