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Poll: It's About Time :: Final Fantasy XII

It's About Time! reviews by a Stranger

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Final Fantasy XII

Yes I know, I have put 12 and not 13. Yes that was deliberate. No I am not going to review Final Fantasy 13 because I do not own that game, funny really since I was drooling over the trailers that were released. Anyway I have decided to do this review for several reasons which will now be explained to you: firstly, all I have seen so far on the internet is hate for this game and secondly, I loved it.

Final Fantasy 12 is an open world, Japanese RPG that has you controlling a select party of misfits who have been thrown together by a mix of fate, coincidence and bad story writing. Unsurprisingly, this is the 12th instalment of the series and it brings several new things to the table, such as the fact that there are no longer any random encounters, you fight enemies in the same screen that you walk around in, there is a new Gambits system and also you unlock skills by means of a License Board.

The main character is Vaan, a teenage street orphan who lost his parents and brother in the war that saw their homeland of Dalmasca annexed by the Archadian empire. He gets by by stealing from unsuspecting Archadian guards and by performing petty tasks for a shopkeeper who has taken him under his wing. He is constantly getting himself into trouble and dreams of becoming a Sky Pirate (don't we all?). Throughout his travels you accumulate more people to your party, such as a war criminal, the princess of your country and a proper Sky Pirate. They all have distinct personalities that play quiet well off each other, each one has their own speciality but you can model them to suit your needs.

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The very first part of the game sees you playing as Vaan's brother, fighting your way into your country's palace to prevent your king from signing a treaty to legalise Dalmasca's predicament. This is, in essence, a tutorial level where you can get used to the fact that combat is slightly more than taking turns to bash each other with sticks. Enemies now appear in the explorable world and although you still have to wait some time between each attack, you can move around during that time in the vain hope of trying to dodge the enemy's sword. I have to say that this is a vast improvement on simple turn-based combat as it really feels as though you are more involved in the action. The menus are still present to select attacks, magic, technetics (like spells but they don't need mana for use) and whatever but they are relatively simple and don't detract from the experience too much. At the end of the tutorial you use your newly acquired combat skills to fend off a contingent of guards on the staircase before running off to rejoin your group in the throne room, only to find everyone in the room, including the king, is dead and there is no sign of the killer. The camera snaps into a first-person view, you swing around after hearing a noise, the screen then shakes and you look down to see a knife sticking out of your chest. What follows is a long and drawn out death sequence from the dying man's perspective which I found to be very effective and incredibly (I hate to use the word) immersive.

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What I am very happy to tell you is that Final Fantasy 12 is incredibly long, especially so for a one disk PS2 game, I sunk over 120 hours into it on one play through and I didn't get close to completing everything that you can do. The story missions take upwards of 80 hours and there are lots of other things other than side quests such as Monster Hunts, which is basically an excuse for a hell of a lot of boss fights. Thankfully, to achieve this goliath length of a play time, the game does not resort to simple collection quests. Near to the beginning of the game you are told to collect something along the lines of 2 screws, a wooden plank and a saw. Vaan replies :"You're joking, right?", and receives the answer "Nah, I'm only kidding, how boring would that be?" Which shows how they've really listened to the responses from the community (wouldn't it be nice if Infinity Ward did that). It also means you can spend more time fighting and levelling up, which is the purpose of RPG's and also a lot more fun than running from one side of the city to the other to find some inane object.

One of the things I mentioned in the (proper) opening paragraph was the Gambit system, this is much like the Tactics system from Dragon Age: Origins and allows you to control the AI of the 2 other party members that you are allowed to use at a time, as well as the AI of your character. It has options for things like Nearest Enemy and Ally: Health<20% which can be coupled with other options like Attack and Cure. It essentially means that if you get the options right then you do not actually have to do anything which does lead to the combat becoming quite mundane after a time although certain situations do mean you have to override the AI do deal with a specific enemies. This system is essential for long boss fights, especially the two bosses that have 50 health bars and take hours to be put down, in one such fight I learnt the boss' moves and then altered the Gambits so I could leave it on overnight and come back in the morning to see my party victorious. These mega-bosses are optional, so only the people with no life (that would be me) attempt them.

