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Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

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Manufacturer: Square Enix / Genre: Role-Playing

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    30 Reviews
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      17.10.2012 22:00

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      A fantastic looking game, best for those with patience regarding storyline

      Final Fantasy XII was a game that I found it very difficult to get into the first time I played it. I played for around an hour then gave up, mainly because it's so different from the gameplay of the previous games. They've done away with the battle screen and turn-based fighting, using a real-time battle system.

      I found it very difficult to play to begin with, due mainly to the completely new way of battling. However, about six months later I got the game out again, and with this restart I found that I really enjoyed the game.

      You start off as Vaan, a gutter-snipe from Rabanastre who gets irredeemably entangled in a web of storylines, but whose ultimate goal is to free Rabanastre from Archedes's reign. The storyline of this game is interesting, although I do feel that parts are irritating, such as the escape from certain dungeons took a lot of time. I know that escaping from dungeons is a FF staple, but sometimes it got repetitive.

      The graphics in this game are stunning. For a PS2 game, this game looks amazing, with muted colours and brilliant detail to backgrounds, enemies and Espers.

      Overall, although the game is a little long-winded (a usual playthrough for me can last at least 150 hours of gameplay) it's well worth a play, if only for the look of the game and the attention to detail. I found the characters, on the whole, to be interesting, although I know that this is an opinion I share with few people in comparison to others who have played this game.

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      04.10.2011 14:14
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      This gives every other Playstation 2 game designer no excuse for the rubbish they've been making.

      Final Fantasy is something I only discovered through playing XII and I was astonished. The graphic quality of the video sequences is near enough that of the Playstation 3. The in-game graphics are also pretty good. The gameplay itself is epic with all meaning of the word. The world which your character goes through is the largest I have ever found in a single offline computer game. The story is enthralling and more-ish. In short, this game gives every other Playstation 2 game designer no excuse for the rubbish they've been pouring out in comparison to this beautiful game. The reason I say this, is that if a company can fit this much graphical detail, this large a world, this elegance of development into a single Playstation 2 disc, then why couldn't anyone else?

      The truth is, whilst most gamers are content with a game that you can finish in less than a day, for quality rather than quantity, even on that front XII is superior - the fact is there is no game on the Playstation 2 market that even comes close in terms of the quality, except possibly Gran Turismo 3 and 4. Every game I've come across for this console seems to be just a large bunch of moving pixels, in comparison to the sheer depth of detail Square Enix put into this masterpiece.

      XII demands devotion - I've played the story for well over 100 hours now, and have still not finished the storyline, whilst there are some things that can be avoided, no matter which route through the game you take, and no matter how you develop your characters, in order to win some of the boss fights, tou must eventually have played enough to level up your characters to a high enough level. Thus, this length of time cannot be avoided. Whilst a lot of people may find the sheer attention you have to pay demanding, it is to me the perfect way to play such a fantastic RPG. It is like saying that the Lord Of the Rings films are too long, when in reality, they are too short!

      In conclusion, if you love gaming and have the time too, play this game. To put it in perspective, even if you only have one hour each day, it will still take you between 4 and 6 months to complete, which to me, is a good length for a game - you get as much out of it as you can.

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      16.08.2010 22:03
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      Good Game

      Final fantasy 12 the last instalment of the final fantasy series on the playstation 2. You play as Vaan on his journey to fight the invading Archadian Empire, and have a host of characters join your adventure to help fight your cause.

      A big change in Final Fantasy 12 on the previous games is the battle system. Firstly there are no more random encounters as all enemies are visible so you can choose whether to go on ahead and fight or turn back, which in a good introduction to the series, and I remember getting very frustrated with the countless random battles I would have rather avoided. The second big change is that while in battle you only control one character while the other character are controlled automatically using gambits, whereby you assign moves you want them to do before battle. I really did not like this change, I like be able to tell every character every individual move I want them to do. While you can change character during battle you then leave the character you left to run off on there own.

      I'm not saying you have no control over the character as you can use the gambits, but you don't always want them to do the same thing throughout the whole battle, and its annoying having to change their gambits to suit different enemies. That's not to say that battles aren't enjoyable as I still enjoying playing my way through the game, but it wasn't as good as it could have been. It would have been much better if the old battle system was used.

