As some of you may know, Final Fantasy XII was released to North American audiences this past Tuesday.
Although only having had barely five hours to actually play the game since then, this edition of Going Critical will be devoted to giving my initial reactions to these five hours with a full review of this game when I actually complete it (which at this rate will be when Final Fantasy XIII is released…).
But first, an introduction:
Final Fantasy XII (developed and published by Square Enix aka Squenix) is the first single player chapter in the Final Fantasy franchise in a couple of years, since Final Fantasy X in 2001. Unlike Final Fantasy X (which will be identified as FFX from here on out, and Final Fantasy XII identified as FFXII as well), FFXII takes place in the already established world of Ivalice, the world of Final Fantasy Tactics, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, where Humans exist alongside of a multitude of animal races. Hulking Gamorean-like pigmen, Humanoid Lizards, and, of course, Moogles live in the sprawling cities and towns of Ivalice making the whole world feel alive and vibrant. The story follows Vaan, Princess Ashe and their party of characters as they try to free the country of Dalmasca from the clutches of the Archadian empire.
I would like to say that the Story Introduction of FFXII is THE best of the entire series. It really gets all the information you need across, sets the tale nicely, and acts as a sort of tutorial at the same time. It got me seriously hyped up.
The game has a very MMORPG like feel to it. With the semi-real-time battle system that takes place directly on the map rather than in an other dimensional space with random battles, it definitely feels like an MMORPG. This combat system works great most of the time, though your party members’ AI (while you can still issue orders to them, most of the time your party members are being controlled by the AI) can be kind of stupid at times and are very battle aggressive. It’s almost like Square Enix used Final Fantasy XI as a prototype to see if this type of combat system would work in an console RPG. The world itself gives off the MMORPG vibe as well, with quests to get from townsfolk in the form of Hunts. Hunting allows the player to go on a side quest to slay various boss-like monsters and these side quests are very satisfying, especially taking down a monster twice the size of you by yourself. These are very reminiscent of the Monster Bounty type quests from World of Warcraft.
The characters seem likable and feel real enough, but in only five hours, the story hasn’t really delved into the character development part of the game as of yet. More on this topic in the full review.
In conclusion, I must say I am really enjoying the game so far. It’s really raised my expectations for it. It seems the Final Fantasy magic is still alive and kicking and I’m very much looking forward to riding this one to the conclusion, some good sixty gameplay hours from now.