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Final Fantasy XII is out!

PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 6:15 am
by vector1394
Final Fantasy XII is out, and here is a word from a reviewer, about the game.
Here is also a video! Final Fantasy XII Movie
Gamespot's score:9.0
Gameplay: 9
Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Value: 9
Tilt: 9
Difficulty: Hard
Learning Curve: About 2 hours

Final Fantasy XII
Oct 30, 2006
Written by Mike Smith

Two warring kingdoms, a city-state languishing under a draconian occupying power, and a street urchin named Vaan walk into a bar. That's either a terrible setup for a joke or it's the backstory for yet another in the two-decade series of Final Fantasy games. The twelth is a real departure, featuring a shockingly different combat system, third-person camera angle and, as usual, totally new characters and setting. It's also the best Final Fantasy there's been for years.

Final Fantasy XII is actually going to be the final one this time, at least as far as the end-of-life PlayStation 2 is concerned. It's set in Ivalice, the world of Final Fantasy Tactics, but in an entirely different period of history where swords and magic coexist with vast, impossibly advanced mechanical airships. But the most immediately impressive thing about the game isn't the delightful setting or intricate plot: it's, as always, Square's superb cutscenes.

Just when you thought they couldn't possibly do better, along comes FFXII. This time, the improvements aren't so much in the character models (they were always good) but in the way they move, animated perfectly and completely authentic. Watch the intro sequence and once you pick up your lower jaw, you'll understand why the game took five years to make.

During the gameplay, the visuals don't wow us in quite the same way, but they impress nevertheless. The PS2 might be showing its age, but the in-game graphics make us wonder what Square's team will be able to do with more modern hardware. Despite some odd details -- just what is going on with Vaan's abs? -- the character models are extremely well detailed, the 3D backgrounds are rich and imaginative, and the animation is top notch.

The heart of the game is the combat, though, and here it doesn't disappoint. It's hard to class it as either turn-based or real-time, and even tough to say whether you control just one character or your whole party, as the answer to both of those questions is, "it depends". It's a major departure for the series, and no doubt that has fans shifting uneasily in their seats. Relax. It's a huge improvement, and brings this classic series completely up to date.

FFXII's system blends concepts from the older FF games, massively-multiplayer titles like Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft, and the half real-time, half turn-based system advanced by Bioware in its Star Wars RPGs. No longer does the screen fade into a separate battle view; your team flows from exploration to combat seamlessly. Not even the music changes. You can almost always see enemies long before you engage them, and battles are no longer a static affair, as you can move around as you fight. Sometimes roaming monsters will join the fray half-way through, and escaping a fight is just a matter of running away.

Mind you, it hasn't all changed -- the blue-backgrounded menu system will be familiar to any Final Fantasy aficionado, but you might be using it a little less than you're expecting. Shock, horror, with careful preparation your troupe can be relied upon to manage simple encounters all by themselves.

You do this by setting up "gambits" for each character. These allow unprecedented control over the way that character will respond to various situations; for each one you specify a trigger, then an action to perform in that situation. So a warrior might have a simple catch-all "when there's an enemy close, attack it" gambit, and a healer might have one something like "when an ally drops to 50% health, cast a cure spell".

That's just the start, as with pages and pages of possible situations and actions, not to mention the potential of stacking multiple gambits on the same character, it's a tremendously deep system. Combined with the incredibly flexible level advancement system (essentially, any character can do any job, when built in the right way), it's modern and genuinely innovative.

Past Final Fantasy player characters often been a little hit and miss. For each bold, iconic and likeable hero, there's been one sullen, unfriendly miseryguts - or two or three, probably. FFXII's crew, though some of them are stand-offish at times, don't make the mistake of letting players try to figure out their motivations. They're all voiced well, too.

Impressed yet? We haven't even mentioned the epic boss fights, the vast and stunning summon spells (called Espers, this time), the clever set of side-quests that send you all over the world hunting specific monsters, or the often witty monster bestiary, or all the other things that come together to make this behemoth of an RPG.

Even the translation, so often a stumbling block for Japanese RPGs, is handled with real grace. FFXII's more noble characters have a measured, formal tone, and a careful use of language that's totally in character; meanwhile, the gutter rats and thieves talk more loosely. Subtleties like that make a welcome break from the genre norm.

As, too, is the difficulty level. Man, it can be tough at times. Gone are the days of cruising through an FF game and counting the number of times you died on the fingers of one hand. You'll fail, you'll die, and thanks to the save point system, you'll have to repeat stuff, too. Deal with it. The stiff challenge means you really have to devote yourself to exploiting the gambit system to full effect, and although this can be frustrating early in the game when you don't have the triggers or actions you know you need, it's worth it.

It's not always the good kind of tough, though. Some areas are just plain tedious, requiring you to meander through cookie-cutter environments fighting the same dull enemy type over and over again, with no save point in sight. The less patient among you might not make it through at all. It's a shame, because on the whole FFXII goes out of its way to add interesting twists to its dungeon crawling, and paces them well. Perhaps that makes the exceptions stand out even more.

While we're airing grievances, the forgettable soundtrack suffers from the loss of traditional FF composer Nobuo Uematsu. Dedicated fans will spot a couple of his themes popping up here and there, but this isn't going to be the kind of theme that you'll play for its own sake. It's also not helped by the way a single track can keep playing for ages, as there's no fight music for regular encounters.

If your eyebrows have been raised at all these changes to Final Fantasy's classic, well-loved concepts, you're probably not the only one. With all these changes, can FFXII still be a Final Fantasy game? Sure it can. Time moves on, and while there might have been nothing wrong with the old ways, XII's fluid gameplay and high-adrenaline combat are a clear step up for the series.

What more could you ask? Although Square has clearly found the limits of the PS2, Final Fantasy's new, seamless approach to exploration and combat works beautifully, and comes with all the depth of plot, character, and gameplay that we've come to expect from the name. Our only reservations are that at times it requires a little more patience than it should, and that the music is a touch bland. Final Fantasy XII's PlayStation 2 swan song is one of the series' best.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 1:13 pm
by .Yunoko
kool i cant wait till i get it....

PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:02 pm
by Supashay91
Great game I love it.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:05 pm
by newpspdude
anyone played it cuz i was bout to buy it but idk

PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:31 pm
by Mailas
I have it, and I say you buy it.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 7:16 pm
by TK421
didn't this come out a while ago?

PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 9:06 pm
by Supashay91
newpspdude wrote:anyone played it cuz i was bout to buy it but idk

It's a great game especially if you are into MMORPG type game play.

@TK421: It came out on Halloween.