Final Fantasy: Keep on Rolling!
Final Fantasy XII
Original Platform’s: Playstation 2
Original Developer: Square-Enix
GameFAQS Score: [8.1]
Famitsu Score: [40/40]
Original Sales: Over 5 million copies
Final Fantasy XII was Playstation 2′s fourth best selling title of all time. With that start, I will say that Final Fantasy XII did something right. Hiroyuki Ito worked hard on this new title with the help of Hiroshi Minagawa to bring back fans’ hearts to the series. A new style of gameplay and a more open battle system similar to Final Fantasy XI, this game would live up to hype, and keep the series going. As the last title for the Playstation 2 console, Final Fantasy XII sold a whopping two million copies in Japan and did very well in NA. With a medieval touch again in a post modern world, Final Fantasy XII decided to keep our hearts racing with this thrilling series. This title was sure to be an all time great especially when receiving “best PS2 game” nominations from multiple sources including IGN.
Abandoning the old random encounter system, Final Fantasy XII had visible enemies that could be attacked or attack upon you. The Active Dimension Battle (ADB) system would be the new style of fighting. Once triggering a fight with an act of aggression or an enemy attacks you, there would be no transfer to a “battle scene”. During battle, a command box would appear and attacks would be carried out similar to accustomed play in the series. One new major thing though, was the overall speed. Since the battle would not pause (unless you changed the options to wait mode), and it moved through very quickly, it was nearly impossible to control all of your characters. To compensate for this, a new system was invented for the series.
The use of the “Gambit” system would allow for players to manage their party in a more preset tactical way. Supposedly, designers received this preset idea based on American Football. On a football field, both offense and defense have preset plays prior to snap. Let’s use the wide receiver for an example. When the receiver lines up, he intends to run a deep route fading to the left. Blue…42…Set…Hike! The receiver runs his route and mid-way notices the defenders backing off and starting to watch the quarterback more. Peering back he notices, his quarterback is scrambling to avoid the sack. In order to save the play, he breaks off the route and finds an open slot to allow for the quarterback to complete the pass.
The scenario given above is a prime example of how Final Fantasy XII‘s battle system worked. Like the receiver, players would assign a prearranged set of commands in order of priority (An example would be, HP < 70% then Heal). These gambits could be left in place for each character giving them a designated role in battle, which if left alone would fight without the user’s commands. Obviously some criticism would develop over this more tactical style of a game so Square-Enix decided to allow for easy player interference, which would take precedence with the party members’ commands. Characters could be cycled through quickly, and commands could be set up in case your battle was not going according to plan. The system did work well especially when leveling up or traveling when those “tap the action button” style battles arose. Now you could simply set the controller down and come back when the battle is over (Don’t worry fans who have yet to play this game. There were plenty of opportunities in which this luxury would not work out so well).
Advancing your players stats was similar to older titles as well. As you gained experience, your character will level up based upon a curve-type leveling system (The higher the level, the more experience required to level up). In addition to leveling up to raise player stats, a new system was added. In completion of battle, ability points were awarded. This granted the opportunity to invest in the new “License Board” system. To use different weapons in the game, magic, techniques or other features, the player must “purchase” the license with the accumulated ability points. The more powerful licenses obviously cost more ability points.
Instead of Limit Break’s, Final Fantasy XII introduced the Quickening system. Each character could learn three Quickenings purchased on the license board. When the Quickening sequence is initiated, the player would have to press button combinations in a quick sequence. As the process played out, the party would perform powerful attacks that were cinematic in nature and if the player was skilled enough, would unlock special final attacks.
Inspired by European medieval architecture and Arabic culture, designers sought to create a more trade/ Bazaar influenced kind of commerce which structured the game. Touring the country of Turkey, designers implemented a lot of cultural ideas into the game and as a result the game developed a more Arabic market type feel. Instead of earning currency through monster droppings, players would collect loot and sell it to traders to acquire money. The money could be used to purchase items and equipment. The more varied loot presented to the Bazaars, the better the weapons and equipment would become available for sale.
The side game of the main story focused mainly on hunts, and would lead the players chasing down mythical or legendary beasts for closure or for game. Also, new Espers could be unlocked to fight alongside the players. Espers were permanently assigned to a character once purchased for that character on the License Board, when acquired. Espers (summons) would fight alongside their summoner until their timer ran out or they perished. Some summons had key roles in the game to allow for advancement in the story.
The story was set as a war waged between two empires. In the heat of war between empires Rozarria and Arcadia, Dalmasca is overtaken alongside other small cities by the Arcadian Empire. Our main hero (Vaan) finds himself with his close friend Penelo caught up in a mess. Meeting Basch (A former Dalmascan knight charged of treason), the party helps the widow Ashe evade capture. Once our party exchanged stories and discovers the truth, a journey begins to stop the Arcadian forces and to bring an end to this war. Finding two other friends along the way (Fran, a Vieran exile and Balthier, a sky pilot), the whole party quests to stop Arcadia’s wrath of power with the resistance. Since Ashe is of heir, she embarks to become Queen of Dalmasca again, if they can restore the cities power. Leading a resistance, our party finds their travels tough, confronting a powerful force of Arcadian military and leaders. To restore Dalmasca and end the war, Arcadia must be stopped and our misfits must group together to overthrow this giant!
