previewed on NDS
The law system, which debuted in Tactics Advance, also returns in A2 – for better or for worse. Each of your battles is observed by a Judge who hands out penalties for illegal moves and bonuses for the ‘recommended’ ones. Breaking a law will send your characters to jail, and causes you to lose your chance at a rare bonus item at the battle’s end. The system was cool in the previous installment, as it forced players to rethink their strategies and possibly try a whole new approach, but things may have been tweaked too much for the sequel. For example, one of the new laws forbids critical hits – which are, of course, random occurrences. Also, if an enemy breaks a law you’ll completely lose your chance at the bonus item; which is a tad unfair to say the least.
Deep, addicting gameplay, numerous missions, and ever-changing ways to play; we got that in Tactics Advance five years ago. The question is what has been added for the newest installment? The first thing you will notice is the limitless personalization options. There are 50 character classes in total, as well as 7 races which should be familiar to fans of past Ivalice Alliance games (Hume, Moogle, Viera, Bangaa, Seeq, Nu Mou and Gria). As those savvy with their numbers will know, this means a total of 350 unique units are possible. There’s also a simple item creation option which borrows from Revenant Wings, where you can create your own weapons with materials you collect. The better your materials, the more effective the weapon will be.
Other smaller additions include an auction system, although you use tokens instead of money. Instead of bidding on items, however, you’ll bid on certain states. For example, once you win you might be able to recruit a new party member at a certain place. There are also adjustable difficulty settings allowing everyone a fair shot at completing the game, and brand-new stylus control (which was missing from the Japanese version).
On the graphics front, the game uses the same bright and cheery aesthetic of its predecessor, and the backgrounds have received technical touch-ups making them look loads better. The isometric camera view returns, obscuring some elements of the battlefield, but like in the past games it’s not a game-breaker. Tactics A2 also boasts an impressive musical score, with a long list of high-quality songs that could easily be confused with its console counterparts.
If you’re a SRPG fan and Tactics A2 is not already on your radar, make sure to keep an eye on it. If it can live up to its predecessor in terms of accessibility, gameplay, depth and charm we might be looking at another must-have DS title from Square Enix.