Here's my basic summary of the game. The actual review is pretty long (Over 4000 characters!!), so if you just want to find out whether to buy this game or not, this part is for you.
-Extremely customizable clan
-Fun and simple gameplay (if you're a fan of strategy RPGs)
-New classes, new races, new skills
-Annoying laws (What are laws? Read on to find out!)
-Storyline is a little barebone for a Final Fantasy game
-Camera issues (can be a little hard to see units if there are a bunch of them cramped together)
OTHER POINTS (neither pros nor cons):
-Cameos from other Final Fantasy games set in Ivalice (such as Vaan and Penelo from FFXII)
-Some classes are truly useless..
Now on to the actual review!
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift is the latest game in the Final Fantasy strategy spinoff series. This game is very similar to the last Final Fantasy Tactics game, released on the GBA in 2003. Like most Final Fantasy games, this has no connections to its predecessor; however, it belongs to the Ivalice Alliance series of games, so there are cameos from other games set in the Ivalice universe (such as Final Fantasy XII).
The storyline is simple: you play as a young boy, Luso Clemens, who is warped into the world of Ivalice when he finds a strange magical book in his school's library. He meets up with Cid, and joins his clan soon after his arrival. Most of the game consists of you taking quests and trying to help Luso find his way back home. Along the way, you meet other characters who join your clan: Adelle, a human thief; and Hurdy, a Moogle bard. You should keep in mind that their jobs aren't set; even though Adelle and Hurdy join you as a thief and a bard, respectively, you can freely change their jobs whenever you want. This brings me to my next point: Gameplay and customizability.
Gameplay and customizability is where this game shines. For starters, you have your clan, which you can name to your heart's content. Within your clan, there is enough room for about 25 characters. You get these characters from either randomly meeting up with them on the world map, or by taking a special quest. There are many races to choose from, such as Humes (the game's name for Humans), Bangaas (a lizard-like race), Moogles (a mascot of Final Fantasy games), Nu Mou (a race of cow-like people), and Viera (a race of rabbit-like people, who are all female). New to this game are the Seeq and Gria races; the Seeqs are like overweight Bangaas, and Grias resemble Humes, but with demonic horns and wings. People who've played Final Fantasy XII will recognize the Seeqs, as they originally come from that game. Each race has a different class tree, and each race also has its own exclusive classes. For example, while Humes and Nu Mou can both be Black and White Mages, only Humes can be Paladins and only Nu Mou can be Sages. There are many, many classes to choose from, and each ones have their own uses. In addition, you can carry over skills learnt from one class to another class. For example, I have a Hume Black Mage who also has all three Cure spells learnt from her days as being a White Mage. This is what gives the game a lot of replayability. Unfortunately, you will need to create characters like this, because you are restricted to only 6 units per mission, so you'll need a really strong yet balanced party during some of the harder missions.
There are a large variety of missions to undertake, ranging from straight battles, to boss hunting, to delivery missions. Arguably, the hardest missions are the battles, mainly because of battle laws. During every battle, the Judge character (an NPC) will give you a certain law, ranging from not being able to use magic, to not being able to harm characters of a lower level than you, to even not being able to make a critical attack, which happens at random. Some of these laws get extremely frustrating, and you might even want to abandon a mission because of the law alone. If you disobey a law, you won't get rare items after the battle, the Judge won't give you a stat bonus (at the beginning of each match, you get to choose a bonus, such as Attack +1, or Speed +1, etc.), AND you don't get to revive a character if they get K.O'd.
As for graphics, they're mostly unchanged from the GBA iteration. The units look the same, for the most part, but there are some special effects that take advantage of the DS' hardware. The sound, on the other hand, is excellent, especially the music. All the tunes are extremely well put together, and it rivals some of the tunes found on Final Fantasy games on consoles. Surprisingly, the music wasn't composed by Nobuo Uematsu; instead, Hitoshi Sakamoto (who also composed songs for Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, and the original Final Fantasy Tactics, plus its remake) and his company, Basiscape provided the tunes.
In conclusion, if you're a fan of strategy RPGS and you have a DS, you need to get this game. While the storyline and the annoying laws do make the game a little tedious to play, the customizability alone makes it great, and the music is pretty good to boot.