Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-08-18 Nintendo DS Strategy E (Everyone) Square Enix

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance stole about 16 hours of my time one summer, over a couple of days. It absolutely consumed me and I loved every minute of it.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift is the sequel to the GBA game, and it starts with a boy being transported to the world of Ivalice just by simply opening a book and writing his name on it. Our hero, Luso, finds himself in the middle of a battle and decides to join the clan and help them out, while they help him search for someone who might be able to get him back to his own world.

FFTA2 is basically what you know of the previous title. Turn-based strategy battles, a judge that imposes rules for each fight, and lots of quests that completely sidetrack you from the main storyline. Quests and clan trials are picked up at the pubs. Quests will give you money, items and sometimes unlock a new job for your party members to learn, while clan challenges will reward you with new clan privileges to use in battle. These cost clan points, which you get by completing quests.

Clan provileges are one of the new features. For example, while before you had cards that you could use to nullify laws or give you boosts, now you have clan privileges that can be anything from extra experience at the end of a battle to a speed, power or luck increase throughout its duration. Comply to the rules and you are awarded bonus items at the end of the fight.

Another difference is that those clan members that aren't active in battle will still receive some experience points, so you don't have to keep swapping characters in and out of the active party to level up everyone.

The battles are still presented in a 2D isometric view, with terrain obstacles limiting character movement. There is no option to rotate the battle map, which means that sometimes you will have characters or enemies somewhat hidden by scenery and can't see the proper path to reach a particular spot.

There are tons of new jobs and classes to unlock as well (for example, green mage or white monk), but unfortunately jobs are restricted by race so not everyone can become whatever you want them to be, but instead have a small pool of jobs to pick from.

The shop is always an interesting place to visit, especially since there is a new feature called the bazaar. If you hand the shopkeepers certain items that you get as loot, they will take them to the bazaar and "redeem" them for a new piece of equipment.

It's a bit like a recipe that makes something new become available for purchase. Depending on what you equip your characters with, they gain special abilities in combat, so experiment with items and equipment to customize your party in the best possible way.

There are no random battles on the map, which is great, but still I find the progression and battles fairly slow, and some of them really drag. Somehow I hope there was a fast forward option to press while the enemies make their moves. Even the most basic quests can take at least half an hour to complete. And when you're trying to customize everyone and having them learn their jobs and searching for the best weapons, you really forget about what you're supposed to be doing in the first place: getting Luso home.

Still, although slow and complex, Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift has the same great presentation and fantastic music that we are used to from other Square Enix titles, with the advantage of a few bonus goodies such as FFXII unlockable characters, an item trading feature and a bonus clan privilege if you insert the FFTA cartridge in the Gameboy Advance slot on your DS.

If like me you enjoyed FFTA, Grimoire of the Rift will be worth getting lost in and filling out all those blank pages.

Special thanks to Klee Kuo and Square Enix for providing a copy of this title.