Final Fantasy Tactics Advance - Reader Review  

The Law of the Land
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

15-100 Hours


Rating definitions 

   Though Final Fantasy Tactics Advance borrows the name of its predecessor, it is very different. The AI is poor, skills are based on which equipment the player purchases or finds rather than what is needed, and the entire game is now mission based rather than story based. The main character finds himself and his friends trapped in another world and fights to revert the world to its original form getting into many guild wars along the way.

   Battles are much like they were in FFT, but seem to be dumbed down and are horribly restrictive. One of the most important parts of tactical RPG battles, AI, is severely lacking. Enemies will often fail to take advantage of the most obvious situations. Each character can balance a main class and secondary class skill. While this would seem like it would offer a great deal of flexibility, all abilities are based on equipment which heavily restricts the player for much of the game. Support, reaction, and combo abilities may also be set, but these are rarer still. The most noticeable addition to the battle system is the Judge. The Judge sets a good deal of laws which, while interesting at first, only get in the way later on. Honestly, spending an hour or two tapping the enemy to death due to not being able to inflict more than 20 damage for fear of being set to jail isn't the pinnacle of fun. Luckily situations such as this are rare, but they do happen. This effect is greatly multiplied for those who attempt to complete the ridiculous amount of missions FFTA has to offer. Law cards help undo annoying laws, but the player generally needs a specific card and cannot carry very many at a time. Upon defeating an enemy or using one of the few recommended abilities, players can fill a meter that will allow them to unleash a combo or summon a guardian to aid them and can thankfully help end battles quickly. Though the battle system has its faults, it is fairly average overall due to the remaining elements from FFT.

One of the many missions One of the many missions

   Suffering from poor AI and enemy levels no longer matched by the player's, FFTA is very easy. There is very little challenge to be found in any battle unless there is an annoying law in effect. Enemies often perform stupid actions such as shooting an arrow at a character that has immunity to arrows. These mistakes often add up and make life easy for the player. Healing often results in a lot of exp and can allow healing classes to quickly reach the level cap and become ridiculously overpowered.

   The menu interface found in FFTA isn't too bad given the limited amount of buttons on the GBA, but it certainly could have been better. Localization is the one area that actually improves over its predecessor as most of the game has very few errors.

   FFTA borrows its systems primarily from FFT, though they have been dumbed down quite a bit. While the system of advancing the storyline is different, it is based on a similar sidequest-like system found in FFT. It also borrows the fact that characters learn abilities from their equipment from FFIX. Many of the bosses are taken from other Final Fantasy games and there are few new classes and skills. FFTA's implementation may be different, but it is very similar to other games. The most original idea is FFTA is the Law System and its ability to punish players, but it does little to counter the rest of the game's unoriginality. The combo system is fairly new as well, but is only a minor addition.

Shameless self-promotion Shameless self-promotion

   FFTA suffers from a very poor storyline. There are only a few characters of mention and most are seen so infrequently that character development hardly exists. As far as the primary plot is concerned, the flow is very poor due to a large number of unrelated missions with a scarce one that is actually important to the storyline here and there. There are optional storylines, but these are few and aren't very developed either. The game boasts 300 or so missions, yet they are all painfully similar. To make matters worse, there are dozens of repeatable missions which clutter the selection screen and several forced missions where turf is under attack. If land that is under attack isn't saved, it is lost. While this isn't a problem early in the game, by the end the player is forced to run all over the place to merely keep their land. This further detracts from the story.

   Due to the lack of story based missions, it's possible to finish FFTA is under fifteen hours. There are hundreds of missions to keep players in need of a long game occupied as there are over 300 in total. Though they are repetitive, they do a good job of keeping the player busy.

   There are few battle tracks despite there being hundreds of battle-based missions. It goes without saying that the normal battle themes become extremely repetitive over time. The few boss and story tracks do little to make up for this. Sound effects aren't much better. They are very plain and don't vary much. Poor sound overall.

   FFTA features some nice visuals. Each sprite has a decent amount of animation and is fairly detailed. Sadly, there are really too few enemies to justify so much palette swapping, as a number of enemies have two or even three colors. To help make up for this, abilities and backgrounds are detailed and look good. All things considered, FFTA has good visuals.

   Despite it being a sequel that borrows heavily, FFTA doesn't even retain the same feeling as the original. Most of the game has been dumbed down and while it's still reasonably fun, there are many games that are better. It is, however, one of the few multiplayer tactical RPGs, but even the multiplayer mode is a bit lacking. It's excellent for killing time on the go, but otherwise you're better off elsewhere.

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