Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift

FF Tactics A2 - Busy Gamer Rating 3

FF Tactics A2 - Busy Gamer Rating 3

First Glance:
It’s Final Fantasy, it’s portable, and it’s turn based combat. What’s not to like?

The Short Story:
If you’re not a fan of turn based combat, keep walking. There’s a good story being told here, something we’ve come to expect from the Final Fantasy games, and the fact that it’s on the DS will make it even more appealing to some Busy Gamers out there. The game is long but they’ve made some improvements over previous Tactics entries to help out; quick saving in the middle of combat being a huge one and a more comprehensive quest log being another.

The Score:
The quest log’s easy to read, the save function is easy to use, and the game play makes it easy to pick up for short play sessions. But the number of characters you have to manage, level, and gear, not to mention a lengthy story line make this a bad choice for the Busy Gamer. Long absences from the game result in trying to figure out what you had in mind during your last play session. All of these considerations earn Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift a 3 on the Busy Gamer scale.

Body of review:
We’ve come to expect certain things from the Final Fantasy franchise. There will be a hero, a young lad who aspires to be more than he currently is, and there will be an adventurous girl who he will eventually fall in love with. This will take place in an exotic land where chocobos roam wild on the plains and moogles give cries of “Kupo??? as they go about their daily lives. And at some point, we get to fight a bunch of stuff. With lucky number thirteen in the main series on the horizon, they must be doing something right.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift definitely falls into the doing something right category. Fans of the Tactics series will be familiar with the different classes and races but those who are newcomers to the series won’t have any troubles picking it up thanks to modifications to the help screens. Help screens can now be accessed to tell you what skills from which classes are necessary to change to the advanced classes later in the game, something distinctly lacking in earlier versions. This change helps you plot out a characters evolution as you play through the game and takes the guess work out of leveling.

Characters not involved in combat still learn skills, allowing you to build up lower level characters into the classes you need or want, another welcome change. Skills are learned by equipping different gear and then merely keeping it equipped until the desired skill is learned. Switching a piece of gear off of a character before a skill is fully learned merely halts the process meaning you can always re-equip the piece of gear and pick up where you left off at a later date if need be.

Equipment is handled completely different in FFTA2 than in previous versions of this title. You’ll gather components as you travel and then take the various components to the shops in the various towns you visit. Placing combinations of the components on the bazaar allows the shops to sell you new, more powerful gear. You’ll still come across equipment in fights and quests but being able to “build??? the new gear is a welcome addition to the series.

Combat is turn based and is resided over by “Judges???. Laws are in effect each and every time you fight and may restrict you from doing things like using elemental attacks or restrict certain races from doing anything but move and basic attacks. In most cases, the laws can be ignored but following them garners extra rewards at the end of combat and grants a bonus of your choice during the combat. Disobeying the laws result in the loss of the combat bonus, the ability to resurrect defeated allies, and the bonus items awarded at the end of the battle. There are quests, however, that require you to follow the laws for that battle resulting in some very interesting restrictions. You’ll find very quickly, though, that you’re the only one who has to follow the laws. Your opponents are free to do as they wish.

As I mentioned earlier, the game is lengthy. Forty hours in I began to feel as if I had barely scratched the surface. This is the trap you’ll fall into as a Busy Gamer. You can ignore the additional quests in favor of pursuing the main quest but you’ll find yourself overwhelmed in some situations if you don’t take the time to level up some of your other characters. The laws you’ll face may find you having to remove one of your most used characters from your lineup which will force you to rely on a lesser used, considerably lower level character as a backup. Relying to heavily on a certain group of characters will hinder you in the long run.

You can do a quick save in the middle of combat, a long overdue feature from previous iterations. The quick save allows you to essentially halt combat, set the game down and pick up at a later date. It’s very nice to have in situations where you might not be able to finish out that hour long battle. Yes, you’ll definitely come across a fight or two that will take much longer than you’d hoped.

The quest log allows you to quickly see where you’re headed, what you need to do, and any necessary items or characters you’ll need to complete the quest. This is nice for those long absences away from the game. It doesn’t, however, help if you had a particular profession in mind for one of your characters. Tracking character development can be done from the Unit Info screen but if you had something planned for one character, you’ll probably need to write a note if you plan on being away from the game for too long.

All in all, this is a great portable title and one I’d recommend if you have some extra time on your hands coming up. But as with most Final Fantasy titles, the Busy Gamer is better off looking elsewhere for an entertainment fix.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

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