Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings - game review

Date: 2008-03-03 13:03:00
The review was based on the NDS version.

Few people know that in 1987 Square, the creator of the Final Fantasy series, was on the verge of bankruptcy ... Stop. This story is known to all players, as it is rolled over by most reviewers when starting any text about a "square" work. So where to start? From Japan. I'm a fan of anime, manga, Japanese freak games and… Japanese girls, but sometimes I can't understand them. Anyway, this time I cannot understand the delight that swept the whole world after the premiere of Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings on Nintendo DS. Why? You will find out by reading this review (read. I usually encourage you to read the text).

Revenant Wings is a continuation of the twelfth part of Final Fantasy . As the creators themselves promised, you do not need to know the PS2 version to fully enjoy the sequel. This fact made me very happy because I did not finish the twelve, considering it a "pseudo-fan" who probably looked at World of WarCraft for too long, thus losing its unique charm somewhere. Back to the topic. The first contact with the game and a powerful kick right away. I was greeted by a beautiful animation, which, despite its perfect execution, seemed to me weaker than the one opening Final Fantasy III in the Nintendo DS version. It is worth mentioning here that there are more such movies in Revenant Wings than in Final Fantasy III . After the screening, we are introduced to the new system. Yes, ladies and gentlemen , Final Fantasy is entering the world of real-time strategy. There were some concerns about the attempts to conquer the strategy market by a player who until now was mainly associated with standard Japanese RPGs. However, considering the fact that the tactical jRPG, Final Fantasy Tactics was a huge success and was a truly perfect production, it was to be expected that Revenant Wings would meet a similar fate.

As I mentioned, the story takes us to the beautiful world of Ivalice, one year after the events of Final Fantasy XII. Our beloved hero (yes, we get up and clap like a Rubik) Vaan and (currently terribly ugly) Penelo became true Sky Pirates and went out into the world in search of adventure. Somehow it so happened that they reached the legendary continent suspended in the air, the beautiful Lemures. There it turned out that the natives - people with wings (I remembered Daimos and Erica) - are tormented by evil, which this time took the form of Judge of Wings. Our two heroines together with the rest of their friends decide to help the winged people and this is how our adventure begins.

Banality? And what. You could complain about the plot of Final Fantasy XII, but what is going on here is beyond human comprehension. I understand that NDS is mostly associated with children and the elderly, so the game should be simple, light and fun, but not over the top. And most interestingly, during the game, there will be several references to the feats of Vaan, Balthier and others from the twelfth installment of the series. And yet it was supposed to do without knowing the "twelve". It is a pity that the creators did not decide to take a similar step as Nintendo took with Phantom Hourglass. The two-screen Zelda at the very beginning of the game briefly summarized the events taking place in the prequel, which went to GameCube owners. Square-Enix, unfortunately, was not tempted to include such an addition.

The plot is infantile and pointless, but let's leave this element aside, because apparently the power of the game was supposed to be demonstrated by its gameplay. Revenant Wings was intended to be a mixture of Japanese RPG with real-time strategy. What happened? It's hard to say, Napoleon would rather not play here. There are only three rules in the game that testify to the "tactical" flair of "square" production. There are three types of heroes and their "pets" (more on them later): magic-wielding, flying, and ground-based. The relationships between each group work on the principle of playing with paper, rock and scissors (unfortunately there is no "Tiger's Paw", which we all regret). Ground characters that use melee weapons easily eliminate characters using magic. The team with magic wands flawlessly deal with flying creatures, while our winged friends like a Maverick destroy enemy ground units. That's it. This is where the tactic starts, and it ends here too. Flank attack? By surprise? Firing from a higher position? Forget it. They give nothing. It is impossible to approach the opponent from behind because everything is programmed in such a way that the only thing we can do is split into two groups and attack our opponents frontally. A surprise attack is also out of the question. And firing from a higher position only gives us more time, during which the enemy will approach us at a dangerous distance.

What Square-Enix should be praised for is quite passable gameplay. We watch our characters on a touch screen, just select the heroes and order them to move to a given position or attack the opponent. Very simple rules, a clean interface that has been well explained and, most importantly, is intuitive, make the game fun. The sensitivity of the touch screen is also very good.