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The other thing I mentioned was the License Board, after killing a monster you gain a certain amount of License Points along with the standard experience points, these are used to unlock tiles on what looks like an oddly shaped chess board. Each tile allows you to use allow you to use certain weapons, spells, armour etc. and also enable you to unlock the tiles around them which are usually higher level weapons etc. This has to be my favourite addition to the game since it allows you to completely customise your character, you can choose different types of anything (there are at least 7 different types of magic) which really helps you to craft your character and your party. In addition to unlocking the item or spell for use you do actually have to own the item or spell as well so that is something to keep in mind, oh and unlike the games successor, you purchase items by means of an actual shop in an actual city, not via a save point.

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This game also introduces a force known as mist, it enables the characters to summon Espers (you have to have defeated the Esper before you can summon it) which add another element to the combat. Initially these are well worth summoning as they are very powerful but sadly they are quickly out powered by the characters themselves. Mist also allows the performance of Quickenings, these quick-time events have the chance to massive amounts of damage at the expense of all the characters mana, but again these become quickly obsolete as leveling does not have much of an effect on how much damage they do.

Despite these additions, this game is not completely different to other Final Fantasy title, it still contains many recurring themes like airships, Chocobos, someone called Cid and the fact that although guns are around, for some reason the weapon of choice is the comically oversized sword. True to form, the graphics of this game are amazing, the world is huge, it's detailed, bright and colourful and the cut scenes could easily be mistaken by ones on the PS3. The player is drawn into the game by this but quickly spat out again because of (like in the other Final Fantasy games) terrible voice acting, it often comes across as awkward and I find Vaan's voice to be unbearable.

Of all the faults in this game, the worst has to be the story which basically consists of you trying to prove the Princess' identity by collection royal artefacts, then having them taken from you and then trying to prevent the Archadian empire from producing Nephacite, an artificial magic rock that is powerful enough to produce huge explosions. This story would have been fine for a normal size game but since the size of Final Fantasy 12 is more akin to Jupiter the story needs to be more engaging and complex. This isn't helped by the distinct lack of lore or backstory, which could have been a great addition to the game. It is for these reasons, that so many hate this game, along with the fact that they think it is blasphemy for anything to be better than Final Fantasy 7.

I congratulate any who have gotten this far, the sad thing is that I know that I've missed things out, but this review has gone on long enough already. This truly is a great game and it deserves far more praise than it has received from the Final Fantasy fan base. If you have not already, go and play it. Just keep in mind that you will lose a chunk of your life to it.

-Thanks for your time. Any comments, whatever they may be, are welcome.

unrelated

In music reviewing related news, the next review will probably be up tomorrow and will be on Manchester Orchestra's old album, I'll resume with taking suggestions after that.

I absolutely loved 12, up until (as all of you stalkers will know) I got up to Elder Wyrm. That boss screwed me over so hard I couldn't bare it. I've never touched the game since I clocked 264 losses. That was 3 years ago, I refuse to play it again.

The review in itself was great, an interesting read that labled all the necessary malarky. The game does deserve more praise, but really, the characters were generally uninteresting, Basch was the only one I liked, and the voice acting wasn't actually bad, just unconvincing. I can't remember what the princess' name was, but what the hell was going on with her? Her husband died, and only about 10 hours in to the game she is giving Vaan a rather convincing eye.

Oh God...I just remembered...Penelo. My eyes...my unstained eyes.

StarStruckStrumpets:
I absolutely loved 12, up until (as all of you stalkers will know) I got up to Elder Wyrm. That boss screwed me over so hard I couldn't bare it. I've never touched the game since I clocked 264 losses. That was 3 years ago, I refuse to play it again.

Wow, I don't remember having too much trouble with that one. The VII Monster Hunts were complete bitches though, some could do 5000 damage with just a normal attack.

I've been separated from my PS2 lately so I haven't been able to finish it. I think I'll turn off the gambits for the character that I'm controlling for a while when I reunite with my PS2. I like the basic story and the dialog makes me chuckle every once in awhile. My only problem with the story and characters is Vaan's design and voice. His character is okay, but his VA is terrible and he should put on a f*cking shirt. And cut his hair.

You know what really bugs me about this game: The license board. I think they were headed in the right direction, but it doesn't allow much in customization. You could have a team of fighters with specialized roles in theory, but because you can't see what licenses you'll unlock when without a map you'd have no idea how your characters will turn out. The Zodiac Job System solves this problem but it's Japanese only T__T

Grand_Arcana:

You know what really bugs me about this game: The license board. I think they were headed in the right direction, but it doesn't allow much in customization. You could have a team of fighters with specialized roles in theory, but because you can't see what licenses you'll unlock when without a map you'd have no idea how your characters will turn out. The Zodiac Job System solves this problem but it's Japanese only T__T

From what I've heard it does sound better, is there any reason why it's only in the Japanese version?

