on 20 December 2006
I recently finished FFXII after 80+ hours of enjoyable gameplay. When I first got this game I was surprised.
The first thing that struck me as odd was the battle system - there is no random encounters! A good thing this may seem, however, I was sceptical at first as the battle system is completely (almost) computer controlled. There is a pecuilar blend of time based action and real play, making it at some times chaotic and confusing. You are able to pre-program your characters actions using the Gambit system (you can buy gambits in shops and the like). This can be useful to save time when in a heated battle, however, to a degree it does take away some of the player involvement.
However, that said, the battle system began to grow on me. It is different but enjoyable and there is some satisfaction in watching your characters perform just as you ordered them!
The skills/magic system is comparable to FFX's Sphere Grid system. It is known as the License board - bascically you need a license to use or wear anything (so if you bought say a amulet you would first need the license to wear it). You gain license points by killing enemies which you can then spend to unlock licenses on the chess like board. I found this good as you could basically assign ANY roles to your characters as each have similiar stats (for instance you may want one to be black mage and one to specialise in great swords/katanas).
The story was one part where the game let itself down. Gone are all philosophical realisations and ponderings, to be replaced by a massive political debate that seems to span the entire world. Although this is a change, I feel that Square made it too complicated for it's own good and could have possibly focused more on character relationships and backgrounds as well as it did in it's previous titles. I also feel there is a disinct Star Wars feel to the story and graphics, making it more of a sc-fi than a fantasy. However, that being said, there are plenty of sidequests to flesh out the main storyline, giving a broader perspective of what is going on.
All in all FFXII is a magnificant game, perhaps not living up to it's predecessors, but nevertheless, a great RPG. The graphics are perhaps the best to be seen yet and the absolutely massive world can take many good hours to explore.
on 10 May 2007
The most irritating thing about this game is that I can completely understand why it got such good reviews. The games magazines, with the possible exception of Famitsu, judge all games under several review categories; graphics, gameplay, sound, value and sometimes presentation/production values. Games in series' are also judged by the progression or additions made, with attention to originality (Edge magazine especially).
Final Fantasy 12 has excellent graphics. The production values, as you would expect from Square, are through the roof.
Value? You can expect to spend at least 50 hours and probably the better part of 100 playing this game.
Gameplay? An overhaul to say the least. Think Vagrant Story, but toned down, and with a dash of Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft thrown in. Original? Not hugely, but a massive departure for the FF series.
Sound? Well, it's hardly memorable or captivating, but a solid soundtrack none the less.
So, in terms of a typical game FF12 is pretty good.
The few generic criticisms I have of it are that `grinding' through the many `dungeon' like areas can be unbalanced and tiresome. And the locations, although beautifully crafted, can often feel samey due to the grid-like, map-based slant on exploration. Not massive criticism I know, but as I said this game is pretty solid.
The new gambit system is fine, slightly underwhelming maybe, but fine. The summoning system works well. The extras are plentiful and well thought out, finding the espars is particularly rewarding. The boss battles are exciting and evenly placed. The licence board is fine too, a bit like FF10's but more linear and-
Wait a minute, its starting to seem like I am giving this game a positive review.
......I suppose if I am comparing it to your average game, even your average RPG, this is a positive review.
But this is a Final Fantasy game for f*+ks sakes! Anyone reading this remember the Battle of the Gardens in FF8? Or the Iifa tree bit on disk three of FF9? Anyone remember the tediousness of Clouds past or Midgar? Tedious it was, but worth it for the story that followed. The great music Cosmo Canyon had? Trance Kuja?..........Aeris?
Well I've played through FF12 and did enjoy it some, but can I honestly remember any of the good plot bits or music? No, because there isn't any -of either. Full stop.
Maybe compared to your average Tom Clancy game the story is pretty good, and every pissing games mag I've read goes on about the `political' elements and `understated' stuff......yeah, all good. But shouldn't stories be all about the characters? I can tell you that there is no real relationship between any of FF12's characters, in fact I would say that it has at least 10, maybe even 20 times less dialogue than FF10.....which had much less dialogue than the previous 3. Greed, hatred, vengeance...all present, but hardly well done. Love? humour? Nope, pretty much none.
And that pretty much brings us down to the crux of the thing. Final fantasy games have always been about the story. Story first, then worry about the music -which is meant to highlight the emotional content of the story. Then worry about the graphics, which bring the other two to life. The, and only then, worry about the gameplay.
