Review by Darksun45230

"The Definitive Tactic"

Final Fantasy Tactics is Square-Enix's attempt to get into the strategy genre. With the arrival of Final Fantasy Tactics on the PSX in 1998 the game was widely praised as a hit. Later though, Square-Enix took a new direction with the series and introduced Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on the GameBoy Advance. Never had a GameBoy game ever come close to perfection. Tactics, gameplay, graphics, story, length, customization, It had everything a Final Fantasy buff would want.

Now the series arrives with a new title, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2: Grimoire of the Rift. Does it carry what we want and more? Does it still compel us to go further? Does this game bring back our player instincts and redefine what it means to be a hand-held video game? Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 has enough of everything to keep you spellbound for hours on end. Truly, the definitive tactic.

Short Summary
Storyline: Let me get this out right away. You will not be playing this game for its storyline. Unless you're below the age of twelve. While the storyline doesn't interfere with the awesome gameplay, older players will find the kid friendly story uninteresting. So if you plan on playing for the story, play for the side-story. Unlike the main plot, the side-quests are deep, tragic, and fun.

Gameplay: The diamond in the rough. The gameplay is the pinnacle of Final Fantasy Tactics, heck, the very reason why most spend over three-hundred hours playing. That's not an exaggeration either. Each character has an assigned race whether they are Hume, Viera, Bangaa, Nu Mou, or Moogle along with their own set of jobs. Plus the hours of battles and lifelong struggles to acquire treasure. The gameplay of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 has surpassed all expectation in the gaming community and continues to astound.

Graphics & Music: Vastly improved from its predecessor. The Nintendo DS's music and graphic overhaul is most apparent in battle. The environment is beautiful, simply beautiful.

Customization: Indeed the cornerstone of this game. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 brags of interchangeable jobs. Players can set different paths for their characters that extend to the furthest reaches of the game. In short no game can ever be the same. No character is identical to the other. And no one replays with the same experience. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 has the potential to provide hours of gameplay that will leave many playing this game even after the DS becomes extinct.

Overall: It's like a book you can't put down. This is a battery juice killer that will have you addicted for hours on end. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has veterans of gaming and beginners alike addicted from beginning to end. Buy it, you won't regret it.

Storyline
If you choose to play this game don't do it for the storyline, do it for the side-quests storyline. I'm sure you have the basic idea. A boy from our world, Luso, finds an unmanned book in a library. He writes his name in this book and appears in the land of Ivalice.

What I have to say about the story is the fact that they traded wit and dimension for structure and able storytelling. Where we saw tales of politics and murder in Final Fantasy Tactics, in this game we will see adventuring and good times. Where we saw a recluse child retreat into an imagined world in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, in this game we see an outsider looking on into the real world of Ivalice. In other words, the main plot is pretty petty.

That is however aside the fact. While the story itself isn't grand, the side-quests are. There are many surprises with good stories. They serve to entertain and make us laugh, and even make us cry. These quests also boast on being better then actual story itself. Whether it is the somber tale of House Bowen or the fate of Frimelda, the side-stories will have you tears.

The main story is bland. It won't have you on the edge of your seats like a good Final Fantasy should. Overall, this reviewer is sadly disappointed by the way this story has been treated. If it weren't for the touching side-quests this reviewer might not have bothered to play.

Gameplay
Addicting. Since you expect a bit more then one word of description let me explain. Gameplay can be broken down into several categories, Clans, Jobs and Races, and Quests. In order to explain why this game rocks I'd need to explain each category separately. Like taking apart a car and explaining how each part works.

So what happens when you first start out? Right away you're taken into the world of FFTA2, Ivalice, and thrown into a battle. You're briefed on how to do basic movements and on a wing and a prayer fight against an overgrown turkey. How battle works is a different story.

Each person on the field is called a "Unit." Each "Unit" takes a turn and depending on who goes first a "Unit" takes action. They attack each other until the other team has expired, so one unit takes a swing at another until one of them is KOed. That's it.

After said battle is done you're introduced to a Clan. It's your Clan so name it. A Clan is a group of warriors, mages, and long range fighters who bunch together under one banner to fight other Clans. That's not all they do though. A Clan does quests which often end in battle. A Clan holds members of your party as you religiously level them as much as possible. First you need to decide one thing, what's your name going to be?

As time passes you will discover more and more about Clans. For example, during a battle there will be a "Law" hung over the top screen. Don't fret; because of that "Law" you're following you are able to activate "Clan Benefits" which aid you in battle. Whether you want extra power, speed, or just extra experience there is a list of benefits to choose from. This list expands to encompass many benefits. So what's the catch? The laws are interchanging for each battle. If you don't follow them to the tee then you'll lose the privilege.

Who belongs to a Clan? You do of course. We arrive at Square-Enix's ingenuity when it comes to diversity, the Tribes. What are Tribes though? They are the humanoid races of Ivalice varying from the alluring Viera to the fluffy Moogle. After naming your Clan you start out with one of each race (other then Seeq and Gria.) Each race has a different set of jobs. What are jobs? They are the class that each character can take. With each job comes a unique set of abilities, weaknesses, stat growths, and skills. Since we're able to take some of these skills into other jobs some might be more useful then others.

