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I throughly enjoyed Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on the GBA (and this is bearing in mind I've never played the original game or remake on the PS1/PSP). That game had a decent story, rich gameplay and good graphics for its time. So I was really excited when its sequel came out for the DS, because it would have all of this and more. Whilst that was true, I didn't have the same excitement playing this game compared to its previous installments.
Let's start with the weakest aspect of the game- its story. The main character is a young boy named Luso who is stuck in detention at the end of the school term. While cleaning out the library as punishment he comes across the Grim Grimoire from the first FFTA game. Upon writing the book he is transported into Ivalice as well as the middle of a fight between a clan and its monster. The clan's leader, the Cid of this game, allows Luso to join the clan after deafeating the creature. The only way for Luso to return to his world is to fill in his Grim Grimoire with his clan's quests and adventures. The plot itself is quite linear and Luso doesn't face any personal conflict, nor does he develop that much as a character. Surprisingly more attention is put into the characters of the sidequests or the secondary characters like Cid or Adelle than to our hero. There are plenty of camoes however for fans of the Final Fantasy verse, including Vaan and Penelo of Final Fantasy 12 as playable characters and support characters from the GBA prequel, but they're really just there as a nod to continuity in the 'Ivalice' series.
Now the gameplay follows other strategy role-playing games- within your clan, you assemble a group of characters of various classes and races (of which there are now 7) deploy them on a map and complete your objective, whether that be defeat all the enemy units, defeat only the boss, get your team to another side of the map etc. These are accessed as clan missions at the regional pub. Not all missions involve fighting on the map, but may involve dispatching characters out of your party for a period of time, or simply moving around the battle screen assisting NPCs. The seven races in this game- Humes (Humans), Nu-mou, Viera, Bangaa, Moogles, Seeq and Gria have a wealth of classes between them which need to be unlocked. It's always a joy to ultilize their skills (via ability points) to cover all grounds. For example, you could have a Ninja that knew Fighter techniques if you trained them with that class' abilities long enough, but how complex you want your units to be is up to you.
Unique to this series is the Law system, which has been shaken a bit since FFTA because it's quite a divisive mechanic. In the GBA game laws prevented you from doing certain actions while others gave bonuses in the form of Judge Points. Breaking the laws had the severe punishment of putting your characters in prison for a number of days/battles and possibly lowering their stats as well. In this game Square Enix decided to lower the consequences of law breaking in exchange for making them even harder to follow. This means that breaking a law only results in the judge leaving the field, so dead characters who aren't revived are permantly gone from your party, and a loss of bonuses at the end of the completed mission. However some of the laws introduced in this game are particularly unfair and silly, especially as they aren't randomised for every missions. These laws include 'Forbidden: Knockback' (when critical hits automatically knock characters back unless they are against a wall), 'Forbidden: Distant Attacks' (which again counts a knockback from a critical hit) and, most egregiously, 'Forbidden: Missing', which usually happens on maps where the enemy units are fast enough for dodging to be plausible. This may seem like nitpicking but I preferred the laws when the consequences were high but it wasn't up to luck for them to be broken but by my own folly or risk-taking. They added to the difficulty, not provided as a bonus for your team's safety.
Now onto the graphics and sound. They are an improvement over the first game and fitting for the DS. It's great seeing a proper world map which covers several regions with their own pub, shop and fighting areas. Also the grid system has been expanded on, with larger monsters now taking up several squares and filling the screen. The summons look cool as always and some of them take up both screens. Also sidequest characters can be distinguished from generic class sprites which I think is a nice touch. Music on the other hand fits the fantasy setting but none of the tunes in my opinion are catchy or memorable outside of the game.
Fortunately you will have a lot of replay value here. There are over 300 missions, most of which aren't story-related, and then there is still the challenge of building your ideal clan of classes and unlocking secret characters, abilities and weapons by collecting rare materials. Yet despite an enjoyable thirty hours and more of gameplay I felt like this sequel lacked the charm of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. The law system is now frustrating and the story is weaker than ever. Nevertheless there is still a good tactical experience to be had here with a lot more variety, bonus features and sidequests to keep a Final Fantasy Tactics fan satisfied, but otherwise you may soon be longing for one of the original games or Fire Emblem soon enough.
(Also posted on Ciao under the username Anti_W)
I picked up this game a while ago when it launched and fell in love with it the second i put it into my DS. This game does so many things right and so little wrong. The best things about this game are definitely the character development and the combat. The story is great as well, akin to the majority of the game in the Final Fantasy series. Though the game does have a few minor flaws such as the laws and reviving teammates.
This has to be my favorite thing this game has to offer. A character can be one of several races that each have a set pattern that their stats follow when increasing every level, making each race different from each other and better for some classes than others. On top of races each character can choose from a plethora of classes based on the race of the character. At the start of the game the majority of classes are locked, and must be opened up by leveling up prerequisite classes to certain levels. A character class may be freely switched anytime outside of combat which allows for a variety of teams and strategies. On top of using the skills from the selected class a character may set a secondary class and use abilities that have been trained from that class as well.
As far as turn based RPGs go i love the way this games combat plays out. Unlike normal turn based Final Fantasy games the combat area is like a board with a grid on it. Each characters turn the player is allowed to move each character a certain amount and if an enemy is within attacking distance the player may attack. Also the player may approach a target enemy from the side or behind to be more accurate and deal more damage. There is a variety of attack types such as line of sight, aoe, single, or whole field. These things allow for the need of strategy in order to be successful in the harder parts of the game, allowing for greater challenge and reward for outsmarting your opponent.
