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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
10
Visuals
10
Audio
10
Gameplay
10
Features
10
Replay
9.5
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 2
PUBLISHER:
Square-Enix
DEVELOPER:
Square-Enix
GENRE: RPG
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
October 31, 2006
ESRB RATING:
Teen


IN THE SERIES
Final Fantasy XIII-2

Final Fantasy Versus XIII

Dissidia 012 (Duodecim): Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy XIV

Chocobo's Dungeon: The City of Forgotten Time

More in this Series
 Written by Jason Young  on November 17, 2006

Review: Prepare to eat tons of hot-pockets, lose hours of sleep and any touch with reality. That's right folks? Final Fantasy is back!


The review continues below As many gamers know, the Final Fantasy series is highly touted for its rich storyline and multi-faceted characters. In this department, Final Fantasy XII represents one of the best storylines the series has to offer. Gone are the overly melodramatic love stories and ?save the world from evil? plots. In its place is a mature story about the struggle between an Empire and a group of Rebels trying to gain freedom for their country. In the world of Ivalice, the Archadian Empire is attempting to subjugate its neighbors in order to bring ?peace' to the citizens of the world; sounds kind of familiar doesn't it? Before moving any further into the review, yes Ivalice is the same world as cult classics Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, just set in different periods of time. In Final Fantasy XII, the main character of the story is would-be-sky-pirate Vaan, who plays more of the role of an observer than anything else, as he takes a step aside when Princess Ashe's struggles are presented. Along the way you'll meet your typical Final Fantasy cast such as roguish pirates, hot bunny girls, and a guy named Cid. This world is also filled with knights, robust cities, uber-cool airship battles, and corrupt senators evoking the spirits of George Lucas's Star Wars series. Anyhow, keeping itself in-line with the rest of the series are the usual use of moogles, giant yellow chickens, and effeminate men, which help give Final Fantasy XII its charm. No matter how good the story and presentation is though, gameplay is what makes or breaks an RPG. Prior to the release of Final Fantasy XII, many fans were concerned when Square Enix first announced the use of an innovative battle system instead of opting to go with the test-and-tried systematic turn-based formula. Gone are the random battle sequences and in-place are elements that appear heavily inspired by online RPGs. You'll see your enemies on the world map and you have the freedom to engage or disengage them, lending a more ?realistic' feel to the series. In addition, mobs no longer carry large amounts of gil in their pockets, gills, or skin?begging the question: what exactly did a Marlboro ever need gil for? While in battle, players control only one character in real-time with the rest of the party played out through an advanced AI system. Players give commands to their comrades through the use of Gambits which function similar to the commands from Namco's .hack series. While in the menu screen, various gambits can be assigned to each character depending on his or her strength. For example, if you want a nuker to cast specific elemental magic on a specific type of enemy you can or if you want a gunner to attack flying creatures only you can do that too. The gambit system is easily one of the most intriguing new features of the series as its both easy for anyone to use, but deep enough for a computer programmer to have a field day with the system. If this is too much for a beginner to handle at once, the inclusion of a ?Wait' system reminds players of the good ?ol days. Instead of attacking with the enemy simultaneously, you can actually pause the game and choose your action. Also removed is the traditional ?Limit Break' system which is now replaced with ?Quickening' attacks. When players use these abilities, a slot-machine like mini-game comes up where the player must press a specific button corresponding to a specific character in hopes of chaining these attacks. If the player doesn't like what they're presented with, they can hit the L2 button in order to spin the wheel and try again. The attacks are a little bit based on luck and a little bit based on skill, making for an exciting attack. Battle parties are made up of three characters, with a fourth computer controlled NPC occasionally helping you along the way. Unlike Final Fantasy X however, having all of your current characters in your party wiped out will not result in a game over screen. Instead, the game lets you switch characters midway during battles allowing you to have a bit more survivability than usual. Another new innovation is the Licensing system, where everything you do in the game comes at a price. After you defeat an enemy, not only do you gain EXP but you gain LP (license points) which can be spread among points to wear armor, wield weapons, learn a new spell, or increasing character stats. While this system can be seen as annoying considering that you can't use your armor/weapons from the get go, it presents an interesting challenge to the player as well as endless customization. There's no specific class system, and each character's stats are determined solely by the license system and what type of weapon/armor they wear. This lends itself to making the game a bit more strategic as an alternative to just leveling up and purchasing the game's best items. In Final Fantasy XII, the only real ways to get quick gil is to hunt monsters for their loot, stealing off of them, or going on hunts. For those of you familiar with the Final Fantasy Tactics series, hunts may seem similar to those missions you may have sent your characters on in order to gain a bit of gil or an item. You'll be joining a clan and you'll be rewarded nicely for completing these hunts. As you progress through hunts your rank level increases and you'll be rewarded with various amounts of gil or other items depending on your level. Not only that though, they're fun and challenging as well. These side-quests replace your typical Final Fantasy card game or Blitzball-type mini-games, adding extra hours to your playtime. Graphically, Final Fantasy XII is simply outstanding. Although Square Enix is usually known for their beautiful computer generated graphics, the graphics simply outdo every other PS2 game out there. The developers pushed the PS2's graphics capability to its limits and it shows. From the little details such as hair blowing against the wind to incredible summon monster feats the graphics show that the PS2 is still capable of standing up to today's advanced next-gen graphics while the CGI simply blows almost everything out of the water. The high-resolution in-game graphics engine can sometimes have cut-scenes mistaken for CGI scenes simply due to the amount of effort put into the game by the technical geniuses at Square. Every environment in the game is a piece of ingenious artistry. More often than not, you'll be left sitting there staring at the screen just to check out a little corner a bit longer, staring into the sunset, or rotating the camera just to check out the surroundings. Every city, field, and dungeon is a wonder to behold from the robust Rabanastre to the mysterious City of Giruvegan. Audibly, Final Fantasy XII has an excellent score despite the fact that Nobou Uematsu wasn't the game's primary composer. Hitoshi Sakimoto of Final Fantasy Tactics fame provides a rich and intricate ambience to the game through the use of a fully orchestrated soundtrack. Every scene is fully accompanied by an appropriate theme, fully enhancing the game's aura. For those familiar with the music of other Final Fantasy games, you'll be happy to know that the ?prelude', ?fanfare', and ?chocobo' themes are still in the game. In fact, they honestly sound better than they ever previously did. Vocally, the English dubbing couldn't be more appropriate. Every actor sounds as though they took their roles with pride and it shows. There isn't one actor/character who feels lost or out of place in the game, which is a much welcome relief from the typically bad voice acting found in most American games. From the Shakespearean lines to Vaan's sissy voice, I will honestly say that this is one of the few games where the English voice actors do a better job than the Japanese. Although it's more likely to do with the European-ish atmosphere of the game than anything else, it just sounds right. In fact, it may seem as though you're watching a period piece at times. At times, the voice acting is downright brilliant especially in regards to the self-proclaimed leading man, Balthier. His British accent ranks up with one of the top voice acting jobs in the history of gaming. For those of us lucky enough to own the Collector's Edition of the game, Square Enix has added an extra DVD that is definitely worth the extra $10.00. Although it doesn't add anything new to the gameplay, it comes in a cool spiffy metallic case and includes a making of Final Fantasy XII (and why it took so damn long to make), a history of Final Fantasy, and numerous amounts of extras such as promotional trailers for the game.
--> Majestic, beautiful, awe-inspiring. Few words can be used to describe Square Enix's latest effort in Final Fantasy XII, which has shaped up to be one of the best single-player console RPGs in years. It's honestly been a while since an enumerated sequel came out that was an actual single-player RPG; and its return couldn't have been any better.

