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Final Fantasy XII
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248 of 284 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 31, 2006
After a long wait, Final Fantasy XII is finally here, after such a long wait. Everything about it shines. From it's deep storyline, to its fantastic and complex gameplay. All worries aside, Final Fantasy XII is a keeper.

The Archadian Empire has taken over the Kingdom of Dalmasca. The King has been assissnated and the princess is presumed dead. The people of Dalmasca are displeased with the Empire, especially a young boy named Vaan who believes it is up to him to take Dalmasca back. Luckily, he's not alone. There's an entire resistence group out there that are willing to help him out. The storyline of Final Fantasy XII is different from all the Final Fantasy games. For one, it relies far more heavily on its political drama and philosophical intrigue. What you get from Final Fantasy XII isn't a huge epic story in scope, but rather a drama that unfolds. It's a different way to tell the story for Final Fantasy, but here it actually works. It's still got some good twists and it is somewhat deep, but don't expect something along the lines of previous installments such as Final Fantasy X or VII. It doesn't have the most memorable ensemble cast either, but you do, for the most part, like the characters.

What many fans are most concerned about when it comes to this new installment is the battle system itself. It strays away from the series roots. It is no longer the ATB style battles we've been used to since Final Fantasy IV. Instead it's Active Dimension battle. All enemies in any given area of a dungeon are present at all times and will charge you upon seeing you.

You can free roam through any area, and so can your enemies. As your characters approach an enemy they pull out their weapons and you can begin to issue attacks. You can only play as one character at a time, but you can still issue orders to other characters if you want. Since all enemies are present on the map at one time, running away can be a hassle. Enemies will give chase, and some enemies will even join in the battle.

The combat has a couple of downsides. For one, getting money is downright painful and repetitive. Your enemies don't drop money, and when they do it's not a lot. Instead you'll be forced to sell the items they drop. This wouldn't be a problem if stuff wasn't so expensive, and if the items dropped by enemies didn't sell for so little. Also, dungeon maps are huge. It's easy to get lost and overshoot your objective sometimes, even with the ingame map provided.

This wouldn't be Final Fantasy without some complexity to the battle system, though. First, there is the game's complex AI system called "Gambits." Gambits allow you t customize what your characters do in battle. You can set your characters up to attack, or you can get more complex and have them heal anyone whose HP falls below a certain percentile. Once you get used to the Gambit system, however, it's really easy to take advantage of. To the point where Final Fantasy XII becomes a cakewalk. Even worse, if you set them up too well, you'll find that the only thing you ever have to do is move around the left analog stick. It is entirely possible to track through Final Fantasy XII never having to open up the menu.

Then there's the license point system. As you battle through the game you'll earn license points which can be spent on the license board. This helps to determine what spells, abilities and even weapon and armor characters can use. Yes, that's right, weapons and armor. You cannot use a certain weapon unless you have a "license" to do so. There's nothing too complex about this and it suffers from its own little issue, the fact that in the end every character is the same.

Let's be honest on one more thing... for some Final Fantasy XII just might not be a lot of fun to play. The aspect of no random battles is nice, but take advantage of the gambit system, and Final Fantasy XII becomes a game that, for the most part, feels one-dimensional. The complexity is nice, but gambits can make the player feel like he's doing little to participate. What it amounts to is basically you moving around the left analog stick while your characters automatically carry out their own actions in battle. There are times when Final Fantasy XII can feel monotonous as a result. That's not to say you won't have fun, it's only to say that battling won't keep you as engaged for long. Especially when every character can so easily learn everything. The dungeons being so big doesn't help this. They've made big so that you will battle. And while the battle system isn't really bad in anyway, it can definitely be annoying to find that Square-Enix made a dungeon huge for the sake of padding out the length.

Graphic-wise, Final Fantasy XII is fantastic. The towns are detailed, and so are your characters. The fact that each town has so many unique looking characters on screen at once is an impressive feat. The game also sounds lovely. Even better is the games artistic design. Towns are breathtaking. The game also sounds good. The voice acting isn't the best in the world, but it does manage to be good in many areas.

