Originally Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 on Blogger

>Final Fantasy Tactics A2<

I’ve been waiting for the North American release of this game for quite some time. I first fell in love with the Final Fantasy Tactics franchise when I played the gameboy advance installment titled, “Final Fantasy Tactics Advance”, or FFTA for short. Sadly I haven’t played the first Tactics game for PS1, nor its re-release on the PSP. If they were to port it to a nintendo system, then I would definitely check it out. Its not so much that I refuse to buy a sony system (I actually do have a PS2), rather I refuse to buy a sony system for one game and the PS1 version is hard to come by and when I do see it used, it is ridiculously overpriced. But enough on the original tactics and more on the third installment ( or should I say second…)

FFTA2 is a lot like its predecessor, FFTA, so if you liked FFTA, like I did, you will most likely enjoy FFTA2. Both games put you in the shoes of a young male hero, who finds himself transported into the land of Ivalice. There is a marked difference between FFTA and FFTA2’s Ivalice. The first game’s Ivalice was one created through powerful magics and based on the desires of a little boy and hence did not really exist. FFTA2’s Ivalice is the real thing, rather then creating an Ivalice, the Grimoire transports our hero into Ivalice.

Both games have a similar feel too, but FFTA2’s story has tended to be a bit more loose so far, while FFTA’s story was a lot more focused. Both stories also start out very innocent and seem kiddy to some, but as you progress through the game, not so innocent things begin to take shape. Marche, the main hero from FFTA is also a lot more serious and mature then Luso from FFTA2. While Marche focused on going home and was so serious about it that he destroyed his friends’ dreams, Luso is a lot more carefree and seems quite delighted to be adventuring around Ivalice. The main female leads are also very different, while Ritz was fierce, determined, and the leader of her own clan, yet also quite frail. Adelle is selfish and just as childish as Luso, although there seems to be more to her, so this may eventually change.

The basic game mechanics are the same, so those who have played FFTA can get right into the game. Those who haven’t played FFTA should most likely read the manual as there is no in-game tutorial like there was in FFTA. The animations for spells and special attacks have gotten an overhaul and look much better. The battlefields also take advantage of the DS’ extra power and look a lot more vibrant and detailed. There are now chests on the battlefield that units can open to receive the content inside, which range from ordinary potions to great accessories.

As for units, races and classes, the units sprites from the FFTA look the same, but the character portraits have been updated. Some units have also gotten entirely different skill sets, while others have a few different skills. There are two new races accessible, Seeq and Gria and a handful of new jobs. Also, there are quite a few special characters you can recruit into your clan, and some jobs can only be accessed once you complete a certain quest and meet the job’s requirements. All these new additions make FFTA2 even more addicting, as you will find yourself going on quests in hopes of unlocking the next race, character, job, or weapon.

Which is really a good thing, because this game really lags behind in the story department. As far as I have played, there seems to be a story shaping up, but most of the time, the story quests don’t really progress the story all that much. At most your given a bit of foreshadowing, but nothing concrete. I have also only recruited two special characters, Adelle and Cid, which are fairly easy to get as they ask to join during a story segment, or after one has been finished. As for the new jobs and races, I have recruited only two Seeq and I have only seen the two new basic Seeq jobs. So, as you can see, I still have much of the game ahead of me, and I am definitely looking forward to unlocking all the jobs, weapons, and armors. ^^

As for disappointments, there weren’t too many; I was hoping that the GBA slot would be more integrated into game play, but inserting the original FFTA into the GBA slot while playing FFTA2 only nets you an extra Clan ability. I was also hoping that you could recruit some of the main characters from the original game, but as far as I have heard and seen, they only make cameo appearances, so look out for references to them. There is one expection to this and you will be able to recruit Montblanc, who is also seen in FFXII, or so I have heard. Another minor disappointment I had with the game is the reused music, there is a lot of familiar tunes in FFTA2 that you will recognize as coming from FFTA. I wouldn’t have minded so much if they were remixes, but they are exactly the same tunes with only better quality. Thankfully, as you progress into the game, you will hear a lot more original tracks. Finally, I was quite disappointed to learn that once again, you must play as a male protagonist. As a female gamer, I would much rather be given the choice of choosing my gender, instead of always having to play as a male. There are many games out there that have realized this, and have either given their players the choice of gender, or have made games specifically with female leads. Pokemon and Etrian Odyssey are two game that allow you to choose the gender of your character(s), while Harvest Moon has a game that is specifically targeted at the female gender called Harvest Moon Cute, which contains the basic Harvest Moon game play and a few female oriented twists. Now I understand that because of story details, sometimes you cannot have the luxury of allowing gender choices. But as far as I have seen, there is nothing specific in FFTA2 that would negate the use of either a male or a female character. Nothing that Luso does or says could not also be done or said by a female version, nor is there any implied relationship between him and Adelle. FFTA was much the same, Marche could easily have been a female, because there is nothing in the game that necessitates the exclusion of a gender choice for your leading character. I can only hope that Square Enix changes this and allows the choice of male or female for your main character the next tactics game they release.

Other then these three issues I have with the game, it is an overall delightful and addicting experience. I encourage anyone who likes the tactics, or SRPG genre to give it a try. The game play is one of the best I have seen in any SRPG to date and offers a lot of customization and depth. Just remember, the story is a bit lacking, so don’t expect the epic tales you have come to know the Final Fantasy titles for. And now I end this long rant to go and play some more =D