Austin’s thoughts on game:
Whether it was intentional or not, Final Fantasy XII felt like an unfinished game to me. An unfinished game I really would’ve loved to see finished. The game was not bad by any means, and in fact, I really enjoyed my time with it. But something about it felt unfinished and some of these reasons Rob already mentioned.
The cities all looked amazing, and the decor and architecture was so impressive, but something about these areas always felt barren even with a large number of NPCs walking around. Areas never really came alive for what the game was trying to bring.
The battle system also was something I wasn’t truly behind on. If you want to make an MMO style of game like XI, make an MMO game. FF XII felt like a single player MMO and it really functioned fine, but I always felt like I was missing out by only using one character at a time. Not to mention when you really broke it down, the characters all seemed to play very similar, save for each had specific weapons they could use. Oh, and the side quests kind of sucked.
And the last thing that felt unfinished…the freakin’ STORY! Oh man, I loved the first half of the game. The evil deceit and lies between two warring countries, all the backstabbing politics that went on internally behind each side; it was awesome. But somewhere along the lines, I started noticing less and less dialogue and cut-scenes and more and more dungeon crawling, and before I knew it, I was watching the credits. To this day I want to know what the fuck I missed.
XII could’ve been perfect. All they had to do was finish it.
Oh yeah, and I second Rob, bring back Nobuo!
His Score: 3.9/5.0 PS3 Gamer Tag: AesopB3EF
My thoughts on game:
Final Fantasy XII made the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest video game project ever. This being said, I expected a lot. When Final Fantasy X came out, I was merely a freshman in high school that had fallen in love with Final Fantasy. By the time the next main series game hit (Besides the online game Final Fantasy XI), I was living off on my own far away with my Fiancé. I am sure you do not want to hear my life story but this was important because at this point, the days of playing a good Final Fantasy game seemed distant and almost a relic that I could cherish but never encounter again. Final Fantasy XII released and it just did not feel the same.
When I played this game, I felt it was fun and brought with it some cool things, but it just was not the same Final Fantasy. Since then I have opened my eyes to try and account for innovation but XII just left a sore thought. There were some good things about the game but there were other things that really bothered me.
To start, the main thing that bothered me was the lack of revelation. In games past, final weapons or special summons would be found by using clues found throughout the game or else by completing puzzles. There was many ways that the series presented these powers for discovery but Final Fantasy XII ignored this. In one circumstance, in order to receive the ultimate weapon, the player would have to not open certain treasure chests throughout the game and the weapon would become available later in the game. There was no indication or direction not to open these chests and why wouldn’t you? This aggravated me a lot! Also, besides a couple of hunts, upon completion of the main story there was not much else out there to challenge you with. I found Espers essentially useless and slow, and I hated the “Quickening” system. At first I blamed myself that I just did not have the skills to get the best quickening, but I think ultimately I just never could figure out the strategy behind it. Final Fantasy XII had a lot of just simple luck in discovery, which I will admit without a guide I would have never solved. From such an avid fan that has played almost every single Final Fantasy title and spin-off; I think that proves a point, if I struggled on figuring things out then most with struggle.
There was a lot of good about the game though. I really enjoyed the gambit system. The way it mixed in with battle was great and provided a lot of benefits. My wife played this game with me, and since she was not a gamer or had played any other Final Fantasy’s, I could set up great gambits for her and let them do the work. Also, when I wanted to play and just level up or farm some loot, I could just run around and let the gambits fight off enemies while I was doing something else. Whenever I got the urge to step in though, I could easily take full control.
The game had a decent story. I never really grew attached for the characters but I did enjoy seeing how their adventure played out. With well designed cities and scenery, the game played out real well too. The Bazaar items were neat, and the Hunt club was pretty cool as well. I wish the cities would have had a little more side-quests or relevance, but I understand that Square-Enix was yet again pushing the Playstation 2′s limits. It is so aggravating running through huge cities where 90% of the people have useless information that you think might have relevance but never does. I felt the games side story had no direction and was very boring.
Looking back, I did enjoy the time I spent with this game and would still recommend it. The game was a huge hit in Japan and has won countless awards. One thing that must be said though is that we need Uematsu back. This soundtrack was terrible and annoying. Throughout the entire game I left the volume low or off until dialogue. Besides my complaints though, Square-Enix did yet again deliver another hit. The series just keeps on rolling!
My Score: 4.1/5.0 PS3 Gamer Tag: FF49erG