      The graphics are good as any final fantasy fan would have grown to expect, as well as a great soundtrack. The story line is good and is much more of a war storyline than final fantasy 10 had, which I preferred, but the one in this game is still good.

      The length of gameplay is very long I racked up over 40 hours and thats with lots of side quests available left to completed. The hunts side quest added lots of extra play time, as people from within the game ask for your help to defeat a monster (kind of like a mini boss, although the harder ones are like big bosses).

      Overall despite the negatives I had with the game it is still very good, but of the final fantasy games I played it is the worst (I've play 7, 8, 10), although that is worst of a great bunch, as this game is still good itself.

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      12.08.2010 18:31
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      The Twelfth Final Fantasy

      Having never played a Final Fantasy game before, the renowned series always appeared daunting to me. I knew that people were addicted to the games, and had nailed each and every one of them down to a 't.' I never planned on trying any of the games, until somebody lent me this one: Final Fantasy XII.

      Developers: Square Enix PDD 4
      Publishers: Square Enix
      Distributed by: Ubisoft

      Platform: Playstation 2
      EU release date: February 23, 2007
      Genre: Role-playing game

      The game is set in a fictitious world called Ivalice, which is a recurring location for games created by Yasumi Matsuno (mainly in the Final Fantasy series). In this world, two forces edge closer and closer to war: the empire of Archadia and Rozarria. In the middle of the two lies the small kingdom of Dalmasca. A royal wedding is being celebrated, between Lady Ashe of Dalmasca and Prince Rasler of Nabradia, another neutral town. War breaks out, and Dalmascan King Raminas and Prince Rasler are both assassinated. It is announced that Dalmascan captain Basch has killed the King, and Princess Ashe has committed suicide. A young knight named Reks, witnesses the execution of the King, but he, too, dies from his injuries.

      The game is set two years after this occurrence. Vaan, Reks' younger brother, is a ballsy street urchin, who has lost not only his brother, but his parents, too. The gameplay starts from here, in the Dalmascan town of Rabanastre. Vaan, against his friend Penelo's wishes, aims to break into Rabanastre Palace during the appointment of Archadian Prince Vayne Solidor, where he discovers some magicite, a magical stone. He then meets two sky pirates: Fran and Balthier, who want the magicite for themselves. Both join the party as playable characters as the three attempt to escape from the palace.

      As the story and the game progress, the party of three becomes six, as Vaan, Fran and Balthier help Basch escape (turns out it was his twin brother Judge Noah Galbranth who killed the king...) after being imprisoned, after the discovery that Princess Ashe is actually alive and well, and after the final addition: Vaan's friend Penelo.

      The plot revolves around a form of magicite: nethicite, which absorbs power. It holds enough power to destroy a kingdom. It all sounds very familiar, and the plot is textbook. Two kingdoms at war. Two countries at war? Nethicite that threatens a kingdom. A nuclear bomb that threatens a country? Matsuno explores deeper issues in Final Fantasy XII, so I feel that it has quite a good plot. As the game progresses, bigger issues arise. Destroying the nethicite is not the only option. Princess Ashe faces a decision: does she destroy the nethicite, or use it to take revenge on the empire?

      Final Fantasy XII is an RPG, or a role-playing game, which is when one must take up the role of a character in a fictitious setting. The leeway and freedom in this game is so vast that no game will ever be the same. The way in which you develop your characters and your party is entirely up to you. All characters, both friends and foes, have a level-based system. This means that when you battle a foe, you gain EXP (experience points), and after gaining a certain amount, you proceed to the higher level. So if you begin at Level 1, and you need 100 EXP to move on to the next level, after you receive those 100 EXP from battling foes, you become Level 2, and your attributes increase. The attributes comprise of: Attack Power, Defence, Magick Resist, Evade, Magick Evade, Strength, Magick Power, Vitality, and Speed. However, it's not just the climbing of levels that increase your attributes. In the various locations throughout the game, one can purchase or find items that enhance your attributes. Each character can equip five things: a weapon to increase your Attack Power, an off-hand item such as a shield (to increase Evade and Magick Evade) or ammunition (to increase your Attack Power), a helm (to increase Magick Resist and Defence), armour (to increase Defence and Magick Resist) and an accessory (that may increase or alter a variety of elements). With a vast array of items spread across the game, there are thousands upon thousands of combinations that a player can create for their character.