To be honest i havent played ffxii but it looks awsome and will be buying it whenever i find time.

Yes, I have a que- Wait. Not XIII?

Ahem, nevermind.

ShadowsofHope:
Yes, I have a que- Wait. Not XIII?

Ahem, nevermind.

When I actually get round to buying the game I will review it, don't worry.

I enjoyed 12 until two glaring facts dawned on me.

1. The only character i actually cared about was Basch

2. The battle system eventually became totally automatic, meaning all i was doing was pushing my characters from Point A to Point B and having the AI do the rest. I prefered the turn based combat because it gave me absolute control over the actions of the characters i was commanding. Gambits for the allys - great, gambits for the controlled character - bad. Whilst you can argue that you can take control of the system if you don't want it automated, the menus and real time battle do not gel well and you'll often get destroyed before you can so much as draw your sword - if menus are to be included in real time combat i'd far prefer either a FFXIII or Kingdom Hearts type system.

Who knows, maybe at some point for old times sake i'll actually finish FFXII

OmegaXIII:
I enjoyed 12 until two glaring facts dawned on me.

1. The only character i actually cared about was Basch

2. The battle system eventually became totally automatic, meaning all i was doing was pushing my characters from Point A to Point B and having the AI do the rest. I prefered the turn based combat because it gave me absolute control over the actions of the characters i was commanding. Gambits for the allys - great, gambits for the controlled character - bad. Whilst you can argue that you can take control of the system if you don't want it automated, the menus and real time battle do not gel well and you'll often get destroyed before you can so much as draw your sword - if menus are to be included in real time combat i'd far prefer either a FFXIII or Kingdom Hearts type system.

Who knows, maybe at some point for old times sake i'll actually finish FFXII

You can set it so the game pauses when you bring up the battle menu which helps out a lot while detracting from the experience somewhat. Wait.... You never finished it? Blasphemy!

Stranger of Sorts:

OmegaXIII:
I enjoyed 12 until two glaring facts dawned on me.

1. The only character i actually cared about was Basch

2. The battle system eventually became totally automatic, meaning all i was doing was pushing my characters from Point A to Point B and having the AI do the rest. I prefered the turn based combat because it gave me absolute control over the actions of the characters i was commanding. Gambits for the allys - great, gambits for the controlled character - bad. Whilst you can argue that you can take control of the system if you don't want it automated, the menus and real time battle do not gel well and you'll often get destroyed before you can so much as draw your sword - if menus are to be included in real time combat i'd far prefer either a FFXIII or Kingdom Hearts type system.

Who knows, maybe at some point for old times sake i'll actually finish FFXII

You can set it so the game pauses when you bring up the battle menu which helps out a lot while detracting from the experience somewhat. Wait.... You never finished it? Blasphemy!

Yeah i know, it's the only FF since 6 i never bothered to finish.

Before anyone asks my reason for not finishing 6 was because of the directionless clusterfuck the world became really pissed me off, especially given how much i was enjoying the game up to then.

OmegaXIII:

Yeah i know, it's the only FF since 6 i never bothered to finish.

Before anyone asks my reason for not finishing 6 was because of the directionless clusterfuck the world became really pissed me off, especially given how much i was enjoying the game up to then.

I don't think I've ever got frustrated enough with any game to not finish it, I always feel I have to get my money's worth as far as games go.

Stranger of Sorts:

I don't think I've ever got frustrated enough with any game to not finish it, I always feel I have to get my money's worth as far as games go.

I think that's what hacked me off so much, the fact that i felt i hadn't gotten my money's worth because i got so dissappointed.

Stranger of Sorts:

Grand_Arcana:

You know what really bugs me about this game: The license board. I think they were headed in the right direction, but it doesn't allow much in customization. You could have a team of fighters with specialized roles in theory, but because you can't see what licenses you'll unlock when without a map you'd have no idea how your characters will turn out. The Zodiac Job System solves this problem but it's Japanese only T__T

From what I've heard it does sound better, is there any reason why it's only in the Japanese version?

No, there is no reason whatsoever for it to be Japanese only. Square has this habit of making improved rereleases exclusively for Japan and I find it personally insulting to their foreign fans. Fortunately, there is an English fan-mod of the game on the internet, but I'm absolutely sure that it requires a hacked PS2 or an emulator. I'm going to try to pirate it over the summer.