Perhaps Final Fantasy XII suffers most in the story department. It's a good story, but the game doesn't spend a lot of time focusing on it. It gets off to a great start, but at some point the game just becomes so devoid of it that it's easy to lose interest in what may have been one of the series more interesting stories. Around the mid point of the game, the story takes a backseat, with developments coming further between. It's refusal to focus too much on its characters doesn't help this. It picks up again in the end and makes for a good story overall, but there's so much to Final Fantasy XII that just doesn't focus on it. What makes the story good is how well written and how cinematic each of the cutscenes becomes. When you get one of these in depth moments into the story it's really engaging and really good. The problem is just that for so long this doesn't happen much. The world of Ivalice is definitely beating with a pulse, though. Running through towns and seeing the vast populations really brings things to life. It's just a shame Final Fantasy XII couldn't have a more lively story.

The Good

+Fantastic Graphics
+Good storyline
+The new battle system is complex
+Tons of side quests and secrets to keep you busy for hours
+Beautiful soundtrack
+Well done voices

The Bad

-Dungeons are huge and save points are few and far between
-The battle system is too easy to take advantage of
-The license board will eventually make every character the same
-While the story is good overall, there certainly isn't too much focus on it
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56 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2007
So, here's my take on Final Fantasy's latest. Is it the greatest? Read on and find out!

BATTLE SYSTEM: Everything is in real-time, which any veteran FF gamer knows is not the way it used to be. Although it takes a while to get accustomed to this change I found the real-time battles a breath of fresh air--something this series is definitely going to need if we're ever to hope of seeing Final Fantasy 24 or so. It is so nice when the only transition screens you have are those that occur when going to menus, new locations or cut-scenes. Also, the ability to run for your life all the way across the map is really nice, especially in addition with the sounds of thousands of angry hooves and feet stamping after you!

TRANSPORTATION: I don't know about you, but I LOVE flying airships on a world map! Sadly, in Final Fantasy 12 this is not possible. Very ironic, because this is the powerful Playstation 2 and the game itself sports alot of airships. There are Chocobos, but that is the only type of transportation you actually steer on your own. You can take teleport crystals to warp you almost anywhere and later your airship can "fly" you places.

STORYLINE: I would disagree with anyone that says that this game has no storyline. But I would agree that there is so much leveling up/looting to be done between locations that when you reach your final destination you might forget your initial motive for going there. As a whole, FF12's storyline is not as prominent as other storylines, like FF6 and FF7. And of course part of what makes a good storyline are good . . .

CHARACTERS: Since anyone can learn any weapon or magic, the only thing that makes them unique are their looks. Fran looks like she escaped from the Playboy mansion, Vaan looks like a younger brother to Ashley Riot from Vagrant Story and Balthier is something of a mix between Setzer and Locke, which is cool. Reddas is an interesting Auron-like person, but he appears too little, too late in the game. Ah yes, and if only Elza in Balfonheim Port were a playable character.

ANTAGONISTS: Part of the reason I did not get drawn in by the storyline (what little there is of it) is because the antagonists were not very convincing. You won't find anyone as evil as Kefka or Sephiroth. For a good portion of the game I knew that the Empire was evil (obviously) but had no idea who exactly was the "Boss" and even more importantly, WHY? And it doesn't help either that the Empire's black-clad knights like Gabranth sound like Dark Helmet from Spaceballs. Or at least a very pathetic Darth Vader.

MUSIC: I own several Final Fantasy game soundtracks and of course I think that Uematsu is brilliant in his work. But I also own the FF Tactics soundtrack and I was surprised how good it was. One of the two composers for the Tactics soundtrack did the music for this game. Unfortunately, by himself, he's not that good. Granted, there were no songs that felt out of place, but at the same time, there were no stellar tracks that captured the EMOTION OF THE MOMENT or had the genius of the work of Uematsu's earlier soundtracks. Considering that you will spend alot of time collecting loot/leveling up in different locations, expect to hear the same track over and over again. Also, the ending boss theme, sadly, is nothing spectacular. I'd even say it's forgettable.

