Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift

New system, new tactics: Come along for another wild ride in the world of Ivalice
SeriousGamer - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Mild Cartoon Violence: Bloodless violence with assorted weapons, enemies recoil when hit and vanish when defeated.

Spiritual Content: Fantasy magic used by player, job class summoner calls monsters to fight, magic items are seen, supernatural creatures, death is seen personified, story deals with magic book.

Alcoholic Reference: Building is a pub.

We all like the idea of getting away from it all. For some that includes curling up with a good book after a long day. After all, books can take us on adventures most people now forget. I can tell you from experience, there’s nothing quite like reading, but just imagine if getting away from it all meant exactly what it sounded like.

The Final Fantasy series gives us just that possibility. Some years ago, fans of the series made the journey to the world of Ivalice through the pages of a virtual book. In 2007, that journey would be repeated in Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift. It’s a long name, and it’s a longer game, but for fans of the original Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, this game is everything you know and more. All right, maybe not everything, but close enough. How it rates for the discerning Christian, on the other hand, is another matter entirely.

Plot:

If you’ve every played Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, you might have a fair idea of what this story is about. If not, this story is all about a kid. It’s the last day of school in the town of St. Ivalice, and one kid, Luso Clemens, is really looking forward to it, unfortunately for him, he’s not going to get it yet. As soon as school gets out, Luso is sent down to the library to help out and to make up for all the times he’s been a bad student. Grumbling all the way, Luso finds the library empty and also finds a strange book. As I said, those who read tend to get absorbed, but in Luso’s case, the strangely blank book absorbs him after he writes his name on one of the pages. Luso finds himself smack-dab in the middle of a battle in the middle of a forest. To survive, he joins up with a mercenary clan. Now a member of Clan Gully (though the name can be changed), Luso must figure out how to make a living in the land of Ivalice and ultimately unravel the mystery of the book he carries to find a way home.

Gameplay:

Gameplay is divided into two areas if you will; the map screen and the actual battlefield. On the map, you move from region to region, and each move takes about one game day. In each region, you may find towns where you’ll be able to shop, take on quests, or partake in the auctions, possible recruits for your clan, or monsters ready to fight. From the map screen, you may also review information about your recruits, the entire clan, or save your game.

On the battlefield, you select a unit, move them somewhere, and either wait or attack if you’re able to. Who moves first is determined by speed; the faster it is, the sooner it moves. If an enemy is within range, you can attack it. If you can strike from the side or the back, you’ll do more damage. Just remember the same thing applies to you, so position your units carefully.

Each battle also has a condition and a unique law. You must fulfill the condition, be it winning in a set number of turns or protecting a certain unit, to win the battle. The laws will prohibit certain actions. If you break the law, you won’t be able to revive fallen units, so be careful with how you fight.

Offensive Content:

Mild Cartoon Violence:

Even for the DS, the graphics are pretty tame, and the same is true of the violence. It’s all really cartoon-like. You and your enemies can fight with a variety of weapons depending on your classes, ranging from swords, bows, knuckles, staves, guns, even playing cards. If anyone gets hit, they just recoil. There’s no blood, gore, or anything along those lines. When someone gets defeated, they simply vanish, though some important enemies will sometimes remain.

Spiritual Content:

Magic plays a big part in the Final Fantasy series, and Grimoire is no exception. You can select certain jobs for your units that involve some sort of magic. Some of these include mages, elementalists, summoners, and alchemists. In a lot of cases, the magic used by each class is elemental, consisting of fire, ice, lightning, wind, and water. A few of the magic classes are taken from actual terms, such as white (healing) magic, black (offensive) magic, and alchemy, which in real life was a mixture of chemistry and magic. Grimore doesn’t delve too deep into these areas, which is probably a good thing because it helps keep things within the realm of fantasy.

The summoner class, as expected, can summon large creatures from another world to fight. One of them has an appearance that could be considered demonic, but I think it could go either way. Some of these creatures have names which are pagan in origin, such as Ifrit, Ramah, and Shiva. A few classes are based around martial arts and make references to things like ki. Again, it doesn’t go too far into these aspects, but still all of it is something to consider.

Some of the items you can get are also magic if not in nature, then in name. Players can buy potions for starters as well as a Phoenix feather, which revives fallen units. Even some of the items dropped from enemies are said to have some magic properties. One resembled a crystal ball and another was a skull said to be used in alchemy and cursing. You can’t use it except to gain new weapons from the shop.

A few enemies are also supernatural, like ghosts, wraiths, zombies, werewolves, and fairies. One snake/woman hybrid is named Lilith.

While some of these areas are more easily overlooked, one is a little more troubling. When the status aliment doom is inflicted, three spirits, attack the target. These spirits have faces that look like skulls, so they could very easily be the personifications of death in the world of Ivalice. Afterwards when doom takes effect, a white ball, the target’s soul, floats up and is whisked away by a similar spirit. I think this falls along the lines of a curse.

Sometimes, the ground is decorated with an emblem that features an eight-pointed star in a circle. The way this design looks is reminiscent of the directions on a compass rather than a Satanic symbol. But for some, this might not be the case. One race you can recruit sports horns and bat-like wings. Again, I wasn’t under the impression that this was demonic, but it might not be the case for some.

******************Spoiler Alert********************

The plot hinges around the book that sent Luso to Ivalice. It is a blank book that automatically writes down what Luso does. This book is also apparently able to open up rifts between worlds.

At one point, a cutscene shows a glowing ball descend and enter Luso’s body. Immediately after this, he starts having bad dreams. It never clarifies whether or not Luso is actually possessed, but it’s hinted that he is not and that this thing is attacking him in dreams. Still, it raises an eyebrow.

******************Spoilers End********************

Alcoholic References:

This is relatively short compared to the section above. One of the buildings you can visit in all the towns is a pub, and you go there to take on quests. Of course, you’ll see bottles and a few kegs which apparently contain alcohol, but you can’t drink it. One of the spoils you can get from battle or from quests is some sort of wine, but you can’t drink it either.

Scantily Clad Females:

Two of the races, namely the rabbit-like Viera and the Gria, are made up of women with a preference for revealing outfits. The Viera units on the battlefield appear modestly-clothed, but their portraits that appear when one speaks or is the currently-selected unit reveal shoulders and cleavage for at least one of their classes. The Gria units appear to sport a bare midriff, but it’s very hard to tell considering the units lack a lot of detail.

Conclusion:

I rather liked the idea of being part of a mercenary clan, which is why I went after the first Final Fantasy Tactics Advance for the GBA. I enjoyed it quite a lot since it was a different experience than the other Final Fantasy games I played. More than this, I enjoyed a few of the themes they presented, like being happy with you who are instead of trying to be like someone else and the need to move on with life instead of wishing it was different. Needless to say, I expected the same when I heard there would be a sequel.

While the same basic elements are there, such as the clan and such, Grimoire seemed to lack the other more positive aspects of its predecessor. I didn’t see many redeeming qualities in this game. Besides that, while the last game did feature magic, one thing it didn’t show were other spirits attacking a target, even when the doom status was inflicted. Now, that to me seems too close to using a curse. So, I have to say I’m more than a little disappointed that they decided to take some good things out and put a bad thing in. In the plus column, you don’t have to learn doom, but your enemies already have it. Sadly, I can’t recommend this game for discerning gamers.

Review by SeriousGamer




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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