If there's anything that Final Fantasy XII can only accomplish is presenting itself nicely whilst ruining any sense.....

User Rating: 3 | Final Fantasy XII PS2


Game Title: Final Fantasy XII

Platform: PlayStation 2

Developer: Square Enix Product Development Division 4

Publisher: Square Enix, Ubisoft Entertainment (Europe)

Genre: Role Playing Game

Age Rating: PEGI: 16+ (Europe),

Release Date: March 16th 2006 (Japan), October 31st 2006 (North America), February 22nd 2007 (Australia), February 23rd 2007 (Europe)


Game Score: 3.0/10



If there's anything that Final Fantasy XII can only accomplish is presenting itself nicely whilst ruining any sense of enjoyment you'll even get out of the gameplay.


It's been at least 5 years since the last true Final Fantasy sequel has come out, mostly the developers had spent their time porting their older FF titles to the PSOne, Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS. Coming to the end of the PlayStation 2's life-cycle Square Enix finally releases their next game in the series after it's long delay. It had plenty of interesting ideas that are only good on paper but however, it only accomplishes from presenting itself with outstanding graphics and sound whitest the gameplay execution gets ruined completely.

Before talking about what's really awful about Final Fantasy XII it's best to explain about the entire presentation that the company focused on. For when the PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 consoles being launched, games like this can prove that Sony's aging PS2 system can deliver some stunning looking games specially the amazing cutscenes that you'll see through the game. The character models are great and have impressive facial detail to them, ingame environments are expansive and large as well as showing off the various weather effects like cloud and rain. The monsters themselves are extremely massive and also well detailed and animated.

No Caption Provided

As for the soundtrack it uses the remixed tracks of the Final Fantasy Main Theme, title screen and also the victory music that only plays when you beat a boss battle. All of the game's other tracks are passable adventuring tunes that at least fit the game well.

The plot of Final Fantasy XII is an occupied nation of Dalmasca gets caught in the crossfire between the two warring nations. The main character Vann a would be sky pirate gets involved in the fight against alongside other rag-tag heroes, Balthier, Fran, Basch, Ashe and Penelo. Their goal is to fight off against the Archadian Empire and prevent Vayne from using the powerful stones known as Nethicite as a weapon to winning the war and rule the land. Final Fantasy XII's Story fells very poor and it's character development is non existent. Most of the villains are better filled in their roles then the main characters you'll play as. My personal favourite is Judge Gabranth in which has the best lines and roles in comparison. Mostly the storyline consists of government policies rather then having any emotional strides with any of the characters in the game. On the plus side the voice acting is outstanding and the script is great with a few rough spots and also there's a few slip-ups in the subtitles.

Now to discuss the gameplay style of Final Fantasy XII. Instead of using the mechanics from previous entries in the series, it uses a new system called the Active Dimension Battle System which allows the player to explore the world of Ivalice and also engage in combat with monsters on the map without going into a transition like older games. This gameplay style is mostly similar to an MMO-RPG as it does feel refreshing to be freely exploring the world but however exploring the world at free will does however come at a dangerous cost. For the most part it makes me question if the game designers intended on making this into either a worsened version of Final fantasy XI or a poor man's version of Secret of Mana. Either way exploring the landscapes of the world is nice but however it's mostly a nice idea on paper and executed terribly. This is because the battles in the game are turn based and it's terrible for an RPG to have this particular gameplay style if it's an offline Single Player game.

Ivalice is a massive world which is full of different areas to explore, treasure to find and a puzzle to solve, however one of the main problems is that you'll end up in battles against enemies that are far stronger then you are if you go in the wrong direction. Sometimes it leaves you in extreme danger and can be frustrating when some strong enemies decide to join in whilst in the middle of your grinding. Most annoying when exploring is that you'll step on traps that you can't see unless you have the Libra spell activated to see where it could be. Mostly they will do HP damage but some traps will do MP damage or status effects. One trap could possibly kill one party member from full health which makes them really frustrating to avoid.

Final Fantasy XII introduces two new gameplay mechanics (again good on paper but poorly executed). One of these is called the License Board where you spend License Points you earned in battles to unlock the types of equipment, magic and other abilities like a board game. Any character can use any type of equipment or magic spell as long as that character has the license to use it, characters can also use License points for unlocking summons once you beat them in battle and also their special attacks which I'll get back to. It's supposed to add a new way of developing out your characters but however once your characters have the licenses it discards the customization because each character will end up becoming the same as each other.

No Caption Provided

Before I comment about the other new mechanic it's now a good time to bring up the battles. You take up to 3 from 6 of your maximum available allies into battles but on occasion you will have a guest character join you to fill in as a 4th usable party member. As I already said about the battle system being turn based, it still uses the Active Time Bar to play out the turn order in the game but you only have Battle Command menus to issue to the character you control. Once you issue the command that character will automatically target the enemy and move on his/her own to attack the enemy. Once 3 members of your party are dead, you'll have to replace the downed members for others that are in remain. Your Game is Over when all your party members are dead.