SUMMONS, SPELLS AND SIDEQUESTS: For perhaps the first time ever I found myself hardly ever using summons and magic. The summons are nice to look at, but die too easily and deal too little damage and sadly offensive magic is the same way (although Flare comes in handy at the end). Even sadder, to get alot of these spells and summons you have to go on sidequests that are voluntary, but end up feeling mandatory--or you could do the alternative and loot the land for 3 hours and search a whole world for the one shop that sells the magic/weapon/armor you need.

GRAPHICS: To me, the least important, but they're definitely good. Although only the first and last few FMV scenes are worth watching twice and unlike FF10, you can't buy them.

SOMETHING FUNNY: When Vaan is running around saying "I'm Captain Basch fon Rosenburg" I thought it would be funny if he also randomly said, "I'm Rick James, b-tch!"

OVERALL: If you're a casual RPG gamer, this is clearly a solid RPG that is very well thought through in terms of game mechanics. And let's not forget, you can easily log in 80+ hours before beating the game, which is definitely getting your money's worth.
If you're a veteran Final Fantasy gamer, one who's played since it's NES days (or at least its SNES days), then you'll see what a weak story and soundtrack this game has, which to me is below par for a Final Fantasy title.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2006
I'll use the old cliche: RPG's have been hand in hand with Final Fantasy. In fact, there's even best-of lists devoted to non-Final Fantasy games. As such, it's hard to believe we haven't had a proper entry in the series since 2001 with Final Fantasy X. Yeah we had the online XI but really, who actually can afford all those fees and everything just to play the game? The twelth game in the series had a frustratingly long gestation period with numerous delays, people walking out as well as doubts about whether the game would actually be good. Must be tough for those who doubted the game. I don't know whether people will regard this as one of the series best but as it stands, this is probably the best RPG available right now.

Story: Taking place in the world of Ivalice, the Archadian Empire has taken over the kingdom of Dalmasca, placing it under their rule. The story centers around a group of people who are caught up in political intrigue and mystery as well as the protection of Princess Ashe, the heir to the throne. As for this story, you might not respond in the way you did to Cloud and Aeris or Locke and Celes but the characters are endearing and the plot is definately the maturest they've done since VIII but what hurts the story is development. You can tell the emphasis was on the story as opposed to the characters so while they all go on this mission, there's really no personal interest in each other as a group. I will say though that I quite like Ashe's character and Balthier is the kind of sly cool guy we all wish we could be.

Graphics: When X came out, the graphics quite frankly stunned me. They still do. Here, they stun but the novelty as worn off since they're not new but boy do they impress. The demo and intro movie are just gorgeous and the in-game cinematics are handled well. This is also probably one of the most fully-realized worlds I've seen. Everything here looks like it has a story to tell or a history and it's very easy to get immersed in. My one knock is that on my widescreen TV, there's actually space that's not used since it's for subtitles and the like and let's face it, with a story like this, you kinda need subtitles.

Sound/Music: Done now by Hitoshi Sakimoto of Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, I find his music well composed and arranged and he's great at using an orchestra but his problem is melodies, or shall we say, lack of them. Revisiting the soundtrack independent of the game made me appreciate some tracks more (the Esper Battle theme is power by definition really) but some tracks go through a few changes that while fine in the game, they're so overwritten it hurts the replayability. As for the voice acting, it's hit and miss. Sure characters like Basch and Balthier and especially Ashe work though she sounds slightly older, but then we have whiny Vaan(show you bad it is, Tidus to me outdoes this guy) and Fran has the most peculiar accent. Ultimately though their voices don't take you out of the game, they're just not as well cast in certain roles.

Gameplay: The straw that might break the camel's back for some people. It used to be that you'd roam the field and whoosh! be met with battle music and the fight than a separate screen for your spoils such as EXP and Gil. Not here. The enemies appear on the field and you just walk right up to them and fight them right there. It's still ATB based so if you pick a command, a bar fills and once it fills, that command is issued. Exp and LP (license points) pop up above your enemy so you don't go to a separate screen. Only problem with this is that sometimes enemies overwhelm you and the EXP jumps rather considerably as you level up. In the first few enemy-infested levels you traverse, your requirements for levelling up can easily jump 300 exp and when each individual enemy has maybe 10 or so, that's a lot of fighting, and your Cure and whatnot don't come fast enough. The camera can cause problems, especially in dungeons where you went left instead of turning right.

