#365Games16: Final Fantasy XII – PS2

Man, a few days over 2 weeks and another FF title, we’ll see how many I end up playing this year … I copped the Collectors Edition right when it came out, I hadn’t played a FF game since VII, but everyone was talking about it, so I picked up a copy. I never really played it until now, I have a bad habit of buying games and forgetting about them.

Jumping into the game, the story is this (via Wikipedia): The game takes place in the fictional location of Ivalice, where the empires of Archadia and Rozarria are waging an endless war. Dalmasca, a small kingdom, is caught between the warring nations. When Dalmasca becomes annexed by Archadia, its princess, Ashe, creates a resistance movement. During the struggle, she meets Vaan, a young adventurer who dreams of commanding an airship. They are quickly joined by a band of allies; together, they rally against the tyranny of the Archadian Empire.

The game starts out with an impressive opening movie, the CG is crafted with the typical Square Enix intricacies, it was visually astounding 5 years ago and still is today. Also in typical Square Enix fashion, you play the game for 20 minutes before you actually play the game, they have to establish the back story and do it in an elaborate, cinema-quality sequence of cut-scenes, fortunately you can skip them.

Once the gameplay begins, the level of detail found in the characters, backgrounds and textures makes you fully understand why Final Fantasy XII holds the Guinness world record for longest development period in a video game production, the areas you venture into are massive. Time to fight some bad guys, finally … but FFXII has completely changed the typical FF battles, instead of switching to a “battle screen,” all of the fighting now is done in real-time using the Active Dimension Battle (ADB) system. It takes a minute to get used to it as you’re sort of running around, waiting until your attack bar fills up before you can attack a guy again. The way it’s set up, you’re sort expecting it to turn into a full-on attack mode, hacking up the bad guys but they’ve kept it turn-based at it’s core. Stringing together multiple “kills,” throws up a combo tally, which kind of makes the game feel like Devil May Cry, except you have to wait to attack someone.

The whole License Board is kind of weird too, instead of just picking up a sword or armor from a shop or a bad guy and equipping it, you need to first obtain a license to wear it. This is done by “purchasing” a license through license points you earn in battle, so you fight a guy, earn a couple of points and some loot, go buy a sword, then upgrade your license so you can equip it. It seems like it adds an unnecessary step to the game, creating another layer of complexity just because they can.

The first “boss” you fight is this weird tomato dude, I was roaming the wastelands taking out wolves and cacti, then I see this giant dinosaur right by the tomato guy so I figure I’d go after him first, yeah that didn’t work, he killed me with one hit. You know, when you get your first glimpse of Rabanastre, it reminds me of Star Wars. The creatures mixed with humans, co-mingling in this vaguely middle-eastern setting. I was kind of hoping I would go into a cantina and attack Greedo or something, with the band playing in the background … anyway, this is a time-consuming game and I didn’t have a lot of time to invest but I’ll probably load this game up again in the near future.