9.6

Another hallmark in Square-Enix's amazing series

After almost five years of absence and numerous involvements in other games and such, Square-Enix has released yet another Final Fantasy. In the twelfth installment of the series We’re yet again introduced to the world of Ivalice, formerly appearing in Final Fantasy Tactics, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced; but we are introduced to a brand new interesting group of characters. You are placed in the middle of a raging war between the Archadian, and Rozarrian empires while the neighboring kingdoms of Nabradia and Dalmasca are caught in the crossfire as well as the rest of the continent. The game follows the exploits of Rabanastran street urchin named Vaan, who is also the protagonist of the story. He is later joined by, his best friend, a disgraced knight, two sky pirates and a displaced princess in what is the definitive best Role Playing Game pf 2006.

Gameplay:

There was much speculation that Square had lost its mind, by introducing many new additions to the beloved saga. People literally soiled their pants when they found out that the commonplace battle system (which has become the trademark of FF) was thrown out the window, and replaced with a new mmmorpg-esque battle system. The new battle system named the Active Dimension Battle or ADB places your three party members to roam freely in certain battle sensitive areas. This totally eliminates random encounters, and the only downside to this is that battles tend to lose their grand epic scale; something Final Fantasy has been very good at. But on the bright side fighting enemies never gets boring, as the ADB adds a whole new level of strategy to FF. Along with the ADB FF xii has added a new mechanic called the gambit system, which allows the player to plan ahead of every battle. By designating a specific target, action and the priority of that particular gambit the player has the ability to almost sit back and watch as your characters duke it out against their enemies. This is a dynamic way of progressing through the game that focuses the player more into the action on screen than navigating through menus.
Square-Enix has also taken a new step in character progression with the license board which is a chess like board filled with different abilities, techs and magicks. This new form of character progression makes FF xii a bit harder than previous installments as now not only do you have to buy weapons and armor for your characters but you also must learn the specific skill on the license board for that piece of armament. The same goes for magicks which you must also buy from a vendor. Final Fantasy xii also has a new form of limit breaks called quickening, which can be combined in chains in order to form highly powerful attacks. With quickening, summons called espers are also integrated into the game which fight alongside the summoner in a similar style to that of Final Fantasy x. With the license board players are granted a high amount of customization as they can dictate the role of each and every character. Using this effectively is the key to advancing through the game.

Graphics:

Final Fantasy boasts some of the best graphics found in any PS2 game to date. The beauty of this game can easily bring the biggest man to tears. I was even surprised to notice that FF xii has graphics on par with some Xbox 360 games. The characters in the game have detailed facial expressions, in real time. During fully rendered cut scenes make the characters seem very lifelike and not once have I noticed any ugly jaggies or pop up bump mapping. It is easy to say that FF xii saps as much power out of the PS2 as is possible, which is evident from the amazing graphics of the game.

Audio:

Though legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu has long left Square-Enix Final Fantasy xii does not lack a quality soundtrack. The music of FF xii rightly complements the environment and sets the mood quite effectively, and though not as memorable as previous Final Fantasy’s the current installment taps into the series’ memorable assortment of tunes; the opening sequence brought back tons of memories I’ve had with some of the best Final Fantasy’s. If you listen closely you can catch some remixes of songs from Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Final Fantasy also has the usual assortment of smacks, grunts and screams found in most RPG battles. Another high point of the game is that it contains excellent voice acting. All characters are easily distinguishable from their amazing voice work. As most RPG enthusiasts know that the music and voice work are just as important as any other component of the game and Final Fantasy xii does not disappoint.

Final Verdict:

With Final Fantasy xii Square-Enix has yet again lived up to the Final Fantasy name and rightfully so it has set the mark for all RPG’s. The music though not the best is good on its own right, the voice acting s some of the best in the series. The story is new and fresh and not your typical save the world type of tale. The graphics are also the best in the series. This new addition also has some of the most interesting characters in the series (no annoying Tidus-like characters). With the clever street urchin Vaan, the brave independent princess Ashe and the suave sky-pirate Balthier you’ll quickly be rooting for your roster of characters. Though this may be one the of the hardest Final Fantasy’s because of the license board which doesn’t really let the player know what to do, that does not at all hinder the game from being as good as it is. The more I play this game the more I am captivated by how good it really is, if you’re a Final Fantasy fan, an RPG fan or just your average gamer who wouldn’t mind to get into an RPG, I highly recommend this to you.

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