The story makes all else tolerable. People complain about the random battles, the `grinding' necessary to beat bosses etc. But in FF7, 8, 9 and 10 the dungeon areas were highlighted by dialogue, were never really distinctively separate from the story. 12 follows the pattern: Dungeon, story, dungeon, story...and probably at about a 80%-20% ratio...labourios,no?
I suppose the line `what did you expect' applies here. A good proportion of the FF development team have defected to Microsoft, including both Squares long time composer and long time producer/creator. The game was designed to revitalise the series and bring in new players, which it surely has done. And long time FF fans are hardly not going to buy it, even if it were diabolical -which it isn't.
So FF12 is in turn a really good game and a corporate sell out -designed to encourage new buyers and relying on brand loyalty. Is it worth buying and playing? Yes, it's pretty good, just don't expect the emotional content of earlier titles.
on 17 March 2007
First of I'd like to say I'm not one to usually write online reviews, but based on some of the previous ones here I think a few points need to be made.
First of, let's get the obvious out of the way. Graphically it's nothing but stunning, some of the best (if not the best) seen on the PS2. The cut scenes and cinematics are excellent, and allthough some are a bit long they do tell the story wonderfully. The story isn't the best in the series, and yes I've played all that have hit the UK shelves. Some of the characters seem a bit well....pointless, some seem to be there just to make up the numbers. Which is ok I guess, as the game play does require there to be 6 main characters. I didn't find the story anywhere neer as emmersive as that of FF-X (my personal faviroute in terms of story). I wont comment on this any more as it really is a matter of taste and I've known some people to say that some of the stories in the series are just to deep.
Now to the gameplay, and as the title of the review suggests this is mostly comparable to it's immediate predecessor: Final Fantasy XI. Now by comparison FFXI had far less UK players. It was an MMORPH (Massively multiplayer Online RPG)that was only released on the PC in this country, which, becuase of it's nature had to have a very different gameplay style. Think world of Warcraft for Adults. Anyway, as suggested FFXII takes so many gameplay elements from FFXI.
1. The battle system is the most obvious. The system in 12 is a direct desendant of 11's. With only one player instead of many a sollution had to be made on how to control the party as it operates in real time instead of turn based. This is where the Gambit system comes in. This allows you to assign commands to party members in advance in case of sertain conditions. For example you can set up a gambit (command) so one party member can cast Cure on another who's Hit points fall below 50%. This is very well done as it allows you to prioritise gambits in order of which should be done in the event of the conditions for multiple gambits are met. Random battles are no more as you can see the enemies before you fight them, you can examine them (with the Libra ability) to check strength and weaknesses and decide whether or not you want to take them on.
2. Esploration is also very similar. Areas are broken down into smaller zones that only party members can cross. There are chocobo (A type of mountable bird) stables in all major towns which allow you to rent a chocobo to travel safely between areas. Despite some previous reviews, this does all make for some very non linear gameplay, in fact the game encourages you to stray of course at times.
3. Quests from 11 have been replaced with Hunts. These involve you answering a call to kill a monster, finding it and doing what has to be done (kill it!). You are then rewarded with money and items from the NPC (non player character) who posted the hunt. You are awarded clan points which works much like the fame system in 11. The higher your clan ranking the more hunts come available and the greater the rewards.
Honestly, the only real differences between the two is that this one has a more compelling story than 11, that is tolled through CGI and voice acting, and of course the lack of other human players. It has much less in common with FFI - FFX-2 than it does with XI and the character development system (licensing as it's known) is quite horrible. You run the risk of concentrating on just 3 of your 6 characters leaving 3 much weaker at later points in the game.
To sum it up this game is stunning in many ways but does lack a bit in others. Definatly worth a look, but I do hope they go for the more traditional final fantasy feel for the next installment. Don't expect to much though and you will be pleasently surprised.
on 23 March 2007
Hey all, like a lot of you guys i am a firm fan of rpg, i live and breathe the stuff ( days spent on ffXI and WOW). In my opinion Square make some of the best VALUE games around. The final fantasy series is no exception however as they improved Kingdom Hearts with the sequel they seemed to have gone backwards on this one. I am one of the few that found FFX to be the best and FFVII second. I didn't even find X-2 bad but it was the start of the slippery slope.
