This is probably the biggest reason that FFX-2 pushes me away. There's a lot to like about it. I can live past the fact that it re-hashes a lot of old stuff from FFX with some fairly poor storywriting; FFX didn't always have the greatest story elements either. Also, it's nice just to see what happens later on, a privilege we don't get with the vast majority of Final Fantasy titles. But FFX got us used to using strategy over brute force. There was a tremendous amount you could gain just by getting more sphere levels, sure, but paying attention to how various effects worked and where they were most effective always always payed off more. But in FFX-2, it seems brute force is really the only viable option, at least for most of the game. Fewer enemies have elemental weaknesses than in FFX, and the ones that do often have only minor weaknesses. Also, there seem to be no enemies that cannot be taken out with simply physical attacks. And I'm talking about old enemies that were notorious in FFX for requiring elemental magic to defeat. Flans and elements now are only sort of weak to their opposing element, but they are now vulnerable to physical attacks! So there's little point in even selecting different types of attacks when you can just hold down X with one hand and check your text messages with another while the battle plays out for you.
But the WORST insult to the battle system is the Arcana option that the Dark Knight has. You get those old status effects you know from other FF games: darkness, silence, poison. The only problem is, these spells are virtually useless. Darkness is supposed to be used on enemies with strong physical attacks, however the only enemies that aren't immune to it are the ones that don't attack much. Silence is only useful on spellcasters, yet practically every spellcasting enemy you meet is immune to it. Flans, elements, imps, even bombs cannot be silenced. And poison is most useful on enemies with a lot of HP since it deals damage based on their maximum HP, yet I have only managed to inflict that status effect on enemies that die in 1-2 hits so it never had a chance to do anything.
The one place I have ever seen Arcana to be effective was in a particular boss fight in which you're instructed to use darkness and poison on the boss. It's nice that at least they tell you when you're at the only point in the whole game where those abilities will ever come in handy.
And that's what drives me up the wall about this game.
Truly what I exactly think depends on how you see the abilities. Mostly it has good power. The negative part in it to me is it's spells since most enemies are already immune to the ailments from it late in game (Doom may be a exception in some cases). But the best abilities is some immunities within the dressphere equipped and a pretty good ability called black sky if you have the most powerful skills. Let's say this:
If you use black sky with the maximum stats, this deals about close to 10 random hits. However, I think the formula also used "Random Integers" along with checking the MDEF of the enemies, so it's more powerful against one enemy if all others are eliminated.
The higher your stats,level,accessories,etc, the better the abilities can get. I could use cactling gun with The End garment grid and with Cactling Gun from the Mascot dressphere on a NG+, I could deal over 60000 damage with only 1 key to success and a Iron Duke against trema, but the max you can ever get in this whole game is 99,999 DMG which isn't much worth trying to strike for. However, black sky checks your Magic Offense power and the MDEF of your opponent so you have to overpower just to beat multiple enemies together.
Dances inflict temporary status on enemies or allies. Songs increase ally stats for the duration of battle I was actually referring to dances in my post but forgot that they are all classed as songs - my bad
My UCG: http://www.scribd.com/doc/86352624/FFX-Ultimate-Companion-Guide-v1-0 My Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/ppbirdman