A great challenge, which seems to have no end. (In a good way.)
Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced is a different game from the original Final Fantasy Tactics, rather than being a remake. (Not that I had played the original.) You play Marche, a young boy who is whisked away from his own world on Earth to the magical land of Ivalice. (Ironically, from Marche's Earth, Final Fantasy is also a video game to him, and he describes the new world and inhabitants of Ivalice to be just like the Final Fantasy game.)
In this game, rather than having a turn-based system where the characters stand facing each other in battle, as in the regular series, the characters now are places on a map grid, taking turns to move and perform actions, much like a board game. (In concept ONLY.) It seems a little unappealing at first, (I really didn't enjoy it when I first started) but it quickly became a lot of fun as I came to master the rules and strategies needed to win.
As in most Final Fantasy games, there are different classes of characters. You can choose to make your character a black mage, a thief, a ninja, fencer, and many other different jobs. (Note that the more powerful jobs are unavailable at the beginning.) Many of the class abilities will also seem familiar. Part of the fun of this game is mastering as many classes as you can. After I finally put down the game the last time, I wasn't even close to 100% class completion. Especially if you're a player who strives for perfection, the class-mastery is a great thing to strive for.
Aside from the board game structure, battle works more or less the same as any other Final Fantasy game. You can attack enemies within range on the board, whittle down their hit points (HP) and then KO them. Magic uses magic points (MP) and items can be used to restore characters status and health. There are a few twists with the grid that affect your battle, however, providing a nice challenge. For instance, you have a better chance of striking an enemy if you hit it from behind, and if you try to shoot an arrow at an enemy while there's an ally right in front of where you're shooting, you could accidentally kill with friendly fire. Clearly, there's a reason why this is called Final Fantasy TACTICS Advance. You will be planning out your moves carefully, setting yourself up for attacks.
The main flow of the storyline is to help Marche find his way home. I won't go into any spoilers, but from the very beginning you'll become a member of a clan, which is a group of warriors who accept missions to perform tasks (mostly the completion of battles.) The main storyline follows a set lineup of certain missions, but there are a seemingly endless amount of optional missions that you can partake in as well. When I say "optional" I mean that they are "technically" optional. It is almost necessary to complete a fair share of these missions if you want to level up to be strong enough to take on the main storyline. In truth, the optional missions are what take up the majority of gametime. This is not a bad thing at all, however. They actually MAKE the game.
Seriously though, the time that I spent playing the game consisted of it being about 80% optional missions. I loved it, as it just never ended. I could pick up the game at absolutely any time and do a couple of these missions to pass some time. After the completion of the main storyline, there will be even more missions which you can do as a sort of replay value. I tell you, I was REALLY sorry when I finally ran out of missions to do.
Overall, this is an awesome game to play. It will really make the best of your video game time. It has great playtime value, and replay value. The only downside was after I actually did complete all the missions. Since the only other way to battle is to encounter a set variety of enemy clans, it sort of loses it's spark after that. But honestly, that point is a LONG way off from the time that you start the game, so don't even worry about it. You'll have a GREAT time before then. I recommend this to anyone who's a fan of the Final Fantasy franchise.