This game lacks big in story as most have mentioned and frankly i am mad at this. I had the opening movie included with start ocean about 3 or 4 years back and that seems what the emphasis is on this is. I know they are now concentrating on ff series on PS3 but they have a legacy to carry on. Characters are somewhat bland, story has no major twists at 35 hours play it just seems to be constant running everywhere and the occasional quest. Frankly the villian is a wuss compared to Sephiroth or Seymour or even Sin as it is an evil villain that makes us play as WE want to defeat them.
The second is the battle system, i preferred the system of FFX, there appears to be no system in FFXII just select a leader have him do the business and then the other characters are programmed by the gambits. This is a double edged sword as in one hand u have the speed of being able to heal attack and cast in a short amount of time and also switch between members (and also gain access to main menu which is a first in battle to my knowledge in FF) however it takes away the strategy and fun of organising your guys into specific moves and counters. I also don't like being able to see the mobs, you could flee in older ff games this is no different. For lazy levelers you avoid monsters and then have to spend ages leveling later.
after going on for ages and possibly boring you, you might be asking why the hell is he giving it four stars?
Well, i have played this for a considerable time and i have found it better than other rpgs (Enchanted arms on the 360 is okish but basic, vagrant story, FFX1). The graphics are probably the best you will get off the PS2 and they make sure you know about it by putting cut scenes in all the time. The quickenings are ok and the summons are probably the best out of all of the ff series ( similar to FFX ). There is a world system and the use of teleporting crystals is extremely handy later on in game (again FFX1 parts used) Leveling is simple unlike the complicated system of FFVIII and everyone has no specific weapon or class.
If your a Final Fantasy or Square fan you would have got it already, if you're a newcommer then you will pick it up quite quickly. Play it, complete it and then go back and buy at least FFX, FFVII and FFVIII and compare and you will probably agree with this and other reviews.
(almost 75% of my games are rpgs as nothing can compare to the amount of time and devotion needed to do a complete finish on these games like 125 hours spent on FFX lol, you can't beat value for money)
Sorry for length hope this is useful
on 22 February 2007
Final Fantasy XII is in an entirely different league to previous Final Fantasy games. Not only does the battle system take a huge turn- and for the better in my opinion, but the overall feel of the game does not evoke that 'Final Fantasy' feeling.
I imported this game on the American release of October 31st, and became rather quickly addicted to the game. The battle system has been magnificently implemented, and the License Grid to obtain licenses to use abilities weapons and magic as well as gain passive status enhancers is a welcome edition to the Final Fantasy series, yet not too alien to those used to the Sphere Grid system in Final Fantasy X. Gambits, or AI triggers for your party members, will significantly reduce the effort a player has to put in, particularly later in the game.
While there is no doubt that the battle system is impressive, the overall routine for dungeons is almost identical. You fight through a dungeon, often quite a few floors, and defeat a boss at the end. After defeating the boss you will perhaps see a conversation occur; hardly a great deal for the hours spent in some dungeons. The game pertains to the mechanics of an MMORPG, not dissimilar to Final Fantasy XI. Not only does this include the battle system and the somewhat difficulty in obtaining Gil (at least until the late mid portions of the game), but this also applies to the isolation of players.
The characters in your party rarely interact with each other. Whereas in games like Final Fantasy X where there are generous amounts of dialogue for individual characters, you would be lucky to see even a tenth as much dialogue for say, Vaan compared to Tidus. Without spoiling, some characters do not seem to even have a purpose in the quest which you embark upon, which increasingly becomes apparent later in the game. To finish my gripes about the game, the story is quite pale in comparison to previous games in the series. The story is heavily focussed on war and politics, and much of the story is dictated through a narrator with a simple picture background containing subtitles of the narrator's dialogue.
To sum up the game, it will definitely provide a source of entertainment; although nearer the end of the game increasingly lengthy optional boss battles can wear thin. The game is visually outstanding, while the gameplay is fresh. The game however lacks the magic which is usually present in Final Fantasy games; largely through the character development, interaction and overall story.
on 16 June 2007
I am a FF fanatic. Played all of the games from 6 to 12. The best two being 7 and 8. The game play on this one is excellent - the only draw back is that it lacks what made 7 and 8 so amazing --- the plot. I felt no involvement with the characters in 12 and most of the time could not explain the story line. Sounds pathetic - but there were times in 7 and 8 that I was moved to tears by the plight of the characters and I actually cared about them. You knew exactly who the baddies were AND why they were so bad. 12 is still an excellent game - but i didn't engage with it on an emotional level.
