The greatest strategy game for the aging Playstation is complete with everything from an engulfing storyline, great character development, colourful graphics, addictive gameplay and above all, one of the most brilliant and spectacular soundtracks ever created for a video game. Final Fantasy Tactics is composed by two composers, the exceptionally skilled Hitoshi Sakimoto and the creative Masaharu Iwata. Some people may think that two composers will bog down a soundtrack, but in this case, the two composition styles are mixed together with creative themes and counterthemes so that an untrained ear would not be able to tell the difference. Although I think the whole soundtrack would have been a greater success with just Mr. Sakimoto, it would have lacked some of the brilliance that Mr. Iwata creates.
The two discs themselves are very contrasting, the first containing the beautiful melodies, the orchestral magic and the heart of the soundtrack. The second, equally powerful disc includes the darker pieces, the dramatic battle pieces and many beautiful compositional gems near the end of the disc. The main theme used in the game can be heard in the first track "Bland Log", which after a short introduction with strings and harp, comes in with such magic, the first time I heard the piece, I reset my PS so I could hear it again. The composition is very wonderful and suites the game's war theme very well. It is well composed and catches everyone's attention. One of the variations on this theme is one of my favourite tracks "Random Waltz," which is a very beautiful battle theme. It is one of the battle themes in the game which is not a heart-pumping piece, but more a peaceful piece highlighting the natural environment where many of the battles take place. These pieces are perhaps my favourite pieces on the soundtrack and they include the mentioned "Random Waltz," "Desert Land" and "Antidote," which is also a favourite of mine.
The other fast paced battle pieces are also very excellent, containing very good melodies and variations. The hightlight of the battle themes is of course the final battle theme "Ultema The Perfect Body" which is great from beginning to end, creating wonderful harmonies and melodies along the way. Since most of the soundtrack consists of battle pieces, the battle themes are varied and all are excellent in composition and quality.
Speaking of quality, the sampling on this soundtrack is some of the best the PS has ever seen. This game is one of the greatest sounding games in the world, only second to the ethical soundtrack of Chrono Cross. It's obvious that the sound programming team worked very hard to make the classical instruments sound as realistic as possible.
The other pieces in the game are character themes, event themes and FMV themes. The FMV themes (the movies) are very excellent, including the fast paced "P.R. Movie" and the magical composition (only one and a half minutes!!) of the "Epilogue Movie."
The character themes in this game are very well composed and portray the moods and personalities of the characters very well indeed. Ramza's Theme, the "Hero's Theme" is very well composed. "Alma's Theme" is a joyful portrait of the spirited princess and "Delita's Theme" comtains a bit of reminiscence and at the same time, a premonition. My favourite character theme by far is "Ovelia's Theme" which is used in many other tracks as well. It is a happy theme and the variation in the middle of the theme is very excellent. It is one of the most memorable themes in any game. It is recycled in "Ovelia's Worries" where it takes a darker feeling.
The soundtrack ends with the "Staff Credits" which is a collage of some of the game's most prominent themes, of course highlighted by the magnificent main theme, which can carry a whole symphony all by itself. Sometimes, I wish this soundtrack had an arranged piano and orchestral release, which I would gobble up in a second. These two composers are very excellent and it is a shame there is no plans for a sequel to one of the most beautiful, touching, dramatic and orchestral games the world has ever seen.