No Caption Provided

To make the battles manageable, Final Fantasy XII introduces a new mechanic that I can now talk about called the Gambit System. This system supposedly allows you to give your party members instructions to responding to different situations such as healing when a characters reaches a certain percentage of health, cure a status effect or use a buffing spell when needed. You'll start off with only 2 Gambit Slots with only a few options but however if you unlock more Gambit Slots up to 12 then you can add more AI priorities but however it becomes very complicated to use. While you can move different Gambits around, Most of the time it's sometimes difficult to tell which Gambits are recommended for any portion of the game as sometimes you won't have enough Gambit Slots to deal with every situation and many of the more useful Gambits are available in stores at the very later portions of the game.

Disappointedly the battles in Final Fantasy XII are just no fun at all. Most of the battles are handled automatically once you've set the right gambits meaning you'll hardly feel involved in the battles. Mostly you'll end up only using your Melee attacks as they deal the most damage thus making all the offensive spells only for flying enemies unless you have a bow.

Now I can talk about the Mist abilities that are both special attacks and the summons that are called Espers which are very different from the trademark summons in other Final Fantasy games. Once a character has beaten an Esper and gotten the license to use it, you can summon it into battle taking over the positions of your allies. It can support you and deal heavy damage to enemies but at the price of high MP cost. Then you got special abilities called Quickenings which play like Limit Break techniques in other games in the series. Using Quickenings are a pain to pull off, it requires well timed input prompts from of the 3 party members in battle within the time limit. Like with the Summoning Espers Quickenings use up a all of your party members MP and if used in the worst situation it leaves you with no MP and hopefully you'd have loads of Ethers to restore MP for another series of Quickenings.

No Caption Provided

Then you got the difficulty balance which is the cherry on top of the game design. I already stated that wondering into a new area from the intended location is dangerous including some optional areas due to enemies being far beyond the party's fighting ability. Combine the ridiculous MP costs for summoning and using Quickenings, Gambits that may be problematic and the battle system itself then you'll get complete frustrating through the entire game and it hardly gets better. It forces you to once again relay only on Melee attacks and spend dozens of hours grinding. Leveling building is usually a requirement in other RPG's but however Final Fantasy XII requires a massive amount of grinding in order to even make any progress, not only for insane levelling but also for buying new equipment and abilities needed. It's the one of the key issues that extends the gameplay time on top of the optional content included.

On top of the hard optional boss battles in the game you'll get to take part in different monster hunting quests which only gift you minor rewards. Each hunt that you do in the game just adds more to the frustrating and I know what anyone is asking, “Why would you think the hunts in the game are frustrating?” Well it's because first you need to look one of the available hunts then you need to find the location of where the petitioner is so that you can finally start the hunt. A petitioner can be in a area either closely or in another area that's a bit far away and you're forced to teleport there to accept it. At least you can use a Green Save Crystal which has a teleport ability to get you anywhere that you visited so far. After you finally reach the petitioner you can then accept the quest and finally find where the monster is and take it down. Finding the petitioner is shown on the map but however it doesn't decide to show you where the monster is hiding. The petitioner does tell you the location where you need to go but finding the monster is a real pain in the backside. The Map never tells you where the monster is but however only displays where the petitioner is even when you accepted the quest and trying to find out where the monster is hiding. I find these quests very ridiculous and I stopped doing these when one hunting quest forced to me to go to one area and take out all monsters in that area, come out of it, re-enter the area for that monster I was looking for to finally appear. I mean what is that all about? Honestly, why can't I just look at the location of the monster so that I can accept the stupid hunt and then find the monster and take it out.

No Caption Provided

As for battles it took me nearly loads of hours to level up for hard portions of the game and also for all the possible licenses my party needed. Only at some points I encountered an overly powerful monster that I would never have right in front of my face. Overall the battles in Final Fantasy XII are simply unenjoyable and relay way too much on melee attacks making them lack any proper strategy. The whole overworld idea is an ambitious idea but however the repetitive battles, unbalanced bosses, traps that really get on your nerves and finally all that sidequest back tracking is a total nuisance and makes the game lose it appeal within several stages of the game.

Final Fantasy XII's best moments are the graphics and the cutscenes dispute some rough writing in the subtitles. The musictracks by Hitoshi Sakimoto is good and Nobuo Uematsu's remixed Final Fantasy and Victory themes are impressive. The gameplay on the other hand just kills off the games appeal especially when the series has always had amazing boss battles and fun turn based combat. I cannot recommend this game to anyone I know if they like RPG's but obsessed fanboys of the series would want this game anyway because of the name. I honestly can't believe that I actually managed to play through this awful RPG, it's in my opinion one of the worst RPG's I ever seen or played on the PS2 but it's not one of the systems overall worst games.

No Caption Provided

Square Enix simply spent all their time and effort on the cutscenes and also wanted to show off the world of Ivalice then to actually ensure the game would be great for many of it's fans. There are some interesting ideas but FFXII fells only as an unworthy title and is not as fun as other games in the series.


The Good Points:


1. Excellent cutscenes, graphics and sound

2. Most ideas are only good on paper

The Bad Points:


1. Terrible Combat System where you mostly don't feel involved too much

2. Gambit system can be really complicated and character actions isn't really to flexible

3. Plenty of unbalanced boss battles and traps add more frustration

4. Constant back tracking for story and sidequesting is a total nuisance

5. License Board System makes all characters act the same as each other


Reviewed by: Anthony Hayball (AQWBlaZer91)