Like every single game since probably V, the game introduces a gameplay system on how to level and manage your characters. From the Materia system to Junctioning to the Sphere Grid, every game has had a different approach and it's the same thing here. The License board is essentially a re-worked Sphere Grid. Beating enemies in battle nets you License points which can be used to "buy" licenses, such as the ability to equip certain equipment or spells or enhancements such as increased potency of potions and spells or simply raising your strength and increasing your HP. However, just because you bought that license doesn't mean you can use it. Certain things like spells and skills have to be bought as well so buying the Cure license doesn't mean you can cast it, you have to buy it first. To be honest, this works better than X's system because unlike that system where you had to level up your health, strength, defense etc, individually, your traditional levelling up does it for you while the licenses are merely bonuses. However, there's no thieves/white mages-type thing here so you can actually make characters all equip bows if you wanted which takes away a bit of their uniqueness.

The other addition is the Gambit system. Basically these are "if commands" which state that if a certain condition is there, an action is performed by your character. For example: if a character falls below a certain health percentage, your character or an ally will automatically perform Cure. If there's a fire-based enemy, you can have your ally automatically cast Blizzard. You can also set order preference so curing and health management take priority over attacking for example. Some say that it later makes the battles easier but personally it makes it funner and considering that they're all controllable, it's fun to not have to worry about them.

Money has been changed as well. Enemies no longer carry vast amounts of Gil in their pocket, but instead they carry treasures. They can carry furs, stones and such and then those are sold in the market. Also you can take on various bounties where you hunt down a creature. It works in theory as well as just simple common sense(how is it that a bat carries Gil and what for anyway?), you don't get as much money as you should, especially considering you have to buy spells as well as techniques, weaponry, protective garments as well as supplies. As for the difficulty? It can get quite hairy. One early boss encounter pitted me up against at least 6 enemies, 2 of which were the main enemies and boy did they pack a wallop, finished me in 2 minutes flat. Party management and levelling are a must if you're to survive.

I don't think there even is a Final Fantasy that's absolutely perfect but it's probably still going to be one of the more impressive RPG's you've played and XII is no different.
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79 of 103 people found the following review helpful
Final Fantasy is sometimes thought of as a kiddy game with chocobos and moogles. Final Fantasy XII proves that this series can present an awesome storyline and graphics that all ages will adore.

Don't worry if you haven't played all of the other Final Fantasy games. You don't need to. There are subtle carry-overs, but this game is meant to stand alone. You are a young orphan in a city recovering after a war. The cruel Empire has taken over your home town, and you enjoy causing trouble for the soldiers.

Soon, of course, you're swept up in an epic rebellion. The storyline here is just *amazing*. Not just the plot itself, but the voice acting, the dialogue, the graphics, they are top notch. This is really like being a part of an extremely well done drama movie. They delve into issues of honor, loyalty, love, betrayal, and more. I'm an adult gamer, and I was staying up many long nights because I wanted to see where the story was going. Some of the subtle interactions between characters in cut scenes are just amazing. The small nods, the looks in their eyes, you are hard pressed to remember that they are animated in a computer game.

Gameplay itself revolves around a party of characters going on quests, fighting in battles and moving through the large world. Each character gains experience and skills as they go. You buy them new weapons and armor, train them in spells, and aim them in their career growth however you wish. There is a dual system in play here. First, you need to physically own the weapon or item you wish to use - say an iron sword. But then you need to KNOW how to use it too! You can't just hand an iron sword to a 10 year old piano player and expect her to know how to use it. That skill is called a "license". You have an online license chart that lets you manage what each character knows. Licenses relate to each other. If your character learns the basics of sword work, now they can learn a more advanced version. It is very intuitive and adds a fun element to the game. It's not just one straight line that you choose and are stuck with. It's an all-directions layout where you can try new skills or expand out as you learn the system better.

