Welcome to Ivalice, we hope that you like to fight. And it wouldn't hurt if you like to break a few laws to!!
Another key thing about the world of Ivalice is that there are clans. Groups of individuals who battle and quest together. There are also laws and Judgemasters who enforce the laws(one of the parts I hate).
So you form a clan as soon as you drop into the game and off you go. You accept missions from pubs and you try to complete them in the name of your clan. Some missions you can send out individuals but the tough ones you go as a group. Usually you have to bash something in the face whether its a monster or a person and you do this by entering into a tactical battle.
Where the game gets annoying is that every day 3 laws are in effect and it cycles through them. You can look at what the laws are or what they will be and try to manipulate them but that would be a huge waste of time. Laws ban the use of certain weapons or abilities or skills or magics forcing you to use different strategies. Except they dont ban you from using them anyways..
If you choose to go ahead and break the law you can get yellow cards or red cards. Yellow cards is a warning and will cost you something at the end of the battle whether its money or items or worst of all stat reductions!! Red cards mean you probably killed somebody with something you were not suppose to or you continued getting yellow cards. Red cards send your butt directly to jail where you have to wait it out a number of battles before you get released or pay a fine to get released instantly. Still you will have to travel to Ivalices single town that has a jail system lol which can be a pain.
When you win the battle and finish the mission you get money and items and Ability Points. Alot of weapons and armor in Ivalice have skills on them. In order to learn the skills you have to earn X amount of AP according to that item. Like Shieldbearer is 100 AP. After you earn 100 AP you can use Shieldbearer even if you dont have that item equipped.
Now there is also a Job system and you can only equip gear according to your job. You unlock new jobs by mastering a bunch of skills in your current job. Like to be a Hunter you first have to master a couple of skills from the Archer Job. You will want to train in multiple jobs so you can unlock various usefull abilities.
Jobs also do something else important. When you level up during a fight(which happens every 100 xp) your stats will grow. The amount your stats grow though are directly related to what job you have. If your a soldier you will gain lots of HP, If your a mage you will gain lots of magic power. So its kind of important what Job you have when you level up so you have to be careful.
Like I said you level up every 100 xp. However the higher your level compared to your opponent the less XP you make(down to a measly 1 xp). You get xp everytime you land an attack or kill somebody though. You also get XP by using skills and abilities on yourself. In fact this can be a good way to speed up the leveling process because some things you do to yourself always give you 10 xp no matter your level. You are also totally free to attack your own people. Having newbies beat on high level team mates will let them grow by leaps and bounds(as long as your high level dude doesnt have any counter attack abilities hehe).
You only earn XP during the fight, you dont get any XP afterwards.
Even if one of your people gets knocked out/killed they will still earn AP after a battle, if they get carted off to jail though they dont get any AP. And if one of your morons gets a yellow card one of the penalties is that your entire group gets no AP making the whole battle mostly worthless hehe.
Another cool thing about this game is that as you play through the story and complete missions you get to place locations on the map of Ivalice. If you want the city with the jail to be by the water you plop it down there, if you want it out in the hot nasty desert you put it there!! When you plop down a location and it has other locations next to it then it causes treasure to appear. I think there is some special stuff you can unlock if you place things right but i didnt care about that.
Some places are towns, some places are forests, there are deserts and mountains and caves. New locations usually lead to new missions.
One of the cool things about all these locations is that they each have a clan. As your walking around the map locations will randomly spawn enemy clans who will walk around on their own for a few days and if you run into them then you can fight. Something else clans do is fight over turf. Sometimes they are missions and sometimes turf you control gets randomly attack and you have go there and defend it or lose control. The more turf you control the more powerful your clan and I think you get bigger discounts at town or something.
The problems I have with the game are piss poor user interface, sub-par FF music, lame battle mechanics. If you attack something from the front you have less chance of hitting than if you attack from the side or back. But low % attacks hit alot, and high % attacks miss frequently. I wish the % numbers were not visable. And of course the stupid law system. I really hate having to memorize what stupid laws are in effect for each and every battle. Alot of the time I forget or don't realize something is banned and get yellow/red carded. If your main character gets red carded its game over btw.
That reminds me, there are these cool locations called Jagd's. They are lawless area's where Judgemasters won't go so no laws every get enforced. However unlike in other area's where if you have knocked out people on the field at the end of battle they get revived, in the Jagd's knocked out people die and you lose them permanently. Not a biggy if you have some white magic but you better take the battles there seriously or you could end up losing a good friend.
I glossed over the things I hate about this game. In the end I got pretty addicted to this game. I was sending out people to do individual missions left and right and going on a ton of group missions and kicking everyone's butt I came across all in this quest to get more AP so my people could learn a new skill. By the end of the game I only had two people who had all the skills I wanted them to have(even though there were skills in other jobs they didnt have). I just could not stop fighting battle after battle so I guess in the end the game hooked me.
Just be cautious of this game because it can be frustrating at times. Its worth owning though. It took me 5 years to finally pick this game back up and finish it, because FFTA2 was about to be released. A2 is suppose to have a much looser law system where you dont get punished as severely as in this one. I would suggest that if you do not own either to get that one first.
Anyways enjoy and look out for clan "ChaosArmy" !!!!