For example, there is a passive ability (ability that works without having it being activated) belonging to a Spellblade (Viera job) called Blood Price. Now Spellblade doesn't have an immediate use for it because they don't use spells like the other spell-casting jobs. And since Blood Price allows us to trade HP instead of MP when casting spells it would be more useful on a job that uses a lot of MP. Say a Summoner or a Red Mage or an Elementalist.

In order for a Job to learn abilities, they have to have a piece of equipment be it sword, rapier, spear, or saber, and level with it. In order for one to level with the weapon they must acquire AP (gotten from battle.) The skill itself is usable as long as you have the weapon equipped. If you master the ability by acquiring AP after battle then you no longer need to equip it and can move onto the next weapon. It sounds complicated but it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

Each Tribe has a set amount of Jobs that the other races might not have. For example, Humes have the Job Ninja and Seer but they are the only ones who do. The Bangaa have the Job Dragoon and Gladiator. However not all jobs are exclusive, like Black Mage can fall under three different Tribes, Nu Mou, Moogle, and Hume. Hunter is given to both Gria and Humes. And Time Mage belongs to both Nu Mou and Moogles. Those should serve as your example.

Now that we have an idea about Clans and Clan Members does a Clan do? Quests. That's right, a system which allows you to pick and choose over three-hundred different quests in the span of the game. This isn't mentioning the plethora of unmarked side-quests and random battles that pop up from all over. Your Clan does quests, from simple battles to scurrying for lost items, to appeasing the Iron Stomach. Quests fall under all types and sometimes don't require an actual battle to win. You could just deliver an item, send out a dispatch unit for specific task, and even unlock a Job along the way. Quests are your bread and butter throughout the game turning out Loot which can be traded for weapons. If you've been following me, weapons carry abilities for your Clan members. And so on it goes.

It's no wonder so many find the system addicting, heck, enthralling. The system in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 rivals that of any major console platform to date. There's nothing else quite like it. With the improvement on gameplay, the extra jobs, races, weapons, items, equipment; this should be your only reason for playing.

Graphics & Music
Pop some headphones into your DS. Don't worry I'll wait...well? Good right? At least compared to its predecessor, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 has an entire orchestra working in the background. Whether it be the familiar intro music or the overhead map tunes, you'll find that the sounds have been redone or entirely new. Mostly meant to complement rather then dominate, the sound coming from those tiny speakers will have your attention. It lures you into the game and doesn't let go, much like the graphics.

I've never seen anything else like on the Nintendo DS. The maps are highly detailed varying from the tundra covered Rubie Mountains to the greenery of Targ Forest. What makes these places so special? Perhaps it's the platforms of the Nazan Mines, or the fences at Targ Wood. Something always manages to stick out to me.

Maybe you're not impressed by the myriad of maps to fight from. Perhaps you'll like the improved attack animations. It could be the roar of a powerful Aurablast or the amazing fiery explosion of a Firaga. The new attack animations will have mouthing "Wow" every other minute. From the incredible show of Scions attacks to a Summoner's summoning. It's all good.

Customization
A widely known fact of Final Fantasy Tactics games is that the level of customization is beyond comparison. Since you have access to so many Jobs it's no wonder that your experience is never the same. As time moves on you are granted even more jobs and races to expand your Clan. Along the way you may discard old members while embracing new ones. You may vie for Loot to trade with the Bazaar in order to advance in your character's job. And maybe, you'll take up a challenge or two.

Challenges are player based handicaps that you set-up in advance in order to make the game more difficult and more rewarding. You set it up, not the game. An example of a Challenge is single class character challenges where you operate under one job. It's difficult but lord knows its fun. Since there are so many jobs to choose from it's almost impossible to run out of fun ideas.

Designing each character us tough work. For most of the game you'll be picking and choosing which abilities each character learns. You'll be grinding on jobs that you wouldn't normally use in order to gain stats and unlock new jobs. Say for example the Seer. The Seer has an amazing ability called Magic Frenzy which casts both a spell and does melee damage to whoever got hit by the spell, a perfect match for a Dual-Wielding warrior. Since the Seer's job requires learning White Mage abilities first, your character is stuck learning White Mage abilities in order to advance to Seer and learn said ability.

The only bad thing I can say is the lack of WiFi capability. There is none. Instead we get a ‘trade' menu with trades with players from close by. The game could have been so much better if it only had WiFi. If only players were allowed to battle each other. The lack of this is obvious to anyone who plays. Where did our WiFi go Square-Enix? Where?

The Good
+ Over three hundred quests to choose from.
+ New Jobs
+ New Tribes
+ Detailed maps and battle animations.
+ Intense amount of personalization with jobs, tribes, and clans.
+ Level of customization rivals that of Pokemon and arguably exceeds it.
+ Touching side-quests.
+ Amazing replay-ability.
+ Hard Mode for veteran players.
+ Hundreds of items including armor, weapons, and accessories to make your characters even more unique.

The Arguments
- Some Tribes are overpowered in comparison.
- Story may turn off veteran gamers.
- Gamers who've played earlier titles may become bored.
- No WiFi capability.
- Certain Jobs are imbalanced.
- Even less secret characters then the last title.

Overall
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 is the best strategy game on the DS, hands down. Armed with outstanding gameplay it'll keep any player busy from beginning to end. Graphics and music both out of this world and heart-pumping. And the side-stories woven in that will warm your heart and soul. It's tough saying no to a game this good. So what are you waiting for? Go get it!


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/12/08, Updated 04/13/09

Game Release: Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (US, 06/24/08)


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