There are people here who abhor pirating games, but if the game is never released stateside there's no reason to waste your money on a developer that never intended for you to buy their product.

I absolutely disliked the license game, and it was a big part of the reason why i put that game away without finishing it. I unlocked big parts of the board, only to find out that i can't get most of the items only much later in the game. so without a game guide i would basically be unlocking the abilitys to wield the equipment randomly, without an idea when i will really get them, thus wasting lp on useless fields.

FFXII was subpar. As you said the plot was mwuh - not a problem when good characters save the day but that just wasn't the case. Only two characters had proper motivation to go on the quest (Princess and Sky Pirate - to reclaim the throne and to claim the treasure) two had absolutely no motivation other then 'want to stay' (Black Mage and Playbunny) and two had ok-ish reasons but I'm not sure why their presence was tolerated (Thief was a little kid everyone thought was obnoxious. Knight had betrayed the Empire but OH NOES

). Their development was crud as well. Princess barely changes, Thief gets over his brother way too quickly and doesn't really do anything else anymore, Playbunny's playmates rejecting her cause of her wildside doesn't get explained, expanded or continued, the Knight has . The Black Mage doesn't develop. At all. The Pirate does, his story actually plays out pretty well. Ultimately, only two of your six characters feature good motivation to go and good reason to be accepted with only one of your six seeing meaningful development. All I can say is, the Pirate truly is the leading man.

Just check out the flash "Not the FFXII" on Newgrounds. It pretty much sums up my feelings for this game.

I had such high hopes for the game too. The plot was on the whole terrible, except for a few parts. The characters were mostly awful as well (again, except for a couple of them).

And what is with all of the Star Wars symmetry? Could they not think of an original story?

The gameplay was really the only thing about that game that I enjoyed for a while. It got really really boring eventually though.

OrdinaryGuy:
Just check out the flash "Not the FFXII" on Newgrounds. It pretty much sums up my feelings for this game.

I had such high hopes for the game too. The plot was on the whole terrible, except for a few parts. The characters were mostly awful as well (again, except for a couple of them).

And what is with all of the Star Wars symmetry? Could they not think of an original story?

The gameplay was really the only thing about that game that I enjoyed for a while. It got really really boring eventually though.

Haha I think I've seen it before, still pretty good though.

I love FF12 BECAUSE of the political drama story (also Asche and Balthier are some of the best characters in the series). Also what do you mean no lore? Did you even LOOK at the journal?

As for the gameplay, I think it's full of a ton of cool ideas, each with a crippling flaw. The two biggest issues I find are the license board, which just adds another layer of bullshit that doesn't need to exist, and the sheer EXPENSE of everything you can buy (or rather, need to, since spells and such must be purchased), which leads to hours upon hours of grinding, stealing, and poaching for loot.

Also Doctor Cid is my favorite villain of the series.

I find it amazing how well the graphics hold up. Seriously...

I loved everything but the license board.

I never got past the Tomb of Raithwall. The Sandsea itself was just flat-out bland, and I found the combat pretty boring, but I didn't get very far, so who knows?

Overall, didn't like it, but I'll pick it up again some time just for the sake of beating it.

I absolutly loved this game. I one day need to go back and finish off Yizamat. I've got him down to a quater health but then, I just grew bored of the game. If you did most of the hunts at the earliest oppotunities, I found I became way overpowered and the main quest just got easy and boring, I almost didn't finish the game because it was so easy at the end.

Daymo:
I absolutly loved this game. I one day need to go back and finish off Yizamat. I've got him down to a quater health but then, I just grew bored of the game. If you did most of the hunts at the earliest oppotunities, I found I became way overpowered and the main quest just got easy and boring, I almost didn't finish the game because it was so easy at the end.

Somehow I managed to avoid that, though once I got a mage who could hit 9999 with every attack it did get rather ridiculous.

StarStruckStrumpets:
I absolutely loved 12, up until (as all of you stalkers will know) I got up to Elder Wyrm. That boss screwed me over so hard I couldn't bare it. I've never touched the game since I clocked 264 losses. That was 3 years ago, I refuse to play it again.

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the elder wyrm is arguably the strongest enemy in the game since you'll be very very weak the time you encounter it.

the trick is ust keep throwing phoenix downs on the guest character (the boy) and he'll keep healing you while you use the BERSERK spell on everyone else.

always leave one of berserk so he can berserk the others.

