Continued from part 1.
I should probably clear up certain aspects of the job classes for a better understanding of Tactics for those not familiar with the game. Characters don’t tend to keep to the same class as the game progresses. Each class offers different skills and abilities that characters can keep and equip or unequip to suit their role in the party. For example, a chemist who expects to be in the midst of heavy fighting might become a knight for a while to learn “Equip Armor” to protect herself. Similarly, an archer character might take monk for a while to learn “Counter,” thus allowing her to shoot back when an enemy uses a ranged attack against her. These features were what kept the game fresh, interesting, and re-playable for fans of the series. If one party combination didn’t work against a particular battle or boss fight, just reconfigure and try again—an option not available in some of the other Final Fantasy games.
So, picking up where we left off (click images for larger versions):
Ninja: It’s not hard to tell from her outfit that she’s not the quintessential meld-with-the-shadows, sneak-up-and-backstab variety of ninja. Our little strawberry-blonde ninja’s purpose is twofold: she can throw weapons at opponents and she can dual wield melee weapons. I see her as sort of a skirmisher character, where she can whittle down her foes at a distance with shuriken, daggers, or javelins, then rush in and finish them off with her katanas.
With this in mind, I feel like her attire is well suited for her skirmisher role. No heavy armor to slow her down, her outfit is entirely loose and flexible for quick movement over any terrain. Her shirt is light for freedom of movement, with loose sleeves for hiding shurikens and throwing knives. Her tights offer similar freedom of movement, without baggy cuffs to get caught on the brush and rocks. Boots are small and light for fast movement in and out of melee combat.
Not entirely certain what purpose the scarf on her head serves for her particular class, though I suspect it could be tied over her face to protect her identity if need be. But I do like her fingerless gloves: very useful for unencumbered blade throwing. Decent outfit, all around.
Overall grade: A
Oracle: The oracle, or mystic, is another fairly all-purpose casting class. She has spells for lowering an enemy’s attack or defense and others for improving an ally’s attack or defense. If I remember, because there’s such a wide spell selection, the oracle is one of those classes where players kind of need to decide on what role to give her when leveling and base what spells she gets on that particular role.
I’ll admit that I find caster robes difficult to evaluate as far as adventuring attire goes. Really, so long as the outfit is comfortable and travels well it should work as an adventurer’s robe. Thankfully, I think our oracle’s robe fits those criteria. It’s thick and layered for additional protection against light melee and possibly arrows. I appreciate this, as too many games (Final Fantasy games in particular) tend to view shorts and tube-tops as concentration-inducing spell-caster’s attire.
I like her shoes, small and light for unimpeded movement. The hat is okay, but while the giant red ribbon is cute, I fail to see what purpose it serves.
Overall grade: A-
Priest: Next we have our pretty priestess here, rocking the iconic White Mage robes, a classic standby dating from the original Final Fantasy for the NES. As one might expect, the priestess is almost exclusively a healer class, focusing on spells for healing damage and improving defense. In general, she tends to be a delicate character who spends most of her time at the back of the party.
As well as being iconic, our mage’s robes are loose and flowing for easy movement, though the fact that they drag the ground offers the potential danger of them catching somewhere and tripping her up. While the robes and hood offer protection from the elements, they look too light for effective protection against arrows or melee, a further indication of her need to stay behind the rest of her party.
Her gloves are thick and heavy, interestingly, I suppose for improved stave handling should she find herself in melee combat somehow. The thick head on that thing looks like it backs a wallop.
Overall grade: B
Samurai: The samurai is another heavy-melee class, sacrificing the protection of a shield for additional hitting power with her katana. While I never really got the hang of her ability where she draws different swords to cast different spells, I find her ability to swing weapons with two hands mixes well with other melee class abilities—particularly the lancer’s use of spears and pole arms.
I’ll admit that I have mixed feelings about her outfit, however. The heavy leather battle-dress, while protecting her entire body, looks extremely heavy and inflexible, hindering her movement in battle. While I like her heavy gloves, bracers, and elbow pads, the linen mantle across her shoulders doesn’t look all that protective of those joints. At least, not in heavy melee, at any rate.
Her swanky headband keeps her hair back and sweat out of her eyes, which is a bonus. Her shoes are light for quick movement, though I feel like this is offset by her thick, heavy leather dress.
