I picked up Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift the other day and was initially very pleased to be playing it. I missed out on Tactics Advance on the GBA, but I am a longtime fan of the original. With about a hojillion classes, and the weapon-based learning system of FF9 (my personal favorite) I was immediately hooked.
But those details can wait for the full review. What I want to talk about is the law system. For those of you who haven’t yet played a portable Tactics, the law system is a mechanic that assigns a “law” to every battle. The laws aren’t your usual “no killing your neighbor” or “no raping your neighbor’s dog.” Instead they’re more Ivalice-relevant “no use of fire spells” or “no magic restoration items.” If you obey the law, you get bonus items at the end of the fight. In some cases, if you break the law, you fail specific quests.
This wouldn’t bother me but for two instances, one of which was annoying but possibly excusable, but a second that proves Squenix employs either sadists (possible, the Japanese have weird fetishes) or lazy programmers. The first was when the law was “no knockbacks.” That’s all well and good, at this point my party has no knockback abilities… unless we accidentally critical hit, in which case a knockback occurs. Of course, my white mage, that bastion of melee prowess, decides to critical, and of course I break the law. Since it was just a matter of bonus items, I resisted the urge to reset the game, even though the situation was ridiculous.
The second instance was inexcusable. I was in the midst of a special “clan challenge” and I had to win the battle without breaking the law. The law in this case was no targeting units that are two squares away. So I am merrily bludgeoning the enemies to death when my green mage (another bastion of melee prowess) critical hits and knocks an enemy back. And apparently, because it was knocked back a square, and thus was two squares away, I broke the law and failed the quest.
The only explanation I can imagine, beyond that Squenix is full of assholes, is that the “distance” check occurred after the knockback, and I found an obscure bug that should have been caught and fixed. Given that I’ve played the game for only three hours and already found the law system poorly implemented and negatively impacting my fun, I worry that this otherwise enjoyable game may end up under the wheels of an oncoming car as opposed in my DS being played. Or more likely, I’ll get so tired of saving before every battle and praying for critical hits to NOT happen, FF Tactics A2 will end up in a drawer collecting dust.