The review continues below


As many gamers know, the Final Fantasy series is highly touted for its rich storyline and multi-faceted characters. In this department, Final Fantasy XII represents one of the best storylines the series has to offer. Gone are the overly melodramatic love stories and ?save the world from evil? plots. In its place is a mature story about the struggle between an Empire and a group of Rebels trying to gain freedom for their country. In the world of Ivalice, the Archadian Empire is attempting to subjugate its neighbors in order to bring ?peace' to the citizens of the world; sounds kind of familiar doesn't it? Before moving any further into the review, yes Ivalice is the same world as cult classics Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, just set in different periods of time.

In Final Fantasy XII, the main character of the story is would-be-sky-pirate Vaan, who plays more of the role of an observer than anything else, as he takes a step aside when Princess Ashe's struggles are presented. Along the way you'll meet your typical Final Fantasy cast such as roguish pirates, hot bunny girls, and a guy named Cid. This world is also filled with knights, robust cities, uber-cool airship battles, and corrupt senators evoking the spirits of George Lucas's Star Wars series. Anyhow, keeping itself in-line with the rest of the series are the usual use of moogles, giant yellow chickens, and effeminate men, which help give Final Fantasy XII its charm.

No matter how good the story and presentation is though, gameplay is what makes or breaks an RPG. Prior to the release of Final Fantasy XII, many fans were concerned when Square Enix first announced the use of an innovative battle system instead of opting to go with the test-and-tried systematic turn-based formula. Gone are the random battle sequences and in-place are elements that appear heavily inspired by online RPGs. You'll see your enemies on the world map and you have the freedom to engage or disengage them, lending a more ?realistic' feel to the series. In addition, mobs no longer carry large amounts of gil in their pockets, gills, or skin?begging the question: what exactly did a Marlboro ever need gil for?

