Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift Review

Strategy RPGs have become an increasingly popular genre for the gamer on the go. Setting you up with the basics of controlling one side and defeating the other in a short amount of time, it’s a perfect example of quick, fun gaming goodness. Titles like Disgaea, Front Mission, Advance Wars, and Final Fantasy Tactics are just a few who manage to do it particularly well. So when another game in one of the series just mentioned is released, it tends to be a big deal for the strategist in us.

Recently released Final Fantasy Tactics A2 (FFTA2 from now on) for the Nintendo DS is not some second rate sequel filled with old gameplay mechanics and a different paint job over it. Besides its fairly new story, FFTA2 helps beginners get into the game without much hardship with a quick and easy tutorial, while maintaining the difficulty wanted by many veteran SRPG players. Your character, similar to the first FFTA, is transported to the world of Ivalice after opening a mysterious magical book. Once you find your way around the new world you start making friends and join a clan — a group of controllable characters you take onto the battlefield. Even though the story isn’t as mature and epic as the original Final Fantasy Tactics that was released in 1998 on the PS1, the story does keep you interested the whole way through. Besides trying to find your way back home, you are presented with 400 quests that span many battlefields and hundreds of pieces of loot to improve the quality of not only your character, but his particular job as well.

As in previous Final Fantasy Tactics games, you equip your characters with different armor and weapons that when used for a specific period of time let you learn a specific ability available for your job. Mastering these skills lets you transfer them to a different job, giving you the ability to mix and match in many different ways. FFTA2 also includes the Bazaar system, in which you can trade in materials you find on the battlefield and match them together to make armors and weapons yourself. So without having to rely entirely on quest completion loot, you are now able to make your own weapons, thereby having the option to learn more abilities in a quicker fashion. It’s a nice system that adds a little more than just battle when confronted by your enemies.

The game truly shines on the battlefield. Gone are the random pointless battles we saw in FFTA. Square Enix did a good job in trying to implement the story in every battle, moving the protagonist from one adventure to another, all with purpose and meaning. During some battles you’ll be visited by “guests”, non-controllable NPCs that help you along the way and are part of the big picture in one way or another. Judges, the heavy armored knights of the battlefield are back to examine and survey the battle once again. This time, however, the rules have been changed a bit. Since every battle needs to follow a certain rule, if that rule is broken, the specific character who broke it would suffer the consequences. Instead of a character going to jail when a rule was broken, you are faced with the inability to revive a fallen comrade and your privilege is lost. You are able to choose in the beginning of each battle a privilege that affects your party in a certain way; for example you can use the privilege to have a power boost, or a speed boost.

With every battle comes the chance to try out a new job that you recently unlocked. With over 50 different jobs (the most of any FF game), there are certainly a lot of party setups that can prove to be extremely fun and worthwhile. Just when you think this game offered everything it possibly could, a list of mechanics are used to keep you on your fingertips and ready to play more. The ability to equip every single one of your clan members with armor, weapons, abilities, rare combat attacks called “opportunity turns,” the ability to trade raffle tickets with another person’s DS for rare items, etc.

Besides its incredibly fun gameplay, the world of Ivalice is one of the best-presented pieces of art on the DS. Each area, whether a town or battlefield, is so detailed and colorful that just looking at the surroundings makes you appreciate the work that was put into the game’s presentation. Square Enix really captured the feel of Ivalice and its denizens, even more than its previous Tactics Advance title.

There are way more pros than there are cons in this game, but one major flaw that should’ve been fixed was the fixed camera. In Final Fantasy Tactics, you were able to move the camera around 360 degrees, but in FFTA2 you are stuck with a fixed camera looking in one direction. Usually this isn’t that big of a problem, but when you are trying to assign members to go to a particular square behind a building or a tree, it can get a bit frustrating.

Overall the experience you’ll get from this game is like no other on the DS. The deep gameplay, beautiful visuals, customization and hundreds of quests will keep you playing for a long time to come.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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