Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Review
5/11/03 by King_Ghidra
As the player progresses, he may place new towns on the world map, each of which becomes a new location for missions and battles. Typically each town contains various missions that are optional and one mission that advances the storyline and triggers a new town placement. Thus the player may choose to pace the game at their own rate, either by pushing on through the story or taking time to work through the optional missions. Additionally, winning missions can attract new members to the clan, which gives you more options and strength.
Missions fall into two main types: engagements and despatch. Engagements are regular set piece battles, while despatch missions require the user to select one of the clan members to go off and take the mission. For the despatch missions the player does not control the outcome, they must simply select a suitable clan member and hope for the best. The only thing the player must remember is that for the duration of the despatch mission the selected clan member will not be available for other engagements. This makes obvious the advantage of having a large number of skilled clan members.
The player must also keep a look out for rival clans trying to steal the player’s turf. They wander the map, and may take over towns (thus preventing the player from using their facilities) if left unattended. It pays to take time out from the story and give a rival clan a kicking every now and again. As a sub plot to the main story there is also a contest of clans to participate in, and it provides another nice distraction from the main story arc.
As opposed to the conventional RPG, which depends on many things to be successful, the strategy RPG depends disproportionately on having compelling and enjoyable combat and character development systems. FFTA has a job system, with each job (soldier, white mage, beast master, etc.) having different abilities available and different requirements to qualify for the job. Buying or finding new weapons and items confers new abilities on the party member who wields them. Use these abilities enough and your character will eventually permanently learn them. After learning certain abilities characters become eligible to switch to new jobs. Part of the fun of the game is certainly experimenting to find out what combinations of abilities will open up new and more powerful jobs.
Graphically FFTA is pretty and imaginative, if not spectacular. With so many individual classes and races on the battlefield the most important thing is that all the units are distinct and this is well achieved. Spell effects range from the pedestrian to the apocalyptic.
The battlefields themselves are well detailed and pleasing to the eye, with a nice variety of landscapes to battle on.
Sound wise, effects are nicely done, spells and weapons hitting with accompanying zaps and clangs, healing magic producing soothing noises and vanquished enemies uttering a variety of satisfying death groans. The score, as is often the case with games in the Final Fantasy Series, is excellent, and I found myself humming it merrily after playing the game.
As with so many games these days, it is difficult to judge FFTA without making reference to other very similar games of the same genre. In this case, FFTA suffers from the existence of Tactics Ogre: Knights of Lodis. The similarities of the two games in looks and gameplay are many, and despite coming after Tactics Ogre it would be fair to say that whilst there is a little more variety to the gameplay in FFTA, it does not significantly raise the barrier above it’s rival. Nonetheless, FFTA is a skilfully made and thoroughly engrossing game in its own right and another high point in the GBA’s incredible software catalogue.