Going Critical on Final Fantasy XII

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.

Initial Reactions:
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.

Comments

  1. I have played this game for over 20 hours now. It is better than you think.

    However, be ready to stop and level up/aquire specific licenses when you reach a boss you can not defeat. Yes, that will probably happen to you.

  2. An additional note about the story:

    The characters are presented in a way that is similar to the hit television shows 24 and Lost. Characters are introduced, but as the story unfolds you gradually learn more information about characters you thought you already knew. This might be the most compelling way to keep a viewing audience interested in characters.

  3. The new battle system scares me slightly. The story i hear is a FF classic in its tale, which is great to hear after FFx-2 kinda did nothing for me (Say for that sexy bitch Lulu mmmlulu)

    AI controlled player characters have been a half turn off for me since Star Ocean 2, the game was fun but the AI controlling my characters was about as smart as danny taking pictures of a sleeping gimp, or a brick.. same mental capacity. The character i would be controlling would be in serious need of a heal and the AI uses a healer to.. use the most mana expensive AOE attack in its arsenal. Now if its as good as you say I may need to pick it up when I get home until now I reserve the right to be cautious.

  4. Actually, you do have a certain amount of control over the AI. You can put priorities on what your characters do; for example, you can set one person to first cast cure on anyone whose hp is less than 70% full (or almost any other number divisible by 10), then attack the foe who the leader is targeting, then attack the nearest visible enemy. Or you could have the person cast Fira on the enemy with the highest HP, etc. It’s called the gambit system. You can also change the gambits on the fly, or turn certain ones on or off temporarily. So if you have someone casting Fira, and suddenly you’re in a fire dungeon, you can quickly turn it off.

    It’s an excellent game.

  5. The Gambit system is excellent. A bit overwhelming… but excellent. Following that up, at ANY point in a battle, you can tap the X button to stop the action and go into an action menu for ANY character (ala the old Final Fantasy battle system). From there you can manually tell any character what to do, and he or she will immediately carry out that action.

  6. Natsumi-chan says:

    Simply put; this game rocks.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] There you have it.  We even held out for a good two weeks, but now it has entered our lives in full force and it is here to stay (for at least 80-100 hours).  We gave you our initial reaction, and it was quite precise in verdict.  This is by and large one of the most addictive games I have ever played, and I say this fresh off the cusp of a World of Warcraft addiction.  (oh yes, we’re free of that timid rabbit, perhaps we’ll discuss those few days of grim withdrawal syndrome soon)  The progression of your characters in this game is tracked on the aptly named License Board, where you progress around a grid of abilities, spending points and gaining new proficiencies, abilities, “techniks”, spells, and character augmentations.  The beauty of it is that you cannot see any squares but those that are directly adjacent to ones you have already purchased, and each character is on their own seperate license board (no intermingling for you kiddies).  For me the Licensing has almost become an all consuming experience on its own, but it really does shine when you progress a character deep into a corner of the board in order to get that one awesome ability you’ve been drooling for all along.  The plot is above par, not extreme or overbearing as that of X could become at times, but as the lovely Sucilaria continues to point out to me the game would benefit from more character development.  It’s really a shame too, as Balthier, Vaan, Ashe, and Basch are some of the most unique and intriguing characters to come out of a Final Fantasy.  I was really afraid of Vaan from the pre-release pictures, because Tidus only ever served to piss me off or annoy me to no end.  Vaan gets close, don’t get me wrong, but he is far from the whiney blonde-haired girly-boy that Tidus was.  Vaan’s an orphan, no daddy issues, thank god! [...]