Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (Nintendo DS) Review

By Brandon (Michael) Howard 25.12.2017 2

Review for Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift on Nintendo DS

The Final Fantasy Tactics spin-offs are a bit of a mash-up: Final Fantasy in theme and style, but borrowing most of their gameplay from the Ogre Battle series of games, also from Square Enix. Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift is not only one of the most absurdly long video game titles out there, it's also an excellent follow-up to 2003's Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. While it's got a similar vibe to its predecessor, it's got a few key changes that totally change the experience.

One of the hallmarks of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was its unique system of "laws," actions that were forbidden in each battle. The law system required players to diversify their teams, as an entire team of black mages could find themselves unable to win, unless they were willing to pay the price. The system worked on a rotation, with laws changing as the player moved across the map. It was a unique system for a tactics game, and one that had its fair share of critics and fans alike.

It might seem strange, then, that Final Fantasy Tactics A2 forgoes the rotating law system entirely, opting for a set one instead. The set system instead restricts actions mission to mission, allowing for more room for unique puzzles, such as players finding ways to deal damage to physically defensive enemies while magic is against the law.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift on Nintendo DS

Of course, the law system isn't required; it just offers bonuses to those who follow its rules. It's still important to have a well-structured clan, with a variety of offensive, defensive, and supportive units who can get around the restrictions that the law places on them. There's a massive amount of jobs split across the seven difference races, plus quite a few unique characters, so there's tons of options for mixing and matching abilities from different jobs.

The job system works a little differently in the Tactics Advance titles, with characters learning skills from equipped weapons instead of just learning them innately. Characters have to take part in battles to receive experience for those abilities, mastering them and being able to use them without the weapon after a certain point. Characters can also combine skills from multiple jobs at a time, allowing for hundreds of different combinations.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift on Nintendo DS

The story follows a schoolboy named Luso, who's sucked into the world of Ivalice following a slight mishap in his school's library. Seeking to find a way back home, he works to fill in a magical journal that has the power to take him home upon its completion. He's met with competition from a rival grimoire wielder, who wants the story of Ivalice to end on very different terms.

The story goes on quite a bit longer than expected, and there's tons of optional side quests that help flesh out the world of Ivalice and its inhabitants. The main characters and the overall plot really aren't as compelling as most of the protagonists from the original Tactics Advance, but a lot more care has been put into the world-building this time around.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift on Nintendo DS

There's so much content in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 that it's kind of mind-boggling. Each time it feels like the world's getting small and cramped, new areas and missions pop up everywhere. There's a huge amount of missions, and tons of unique challenges and hidden surprises.

While it's easy to feel like the story is mostly rehashed RPG tropes, it's hard not to get sucked into the gameplay of Final Fantasy Tactics A2. The missions are so well crafted that it feels rewarding to play to their restrictions, and the job system is so diverse and fun to explore that players can literally test out combinations for years and still come up with new and exciting ways to tackle the various challenges of this excellent Final Fantasy spin-off.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift misses out on some of the charm of the original Tactics Advance, but it takes advantage of its more structured law system to create unique challenges for each encounter. There's still a ton of mechanical complexity in the job and law systems, and there's a staggering amount of post-game content to explore. While it is a bit lacking in story and character, it's still an excellent RPG with tons of team customisation and interesting encounters.

Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Strategy

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (14 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

i really need to give this one a try.
i skipped it because of the disdain i had for the GBA game.

Del_Duio (guest) 28.12.2017#2

So did I, Insanoflex, but I ordered it on amazon and it arrived yesterday. Haven't played it very much but so far at least I like it more than FFT:A (Which I think most of my hate for that game came from how it was so inferior to the PS1 FFT).

P.S: Graphics aren't everything but the menus and portraits in this game are really great.

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