Review: Why You Should Play Final Fantasy XII

Final Fantasy XII is a turn-based RPG for the PlayStation 2 that brought real time battles to the series, as well as an intriguing political storyline and gigantic open world.

Following the first online entry into the Final Fantasy series, the twelfth instalment saw the introduction of real time battles into the single player experience. It also brought Yasumi Matsuno’s world of Ivalice and all the interesting characters that inhabit it. Final Fantasy XII was a revolution and was unlike any Final Fantasy before it.

Against the back drop of the raging war between the empires of Archadia and Rozarria, the story focuses on the small kingdom of Dalmasca, caught in between. Two years after Archadia invades Dalmasca; Ashe, the Princess of Dalmasca and Basch, the Captain who was thought a traitor, rise up to take revenge against the empire. Final Fantasy XII focuses heavily on its political story, but includes some fantastic characters such as the charming sky pirate Balthier. The script is well written and elegant, while the excellent voice acting provides some of the best dialogue ever in an RPG.

While the battles are in real time, with no random encounters, the battle system is still turned-based. The player has the ability to open the battle menu at any time, pausing the battle and selecting actions for all of the party members. The player also has the ability to customise gambits, which are used to program actions for all the characters with incredible depth. The battle system strikes a great balance between turn-based and real time action. Character growth is handled by opening up licenses on a grid board, allowing each character to use new magic spells, equip new items or increase their stats. Final Fantasy XII contains a lot of depth, but also allows the ability to play it any way you wish.

Hitoshi Sakimoto is the main composer of Final Fantasy XII and like his previous work, Vagrant Story the soundtrack is ambitious and full of wide sweeping orchestral pieces. The music fits the narrative well, such as the glorious “Opening Movie” theme. Sakimoto may have also created one of the best renditions of the main “Final Fantasy Theme”. Overall the music creates a distinct atmosphere that works well with the unique visual style of the game.

Final Fantasy XII brings a massive open world full of political intrigue and mystery. If you wish to play an RPG that challenged the norm, then you should play Final Fantasy XII.



Filed under Final Fantasy Series, Reviews

12 responses to “Review: Why You Should Play Final Fantasy XII

  1. I really enjoyed FF XII and felt like it was under appreciated. I think one of the reasons it gets beat up a bit is that the ‘lead’ character Vann, was not as interesting as some of the side characters (Balthier was fun). I did just about everything that could be done in that game by the time I was done with it.

    • I agree, my favourite characters were Ashe, Basch and Balthier and the story seemed to revolve more around them. Nice work getting everything done, the game was huge and there was plenty to do! Thanks for the comment.

      • Yeah, I’ve gotta say that those three were certainly the most interesting characters with Fran being in the mix as a great sidekick, even though I remember thinking that Ashe was one-dimensional after a while. One of my favorite things about the game was the battle system, for sure, and I really enjoyed the hunt side-quests.

        • Apparently Matsuno’s intention was for Basch to be the main character, but they changed it later in development to cater to a younger audience and added Vaan and Penelo. Would have been interesting to see the result of having the story with Basch as the lead.

  2. That was a good game, but I just couldn’t get into the characters. I read the other comments, and I think it would’ve been more interesting if Basch was the main character. Vaan was just not interesting. Basch was probably my favorite character.
    This game was certainly huge. It was quite overwhelming, really.

    • I think more RPGs should have an older main character. There is room for more backstory and maturity.
      The game is huge and dense, plenty to explore and discover!

  3. I loved FFXII but I couldn’t finish it. Still the setting was perfect.
    I agree with the fact that more grown-ups characters should start populating JRPGs as well. Ni No Kuni was great, but I couldn’t really feel much empathy with Oscar.
    And Square-Enix is still creating FF with bishojo-like characters that really are NOT realistic or believable.

  4. This I definiety agree with, even the earlier Final Fantasy titles used to have main characters that were mid-twenties and older. Now they all seem to be teenagers. Final Fantasy XII would have been much better with Basch as the main focus. Thanks for the great comment!

