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Review: Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift

by Nick Haywood on 26 June 2008, 17:24

Tags: Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift, Square Enix (TYO:9684), DS, RPG

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With this being set in the Final Fantasy universe I was expecting a bit more character fiddling than is actually in Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift. Oddly enough, there’ s a distinct lack of detail in some key areas. There’s no quest log for starters, except when you hover over quest icons on the map. The character screens are studiously devoid of any really useful info, such as what weapons they can equip… This is particularly frustrating in the shop where, if you have the cash, you can buy everything… which makes it all the more galling when the uber-sword is there, you spank wads of cash on it to find that no-one can even lift the bugger let alone cleft a gizzard in twain…

An odd quirk is the bazaar system, where you offer up a selection of collected items which are combined to give you a new special weapon. You’ll soon find that making use of the bazaar is a great way to get cool new toys but more often than not no-one can actually use them as they don’t have the required level of skill. It would’ve been nice if there were more options for the character screens, such as a choice of attributes to level up, even basic ones like speed, power, health or the like. Yes, allocating points would be a pain, so just give me a choice of where to stick all of them on a per character basis rather than the usual RPG share-out across attributes, that’ll do for me. At least that way I can beef up my tanks, wisen up my mages and turn my archers into dead-eye snipers.

The actual battles themselves can be fairly tactical but, as with most turn based, tile based combat, it’s a case of keeping your healer out of harm’s way, using the ranged guys to do the damage and keep healing the tanks to take the brunt of the enemy attack. This system has seen me fine through most every quest so far, I’ve yet to actually lose one, which has given Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift a slightly repetitive feel, even though I’m still enjoying it.

Once your clan starts to grow you may well find that you start to run out of cash as you’re tooling up more and more characters trying to keep them on the bleeding edge of the latest and greatest kit. Whilst this is a great way to play and lets you use nearly all your clan, you’ll very likely end up as I did with an ‘A’ and ‘B’ team of similarly skilled characters each using different weapons or magic. The reason you’ll want to consider this is because Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift uses ‘judges’, a kind of all-seeing magical overlord who often imposes restrictions on how you can fight.

For example, you might not be allowed to use ranged weapons or magic that uses ice attacks… which obviously changes how useful a character is in battle. You can break the rules of course, but the rewards for a successful battle are much lower if you do. So it’s well worth duplicating key character classes but kitting them out differently so you have all eventualities covered.

The enemy AI is pretty crafty in nearly all the battles and will try and retreat to a safer area if there’s a threat of being a surrounded as rear attacks are more damaging (ask anyone who went to public school). The Ai will also often go for the member of the team that is the biggest threat, which is why surrounding your mages with tanks is always a good idea. The AI isn’t perfect though and will often go for its strongest attacks early on, leaving it weak for a few rounds and open to a serious counter attack… but that said, it’s nice to see AI that at least makes an attempt at evading or playing tactically.

Overall, Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift is a lot of fun, which still feels like an odd thing to be saying given the lack of control you have over levelling up and a clunky shop interface that’s about as helpful as a sulking weekend shop assistant. The questing can become repetitive though the battles themselves do rely on at least a modicum of tactics. All of which means that I’m still playing Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift as it has that ‘one more go’ appeal mixed in with the ability to leave it alone, play something else and then drop straight back in. Of course, all of this is hobbled by the fact it is turn based combat, but hey, if that floats your boat, go sail with it.

Easy to drop in and drop out
Simple interface is easy to learn
Using tactics actually pays off
Oddly engaging

Battle screen too small for decent stylus control
Battles can become repetitive
Clunky shop system
Character customization too basic

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift isn’t the deepest of games, but what’s here is good fun.

HEXUS Awards

HEXUS.gaming Recommended
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift - DS

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