E3 06: Final Fantasy XII Preshow Report

Final Fantasy XII will show its pretty face at E3 2006.

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We've gotten to see Final Fantasy XII across multiple E3 shows the past few years, but the latest entry in Square Enix's cherished series is finally poised to make the localization leap to our shores. Set in the contentious world of Ivalice (previously the setting for the Final Fantasy Tactics games), the game will follow the story of the vagabond youth Vaan and the deposed princess Ashe of Dalmasca as they unravel the secrets behind the Archadian Empire's mysterious military aggression.

As always, Square Enix takes the opportunity to tweak the battle system and gameplay formula in their newest Final Fantasy installment. Where previous games in the series have played around with various styles of active time and traditional turn-based battles following a screen-shatter transition from world exploration to battle view, Final Fantasy XII will adopt a seamless real-time active dimension battle engine. The sometimes-jarring screen transitions of RPGs past are replaced by free-roaming, visible enemies you can simply walk up to and engage in combat. The game's "gambit" system will allow you to assign battle tactics to various party members, letting you concentrate on the main character while your teammates act of their own accord based on preset strategies. There's also a new "license" system that lets you augment your characters' various magic, melee, and armor skills, akin to Final Fantasy X's flexible sphere grid.

We hope to be able to catch some time with a localized Final Fantasy XII (perhaps with speech) at E3, but we'll all have to wait until the end of this year to finally get our extended Final Fantasy fix. The world of Ivalice and its fancy inhabitants will remain off-limits until Final Fantasy XII's scheduled release this fall on the PlayStation 2. Keep your eyes on this gamespace for further updates as they emerge.

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