Although not quite in the same style as the main Final fantasies, Square Enix's deviations into SRPG (Strategy RPG) with the franchise have always proven to stand on their own as quality games. Those of you who have experienced the marvellous revenant wings, or indeed the original FF Tactics (Or FFTA for the Advance) will realise this. So, having decided Ivalice as a good place to set many more games, have Square Enix created another solid FF for the DS?
The game takes place in Ivalice (as I said), following the events of FFTA. Young Luso finds himself trapped in this mysterious land, and joins a clan in order to survive the bandits, monsters, and competitive clans that litter it's continents. The story is good (as good as the previous), and while it doesn't match up to those of the main Final Fantasies, it is competent and well enough told that it will hold your attention.
The battles take place on "Gridded" landscapes, and are viewed on an isometric plane. The graphics and detail are very good, and while not pushing the DS to it's limits, they do their function and they do it well enough. Mission goals vary from protecting an NPC for 5 turns or assisting them to kill a super strong monster, to eliminating all members of a rival clan or looking for alchemy ingredients in the field. The variety of missions is nice, and really breaks up the combat heavy emphasis of the game.
In this environment, you can pick up to 6 units from your clan who will form your fighting party. There are 54 classes to choose from, and here is the game's best selling point. The depth is just incredible, and all of the classes have specific equippable weapons, masterable skills, and their own stat growths. You can train units up in any class that their race is allowed to use (usually a good 12 classes or more per race), and even mix & match abilities from different classes to get the best of your warriors (for instance, creating a combat heavy unit with healing magic!). It is this customisation that is so excellent and really drives you to get experience and take as many optional quests as possible (of which there are PLENTY!) since you will become enthralled in developing your characters exactly as you want to. You choose when you want them to learn abilities, which ones to learn, and which ones you'll mix. It's a finely executed system, and one that really adds tons of depth and strategy to this fine game.
Other improvements from the predecessor include refinement of the judge system (no more jail or stat punishments, you are just forsaken the use of revive for the battle and bonus items if you break the law), stronger characterisation, and infinite mission item capacity (meaning you can do every sidequest no matter what).
Overall, this is an incredible game and for those who like their RPGs strategic and deep, you can't go wrong. I appreciate how much more I could have told you, but most of the beauty is in discovering it for yourself. Buy it, love it, and appreciate every awesome little detail hidden in this wonderful game.
+ Excellent spell and technique effects.
+ Combat is refined and strategic without being overly complex.
+ Huge range of classes to choose from.
+ Over 300 quests to complete, for hours upon hours of gameplay.
+ Customise units to your specific desire.
+ Great quality soundtrack.
+ New "Boss" enemies that take up multiple tiles.
+ MASSIVELY improved Law / Judge system.
+ Some excellent cameos (including Vaan!)
- Takes a while to unlock the best classes.
- Graphics haven't really improved over the first game.
- Storyline is a bit underdeveloped by FF standards.
- Weapon / Armour crafting system takes some getting used to.