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Accelerated Evolution

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2

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As one part of the newly-branded 'Ivalice Alliance,' the sequel to Square Enix's popular strategy series known as Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 (aka 'A2') is coming along well, and is in good hands as the director for the first Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Yuichi Murasawa, returns to help legions of gamers move little people around little maps in a non-stop battle for territorial supremacy.

If you've played anything from Tactics Ogre to Final Fantasy Tactics (Tactics Ogre and Ogre Battle were originally designed and developed by a team called Quest, which was later procured by Square, which led to the development of Final Fantasy Tactics for PlayStation) you'll be instantly familiar with the interface and game mechanics in A2. You still learn moves and spells depending on what weapon you equip, but now, thanks to the advent of a dual-screen game machine (the DS), managing your inventory and checking up on your skill progression is no longer a nightmare since you can battle on the bottom screen while you manage inventories, job classes and equipment on the top.


When we pressed Murasawa about the first game's tendency to reward enemies with a 15 percent chance to hit you with a hit 85 percent of the time, he claims it was either a bug or just bad coincidence, so to expect the same mathematical calculations to return, based on what direction your enemy is facing, who has the terrain advantage, and a myriad of other factors. The law card system returns, although this time around the game seems more forgiving, as the cards affect the enemies, and not you this time around. Another major improvement is that you don't gain experience until after the battles are complete and you return to your party management screen, at which point all the experience is spread evenly among your entire roster of characters, neatly avoiding the previous game's problem, which was that players would not want to use lesser characters to fight battles, which meant that only a small handful of characters ever became powerful enough (via leveling up) to remain useful in any battle. Now, since everyone gains the same experience for victorious skirmishes, players can bring out whatever job type they feel is appropriate for the fight.

In the previous game, whenever you killed an enemy, be it man or beast, they'd leave a skeleton behind, or some sort of corpse-like remains, which a Judge would relocate at the end of every turn, ideally moving it out of the potential path of a player character. This time around, no bones will be left on screen, as Murasawa explained that the screen just looked cluttered with all that stuff on the small grid. The graphics look quite similar to the first game, although the resolution has been bumped up a little. You still can't rotate the screen though, to gain a better perspective in some areas, like you could in the original Final Fantasy Tactics on PlayStation. Characters also seem to move a hair slower than they did in the GBA version, although not to the point where it's actually a problem. As ever, you pick up quests and whatnot in the pub, paying a small fee for the privilege, with the reward for a victorious mission more than compensating for such initial investments. Murasawa told us that A2 would break things up a little more from the previous game's non-stop battle-heavy focus, by adding mini-games and other diversions in case players need a break from the main game. Scheduled for a 2007 release, we'll have more comments from Murasawa as well as more details as they're released, but take a look at our collected media for a taste of the next great strategy RPG.


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