A few years ago, the tactical RPG was regarded as something of an oddity, with only a few titles making their way across to the UK from Japan. However, these days, there are plenty to choose from.
Advance Wars, Fire Emblem and the Disgaea series stand out from the crowd, but I've always had a soft spot for Final Fantasy's take on the genre.
I played an imported copy of Final Fantasy Tactics on the PS1 in 1997, and spent dozens of hours playing through Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on the GBA a few years ago.
After spending months in my DS, I have just completed Final Fantasy Tactics A2 on DS, and it's another great game from the Square Enix team.
In a similar style to the GBA version, A2 begins with your character being magically transported to the land of Ivalice, this time after reading a strange and dusty book in a school library.
You are immediately thrown into a battle tutorial and subsequently invited into a clan of hardy adventurers, who take on quests and defeat the evil spreading through Ivalice.
A2 retains the series' incredible depth, with hundreds of missions to undertake - including optional quests - while you can level up your characters, choose new job classes, find new weapons, armour and magical spells.
Using weapons and wearing armour allows you to master new skills, which can then unlock further job abilities. It's a complex system, but it lets you mix and match your team to suit your play style.
A2 also has a Bazaar - a place where you can trade in the spoils of war and hopefully gain access to shiny new equipment. However, the system isn't perfect and gaining access to certain items can be a long and drawn-out affair.
The on-screen action follows the same formula used in previous games in the series - namely an isometric view. While this looks better than a straight top-down view, it does throw up some problems.
It is sometimes tricky to select members of your team because they are hidden behind an object or character. It's a minor niggle, but one that could have been ironed out by allowing the player to rotate the camera.
Because of A2's turn-based style, the battles play out like a game of chess, with each side trying to outdo each other and claim victory.
Judges, who slightly soured the experience in the GBA title make a return. They set conditions before battle begins. So in some battles ice magic is banned, or long-range attacks are outlawed. Failure to keep within the bounds of the law punishes the player.
However, unlike the previous game, failure to comply with these rules only denies the player bonuses upon completion of the battle. It's a much better - and more forgiving - way of doing things than before.
A2's presentation is splendid. The landscapes are colourful and detailed, while the soundtrack - in typical Final Fantasy style - is fantastic.
It's a long-lasting title, too. Completing the optional quests is essential if you want to level up your squad and gain interesting items. So if you are looking for something on DS to really get stuck in to, Final Fantasy Tactics A2 is certainly worth checking out.
images courtesy of Square Enix