Overall grade: B
Squire: The squire is a basic melee class and the default class all new characters start with upon hiring. As a starter class, she comes with an assortment of basic healing, buff, de-buff, and physical abilities. As such, she makes an effective lead-in to the knight, lancer, and other melee classes. The downside is that these basic abilities soon become obsolete in favor of what later classes have to offer.
I honestly kind of like her leather battle dress as it brings to mind some of the Greco-Roman leather armors. It’s light and flexible, but offers surprising protection against arrows and stabbing attacks. Like most melee characters, her armor seems to be focused more on protecting her arms and legs than her torso. Her sleeves and leggings are both heavily armored, with thick plating at the joints with armored gauntlets and shoes. Lastly, her headband serves only the purpose of keeping hair and sweat out of her eyes.
Overall grade: A
Summoner: As the name suggests, the summoner is a caster class that summons various spirits and creatures to aid in the battle. These creatures strike just once, but the spells they cast tend to be fairly powerful and strike a fairly large area of the map at once.
I like the overall look of the summoner’s robes, though like with the priestess, I worry about the fact that they drag the ground, potentially tripping her up as she moves about the battlefield. Her dress is simple and practical, not really protecting her from melee or arrows, but still holding up well for traveling and dungeon crawls. Her cloak looks thick enough to provide minor protection from physical attacks as well as from travels and weather.
Her only accessory is her summoner’s horn—an icon from previous Final Fantasy games where the summoners are an actual race with a single horn growing from their foreheads. The horn functions as a focus for her summoning spells.
Overall grade: B
Thief: The thief is a light-melee class with good movement and small weapons. Though not comparable, damage-wise, to any of the other melee classes, the thief has the interesting ability to steal enemies’ weapons and armor. This functions similar to the knights’ ability to cleave enemy equipment, thereby lowering their stats, but with the added bonus of taking it from them, allowing players to equip it on another character or sell it at the next town.
The thief’s ensemble is another outfit I have trouble taking seriously. I mean, I recognize that she needs to have light clothing for quick movement, but this outfit borders on silly.
The shirt’s not terrible—loose for good movement, but provides no protection from arrows or melee. Headband keeps her hair wrapped and gives her kind of a pirateish look. Gloves appear to be light, though not as light as one would expect for sleights-of-hand. Shoes are light leather, offering improved movement but only slightly more protection than bare feet. But it’s the shorts that really get me. Like the rest of her outfit, they provide movement with no protection, but they leave her legs completely exposed to attacks, backlash from magic, brambles, and sharp rocks. Sure, the geomancer has bare legs as well, but at least she has calf-high boots for additional protection there.
Overall grade: C
Time Mage: As the name suggests, the time mage uses spells that manipulate character move speeds, attack times, etc. This means haste, stop, float, and immobilize spells. It’s an effective class when teamed up with summoners or other casters who tend to have slow casting times, allowing the time mage to speed her allies up so they’ll get their spells off sooner, or slow enemies to keep them from escaping the spell’s area of effect.
I’m secure enough in my manhood to admit that I find this to be one of the cuter outfits in the game. While the material doesn’t look protective at all, at the least it’s light to allow our mage effective movement in and out of battle. Her mantle might provide additional protection as well, depending on what it’s made from. While the frills at her cuffs and the hem of her dress are cute, the loose loops on them have a strong possibility of snagging on sticks and brambles as she moves about the battlefield.
I like the miter with the star on it, though.
Overall grade: B-
Wizard: Based on the Black Mage from the original Final Fantasy, the wizard is perhaps even more of an icon than the priestess above. Unlike other casters who tamper with enemies or buff allies, the wizard’s sole purpose is to deal heavy magic damage to enemy combatants. Like other casters, however, she is especially delicate and vulnerable in melee combat.
I’ll admit, however, that Tactic’s female wizard is one of the goofier-looking incarnations of the classic black mage. Those baggy pants in particular look awkward and bulky. Her coat looks okay and highly protective against the elements, but not so much against physical attacks. (It might even be fur-lined. Snugly.) Shoes are small but practical.
But it’s the wide-brimmed straw had that is most iconic about this outfit. While really only protective against the sun or rain, it adds to her cred as a spell caster and perhaps even helps her concentrate on her spells and abilities.
Overall grade: B-
On the whole, I have a lot of positive things to say about the adventuring attire in Final Fantasy Tactics. For the most part, it’s smart, protective, and—aside from the dancer—isn’t by any means sexualized. I applaud the costume designers and concept artists for their attention to detail (and for not selling out to the pocket-mining demographics) in the construction of their game and characters.
Over all grade: easily an A.