  5. Erika

    I played most of it. I ended up being really disappointed. The supposed main character seems to be a side character for whatever reason as the game progressed–which sort of bothered me as the game initially started rather strong. I love Basch, Balthier, and Penelo (if I spelled that right…), but was never able to finish the game because I lost interest in the storyline. I sort of felt distant from the characters, like Vann and Penelo were just non-speaking 3rd party characters you ran around as (like one of the class characters you bought from a shop in Tatics, only that class character was somehow you, and the story was going on whether you were there or not). I did like how the world was so vast. It was fun, and I definitely have never explored a game world as much as I did that one–especially since the story wasn’t entirely pulling me in. But the side quests were very fun. Overall, I think the game had a lot of potential. I just thought it felt somewhat unfinished, as though they could have done more with it.

    • I agree with most of what you said. I am a big fan of Matsuno’s games and love the political story lines in Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Orge: Let Us Cling Together, but it definitely felt unfinished in FFXII. This is most likely because it was unfinished, Matsuno feel ill during the development and didn’t get to complete everything.
      Also Matsuno’s complex storylines usually work better in tighter, more linear games, where as FFXII had a bigger world to explore and as such the story seemed slower. Just some thoughts? Thanks for the comment.

      • Ana

        I heard about Basch being written as the main character originally. Know what though? I think it’s brilliant just the way it is. I ‘love’ that Vaan is kind of an observer main character, als Ishmael in Moby Dick, he’s watching great things transpire around great people and he’s not really the focal point just a follower who finds his purpose along the way it’s UNIQUE, and a breath of fresh air for videogames. He became more relatable to me as the story went on, I think his role as an observer made you feel like you were really there. I don’t think the story with Basch or Ashe as the main character would’ve really added anything more interesting than what we got. At all.

        Also here I’ll lose most people because FFXII is the best in the series imo. No other game comes close to standing the test of time and I grew up on FF and loved every one. But 7 8 and 10 in particular are only saved by nostalgia (some scenes are just so saccharine to me now, and almost kinda cringe worthy in their melodrama).

        The dialogue in 12 is just so incredibly good, and honestly before this game I never would’ve thought possible that this style of writing could be pulled off so flawlessly and somehow not cheesy at all. I mean Geez those are some epic lines with plenty of archaic words and legitimely clever quips. And somehow it doesn’t flop or become ridiculous. You simply accept that the characters are worthy of speaking the way they do because of the amazing theatre actors who voice then.

        And the story: nothing’s ever simple there’s very VERY few absolute evil and absolute good it’s all shades of grey (which I guess the simple minded tend to be dissatisfied by because it eludes their comprehension) the various motives and agendas of the main political figures bouncing off each other make so much sense and are so detailed.

        In short: It’s so fucking underrated. It’s a shame too. Cus storywise 13 was a bummer and now I’ve got zero interest in the upcoming 15 too.

        • This is a fantastic comment and you have a lot of great points in here!

          I can understand what you mean about Vaan being an observer in the story. It is similar to what Fire Emblem did successfully with the latest entry: Awakening. Although in another Matsuno game, Final Fantasy Tactics Ramza can also be described as an observer to Delita’s rise to become King, but because he is so much more involved in his own interesting story it made him an amazing character. I think because Matsuno never originally intended Vaan to be there it didn’t work as naturally as if he had be planned from the beginning. What do you think? Either way I agree with you that both ways can definitely work!

          One thing I agree 100% with you though, is the dialogue and voice acting is top notch! I love the translation and the way the characters speak. Coupled with the story, this is definitely the high point of the game. Again to bring up Final Fantasy Tactics, or even Vagrant Story, Matsuno really knows how to write an engaging and exciting political narrative with betrayal and twists and turns!

          Yeah Final Fantasy XII is undeniably a great RPG and I hope the rumours about FFXVI being directed by Hiroyuki Ito using an extension of the FFXII system is true!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s