I really like combat in this Final Fantasy as well. Instead of random battles where enemies appear out of nowhere to assault you, all enemies are "on the map" with you. If you're running along a path in the desert and see something really scary in the distance, you run away from it! You don't have to worry about enemies springing up out of nowhere to slam you into the ground.

The enemies in general are challenging but not impossible. There are spots where you really have to think about the enemy and what its weakness is to defeat it. You can't just brute force bash away at everything and hope to succeed.

Still, as great as the gameplay is, and as gorgeous as the visuals and music and voice acting are, I really have to come back to the plot and characters as standing out here. There's been a lot of talk in the gaming world about a game that finally goes from "little pixels on the screen" that you move from X to Y to the point of *caring* about these characters, about what they are going through, and feeling emotional about their highs and lows. I really think Final Fantasy XII has hit that level. Yes, there are one or two twerpy characters that can be annoying. Even Star Wars had Luke whining about the Takashi Station at the beginning, to set his "basis for growth". In general, though, every single character here seems real, seems complex, and you don't want to put the game down.

Highly, highly recommended.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2006
I must say, after hearing so many bad reviews about this game (before it even came out of course) i was tempted to not even buy it. Boy am i glad i changed my mind. The problem with people is that they want the SAME continuous thing in every game. They complain about the battle system because its not what they are "used to". Get over it people, this battle system is simply awesome! If you want the same battle system as FF7 and FF10 and FF9...then hey..go play those games again and again. Me, I prefer something new and unique with each FF game.

Basically, don't listen to reveiws about the battle system, because its actually very fun and easy to get used to. Some people just cant accept changes. Dont let them ruin a beautiful experience like FINAL FANTASY XII.

=)
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45 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2006
As is always the case (I must admit to being a bit of a FF fanboy), I said "wow" after playing this most recent installment of Final Fantasy. In almost all other cases wow was all I could muster after playing a spectacular game. Now, I'm stunned by how unimpressive Final Fantasy XII turned out. It has left me utterly disappointed and questioning my faith in the future of this series.

My disappointment stems from the "carry-overs". There are many themes that appear in most of the games in the series. These carry-over themes have included airships, powerful creatures the party can summon, specific character jobs, chocobos, certain weapons and typically a character named Cid. The two themes that have the greatest impact on how the game plays are the jobs (e.g. Warrior, Red Mage, Summoner, Dragoon, etc.) and the summoned monsters.

Jobs in this installment are non-existent. Each character is virtually as adept at being a mage as they are at being a fighter. This sounds deceptively inviting, leaving it up to the player to determine how you will develop your characters. Unfortunately, not far into the game, all your characters will have all the same skills since they're aren't that many. The only thing that differentiates character from character is the gear they have equipped. Take off their heavy armor, shield and sword, and strap on a staff, robe and pointy hat. You have just converted your best fighter into your best mage. This neuter approach to character development caused me to care less about "buying" skills.

Summoned monsters were, equally, poorly implemented. Summons have been handled quite differently over the years. In Final Fantasy XII, the summons have been relegated to near uselessness. They have hit points and attacks that are surprisingly low. Summoning during a boss battle was an exercise in futility. The summon was typically dead before it could cause any major damage. Alas, the worst of it all is the introduction of an almost entirely new cast of summons. The old stand-bys, Leviathan, Shiva, Ifrit, Bahamut, and Ramuh, have been replaced by a freakishly overstylized group.

It is with a heavy heart that I pass judgement on Final Fantasy XII. This game forced me to turn in my Final Fantasy Fanboy Badge. I can only hope that FFXIII will redeem the franchise..... I'm not hopeful.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2006
I bought the game the night of the release. I took it straight home and played it that very night like many of us did. Within the first 2 hours of playing I was hooked. Yes, like all new games, getting used to a new world, battle system, monsters, leveling systems and how to aquire items is always a challenge. But I think the developers saw the possibility of people becoming frustrated and they put items throughout the game to assist in leveling up, finding the way around, buying items, getting from pt. a to pt. b, ect... It is a huge, vast and enormous game, endless choices! It is marvelous!

