|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Square Enix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: TBA||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
It seems ever since the success of Final Fantansy X-2, sequels and spin offs have been all the rage down at Square-Enix. Well, unsurprisingly, Square-Enix is making another linear sequel to one of its Final Fantasy games. This time, its 2003's Game Boy Advance sleeper hit, Final Fantasy Tactics, that's getting the follow-up.
However, several things will be different between this year's sequel and its predecessor. Of course, the main difference will be that the sequel will be upgrading to Nintendo's current handheld darling, the DS. And with the system upgrade comes a whole lot more. But let's start with the beginning.
Players will begin the game by transporting from their hometown of St. Ivalice, to the similarly-named magical realm of Ivalice by way of a magical book. If you recognize the name Ivalice, it's because Ivalice is the same setting where the Final Fantasy XII games take place. Ivalice is fraught with unknown dangers however, and you are soon confronted with a very large and violent Chocobo. This begins the tutorial phase, and you'll learn (from the ever-present Cid) your battle system and its controls. Your battle system is almost identical to the battle system in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and features a grid which you use to move around, and then subsequently use for your action commands.
You'll also learn about the different capabilities of the people in your party, and their different "job" abilities. You'll have to develop each of your character's skills individually and use their unique attributes to your advantage. This is where the strategy comes in. So for example, you can use a soldier character best in close combat, and a mage character would be best left far from battle, where it could cast it's spells without perturbation.
Once you get past your learning phase, then you're off to go exploring, completing missions, and finding your way through this brand-new world. Not much is known about the story as of yet, but suffice to say it'll probably involve some sort of evil or treachery in the extremely troubled land of Ivalice.
There is one thing we do know, however, about the troubles that will befall Ivalice in Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift. The events that occur in this game will tie-in directly with the events in Final Fantasy XII, and Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, which also take place in Ivalice. These three games are collectively being called the Ivalice trilogy. So somehow these stories are all connected, which will probably be evident after you play all three games (Square-Enix knows how to get their money!)
Controls will be extremely similar to the Game Boy Advance title, utilizing the d-pad to move around and select from menus and the DS's action buttons to select actions, perform special moves, etc. The stylus can be used for things like moving around, but the game would be perfectly playable without it. Though the control scheme is pretty simple, it hearkens back to the original, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not every DS game has to have the "DS Touch" (pun totally intended).
Graphics will be receiving a major upgrade with Final Fantasy Tactics' leap from the GBA to the DS. Although the on screen characters will still be sprites, they'll be composed of more pixels and look smoother in game. The cinema scenes will also be greatly improved and will feature cleaner animation with a much quicker framerate. In addition to all this, the graphical upgrade will also feature brighter and bolder colors then were possible on the GBA. So basically, the game is basically promised to look beautiful.
All in all, I feel that this Final Fantasy spin-off will be one to be excited about. I know it seems like Final Fantasy sequels and spinoffs seem like a dime a dozen. I know It's hard keeping Crisis Core and Chocobo Tales straight, but Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift looks like it'll be distinctive enough (and cool enough) to merit the many hours of your time that are necessary for games in the Final Fantasy franchise.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer