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APFFRT 4 Round 1: (11) Final Fantasy III vs. (22) Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift

Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
There are two very different versions of FF3 out there, complete with very different intro sequences. In this case, I'm playing the Famicom one. As for FFTA2, I don't think I've ever so much as booted up the game. Although I do seem to recall one of its heroes being a bonus character in the PSP version of FF Tactics. So... there's that, I guess.

Game 1: Visuals
The DS may just be the perfect system for sprite-based games - or perhaps they just did an excellent job with FFTA2. The characters are clear and easy to differentiate, and the backgrounds look great. The monsters are also a step up from previous Tactics games, including some that take up more than one square on the battlefield. I also like the use of the second screen - rather than expanding the battlefield or doing some kind of visual nonsense, the top screen gives you the turn order and any information you need during a battle. All in all, it's an attractive, well-conceived visual experience.

FF3 looks amazingly good for an NES game. It's enough to make you think all those previous games were just made lazily - now monsters flash to indicate who's attacking, spells actually animate from caster to monster, the environments are varied and feature hidden items. It almost feels more like FF4 than FF2. That said, "impressive for 1990" does not mean impressive now. The graphics are fine, and they definitely get the job done, but they're nothing special. The best bits - the jobs - are mostly reused sprites anyway.

FFTA2 wins this round by virtue of being far more attractive to look at. It's not as impressive in context, but I'm not here to consider context - FFTA2 has no real graphical flaws that I've seen. It does what it does very well and looks good doing it. I'm not sure what else you can ask for.
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift leads 1-0

Game 2: Audio
There's nothing special going on in FFTA2's audio department. All the music sounds vaguely familiar, and is in the same basic style as FFTA. The sound effects are nice, but in a slow-paced tactical game they are a lot less important than they might otherwise be. There's no voice acting or anything - it's just a basic audio setup that gets the job done without calling attention to itself.

FF3's battle music continues the trend of being pretty good, but most of the music you hear early in the game is kind of annoying. There's a lot of kind of light-hearted mystery music going on in the town and castle where everyone has been turned into ghosts, and I'm not really a fan. The world map music is a nice upbeat change from FF2. The sound effects, meanwhile, are pretty grating; this is still NES hardware we're talking about.

Neither game particularly stands out in the audio department, and if such a thing were possible I might just call this a tie. That's not an option, though, so I'm going to go with FF3 - it does at least have a few memorable tracks (and at least some of them are memorable for being good!).
Series tied 1-1

Game 3: Combat
FFTA2 seems to have taken FFTA's combat and perfected it. Surprisingly, despite this game being on DS, the stylus controls aren't an improvement. I much prefer the traditional controls, and they work very well. The visible turn order and current laws helps a lot during fights, and I love that breaking laws is no longer a huge problem. Rather than losing characters, you lose a few advantages for the current fight. Information is easily accessible, which is vital in a tactical RPG, and battles play out nice and quickly. It's certainly the best tactical combat I've seen in the beginning of a game.

FF3's combat is a huge step up from FF2, and basically took the series to its modern roots. Your characters now auto-retarget when their original target dies, you can see who's attacking, and so on. It's fun and fast-paced, and the job system gives you a lot of options. Early in the game they demonstrate the power of family-specific weapons by giving you a number of undead-slaying tools, which is nice. I don't really have any complaints here.

FF3's combat is good, but FFTA2's has all of the good aspects of tactical combat and hasn't yet shown me any of the bad. It's just a wholly fun combat experience.
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift leads 2-1

Game 4: Advancement
HOLY CRAP THERE ARE SO MANY JOBS. I actually have no idea how to unlock them, though. Quite a few appear to be selectable right now, and there are a whole bunch more that are just listed as ???'s. Learning abilities is, as in FFTA, based on using items. Getting new items is based on turning in loot. Loot is earned from combat... and so on. There are layers within layers to these systems. It is a bit overwhelming at the moment, though the tutorials have been good so far (they just haven't gotten around to mentioning jobs). Best of all, unlike FFTA, shops have a fitting room.

There aren't as many jobs in FF3, but they do give them to you five minutes in, which is nice. The capacity system, which restricts job changing early on and does nothing later, is just a nuisance, but the ability to change jobs is a lot of fun. This isn't to be confused with later job systems, though: when you're a monk, you're a monk and that's it, no matter what you were before. Spells are purchased but can be traded, and all other abilities are strictly tied to class. There is a nice variety of gear, but you need to manually remove it before changing jobs, which is a huge slog.

Both games have job systems, but neither does a whole lot with them early on. You basically get enough capacity to set up a party once in the beginning of FF3, with maybe one change when you get the Wightslayer for a red mage. The biggest problem is that at this point you really have no idea what you might need. Fortunately with only five jobs available, it's not hard to make a choice. FFTA2, on the other hand, has systems so complex that they intimidate me. I'm not sure if that will be a good thing in the long run, but it's definitely more interesting than FF3's system is to this point (and - spoiler alert - for the rest of the game).
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift leads 3-1

Game 5: Characters
Luso is kind of a lazy punkass kid, but I like him anyway. Much like the cast of FFTA, he is thrust into this weird fantasy world from our own world, but he seems to waffle between thinking that's super cool and wanting to go back. I get the impression that he's trying to go back because he thinks he should, but doesn't really care that much. Cid is perhaps a bit too noble so far, but I suppose you need that in a tutorial giver. The rest of the clan is faceless, although I noted my Archer is named Krieg which made me laugh (since that is the name of the psycho in Borderlands 2). I do wish these clan leaders could come up with better default clan names, though.

Your characters in FF3 are blank slates (unlike those in the DS version), and they are basically a group of bickering orphans. The plot is ridiculously thin, and your elder/father figure is totally cool with "oh hey, this crystal chose you, go save the world now!" There isn't much development going on here at all. I think a total of four characters even have names to this point, and Cid is currently a ghost. He did give me an airship 20 minutes into the game, though, and that should count for something.

Despite FF3 Cid's airship bribery attempt, I need to go with FFTA2 and its own Cid. Early FF games didn't really worry about character development, so they're not liable to win a lot of game 5's.
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift wins 4-1

Conclusion
This was no big shocker. FF3 is a fun game, but that's almost entirely from a mechanical perspective. The early FF's alternate between storyline and mechanics, but don't really worry about both until FF6. FFTA2, on the other hand, is the result of several iterations of FF Tactics evolution, and it seems like they finally got the formula just right.

Next Game: (6) Final Fantasy XIII vs. (27) Avernum

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There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
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