Ive only had 2 minor flaws that didn't ruin the game, but were a bit confusing. First of all was that the laws that the player must abide by in each battle seemed to only apply to the player and not the opponent which would sometimes allow the enemy to have a great advantage over me. The other flaw which might have just been my fault was that i couldn't find out how to revive my allies that had fallen in battle. In previous tactics games the allies would fall to the ground after defeated and a phoenix down would be used to revive them. In Tactics Adv 2 there were phoenix downs and even the spell revive but i was never able to use them as when an ally died their body would vanish. Not a huge deal but it would have made several battles a bit easier.
Overall this is simply a great game with a decent amount of playtime and replay time. I would highly recommend this game to any fans of RPGs or who like some strategy in their games.
Final Fantasy Tactics is a move away from the main line Final Fantasy series, and I suppose could be best described as a Tactical RPG, with combat in the form of Turn based battles. This is a system that fits the handheld DS extremely well though, and while the system at first seems somewhat simple, you quickly realise that it is rather difficult to master. Although if you really wanted to you could just level up your characters by going through low level missions but doing so would remove much of the fun from the game. In a sense it can be seen as a puzzle game, the joy is in figuring out a strategy that work, and then when it executes perfectly the surge of adrenaline. The missions are short but fun, and are perfect for playing on the train or the bus. Story wise its typical RPG faire, but fun never the less and for a hand held game is more than adequate. It might not be perfect but it is one of the best games on DS in the last few years.
Overall Rating: 78%
Strategy RPGs, you would think, would be a natural fit for the DS given the touch screen, portability and wifi capabilities. Although FFTA2 does a good job of making a fun and addicting game, it would have been just as good had it been made on the GBA - and I think that's what lets it down. It hardly uses the DS's features - in fact, I find it easier to play with the buttons than the touch screen, the graphics are about the same as the original FFTA on the GBA, and the GBA outing actually had more in the way of multiplayer than this one does... so, you might be wondering, why does it get a good score? Because at the heart of it, it is a good game and it does its job as a game; it is fun.
The gameplay of the game is more or less standard fare for a strategy RPG. For what it does, it does it well - there is very little in the way of basic game mechanics that make it hard to play, or get in the way of the fun. It's smooth, it runs well, the interface is clear, and the input is well done on a basic level. The more interesting features tend to complicate this, however - some of the ideas in the game are very good, and others not so good. The whole game is based on taking quests (which involve battles, finding items in battles, more battles, and occasionally a delivery quest). The fact that most of these are battle-based is not a problem though, because the battles are very good fun, and very well balanced. It never feels as though the game is too easy or too hard, and it does a great job of being challenging but not frustrating. This is where things start to get a bit annoying - the laws system.
In the first game, the laws were both annoying and punishing. In this version, it's not so bad - the laws are indeed annoying, and to a perfectionist like me, they can really get under your nose and get in the way. They have made the punishments for breaking the laws far less severe, but at the same time made the laws themselves... somewhat ridiculous. Examples of some of the most annoying are those that are beyond your control - one is that you are not allowed to miss, another being that you are not allowed to get a critical hit and knock an enemy back a square. Since it is entirely through chance that these situations arise, it really adds frustration into what is otherwise a good way of adding interest and colour to the battle system.
The game also suffers from another problem from FFTA, and that is the lack of much storyline - generally when I play an RPG, I expect it to have some kind of good story to keep me going. FFTA surprised me when the storyline was fairly minimal - it felt, at times, like I was playing just for the sake of playing - and I get the same feeling from this game. The game does somehow manage to still be addictive though, because it has that charm about it, but I can't help but feel it would've been better with a real storyline, other than the old "boy gets sucked into a book and lands in another world, has to escape" routine.
The graphics of the game are stylistically very nice. I like the character illustrations, and the pixel art is excellent. It does look very good - and while it doesn't necessarily use the DS to its full potential, I feel the graphics suit the game well, and just... work. The audio side of things is fairly average, with the music fitting but not really being very memorable, and the sound effects being the usual stuff, with nothing that really stands out.
FFTA2 is a very fun game, but reflecting on it, it is hard to put across exactly what it is that makes it a good game. Everything is fairly average, and it certainly doesn't make great of the DS's features, but it has a certain charm about it that will keep you coming back for more (provided strategy RPGs are the kind of games you like to play). It also has a wealth of missions to do, and it's a game suited to the mobile gaming platform as it's very easy to pick up, play a quest then put down again. I'd say buy it if you liked the first FFTA, don't buy it if you didn't because not enough has changed, and give it shot if you haven't played FFTA but like strategy RPGs.
Disclaimer; I post all my reviews on multiple reviewing sites under the username "Ultima2876", where applicable.
A strategy and tactics game with battles, missions, swords, and sorcery, set in the universe of the hugely successful FINAL FANTASY series. Alone in a foreign world, Luso befriends a motley crew of monks, mages, archers, and soldiers. The only hope you have of finding your way home is to turn your ragtag group of misfits into a finely tuned fighting force. As you gain experience and reputation, your job options grow as well as the rewards. But after spending some time in Ivalice, you may never want to leave!