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APFFRT 4 Round 1: (12) Final Fantasy VII vs. (21) Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

APFFRT 4 Round 1: (12) Final Fantasy VII vs. (21) Final Fantasy Tactics Advance – August 2, 2013 4:58 PM (edited 8/2/13 12:58 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
This is a matchup between two games I soured on for very different reasons. FFTA has a pretty out-there plot, but my real problem was the terrible shop interface. (It's a Tactics game, that shit matters!) FF7 has all sorts of problems, but my main issue is the terrible translation. Both have intro sequences that are a lot different than what follows. This might be an unpredictable matchup.

Game 1: Visuals
FFTA has a charming visual style using an alarming number of sprites. I know that at one point FFT held the record for most sprites used in a game (taking the crown from Ultima VIII, I believe), but I would be surprised if this didn't top it. Recreating the 3D style of FFT without any 3D is an impressive feat, even if you can no longer rotate battlefields. The detail is great, but it might be a bit too much - I don't have a ton of jobs yet, but it didn't seem obvious what job most characters are. Another things FFTA holds over its predecessor is that characters have noses - well, at least their portraits do.

I don't hate FF7's visuals as much as I used to. Still, the problem is there are three completely different styles going on. The combat graphics are fine, and they put a ton of effort into presentation. The UI is super busy, but it's still pretty cool. I actually think the cutscenes are worse, because the number of polygons seems almost lazy for something pre-rendered, but they don't really count anyway. (Though I will give them credit for some nice cutscene-to-static-background transitions.) It's the square Popeye arms that are the problem. Everything about the general world except the character models looks fine, though.

This is a tough judgment call. FFTA's graphics are impressive from the standpoint of how much work went into them, but they're not that special. FF7's graphics, overrated as they are, are pretty special. I think I need to give it to FFTA, though, simply because the worst visuals in FF7 are jarringly bad, and the worst visuals in FFTA are basically the same as the best.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance leads 1-0

Game 2: Audio
FFTA's music is inoffensive but nothing special. The quality is kind of crap, no doubt due to being on the GBA. Like, I can tell the sampling rate is really low level of crap. But the charming music goes along well with the so-far whimsical world.

FF7 has good combat music, and a number of other early tunes aren't half bad. The music for the first half of the intro sequence is especially catchy. The problem here is that the music is apparently MIDI quality, and it's really noticeable. The sound effects are also noticeably distorted. That said, I kind of love the exploding enemy sound, especially when it's inappropriate.

Both games suffer from poor audio quality, from a technical perspective. Both also have passable music, but FF7 has a few more standout tunes. This is probably as much a symptom of FFTA being a slower-paced tactical game than anything, but the why isn't what determines the winner. (Unless I say so!)
Series tied 1-1

Game 3: Combat
As a Tactics game, FFTA's combat is unsurprisingly interesting. What is surprising is how fast it is - I managed to get three battles in, and only went slightly over time. The first battle is a tutorial snowball fight, which is kind of great just for what it is. It's even better that it tells a story - all the guys on the other team pick on one particular kid. That scene does a lot at once. The intro to real combat is pretty basic, but my first mission was a huge 6-on-5 affair. Not a lot of strategy was required, but it was pretty fun nonetheless.

FF7's early combat is surprisingly good. The first few battles are all one-hit enemies and basic attacks, but things get interesting in a hurry. Barret can be put in the back row, and several enemies in the first area take multiple hits or can be easily taken down with Cloud's starting magic. The Guard Scorpion battle is also pretty good, combining the "don't attack now" mechanic from FF4's Mist Dragon with a targeting sequence that makes Defend useful for once.

This is a very difficult call to make. The FFTA snowball fight is great, but it's irrelevant in the greater scheme of things. The one big fight is more interesting from a mechanical standpoint, but that's more just its nature than anything good about the combat itself. FF7's combat seems to be better compared to the baseline. However, as I said above, I'm not looking into the whys - if FFTA suffers for being a tactics game in the audio department, it should benefit for the same reason in combat.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance leads 2-1

Game 4: Advancement
FFTA seems to encourage attacking the strongest possible opponent, based on the experience numbers I was seeing. I didn't gain any levels, but I did get Judge Points, which allow you to perform combos. It was also mentioned that your abilities are learned via items, a la FF9, which should be an interesting system in a Tactics game. Finally, I noticed that not only can I freely change jobs, I can even do so while picking my battle party. Now that is pretty sweet.