on 16 October 2012
This game originally got a lot of slack for changing the combat system, but the Gambit system works perfectly. So well in fact that Bioware admitted that the Gambit system was their inspiration for the Tactic system in Dragon Ages. I enjoyed this game. It's got the Final Fantasy feel while lacking the typical overly enthusiastic female usually found in these games. The characters are likeable, but you find yourself more interested in secondary characters stories, like Balthier and Bosch versus Vaan's story and I found that through out the game I felt very little, if anything at all, for Penelo. These two characters feel a bit like tag alongs on an adults adventure knowing very little while others have the interesting backgrounds. The combat system is turn based but nice and fresh and active, with the Gambit system offering a chance for your to strategise. You're also able to pull in new party members when other party members fall which is a new thing for Final Fantasy and one I wish they'd kept around. Overall this is a great game and anyone who loves the FF series or JRPGs in general should pick this up.
on 28 February 2007
My first Final Fantasy experience, like so many out there, was FF7 on the PS1 - I was blown away and have been in love with the series ever since (with only the rather pointless FFX-2 managing to disappoint).
FF12 is different - no more random battles, an almost first-person perspective of the action, a largely orchestral score and a fairly slow beginning are just a few of things that become quickly apparent.
Admittedly, I'm not that far into the game, but already I feel immersed in yet another rich and diverse FF world. The graphics are superb, while the sound generates a fantastic atmosphere. The battle system is different and takes a little getting used to - I personally miss the absolute control of the turn-based system, but the new system does speed up the gameplay significantly.
As mentioned previously, the battle system reminds me of Vagrant Story, while the main game perspective is very much like Dragon Quest: Journey of the Cursed King. This can cause exploration of new areas to take a lot longer due to the need to use the camera, so be prepared to invest a lot of time in this game!! I would also go as far as to say that this is the most complicated game since FF8, with the licence system in particular taking some getting used to.
The storyline is fairly serious stuff, but the FF humour is still there with characters condemning the Empire, then biting their tongues in case an Imperial Guard should overhear. And with plenty of Moogles, Chocobos and other familiar items & monsters about the place, it's only a matter of time before the experienced FF gamer feels right at home again!!
It is hard to comment what first-timers will make of this - my advice? Start with Final Fantasy X Platinum (PS2), which after 5 years is still absolutely fantastic and essential!
on 18 July 2010
I'm a huge fan of the Final Fantasy series of games and have played (and completed) most of them. I love the way the combination of exceptional graphics, complex storyline and multiple sub-plots immerse me in a fantasy world. Final Fantasy XII (FFXII) is no exception and I must say it's probably my favourite of the series. As with all the Final Fantasy (FF) games, this is a RPG or Role Playing Game, where the player takes on the role of a hero in a world that needs saving.
In FFXII you take on the persona of Vaan, a young street rat, a mere boy whose brother was treacherously murdered 2 years ago and while looking for revenge Vaan finds himself in a position where the fate of his home town and indeed whole world falls in his hands. The plot is well thought out, if a little contrived in places and needs to be followed in order for the game to be completed. As well as the main plot there are a number of sub-plots and mini-games that make this the most complex FF yet.
Graphically speaking this is the most impressive FF yet, backdrops are beautifully rendered and look extremely realistic with very few glitches. The characters are also beautifully drawn even to the point that when the weapon equipped is changed the character will be carrying the new weapon. But, there is something very familiar about some of the characters. If you've played FFX or FFX2 then you'd probably notice that Vaan has something of the look of Tidus (the main character from FFX), and Ashe could easily be Yuna's sister. This isn't just something that I have noticed, my partner noticed it too and he doesn't play the games, he's only ever watched me playing them. The score is not so impressive, yes it is haunting, but it's also very similar to that in other FF games, and it never takes long before I turn the sound down.
For seasoned FF players, FFXII brings a whole new system of play, from controlling characters, to battles, to levelling up and even in gaining money to buy new weapons, it's all different (and in my opinion better). One of my favourite new aspects is that the view can be changed (using the right joystick), this makes it easier to spot monsters, switches and little things that are otherwise missed. The random battles of the past are gone with the majority of monsters being marked on the map. I find this makes levelling up far less frustrating as I know where the different monsters are in any area and as they re-spawn regularly I know that I can gain a certain number of points from each area. The old system of just waiting for the action bar to fill and then controlling each characters actions one at a time has as gone, it's now possible to set `gambits' for each character so that they automatically perform certain actions in particular circumstances. I found this a little confusing to start with, but now love the fact I can play around with these settings and so work out the best plan of action for some of the tougher bosses. Even with these gambits set up there are areas of the game that are a real challenge and one boss in particular took me a total of about five hours to defeat.
