Final Fantasy XII - game review

Date: 2007-03-02 07:45:00
The review was based on the PS2 version.

It's been a long time since the last decent game in the Final Fantasy series. Of course, Square Enix has provided many versions of this chicken laying golden eggs, but since the memorable, launching series on PS2, Final Fantasy X has n't had any revolutions - until now. Just before the end of the existence of PS2 we were endowed with a little thing, which was definitely worth the wait.

Usually, each part of FF took place elsewhere. In FFXII, things happen in a world that was previously used in FF Tactics and FF Tactics Advance , but apart from the name Ivalice and fairy-tale creatures like: bangii, seeqi and moogle nothing more connects it with the one presented earlier. In addition, this part presents events in a slightly different way. The appearance of the character and the environment, as well as numerous archaizations in the language of the characters make the game lean more towards fantasy than science fiction.

The political situation in Ivalice has been described in detail: the Archadia Empire is gradually conquering new territories. It is also very cruel and does not show respect to the conquered areas. He wants to face Rozalia's empire and resistance formed from the inhabitants of smaller countries. Unfortunately, the battlefield would then become Dalmasca - a small state between Archadia and Rozalia. From this country sets off a small group of people who want to more or less protect them from this fate: a small thief, his girlfriend, pirate, magician banished from his village, stripped of honor, once a great general and former princess of this state (by the way Square Enix likes to cast characters of dubious reputation. Other characters will join them, but you won't have direct control over them, and after a while they will leave your team.

I mentioned the end of life for PS2 also for a reason. Square Enix apparently also sees it this way, because it woven into the game a lot of threads and details referring to the part closing the life of the first PlayStation - FFIX. A thief, a princess without a kingdom, her faithful soldier and a power-hungry person conquering neighboring kingdoms - unfortunately, the plot does not spark new.

Fortunately, an aspect has brought freshness to the game. Yes, I'm going to the point - fight. In this part, Square presented fans a completely new system. We've already had active time battle or turn-based fights, but they all took place on an isolated battlefield. Here, we will not meet such a thing - all fights take place where normal exploration. Now you can see your opponents and you can avoid them if you don't want to face them.

This solution also forced the designers to create a space other than before. Often, before you squeezed through narrow corridors, paths or small rooms, but now you had to use larger, more spacious boards that could contain all monsters. However, these areas are not able to contain such giant monsters, which were often seen in previous parts, so the enemies here are much more modest, less impressive. Omega, which appears here, is three times smaller than that of FFX or FFVII.

A new fighting system has also appeared. During the game you control the movements of the leader. Approaching the opponent you choose the attack that the captain is to use, then switch to another hero, choose his attack and do the same with the third. When the attacks are carried out, you repeat the action. A lot of work, right? That is why something like gambity was created. Thanks to them, you are able to program the behavior of heroes, for example with "foe: nearest visible ---> attack" will cause the hero to attack as soon as he notices an opponent, while "ally: any ---> rise" will cause the character to immediately after his companion's death he will revive him. Over time, more comprehensive gambits appear that take advantage of your opponents' weaknesses or your own. You arrange them in order of priority. What will be more important to you? A quick attack and immediate death of the opponent, or maybe healing will take priority for the wounded characters and the attack will come to the background? The correct arrangement of gambits will determine the outcome of many difficult battles. Often, one small mistake can lead to the rapid death of the entire team. This does not mean that you cannot interfere with them during the fight. Then you can also give commands that have priority over the previously set gambits. Of course, no one forbids you to personally select attacks for each hero in turn, but in the heat of battle you can not keep up with issuing commands, you get lost and the result will be a foregone conclusion.

Unfortunately, it must be said that this system has its shortcomings. There are no gambits that could improve entertainment, but there are a lot of unnecessary ones that you can not use even once throughout the game.

Of the familiar combat elements, you must definitely mention attacks. Standard names appearing from the very beginning of FF, such as Fira, Curaga or Esuna give the feeling that, despite all these changes, we are still playing this well-known game. There are also monsters here that can be summoned to fight at your side (how else). Now they are called Espery and another surprise: they have completely new names. The ones we know well: Ifrit, Shiva or Bahamut have now been assigned to imperial aircraft.

This part also includes a new character development system called the License Board. It's a bit similar to the Sphere Grid from FFX, but it's just a semblance. Maybe you know it, maybe not, but sphere grid was used to develop the character by increasing their statistics (strength, speed, etc.) and from time to time added new skills, while the License Board only allows the use of some weapon or technique that previously need to buy. You buy an item and then you buy a license to use it to be able to use it. Statistics are increased here by leveling up. And here is another surprise. Fans, especially die-hard fans, who usually don't let any boss pass, are accustomed to raising statistics to level 255, and in this part developers have limited this number to just 99.

The licenses of each character look almost identical. They differ only in quickening and espers - they are in the same places on each table, but only one character can have them and when one character buys a quickening or espper, then this field disappears from the license tables of the other characters. The same licenses inexorably lead to the fact that all characters can have the same skills. It's up to you to decide what each character will do. The negative aspect is that it can result in a lack of distinction among characters, but the positive aspect is that it gives virtually unlimited possibilities for assigning classes. Everyone can be anyone without any special training. And a very large number of weapons will support you in this separation of classes, because what if not the weapon best reflects the class of the hero.

It is necessary to mention here how to get money. Square was very thoughtful and changed the fact that every monster he encounters has a lot of money on him. Here we collect some items typical for these monsters like their horns or skin. Then we sell these items and that's what we get money for. But this is not the end! Store owners collect the things we sell and make them weapons, armor, or something else. Only in this way can we get the most valuable and strongest items in the game.

Although the developers squeezed practically everything that could be pulled out of this black box with Final Fantasy X , they did not give up now and thanks to the change in the presentation of the world and the way the camera is managed, this part looks even more beautiful.

As for the sound, it must be admitted that the refreshed original track sounds wonderful and the tear in the eye turns. Also, the actors who voiced the characters from the game did a great job, and those who chose them for these roles hit extremely accurately. The voices sound very natural and perfectly match the characters they serve. As for the subtitles, unfortunately in several places they do not completely reflect what was said, but these are only isolated cases that can be counted practically on the fingers of one hand. At this point I will add so much that during the game it is worth having the subtitles turned on, because the characters use a bit archaic language in the game and it is often difficult to know what's going on.

The game has its weaknesses, but hey, which is not? The creators of FFXII did a great job of transferring successful features from previous parts to this one, and new products breathed freshness. They proved that the first part is not always the best one, and that even the twelfth one can surprise you with something new and unexpected.

Bartosz "Mr Error" Weselak