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The basic premise is that your character, called Marche by default moves to the country town of Ivalice, where you make two new friends, Ritz and Mewt. You will then have your first engagement (battle) in the form of a Snowball fight. After that Marche and co go back to his house where they read a magical book that Mewt brought round, after that Mewt says "I wish the world of Final Fantasy was real" when Marche goes to sleep at night the world changes... He wakes up in the town of Cyril in the country of Ivalice, he sees a lizard man, known as a Bangaa, and in his shock he calls it a "Lizard" the Bangaa is offended and starts a fight, luckily a Moogle by the name of Montblanc steps in to help you and you begin your battle, with that, your adventure inn Ivalice begins...
FFTA is a strategy-RPG spin-off to the Final Fantasy series by Squaresoft (or Square-Enix as they're now known) the battle system in the game is excellent. Basically, you deploy units and then begin the battle, first you must move with a character (if you wish) a character can move a certain amount of tiles to make it more strategic, once you have moved you can perform an "Action" such as Fight or use an Item or ability. Abilities are different between each race and class, Human, Bangaa, Veira and Moogles. You learn abilites by becoming a certain class, such as a Soldier with a human and equipping various items to learn abilities, you can also progress through the classes by learning different abilities and eventually you will have a team of elite Dragoons and Ninjas, and that my friends, is a great feeling.
The biggest innovation by far is also annoying later in the game, basically, each engagement has a Judge who is there to enforce laws, laws can disable the use of Swords or Magic for example, along with many other things. This can be annoying when you aren't paying attention and get an elite sent to prison because you attacked or something stupid, it would be better off without them.
The aim of the game, plot aside, is to build up your clan and become as powerful as possible by levelling up, levelling is a slow process in this game as each character needs 100 exp each time but you only get exp in small portions.
If you are a fan of RTS games or RPGs, you must buy this game, it's a gem, it will rack up hours of game time. It's compulsively addictive, you just won't stop playing until you get to Lv 50 (maximum level) even then you will recruit more characters and train them up, or just start a new game like I have done many times. Buy it now.
The plot is as follows, Marche, the new boy at school, is having trouble settling in, he goes round to his friend Mewt's house with another outsider friend Ritz to check out a 'magical' book that Mewt has got his hands on. Mewt reads through the book, wishing that real life was like the monsters and fantasy that is contained in the pages of the book. They remind him of his favourite game, Final Fantasy. Overnight, the town of Ivalice transforms into the land of Ivalice. Strange races of lizards and moogles run around this strange land. Marche quickly finds himself thrust into a strange world with no idea where his friends are, where clans battle each other for supremacy and territory.
As you would expect with a Square-Enix game, the plot unfolds in the most charming way as you become a fully fledged member of your clan and begin trying to get back home to your own Ivalice. Where the story is like your usual Final Fantasy, the gameplay differs. Fights take place on battlefields, where your positioning in relation to enemies effect how you can attack them, you can move set distances throughout the battlefield, judges ensure you don't break any laws of the fight (i.e. for the match, you may not be allowed to use magic etc) issuing yellow and red cards for infringements of the rules. As you would expect ... tactical planning helps you triumph in your missions, ensuring you send a balanced squad out and making sure they advance on the enemy with perfect precision. You control a clan of up to 24 people over 5 different races. Each race has different skills and abilities to learn and there is a wealth of weapons and armour to keep every Final Fantasy fan happy. The game draws you in gently, introducing you to all the nuances of gameplay, before letting you expand out and take things on yourself.
Since this is the first Square-Enix game for some time on a Nintendo system, its essential for that fact. In relation to other Square games from the past, the departure from the usual style of gameplay gives this game a breath of fresh air. If you like RPGs, grab this. Also check out the Golden Sun series and the forthcoming Sword Of Mana. All essential purchases for an RPG fan. Owners of PS2s should immediately check out the Final Fantasy 10 game and forthcoming sequel, and Gamecube owners are in for a treat soon with Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. Check em all!
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