I love the concept of having to take back your pillaged items and selling them. To me that makes it seem more real to life. If I were to go out and kill a few birds, beasts, catch a few fish ect... I would not expect ever to find a shiny brass farthing on them. However I would expect to have to take what I could and sell it. That would be how I would make my living. The same concept exists here.

I find the game to be beautiful, brilliant and hypnotic. I enjoy listening to all the characters voices, I enjoy the story line and I feel pulled into the world.

I am now about 55 hours into the game and my opinion at 2.4 hours hasn't changed. If anything it has only deepened the conviction that I have that Squaresoft knew what it was doing and that they did a splendid job.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2012
Last night I finished FFXII. It is my favorite FF game and the best video game I've ever played. I logged 120 hours and loved it.

My favorite Final Fantasy games that I have played are now, in order: XII, X, VI, VII, and X-2. I plan to play VIII and IX next.

What I loved about FF XII:
- beautiful graphics
- lots of challenging fights
- huge world to explore and freedom to travel around
- scenes including dark dungeons full of undead, icy mountains, foggy marshes, rolling praries, mystic forests, and more
- combat system (with gambits optional) that I grew to love
- memorable characters
- license system for abilities is flexible and lets you choose who is a fighter, mage, etc.
- no random monster encounters - you can see them approaching and use location and range to your advantage
- the game stayed challenging pretty much the whole way
- the NPC interaction and side quests are interesting and can be helpful, but are mostly optional

What I didn't like about FF XII:
- if I could redesign it, I would change the end fight - it was good, but could have been better.

The best thing about FF XII is that I loved it all the way through the game, all 120 hours I played. I enjoyed all of the areas, all the boss fights, and monsters, weapons, magic, were all fun. In previous FF games, I have always liked developing character abilities and powers, and this game seemed to be the best yet that I have played at keeping the balance between toughness of monsters and power of characters good to keep fights challenging. I got wiped out a few times and had to restart from save points, and there were a bunch of close encounters where I just barely got out, but that to me is challenging and fun.

Also, I liked the visuals. I could tell by looking at the weapons my characters were carrying around exactly which sword, spear, etc., they had because the detail is that precise. You can tell a Defender sword from a Save The Queen just by looking at them. Little details make it visually impactful. Fran and Balthier are great looking characters - the tall elf woman in leather and the swashbuckling leading man, very memorable. Penelo was the fun, peppy one. Vaan and Ashe reminded me of Tidus and Yuna from FF X. Basch was the tough guy. I thought the voicing was for the most part excellent, especially Balthier and Fran.

My favorite locations were the creepier dungeons with the eerie music and undead monsters. When you are wading through zombies nearly getting your butt kicked, but manage to pull through and reach the goal, that is fun. There was also a windswept snowy area with swirling magic illusions that I will never forget.

The battle system, with no random encounters, enemies you see coming on a corner map, and gambit options, is my favorite of all the FF games.

The license system is my second favorite, after the sphere grid in X. The ending was also my second favorite, after the ending in X. However, I liked XII better overall because I loved the combat system, the consistent challenges, the phenominal look and graphics, and the puzzles were more intuitive to me.

I will definitely play FF XII again some time in the future. It is my new favorite.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2007
I think most of what I have to say has been said in the other reviewer's posts. However, the thing that really makes this game great is the monumental amount of things to do and visit within the game. I really can't describe how vast the world is, with locales ranging from towering cities to underground colosseums to floating towns in the sky. It's incredibly large, with an equal amount of things to do, find, and fight within them. I agree with the other reviewers, the story really doesn't suck you in as much. It's long and difficult to follow and get really into, but still incredible compared to most other games. However, the various areas, cities, and people all give the game a unique flavor. Definitely worth your money.

Get the strategy guide if you want to know what's going on. There's no way to stress how important that is to the game.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2007
Anyone who followed news of Final Fantasy XII, the final installment of the legendary RPG series on the Playstation 2, should know what a troubled history it had. Several years of delays and several key members of the development team leaving before the project's completion definitely shows on the final product. With its balance issues and muddled, poorly done storyline, I can't help but feel that Square-Enix, sensing the final days of the Playstation 2 approaching, just shoved this one out the door and hoped for the best.

