Review by Drew02

"Greatly improved from the first FFTA"

I'm one of the many, many lovers of FFTA who waited years for the sequel to make its debut. During this time, I had created countless files, enjoying the game differently each time. However, along with my fellow players, I did start to get a bit bored of FFTA. Despite the fact that each new game offered a myriad of options, they were still the same options every time.

This is why, as I removed the plastic wrapping around the case of FFTA2 on June 24th, 2008, I was so very anxious to play the game. I had been avidly reading the message board on Gamefaqs daily, constantly looking for new information that was being released from those who had access to the Japanese version. Okay, I'll admit, I might have been a little obsessed...but it all paid off in the end.

FFTA was constantly compared to the original FFT, which definitely has one of the best storylines of any game I've ever played. Sure, the storyline in the advance version was lacking, but who cares? It had great gameplay. FFTA2 has suffered the same treatment as its most recent predecessor, unfortunately...many have said the storyline is severely lacking, that it's not up to par with the original. Yes, this is partially true. The storyline is nowhere as deep as FFT(not many games can compare to FFT, however).

But one must look at this game as what it is; something that's meant to be enjoyable for all ages. Those of us who are a bit older could easily understand a complex storyline, but this game is on a Nintendo handheld system, and Nintendo has always had the image of being friendly to gamers of all ages. If the storyline was as dark and complicated as the original FFT, Nintendo would really be pushing away a large demographic of theirs, children, by allowing it to be on their system. That's why, despite the fact that the story is a bit shallow, it can't be classified as terrible. I definitely think it's better than FFTA.

It also received a bit of criticism for the graphics. The sprites, for the most part, are pretty much identical to those in FFTA. But let's be honest--they're sprites. If this was a full 3D game, I could understand wanting improvement(kind of how FFX VASTLY improved on FFIX). And though the sprites were kept mostly the same, the effects of attacks and spells were changed significantly. I find myself being pleased by even the most basic attacks, simply because they're very aesthetically pleasing.

Gameplay has mostly been kept the same. There are a few new features in battles that are pretty easy to pick up on, as well as the inclusion of new TYPES of battles. As opposed to FFTA, not every mission requires you to kill everything in sight. You face missions now that require you to find a certain item on the battlefield, to talk to certain NPCs, to gather a certain number of ingredients, and the list goes on. Laws were changed pretty dramatically as well. You now don't have to worry about getting a 'game over' because your main guy broke the law, getting your stats lowered, or having equipment taken away. The only punishments you receive are losing the judge bonus at the end of the mission(extra items and loot), and for the rest of the mission you cannot revive fallen clanmates. All in all, pretty lenient.

There are a couple new systems that are pretty important to the game, the bazaar and the auction house. Basically, you receive loot at the end of every mission, though you can also steal some from your enemies, and once you get the right combination, you trade the loot in at the bazaar to unlock new weapons, armor, and accessories. Shops no longer update automatically, so getting new equipment is entirely up to you. You can receive equips as judge bonuses at the end of missions, but typically, nothing you get is unique or special.

The auction system is where you compete against other clans for territory. Each major city auctions off certain areas every 220 days, and if you win every area in one city, you own all of them forever and the auction house will then auction off items instead of territories. This is the way that you get most extremely rare pieces of equipment in the game, and is pretty vital if you want the most powerful weapons and abilities.

Each race also received new jobs, and two new races were included, Seeq and Gria. This opened up for even MORE customization(who knew it was possible?!), making the replayability of the game exponentially greater than FFTA(again, seemingly impossible). However, there are a couple problems with this. In order to make the classes more 'balanced', a few of the returning jobs were weakened, namely the Assassin and the Thief classes. The Nu Mou class Morpher also was removed, meaning there is no Monster Bank, and Hunters no longer learn Capture. It isn't a huge deal, but it is a bit frustrating to those who loved to use certain jobs that are now [slightly] less useful or don't exist.

The last major change to jobs is that you must now complete certain quests in order to unlock most of them; each race starts with their most basic classes, and the advanced ones are off-limits until you complete the specified quest.

The sound in the game is also, at the very least, pretty good. There are remixes of some older Final Fantasy songs that most people will recognize, as well as a couple new scores that were done very well. Sound effects are great, and surprisingly, one of the best improvements in that area is the basic Attack sound. In FFTA, it sounded like you hit the enemy with a blunt object, regardless of what weapon you used. Now, in FFTA2, hitting an enemy with a sword actually sounds like you're...well, slicing them, I guess.

There are very few glitches and bugs. In fact, I personally haven't ran into any. The game runs smoothly, though the menus are a bit slow to load because of the fading effect the programmers added to them. The stylus controls are a bit hard to use, but nobody really uses them anyway, so unless you're a player that has to use the stylus in every DS game you play, it's not something you'll notice. The learning curve is pretty easy, and if you've played FFT or FFTA at all, you'll pick up on the game almost instantly.

Overall, it's a vast improvement on a game that was already extremely fun to begin with. With the inclusion of many new features, jobs, and races, as well as the updates to the special effects and(believe it or not) an improved storyline, it's better in almost every way.

+Improved story
+Improved graphics
+New races and jobs
+Lots of new features
+Improved replayability
+Laws/judges are more lenient
+Auction system is pretty fun and addicting

-Some classes were weakened, and one was removed
-Bazaar system can stop you from learning new abilities quickly, thus resulting in being stuck with a couple jobs for a long time
-Bad stylus controls

~Final Rating~

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/30/08

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

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