Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has to be one of my favourite games for Nintendo's Gameboy Advance. Being a fan of Square-Enix's Final Fantasy franchise since the mid 90s', I was more than happy to try out the first FF game made specifically for a handheld console. Like the some of the series, the game is set in a fictional world where there are all sorts of different species co-existing with each other - lizard like creatures known strictly as 'Bangaa' (that take offence by that comparison!), ladies with rabbit ears called Viera, the classic 'Mogs' or 'Moogles', 'Humes' aka Humans and 'Nu Mou' - long eared spaniel/elephant/rat things. All of which have their own 'Totema' which are the equivalent of Summon like Limit Breaks, similar to those in previous FF installments. The story is initially about a bunch of kids who skulk around a regular life-like snowy town and end up being teleported to the completely different world of Ivalice where battles are a regular occurrence and the kids eventually figure out what is going on and why by fighting their way to find each other. The story doesn't knock you back exactly and I haven't offered much but there are several key points that would be considered spoilers. There is also a fair amount of dialogue to scroll through with so many interactions with other people and their clans as well as fans - which is fine unless you just want the strategy element and less of the minimal RPG-ness.
The protagonist is what you'd called a right goodie two shoes, because unlike many other FF games, you have minimal decisions and almost no chance to customise him, make him do as you see fit in difficult situations.. in other words - your character is a crybaby paragon. Anyway, the fighting is the real reason you're playing to be honest, with the traditional turn based battle system with friends and recruitable members trying to join your clan. You can name said clan and choose who gets into it, judging NPC's on their jobs and abilities. Older fans of the series will notice that the Job system has been brought back with many available (some race specific) - you can be/recruit: soldiers, fighters, thieves, black/white/red mages, white monks, ninjas, dragoons, archers, snipers, time mages, tinkerers, knights etc the list makes the game so much more expansive, especially as each job type comes with its own set of skill moves, learnt only by equipping specific weapons and armour - New abilities are learnt by wearing and using items, gaining enough exp/ap with them via battles - the better the skill, the longer it takes to learn. You can find/steal/buy weapons and armour. Battles can include a several of your clan members, against other clans and or wild animals. You get the standard menu with each team member: Fight, Move, Tech, Skill, Item, Skip. The idea is to move your teammates across the fighting plane, moving onto tiles like a board-game, get an enemy within range and strike with weapon, magic or skill.
The music is ok, mostly using upbeat 'off to battle' march music, but some special areas can have some pleasantly different soundtracks - keep in mind though its never going to sound brilliant being a MIDI music file. There's a world map where you move your player across to reach plot and job destinations - each destination has a specific set of rules in place for battle which are enforced by a judge in each match (expect for the jagd's) - these in turn make battles more diverse and can restrict you to use other methods to achieve victory. If a rule/law is broken, the rule breaker is either 'booked' or sent to a prison instantly. These rules can eventually be abolished and altered throughout the course of the game. Players have the standard HP and MP system, for health and magic, as well as JP with builds up by defeating opponents and using the recommended laws - these act as powerful limit breaks and unlock use of totema that can have effects on all units. It may sound a bit complicated and at first it is, but as the battles tick on, you'll find yourself wanting more - more skills, members, weapons, gil, the lot.
Its a game that can kill time but also make it fun, with a multiplayer vs option, allowing a link up battle of clans between you and a local friend - this is very fun but only available if you both have the same regional cartridge (you cannot duel if one has a PAL and the other NTSC). Not a must have game, but certainly a fun, strategic game to get immersed into on the go.
Although it pales in comparison to the first FF Tactics, it's still an enjoyable game to play on the go. It doesn't require too much brainpower to be honest, but that's what makes it such a nice game to enjoy when you need a break.
The story is simple - a young boy is transported into a fantasy realm populated by monsters and 'judges', and together with the help of a moogle, Montblanc, you set off to discover what happened to your world and who is behind this chaos.
The job system is similar to FF Tactics, but in FFTA you have different races, each of which can be developed in various classes - some are more magic-oriented, while others focus on strength. Unfortunately, most of these classes are race-specific except the most basic such as mages, so you have to choose carefully which ones to include in your party.
Battles are also turn-based strategy like FFTA with one difference - Judges set 'rules' for each battle, encouraging/discouraging the use of certain techniques or weapons during that battle. Some of these will be to your advantage, but most of the time it's a pain to keep track of. If you flout the rules you'll be given either a yellow or red card and sent to jail (don't worry, you can get out of jail later!) leaving you with one less man on the field. It's an interesting way to stop you from following the same attack pattern all through the game, but unneccessary, especially since some of the more ridiculous rules (nodmg2animal --> you cannot attack monsters with physical or spell-based attacks) leave you with only one character that can be used, while the rest of your party wanders around aimlessly.
You can also complete missions that net you items (non-usable, but fun to collect) and experience, and you are constantly fighting for territory with other clans, so expect lots of battles almost every move you make. There are 2 kinds of missions - dispatch and party. Dispatch missions infuriated me because sometimes you can fail with mission for no good reason, and have to wait a looong while to get them back.
Overall, the job system makes the game enjoyable and ups its replay value, but if you've played the original FFTactics, you'll be a little disappointed with how watered down this is.
Final Fantasy Tactics requires alot of strategy. If you do not have patience for strategy games this game is not for you. I recommend this game to people who are over 13 years old. Final Fantasy Tactics A2 is very fun and has a lot of additions from the first Final Fantasy Tactics. There are many jobs to choose from and many possibilities. The music in this game is very good and the graphics are great. The story is very good and addicting and it will leave you on your toes. If your looking for a good strategy game to play that requires patience then Final Fantasy Tactics A2 is the game for you, but it is NOT recommended for younger children because of the difficulty and strategy. The music in the game is very good. One of the best things about this game is that you can choose from an assortment of jobs.
(P.S: I wrote this review on www.ciao.co.uk, edited it a bit, and pasted it here!)