Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Retro Review - Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is a turn-based strategy game in which you play as Marche - the new kid in town working to be accepted. The game starts off with a basic tutorial on how to navigate the battlefield, and perform basic actions - via a snowball fight. Marche quickly makes friends with Ritz, a fiery little redhead, and Mewt, a shy boy who is constantly picked on. Mewt, Ritz, and Marche later meet at Marche's house, to look at an old book Mewt had found with weird writing inside. That night, the entire world is changed into Ivalice, a world of Final Fantasy.

In FFTA, it was very comforting to see similar monsters as in FFT (PSOne), though I'll admit that at first, I despised the GBA edition. I guess I had my expectations set very high, and was looking for a continuation of the original's dark story. When you compare the original's story of a corrupt church manipulating wars and trying to take control of world by resurrecting an ancient monster whom was written in history as a Saint, to some school children getting sucked into the world of their favorite game 'Final Fantasy' via an old magical book, and your mission is to get back home? Yeah...

Anyway, with I didn't play FFTA beyond the first five minutes for 4 years, until one day when I decided to give it another shot, and treat it as it was - a different game. Story aside, which was very G-rated, the gameplay was great. The music was highly enjoyable, and I still catch myself whistling it quite often.

The various job classes were specified by race, with some jobs being multi-racial. There are 5 playable races - however, each race only has one playable gender, with the only female being the bunny-like Viera.

New skills can be gained via different weapons and armor. As long as you had it equipped you could use that particular skill, and you could master the skill and use it without that weapon or armor equipped by gaining ability points through regular combat. This was an interesting contrast to purchasing skills with Job Points like in the original.

Another interesting element in FFTA is the Judge system, which restricts both teams from using certain abilities or entire skill sets. There is a Judge no the battlefield at all times to enforce the Laws, and breaking the Laws could result in loss of experience, money, or your unit being sent to jail. If Marche is sent to jail, the game is over.

I played my first time through and clocked about 30 hours, and I was quite pleased as this was far longer than I expected it to be.

Sound: 9/10 - The music was excellent, though there could have been more battlefield music. And while the sounds of your opponents' deaths were worthy of rolling your eyes at first, I quickly grew hungry to see hear it again.

Gameplay: 9/10 - Well-rounded job system, plenty of side quests and challenges, and a quick-save system all came together to make this a play-and-quit at any time type of game.

Story: 4/10 - Even though it was an E for Everyone game, the story could have had a little more depth to it. A somewhat poor showing, even for a Gameboy Advance game.

Replayability: 10/10 - After you beat this game, you can just as easily restart and just use different job classes or races for a completely different experience.

Control: 10/10 - Simple and to the point - no problems were faced with controls whatsoever.

Overall - 8.4/10 - All in all, FFTA was a great game that I'd recommend to anyone. But if a game's story is your bread and butter, don't expect much from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.


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