I liked the change in mechanics its the very, very dull story and unlikable characters I have issue with.

FFXII is my black sheep favorite of the series, I desperately adore the complex world design and political story but really wasn't a fan of Vaan and the general pacing of the thing. The battle system also has it's issues, it's not that it's distinctly too automatic, it's not much different from the battles systems of the Baldur's Gate Series in basic concept, they just don't give you enough abilities to make it exciting.

FFXII is jelly-leveling Balthier, Fran, and Basch as I type this. I haven't yet finished the main story, but I will say that I expected a lot more out of this game than what I got and I will probably be selling it back to Gamestop to buy a copy of X as soon as I am finished.

I absolutely hate MMOs, and I am upset that Square-Enix chose to take this game in this direction.

Thank you, a reviewer who liked this game! This is actually almost my favourite FF games, after X. I don't get why everybody complained about the combat system. Personally I found it much more fun than turn-based games. Some bosses were fairly difficult for me, but I would leave the game for a month of so and come back, beat the boss first try. I'm scared to do the last hunt after what my friend has told me about it.

OmegaXIII:
I enjoyed 12 until two glaring facts dawned on me.

1. The only character i actually cared about was Basch

That's interesting, he's the one I liked least.
My favourites were Larsa and Ashe.

Also, I'll get around to reading the review soon, I'm a bit busy at the moment.
I have to say I love this game too though.

That anybody doesn't like Balthier is mind-boggling.

For what its worth, I thought the game did a good job of telling as complex a story as it did in as little cutscenes as possible. And I don't see why people say the game plays itself. You haven't really played FF12 until you've beaten it on active time, and with no gambits.

By the by, someones made a translation patch for the Zodiac Job System (Although more approrpiately they transfered the dialogue from the english version to the Zodiac Job version) but he's translating the rest of the stuff as well.

XII was my second favourite after 6- That's right I said it. The combat was fun because I didn't turn gambits on everyone, the plot pacing was schizophrenic and the characters... well

See a lot of people say they didn't develop but it's more like they subtley developed. They had reached the point where facial expressions and body language were used to show development so it was less Wordswordswords and more "Notice how there reacting"

I'll say the same thing I said about Gundam Wing so many years ago. Don't just look at what there saying, look at what they are doing. Of course I'll concede that this clearly didn't work at least in this game.

I really liked this game and I still do not know why people hate it. It wasn't the hardest Final Fantasy but the later hunts did provide a worthy challenge. Especially the last hunt. That took me 6 hours.

Just my brief opinions (I could go on for ages and, indeed, once I did in a thread of my own creation a few months back):

Plot: Best of the FFs. The role the Occuria play make it feel very SMT (which is awesome) and the general tone of the whole thing just surpasses whatever came before it, especially when compared with the ham-handed delivery of VIII and Xs plots. Shame about the terrible pacing, at certain points, and the...

Characters: Ashe, Basch and Balthier are some of my favourite FF characters, and Gabranth is probably my favourite villain. Their development is subtle and believable - much better than the clumsy way character development had been dealt with in some previous entries (*cough* VII and VIII *cough*). It's, therefore, a great shame about the other 3 party members who get very little development and have no real reason for being there (except maybe Vaan, who plays quite the symbolic role). Half excellent - half poor.

The game was made by Matsuno, so it's no surprise about the quality of what is actually decent but it is striking how poorly some of it is handed (perhaps because he was taken off the project mid-way by Square). If you haven't already you should check out his other games, FF:Tactics, Vagrant Story (which I still need to beat) and Tactics Ogre. I just pre-ordered the remake of Tactics Ogre, and FF: Tactics probably has the best story of all of the Final Fantasy games. In my opinion, of course.

Gameplay: Decent but never blew me away. I enjoyed it, though, and think that XIII could have benefited from the Gambit system and having the battles in the same field (amongst the other things that dreadful game needed). As you can tell, though, my main "passion" for FF XII lies in the story elements.

I only played it a bit a while back. Didnt like it much. Cutscenes were entertaining (and cliche, but its expected to be.. so its okay). I liked how the main town early on seems alive and vibrant, with tons of various NPCs all around.
Played a bit at a friend's place. Reached the flaming-horse boss in the sewers (IIRC), died in seconds 3-4 times before i just gave up.
License board need a gamefaq because fiddling around randomly (or was it? cant remember) to find the license for XYZ item isnt fun imho.

 

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