Our heroes receive experience points for each defeated opponent, and then at the end of the level they are promoted (or not) to a higher level. Along with the increase in experience, the indicators responsible for health, attack, defense, etc. also go up. However, we will not see the mana bar here. Each character has several special attacks available (stronger hit, faster movement, spells) which recharge after use. When their status bar reaches its maximum, we can use the attack again. Of course, automatic throwing of special attacks, simplified Gambit, was introduced. They involve selecting a spell to cast when its status bar is full. You can discuss the rightness of such a solution for a long time, but it works really well in action. Even though the simplified to the limit rules annoy me a bit, I can't imagine casting spells individually for each character in real time. Of course, while playing, we collect or buy (or create from found elements) our equipment. It is a bit poor compared to the version from large consoles, but probably no one was counting on a Final Fantasy XII replay in this respect.

The game does not offer us the full freedom we had in Final Fantasy XII . Revenant Wings has been divided into 10 chapters, each with 5 levels. Between missions we travel on the map of Lemures, from point A to point B. The missions are diverse, sometimes we have to defend our crystal that allows us to restore heroes who have fallen during the fight, sometimes destroy such a crystal belonging to the enemies. Most missions involve reaching a specific place on the map, but there will also be tasks in which we have to reach a certain place undetected. A map of a given location, along with all monsters, hidden treasures and our units, is on the upper screen of the console. Over time, the missions become more and more difficult, and the number of enemies increases. Then we forget about the tactical shortcomings of the game and let ourselves be drawn into a whirlwind of continuous action.

Now is the time to discuss the subject of "pets", that is Espers, that I have touched upon. They are creatures summoned by us in particular locations. However, to summon Espery you need a special circle that needs to be captured. The taking over is that our characters run up to the circle, "pray" in front of it and after a while we can call Espery. Of course, enemies can take over our summon circles and use them freely - you have to be vigilant all the time. Esperas, like our characters, have been divided into three types: flying, ground and magic. The principles of their interaction with each other are the same as in the case of our heroes. I mentioned it above, so here I will skip my lecture on this topic.

Espers can evolve to higher levels (starting from the third chapter), but only on those boards we fight on. Over time, we will get access to new, stronger "helpers". While playing, we get Auracite, a mineral that we use to summon new Espers. This is done in a similar way to the Sphere Grid known from Final Fantasy X. We have a circle with icons representing the types of Espers. By using Auracite to unlock a given monster, we gain access to the next branches associated with a given icon, etc. Simple and pleasant.

Before each level, we choose which team members we want to enlist in the fight and which animals to use. A tool for creating pre-made Esper lists comes in very handy here. This helps in the later stages of the game, when you do not have to complete the entire team anew, but replace individual creatures. Of course, before the fight, we can see what forces our opponent will use.

Time to head over to the visual side of Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings . And this one is really nice, with a few exceptions. In the initial phase of the game, while we're still in Rabanastre, we feel like we're playing a portable version of Final Fantasy XII . All elements of the environment have been made with great attention to detail - water flows in the background, various elements move. It is really impressive. On the Lemures continent, the graphics are just as good, so I'm not afraid to risk saying that this is one of the better looking DS games. Only Phantom Hourglass or Final Fantasy III and IV (so far only released in Japan) can match it. In fact, only the heroes sting the eyes. When we watch them from standard height, it's not that bad yet, but when we see close-ups of characters during engine-driven cutscenes, we see pixelosis. Spells and special attacks are also not great - you would like something more effective. All the character drawings shown with the characters' statements are very nicely done, but too childish for me. For what was done with the image of Penelo and Balthier (who is not enough here), they should be shot on the spot.

Before we get to the summary, a few words about music. To tell the truth, I did not expect any revelation in this area. I've been counting on the little squeals and midi tracks known to fans of the series for years, and I got a really decent soundtrack that's virtually identical to Final Fantasy XII on PlayStation 2, which has to be saved for the portable version of the game to a plus. Unfortunately, there are no spoken dialogues, which I greatly regret, because after what I heard in Luminous Arc or the trailers of Final Fantasy IV, I would like every DS game to have at least the more important lines read by the actors.

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings was announced for a phenomenal production, a real work of art and a similar revolution in the series, which was the Final Fantasy Tactics game for PSX. Unfortunately, the level of that program was not achieved. If you are focused on a tactical jRPG, choose Luminous Arc or wait for Final Fantasy Advance 2. However, if you love the Final Fantasy series, the twelve was a work of art for you and you are looking for a fast-paced action game with RPG elements, in which you will control a bit more characters, then buy Revenant Wings blind. Very good graphics and sound as well as an interestingly designed interface make the production also appealing to laymen in the subject of Final Fantasy. In short, the game is good, its performance is above average, but from what is in the title Final Fantasy I expected a lot more.

Dawid "Taikun" Mączka