While in battle, players control only one character in real-time with the rest of the party played out through an advanced AI system. Players give commands to their comrades through the use of Gambits which function similar to the commands from Namco's .hack series. While in the menu screen, various gambits can be assigned to each character depending on his or her strength. For example, if you want a nuker to cast specific elemental magic on a specific type of enemy you can or if you want a gunner to attack flying creatures only you can do that too. The gambit system is easily one of the most intriguing new features of the series as its both easy for anyone to use, but deep enough for a computer programmer to have a field day with the system. If this is too much for a beginner to handle at once, the inclusion of a ?Wait' system reminds players of the good ?ol days. Instead of attacking with the enemy simultaneously, you can actually pause the game and choose your action.

Also removed is the traditional ?Limit Break' system which is now replaced with ?Quickening' attacks. When players use these abilities, a slot-machine like mini-game comes up where the player must press a specific button corresponding to a specific character in hopes of chaining these attacks. If the player doesn't like what they're presented with, they can hit the L2 button in order to spin the wheel and try again. The attacks are a little bit based on luck and a little bit based on skill, making for an exciting attack.

Battle parties are made up of three characters, with a fourth computer controlled NPC occasionally helping you along the way. Unlike Final Fantasy X however, having all of your current characters in your party wiped out will not result in a game over screen. Instead, the game lets you switch characters midway during battles allowing you to have a bit more survivability than usual.

Another new innovation is the Licensing system, where everything you do in the game comes at a price. After you defeat an enemy, not only do you gain EXP but you gain LP (license points) which can be spread among points to wear armor, wield weapons, learn a new spell, or increasing character stats. While this system can be seen as annoying considering that you can't use your armor/weapons from the get go, it presents an interesting challenge to the player as well as endless customization. There's no specific class system, and each character's stats are determined solely by the license system and what type of weapon/armor they wear. This lends itself to making the game a bit more strategic as an alternative to just leveling up and purchasing the game's best items.

In Final Fantasy XII, the only real ways to get quick gil is to hunt monsters for their loot, stealing off of them, or going on hunts. For those of you familiar with the Final Fantasy Tactics series, hunts may seem similar to those missions you may have sent your characters on in order to gain a bit of gil or an item. You'll be joining a clan and you'll be rewarded nicely for completing these hunts. As you progress through hunts your rank level increases and you'll be rewarded with various amounts of gil or other items depending on your level. Not only that though, they're fun and challenging as well. These side-quests replace your typical Final Fantasy card game or Blitzball-type mini-games, adding extra hours to your playtime.

Graphically, Final Fantasy XII is simply outstanding. Although Square Enix is usually known for their beautiful computer generated graphics, the graphics simply outdo every other PS2 game out there. The developers pushed the PS2's graphics capability to its limits and it shows. From the little details such as hair blowing against the wind to incredible summon monster feats the graphics show that the PS2 is still capable of standing up to today's advanced next-gen graphics while the CGI simply blows almost everything out of the water. The high-resolution in-game graphics engine can sometimes have cut-scenes mistaken for CGI scenes simply due to the amount of effort put into the game by the technical geniuses at Square.

Every environment in the game is a piece of ingenious artistry. More often than not, you'll be left sitting there staring at the screen just to check out a little corner a bit longer, staring into the sunset, or rotating the camera just to check out the surroundings. Every city, field, and dungeon is a wonder to behold from the robust Rabanastre to the mysterious City of Giruvegan.

Audibly, Final Fantasy XII has an excellent score despite the fact that Nobou Uematsu wasn't the game's primary composer. Hitoshi Sakimoto of Final Fantasy Tactics fame provides a rich and intricate ambience to the game through the use of a fully orchestrated soundtrack. Every scene is fully accompanied by an appropriate theme, fully enhancing the game's aura. For those familiar with the music of other Final Fantasy games, you'll be happy to know that the ?prelude', ?fanfare', and ?chocobo' themes are still in the game. In fact, they honestly sound better than they ever previously did.

Vocally, the English dubbing couldn't be more appropriate. Every actor sounds as though they took their roles with pride and it shows. There isn't one actor/character who feels lost or out of place in the game, which is a much welcome relief from the typically bad voice acting found in most American games. From the Shakespearean lines to Vaan's sissy voice, I will honestly say that this is one of the few games where the English voice actors do a better job than the Japanese. Although it's more likely to do with the European-ish atmosphere of the game than anything else, it just sounds right. In fact, it may seem as though you're watching a period piece at times. At times, the voice acting is downright brilliant especially in regards to the self-proclaimed leading man, Balthier. His British accent ranks up with one of the top voice acting jobs in the history of gaming.

For those of us lucky enough to own the Collector's Edition of the game, Square Enix has added an extra DVD that is definitely worth the extra $10.00. Although it doesn't add anything new to the gameplay, it comes in a cool spiffy metallic case and includes a making of Final Fantasy XII (and why it took so damn long to make), a history of Final Fantasy, and numerous amounts of extras such as promotional trailers for the game.

Bottom Line
All in all, Final Fantasy XII is a masterpiece of epic proportions. From the innovative battle system to new ways of leveling up; the game gets a hold of you and never lets go. With roughly 50-100 hours playtime, Final Fantasy XII is an experience that you'll never forget.


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