A departure for the series, Final Fantasy XII uses a quasi-real time battle system similar to what you'd find in an online RPG. Character AIs are controlled by the gambit system, battle routines that you program for each character before hitting the field. Of course, you can still input commands manually, but the gambit system really does make things flow more seemlessly. While the semi-real time combat does speed things up quite a bit by eliminating random battles, it sacrafices most controll and strategy usually required to play these types of games. The gambit system works a little too well, as all you really need is a few properly enabled healing and attack commands enabled and all the game requires of you is to steer the characters around the map. In fact I always turned the AI script off for my party leader just so I could press a button every once in a while. Even boss battles don't require much more strategy than melee attacking and healing every once in a while.

The game goes even further in destroying the need for strategy by introducing quickenings. These are super powerful, magic draining attacks that you can chain together for massive damage in you have quick enough fingers. Just wear a boss down to half of its life bar and unleash one of these babies to finish him off. If that doesn't work, switch in your reserve fighters to finish him off.

The game has also done away with automatically earning money for every enemy defeated. Instead you have to rely on loot, the items monsters drop at random. You must buy everything from armaments to magic to new gambits and its all very expensive. Imagine how hard it would be too buy that several thousand coin spear if only every fourth monster gave you something to pawn off. Compound that with even late in the game, about 3/4th of the loot dropped pays only a pittance when you sell it. I never had to intentionally build my levels because I was always severely overly powerful from just earning money to buy equipment.

Then there is the utterly frustrating treasure system. In Final Fantasy XII there is no set treasure item in each box. The strategy guide tells me that there is a box that might contain a super duper weapon. Unfortunately, you only have a one in three chance of getting that. You have a better chance of ending up with a potion or 13 coins. And that is if the chest even appears at all, because as I trekked through the fields, I found that more often the not the chests containing the better items were suspiciously absent.

Character skills are assigned through the licensing board. Not only must you purchase every piece of gear, magic spell, and fighting technique, but you must also buy a license to equip/use it with points earned from fighting monsters. You'd think this would lead to very open ended skill development, but it doesn't. Like the weapons, certain magic and techniques are only available after certain points in the game and there is nothing more frustrating than purchasing a license for a nifty looking ability and finding out you won't have access to it unless you go an insane sidequest to defeat some giant rock turtle with two million life points. As for the weapons section of the board, it can be ridiculously unorganized. Some weapons like bows, swords, and spears are neatly grouped together, but others like guns, and ninja swords seem to have been placed all around the board at random.

I'm sorry but it seems for just about every step forward they took, they took three leaps back.

Let's talk about the story, what really makes this a turkey. I'm not going to talk about anything specific after the first five or so hours. After the intense and well-directed opening cinematic, I thought this really would be the masterpiece the hype machine promised it would be. It had everything you'd think an epic should have: large scale battles, death, war, betrayal. The Kingdom of Dalamsca was soundly thrashed in a war against the Archadian Empire. The king surrenders to avoid total annexation by the Empire, but before he can sign the treaty, he is assassinated by Basch, his loyal knight. Several years later, Princess Ashe teams up with a ragtag band of rebels to win the kingdom's freedom back. No one in their right mind should call this well written when one of its few major plot twists is that the assassin was really, that most ridiculous of soap opera clichés, Basch's evil twin brother! That is when the story falls down and only struggles back to its feet after another twenty hours. And I absolutely dare anyone to tell me that the first third of this was not totally patterned after the first two Stars Wars movies, the ones from the good trilogy. At about the start of the last 1/3rd it falls down again and never gets back up, as all the carefully drawn political maneuverings are thrown out the window for an increasingly ridiculous and more stereotypical quest for magic rocks. The characters are almost 100% static and I don't think the developers ever really had a clear picture of who they were as, especially towards the end of the game, their personalities seem to change inexplicably from one scene to the next.

In the end, Final Fantasy XII didn't demand much out of me and I didn't give much effort in return. I just sort of sleepwalked through it. It was far from addictive, and I, who usually want to complete every sidequest, ended up only doing the bare minimum. When it was over, I was just left feeling cold. I've played worse games, but this is the worst entry into the series in a long, long time.
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