      But once you've purchased the item, or found it in a treasure chest, you can't just pick it up and use it. You must have the correct amount of License Points to do this. From each creature that you defeat, you obtain License Points. For the majority of the time, you will only get one License Point per creature that you defeat, but each character, whether they were in the party at the time or not, will receive a License Point. This is different to EXP points, where only members of the party will receive points, and it will be shared out by the amount of characters in your party (there can be a total of three maximum at a time). On your in-game menu, there is a License Board, where you are in total control of what you want your characters to be licensed to do, have, or use. The license board is in two sections, and six subsections in total. The first section features four of the six subsections, and this includes Magicks, Technicks, Accessories and miscellaneous. The second section features the two other subsections: weapons and armour/shields/helm. You must make your way across the board. You can only see the ones you have purchased with License Points, and the adjoining squares that are available to purchase. The License Point system was a new addition to the Final Fantasy series, and I felt that the addition was fantastic. I had great fun finding out what was the next license I could purchase.

      And there is such a vast array of each type of item. Weapons - you have a wide variety of swords, daggers, ninja swords, bows, crossbows, guns, maces, hand-bombs, axes, staves and rods. Protectives - you have many different types of helmets, caps, masks, shields, mail and armours. There is such a wide range in the game, and it makes for great gaming.

      Another new addition was the Gambit system (a.k.a. the lazy system). I did not take full advantage of this when I played the game, but I strongly recommend that you do, should you play the game. The Gambits allow you to assign automatic responses to your characters. So, should an ally's health (or HP - Hit Points) fall below 40%, you can assign your character to automatically give him/her a potion, or cast a curative magick. Another example would be that you can get a character to specifically aim for foes that have the least amount of HP, or the most amount, and so on. You can also prioritise your Gambits, so that they don't clash.

      On your in-game menu, you can also check the World Map. On here, you can view the entire area where the game is set, but not the maps of each specific area. With over 35 different areas in total, you must proceed through the game to have explored every single area. And even when you think you've completed the exploration of an area, you may find later on in the game that there is more to the area then first met the eye. When you have fully explored all of the areas, what you have before you is a game with a massive map! And some of the locations in particular are beautiful. The scenery is phenomenal, and for a game of this time (it was released in 2006), the graphics are fantastic. Each area is so different that it becomes farfetched (not sure how you can have a barren desert, followed by a jungle, followed by a snowy mountain range, but there you go!), but enjoyable nonetheless. I dislike games where each level or map is highly similar, so the variety here ensures that you never get bored.

      Like I say, every area is different. Some are cities/towns, some are smaller camps/villages, some are open wilderness, and some are a mix of the two. And the game has ensured that they are mixed up well. The cities/towns are where the majority of the story occurs, and feature the specific shops where a player can buy the best equipment: weapons, magicks etc. The open areas usually bridge important areas together. In these areas are wild creatures that you battle for EXP, LP (License Points) and loot (which can be sold for Gil, the currency in Ivalice, in order to buy items of more use). The smaller camps/villages are usually quite important too, but do not feature shops (but usually there is a salesperson selling select items) or an aerodrome (like an airport, where you can travel to other cities/villages). There are also temporary areas that are key to the storyline, but which you can never return to after you have completed your goal. All of these areas are split into smaller areas, and when you cross from one to the other, you come across a loading screen (which can often take a very long time to load - again, understandably so!). In select areas, there are Save Crystals. Upon touching them, your HP and MP (Magic/Mist Points) are restored, and any negative status effects are removed (for example, Poison or Petrify). You will also get the option to save your game, and in the case of an orange Save Crystal, you will also get the option to teleport to another orange Save Crystal. There is usually only one orange Save Crystal per area.

