Friday, April 24, 2009

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2: Grimoire of the Rift

GENRE: Role-Playing Game / Turn-Based Strategy
Parental Guidance Recommended
2008 Square Enix Co., Ltd


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Original Soundtrack
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Everything Grimoire of the Rift Description:
Return to Ivalice in the latest installment of the legendary FINAL FANTASY TACTICS series. Summer vacation has begun for all but one unlucky student. Alone in the school library, Luso solemnly toils away the punishment his mischief has brought him. It is there that he finds a dusty, mysterious book. Opening it, he reads aloud the only text it contains: "One is fated to fill these barren pages. Know you his name?" Scrawling his name onto the next blank page, Luso unwittingly begins the first chapter of an adventure all his own.

  • Tactics A2 brings more than 50 job classes to the player, enhancing one of the FINAL FANTASY series' most distinctive features
  • All-new content and enhancements, including polished game mechanics, new jobs, new races and a new clan system that enrich the Ivalice experience for fans and newcomers alike
  • The North American release will allow players to command characters in battle and navigate through menus all with a tap of the stylus
  • Witness vibrant and colorful visuals in dual-screen presentation, made possible by Nintendo DS
  • Increased replay value with up to 400 available quests, allowing players to immerse themselves in a multi-faceted storyline

I'm not done playing... >>> by skysenshi (04.23.2009)
I've already beaten the game but I'm still at it. I sometimes even play the repeatable quests just so I could be lulled to sleep. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2: Grimoire of the Rift can be summarized as "the video gaming world's version of comfort food."

At first, I didn't think much of the cutesy look or the fact that the protagonist is in elementary school. It opened with Luso getting detention. Good gawd. I was afraid it was going to be something similar to that blasted FFXII: Revenant Wings! It was a good thing, I went ahead with the game and saw how addictive it was.

I compare this slightly with Final Fantasy Tactics, as their gameplays are remarkably similar. In some aspects, however, I am sheepish to admit that I prefer FFTA2. First off, the characters' skills are learned through the equipment they wear. Unlike FFT, where there are so many jobs with useless or repetitive skills (why would I want an archer when a dragoon does the same kind of work much more effectively?), the jobs and skills in FFTA2 have been categorized by race. Sure, there still are similar skills, but at least you don't have to go through a complicated flowchart in order to attain a job. Meaning, if FFT required that you be a level 3 archer before you can become a ninja, FFTA2 does away with this. Not entirely, but at least you know what jobs you need to unlock beforehand. Your clan members, as they call the members of your party, become whatever you want them to be depending on their race, which gives you a lot of room to play with your parties and strategies.

Another thing FFTA2 improved: quests that allow dispatches. This is similar to "Errands" in FFT, but while FFT required you to go back to the pub you contracted an errand with in order to claim your reward, FFTA2 automatically returns the dispatched characters to your party when the quest is completed. Say, you dispatched 6 units to complete a mission in 5 days. Once the 5 days are up, they will "catch up" with your party, complete with the rewards, instead of you coming back for them.

Auctions, wherein you can bid for rare items in every major town, are a new addition to the fun world of Ivalice. The auctions are held every year, on the month of Greenfire. If you're not doing auctions, you can actually meet traveling companions and other weird characters along the way, like that Luck Stick Nu Mou. The best part is the fact that you can unlock more side quests when you finish the final battle. So now you can understand why I'm still playing it. I've already clocked in over 200 hours and I'm far from done with it.

The graphics are crisp and vibrant, its strength anchored on its user interface. I could say this is one of the best UI I've ever laid eyes on as it is not only user-friendly and well-organized, it's also very pretty. Because of this, I have since then used FFTA2 as one of my favorite examples in game authoring classes I conduct.

FFTA2 has a decent story. It's nothing as heavy as FFT, since your hero is in elementary school, but I find myself laughing at the characters' silly antics. As Luso, you'll be "adopted" by Cid, and you'll meet a bunch of wacky souls as you figure out how to get out of Ivalice and return to your home. I've always thought that the Viera, those lithe bunny girls, were the serious sort, but I got to see their humorous sides. The Seeq, always disgustingly greedy, also have the funniest retorts.

There are only two major things I dislike about this game: the soundtrack and Vaan. I've never tired of ranting about FFXII's OST, being the lethargy-inducing thing that it is. They used it in Revenant Wings. They used it again here. Talk about milking assets in a franchise. Fortunately, the sounds seem to coincide well with the cutesy graphics so it didn't bore me the way it did in the two previous games.

As for Vaan... I didn't understand the need for him in Revenant Wings and I don't understand why he has to be in FFTA2 still. If I wanted to see a dashing sky pirate, I'd much rather see Balthier. Not a 16-bit loser who pretends to be Balthier, no matter how "mature" he looks now. I just can't figure out, for the life of me, why Square-Enix insists on shoving Vaan down our collective throats when they know very well that this character isn't even remotely close to being endearing.

Nevertheless, I'm giving FFTA2 a 10. Penelo has her uses and Vaan can always be relegated to the backseat.

COMPLETION TIME: 120 hours (and more)
RATINGS: Gameplay 10; Battle 10; Story 9; Visuals 10; Characters 9; Sounds 7; Replay Value 10

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