The monsters themselves are pretty varied, with a number of different strategies needed to defeat them. They also get progressively more difficult, and there's always something to challenge your characters, even when levelled up to the max. Aeons (powerful allies) also make a return appearance, but personally I didn't find these much help in the battles. The limit break system has been replaced with mist abilities, and combining these powerful attacks can be fun, but the cut sequences are simply too long.
With previous FF games gil, the standard currency, could be gained simply by defeating monsters, but in FFXII the monsters drop items instead of money and these need to be sold in order to buy weapons, armour, magic and potions. But selling items also leads to something called `bazaar goods' being available, some of the rarer items can only be obtained in this way and I personally find that while this can be a little confusing and hit and miss, it does add a little something to the game. It can be quite challenging collecting all the different items needed to unlock a super-duper new weapon. Simply purchasing weapons, magics, etc does not mean that they are available for use. Each character needs to unlock licences by means of licence points that are gained after each battle. Again this adds to the challenge and it can occasionally be frustrating buying that fancy new weapon only to find you can't use it.
The world map has also improved in FFXII, although only a few areas are available at the start of the game, this soon increases and quite early on you find that you can visit most places. (Even though if you do visit some too soon you'll find the monsters impossible to defeat). Each location is split into several areas and as they are explored they become visible on the map. There are plenty of save crystals, even if there are times that there's not one quite when you need it, and there's a new `teleport' crystal that allows instant re-location to areas already visited. Airships are also utilised between the main cities so it's very easy to go back to different areas to complete the side-quests.
As with all FF games this takes a long time to complete. I finished the basic story within about 60 hours, but at 400+ hours I'm probably only 75% towards completing all the side quests and mini-games. There are actually a greater number of side-quests to complete here, and some of them are very difficult and a few are extremely frustrating. I'm not going to describe them all here, but I will say that I don't think I'd have even got as far as I have now without using an online FAQ to give me the occasional clue.
So am I recommending FFXII? Without out a doubt my answer is yes, this is simply the best RPG I have ever played. It's not just a game, but a whole world, with beautiful graphics, complex puzzles and even when you think you've finished there's something else to discover. But this isn't a fast paced action game, it's a game where you have to think about strategies, solve puzzles and think `out-of-the-box'. The battle system is as near to perfect as it can be (although it can take a few seconds for areas to load) and although the different control aspects can be complex they are all introduced in an almost tutorial manner at the beginning of the game. The only problem that I can really think of is that as this is a PS2 game, it's unlikely that you'll be able to find it new on the High Street.
on 11 March 2010
I looked forward to this for over 2 years. I remember first reading about it back in 2004 & seeing screenshots, thinking this would be the best game ever. Well, upon getting it when it was released back in early 2007 I was not let down by how it looked, which is fantastic (still to this day I think, though obviously things have progressed substantially), however the gameplay was a little disappointing I feel. I far preferred FFX system, and all previous sytems before that. I actually really liked the Junction system in FFVIII, but that tends to be unpopular. Anyway, back to FFXII -basically, you could let the game play by itself & just watch. That's how it works. You set "Gambits" for each character, i.e. Ally Hp <50% - use Curaga, and Attack Foe = highest HP, things like that. You can switch these off & play "manually", however the amount of battles you will encounter mean you will more than likely leave them on. Meaning, you can pretty much let the characters handle themselves without any further intervention from the player. Admittedly, it does get much more involved with the more powerful enemies & bosses, but 80% of the time as long as you have sensible Gambits the game plays by itself! To me, this is a let down. I prefer more involved play, and to feel more like I am actually in control and doing something. You almost feel cheated out of playing. As others have said aswell, the story is not at all dramatic or involving, and is very political, and to be honest I lost interest & started the side quests. To this day I have still not finished it, though I am at a level high enough now to probably breeze through the final stages. I have only just gone back to playing it recently, and maybe I will go and finally finish it now. Seeing FFX111 released has wet my appetite again. Anyway, not a bad game, and it looks amazing, just not what it should have been in my opinion.