|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Square Enix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by D'Marcus||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by DMarcus Beatty
Final Fantasy is one of the most recognizable names in RPG games and the series that is responsible for mainstreaming role-playing games. However, as of late, Square Enix has seemed to be shifting away from the traditional to experiment a little with their cash cow. The release of sequels to previously standalone FF titles, as well as making FFXI a MMORPG shows Squenixs desire to find a new formula for success instead of sticking to the tried and true Add one to the number after FF, release and repeat. Final Fantasy XII is the latest in the series, and while it was a long time coming and saw its share of problems, gamers can rest assured that they have another classic FF title, even with the extensive changes.
FFXII takes place in Ivalice, home of the popular Final Fantasy Tactics series. Due to this, a number of races and locations from the FFT series make their first appearance in a traditional FF game. This relocation makes the game feel exciting and fresh as well as slightly familiar, a combination that is rare, pleasing, and nearly impossible to emulate.
The storyline follows a war in Ivalice and how it impacts the various members of the population, from royalty to peasants. After a lengthy intro that teaches the basic game mechanics as well as setting the stage, the game opens with young Vaan, a boy that despises the Empire because of his brothers death and wishes to find escape as a sky pirate. In a short time Vaan will get sucked into events bigger than himself and his aspirations and he will befriend a motley crew of individuals that, like him, get swept up in events that lead them to challenge the empire.
The story, though not as complex as the original FFT, is still much more political than the standard FF title. Even so, the story is very engaging, which is a product of the interesting and well-thought out storyline, the great presentation, believable characters, and the excellent voice acting. The whole experience has a Shakespearean feel to it, which makes the gameplay fun as well as epic. While Vaan is probably billed as the main character the story doesnt focus on him, allowing nearly equal development time for all the characters. By the storys end, youll come to love each character as if youd known them personally, which you will, as each character is fleshed out wonderfully by the story.
The biggest and probably most controversial change to the FF formula is the introduction of the Active Dimension Battle system, which is a fairly large change from the Active Time Battle system of previous FFs or even turn-based combat in traditional RPGs. The ADB system is sort of a pseudo-MMORPG battle system, in that all battles and exploration are done in the same field. There is no shift to a battle screen. When you see an enemy while exploring, you approach it and begin battle. While purists and traditionalists may be turned off by this admittedly large alteration, it does defeat the stop and go interruption of random battles as well as creating a more cohesive and realistic experience. Since you can see your enemies from afar off, you can pick and choose your battles instead of being randomly ambushed by foes that appear out of the blue.