FF7 smartly starts Cloud just about to level in much the same way Tidus and Auron had mostly full Overdrive meters at the start of FFX. The very first fight is a guaranteed level, which is brilliant psychologically. However, levels are just stats, and I wasn't even allowed to mess with materia in the time I played. I did get one weapon upgrade for Barret, but no armor or accessories.

The fact that I gained several levels in FF7 is offset somewhat by the facts that a.) they didn't really do much and b.) I also earned a materia the game still won't let me use. Just having a job system, as FFTA does, is enough to beat that pretty handily.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance leads 3-1

Game 5: Characters
The five main human characters from the intro are various levels of interesting. Marche is the new kid, not really notable in any way except that he has a crippled brother, Doned. Mewt is the quiet kid that got picked on during the snowball fight, and his father seems to be a bit of a screwup. Ritz is basically the token girl, but she's a fiery one and kind of hilarious. Bullying bullies is a good way to make me like your character. The only character of note in the fantasy world of Ivalice is Montblanc, who is also in FFXII but doesn't seem to have any connection to that Montblanc aside from being a Moogle.

At the start of the game, Cloud is a pretty cool character. He's an ex-special forces agent, switching sides for mercenary reasons, and he's pretty badass. Also he has a huge sword, if you're into that sort of thing. Barret is far more interesting, because he is a ridiculous angry black man stereotype. Thanks Japan! Still, Barret is kind of hilarious. I mean, he's an angry environmental terrorist with a rather aggressive management style and a foul mouth and a gun for an arm. He's like Mr. T as interpreted by Al Gore, and that's pretty great.

One angry black man stereotype beats any number of sad schoolkids. That's just a fact. Shi't!
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance leads 3-2

Game 6: World
There are two worlds in play in FFTA. The first is apparently our world, since Final Fantasy exists within it. Ivalice also exists, at least in books, but possibly separately. Honestly, as fun as the meta-reference to Final Fantasy is, there are a few logic holes in it. Unless the old magic book they found was supposed to be the ancient origin of Final Fantasy XII or something. At any rate, Ivalice seems a bit less interesting, especially since it's mostly blank - you place various locations during the game. For a world they've visited four times, they certainly don't want to commit to any geography!

FF7 doesn't get out of Midgar for a while, and it is a depressing place. This is by design - the whole point of AVALANCHE is that they don't like what Shinra has done with the place, either in terms of literally sucking souls for energy or in terms of placing slums effectively underground. It does have a nice train system, and plenty of nice billboards, I guess. Plus there's that whole four-way symmetry thing going on, at least up top.

Yeah, sorry, I hate Midgar. The meta-world of FFTA is only made better by being a version of the best FF world, Ivalice. Even if the Ivalice that you actually go to is a bit too happy-go-lucky for my tastes. I suspect the game gets seriously dark at some point, but for now it's not and FF7 is, and that puts FFTA on top in my book.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance wins 4-2

Conclusion
This is a matchup that really could have gone either way - my hatred of FF7 has cooled quite a bit over the years. That said, while FF7's intro isn't bad, all the meandering around Midgar that follows really is. As I recall, FFTA follows up its own intro by just kind of letting you do whatever, which may not necessarily be better but probably isn't worse, either.

Next Game: (13) Final Fantasy V vs. (20) Final Fantasy IV: The After Years

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There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
I don't know... round 6 seemed a little sketchy there. That reads to me more like FF12 is what won that round, not FFTA being better than FF7. I would argue that a bland rendition of a world you loved in a different game (and FFTA came out before FF12 if you recall) should have lost to a place that was actually fairly well explored early on.

Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
What specifically did you think was influenced by FF12? The only one I can see is World, and I loathe Midgar. Almost any game in the bracket would have beaten FF7 in that category. Smile

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There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
Yes, I was specifically calling you out on round 6, world. And I'm not sure what you hate about Midgar. I would think a place that can elicit such strong emotions, albeit negative ones, should beat out places that are just... blah.

Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
No no, silly, the last APFFRT was the one fueled by hate. This one is totally different!

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There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
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