I’ve been playing this game for over 60 hours and my Grias, the dragon winged hotties that fire blazing death from the back row, still don’t have access to two of their four possible job classes. What does a turn based surgeon like myself have to do around here?
I’m not too sure why I’m worried. I’ve got this master monk Bangaa over there that will shred your soul if you look at him the wrong way. Not to mention that pair of samurai just cold chillin at the bar. They’ve spent some time learning to be ninjas, FYI. Then there’s my illusionist, oh and that little cat with the sour face on, he’s got cannons under his jacket. Better check yourself.

This is the third time around for turn based strategy gaming in the world of Ivalice. The original Final Fantasy Tactics was for the PS1, and the second iteration was Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced for the GBA. In Grimoire for the DS many, many things have stayed the same so if you enjoyed the first two you’ll love the third. There are still black mages and soldiers and archers and potions, oh sure. But there are also new races and new job classes and new spells and abilities as well. Oh, and the judges are back.

Combat

Let’s get into it. Let’s talk about my best six versus the world. The combat in Grimoire is difficult to even call combat. First of all your boys cannot die. They can get knocked out but ultimately suffer zero penalty for the inconvenience. Of the dozens of job classes available to you throughout the game anything that might feel like a support class should be immediately bypassed. (I’m looking at you, Fintlock. I mean honestly why create a class that brandishes not guns, but hand cannons and then have these iron monstrosities heal teammates?) The AI in nearly all battles is so inept that even when facing a superior force you will catch some enemy Warrior class taking time to diminish the magic power of a fighter on my team that doesn’t even cast spells. The boards are full of people discussing what is the best class to raise a melee character in to get the best stats. Here’s a hint: it doesn’t matter, every fight is a cake walk.

Which leads me, at least, to wonder why have I spent 60+ hours playing a game that doesn’t really present any challenge? The answer is apparently that I like to play dress up with dolls. That is all I care about. I want my team to be three fighters and three gunners. I have to win some auctions so that I can put ninja tabi on everyone so they are super mobile. That’s right I’ve spent hours, HOURS, doing what is ultimately shoe shopping. It bothers me to no end that the special story characters that cannot be removed from my clan don’t change sprites when they change jobs. Ninjas look cool, man. That is the point of ninjas. If the main character becomes a ninja he should play the part at least a little, no? I’m nitpicking.

Jobs, Bazaars, and Auctions

In the first Tactics all a character needed to switch jobs was the prerequisite skills in other jobs. In FFTA a character could only learn skills from particular weapons. Now in FFTA2 a character needs not only the weapons to get the skills to get the jobs but for many jobs you also need to complete a specific mission first. It’s actually even harder than that. To get the weapons to get the skills to get the jobs you have to collect “loot” from dead enemies and completed missions. Once you have the right pieces of loot you can then turn them over to the Bazaar to create the weapon or armor or accessory. Then, and only then, can you buy it.

Another way to score some of the more premier items is by participating in the annual regional auctions. The auctions are a sort of mini game where first you bid against a number of opponents in an attempt to win all the lands of the region. All bidders start with about the same number of coins and through consecutive rounds of bidding try to win each land. Once you’ve won all the lands in a region the next auction is for items, not lands. If this all sounds too menial for you rest assured you really only have to do one auction. After that, you can skip them.

It’s perhaps not challenging enough to even be called a strategy game anymore and the developers have put some unreasonable road blocks in the way of building the team you secretly want to lead in real life. This doesn’t change the fact that I’ve spent over 60 hours playing it. The desire to do one more turn or complete one more mission is a fierce one. It is extremely easy to pick up and play for a few minutes or a few hours.

Oh and if anyone is looking forward to a story as complex as the War of the Lions, yeah, you’re not going to be thrilled with this drivel. It’s closer to the Never Ending Story. But without the righteous flying luck dragon.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced 2: Grimoire of the Rift (DS)