Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Final Fantasy Tactics A2

For a game with such simple graphics, it's done a very good job of keeping me interested.

This latest mission was in the bag once I got my sniper up on the roof of the local tavern. The fact that I wasn't allowed to harm any humans made things interesting, but I managed.

Why aren't there more games like this? A series of tactical engagements that allow you to train, customize, and improve a 'stable' of characters... Mech Commander, Pokemon, Final Fantasy Tactics, these are all games that are fun for the whole 'stable' aspect of play, where you can specialize some characters, promote them, improve their abilities, and your motivations for any of these things can range from what is the most mechanically viable, to setting a vague role for each character and training them to fulfill it (my usual method) or even getting into some roleplaying, trying to give each character some kind of motivation for learning the methods that they use.

One of the things I like about FFTA2 is the MVP system. After each battle, troops who have fought especially well are given an MVP award. The more of these they have, the more able they are to lead Dispatch missions. I like to see the little stack of MVP awards as a sort of command eligibility scale. The ability to sort troops in your barracks according to their MVP rank allow me to view my 'trusted lieutenants'. For reasons I've been unable to determine (and I like it that way) most of my MVPs are ranged attackers. Hunters, snipers, archers, fusiliers. And that suits me just fine.

Another selling point of the game is the uniqueness of most (not all) of the classes. As listed above, I have as some of my best men an assortment of hunters, archers, snipers, and fusiliers (working on getting flintlocks as well, but haven't done anything with them yet.) Each of them has a special role in my combat operations. Archers (actually a prerequisite class for sniper and hunter both, and my sniper and hunter both have supplementary archer skills) have a mixed bag of tricks, most of them focusing around debuffing the enemy from range. They have a ranged Sanctify ability, which keeps undead from coming back, and a Focus ability that increases the damage of the next ranged attack, which works very well with sniper and hunter abilities. Hunters are excellent against monsters, with abilities that improve the critical attacks of their comrades, attacks that deal extra damage to monsters, and special abilities that can confuse and remove monsters from the field. The sniper is excellent against other characters, with the ability to Focus, Vanish, and sneak up behind the enemy for a Doubleshot to the back of the head ( a favorite tactic of mine. I usually just call it the doubletap.) as well as destroying their weapons, stealing their money, and poisoning them.

If more money went into gameplay instead of graphics, the gaming industry might be a bit better off. And I know I'm not the only one who thinks so.