      On the battlefield, you get the choice to Attack, cast a Magick or a Technick, produce a Mist attack, turn Gambits on or off, or use an item. By choosing Attack, you can select any foe in range, or if you're feeling cruel, you can press R1 or L1 and attack one of the members of your party. By choosing 'Magicks & Technicks', you can cast either a White Magick (mainly used to heal or aid party members, or additional friendly characters), a Black Magick (mainly to hurt a foe), a Time Magick or Green Magick (to help your party in battle), an Arcane Magick (to either hurt a foe or help your party in battle) or a Technick. Technicks vary in what they do, but I never found much use for them, besides the Technicks Steal (to steal loot) and Libra (to reveal to the player an enemy's Level, HP and weakness). Whilst progressing across the License Board, you will occasionally come across Quickening attacks. Each character can learn three, increasing in strength after each one they purchase. These quickening attacks fall under the 'Mist' category in the battle menu. Also under this category is 'Summon', where you can summon an Esper. An Esper is a type of boss in Final Fantasy XII, and you will find twelve throughout the game. Once you have defeated one, you get to keep it, and use it (after purchasing it on the License Board). 'Summon' will summon the desired Esper. Gambits 'On' or 'Off' is pretty self-explanatory, as is 'Items'. There is a vast array of items you can find and use in battle throughout the game. When you press X on the battlefield, the game will pause (unless you turn this option off), which proves very helpful if things get just a bit too much!

      There are a variety of models of creatures in Final Fantasy XII. However, they become repeated between maps, or varied, which becomes slightly tiresome. There are only a certain amount of types of creatures in each map, and they will respawn after five minutes or so. As you progress through the game, the creatures become tougher and tougher, but luckily, you're getting tougher and tougher too, so you should be able to handle them! The creatures are weak to at least one element, but some are immune or resisting to at least one too! They will Attack and perform Magicks just like you do, and sometimes use Items. A nice addition is the inclusion of 'Chains', where, if you defeat the same type of creature over and over, you will create a Chain. There are four levels of Chains, and with each one, you will receive more loot after killing a foe.

      Bosses are not infrequent in Final Fantasy XII. There are three types. First, as I have previously mentioned, are Espers. There are twelve in the game, but only four of them are mandatory - the other eight are optional. The second types are Marks. Marks are not obligatory. Bills are mainly posted on boards usually found in Cities/Towns' bars, or just on a wall somewhere in the city or town. You must then go and speak to the petitioner to discover where to find the mark, and then kill it. After killing it, you must go back to the petitioner to receive your bounty, which is usually Gil, loot and rare items. Each mark is given a level, and a rank (I believe the highest rank is VII), and with each rank, they get harder and harder. These ranks are general however, and you will often find a Rank III creature, say, harder to kill than a Rank IV creature. The third type of boss are the bosses that are vital to the storyline, and that you have no choice but to defeat. They too have a level, and Attack you and cast Magicks and what not. They can either come in the form of a creature or of a human. After defeating a boss, they occasionally drop an item that is either important to your quest in the game, or will just aid your party.

      There are three types of graphics in this game. The gameplay graphics is the least impressive of the three. The character detail is very good, as is the location graphics, but the background is understandably lazy (after the amount of effort they've put in the rest of the game) - it reminds me of a Sega platform game. The second type of graphics is for the cutscenes. Although not massively different, the screen becomes more cinematic, and the game designers have paid more attention to the character detail, with less focus on the background (which isn't massively important at this point). The third type of graphic is for the more important cutscenes, and is dramatically more impressive. I am under the impression that the Final Fantasy series also has some film adaptations, and I believe that those films would have similar graphics to these moments. They look beautiful, and for a game that came before the next generation consoles (the likes of the Xbox 360 and PS3), it's very likely that they were the best graphics of the game's time.

      Each area in the game is accompanied by some music (apart from the rare silence, which was equally as effective), provided by Hitoshi Sakimoto. This was his first mainstream soundtrack in the Final Fantasy series after Nobuo Uematsu left Square Enix, so I can imagine that die hard FF fans would not like the soundtrack much. However, I do. The sound quality isn't fantastic, and it is hard to tell as to whether the music is being performed by a live orchestra or not, but my guess is: no, it's not. Mostly, the music suits the area or the occasion well. At times, particularly in The Tomb of Raithwall, the music is grand and evocative. I also really like the music at the Dalmasca Estersand and Phon Coast (Hunter's Camp) which reflects the glorious seaside landscape very well indeed. His music is thematic, which is always a good thing. However, I don't feel that I could ever listen to the soundtrack by itself. It wouldn't be the same without the wonderful scenery and the sounds of war cries and clashing swords. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the soundtrack, and it complimented the game well.

      You will get more than your money's worth for this game. It took me around 80 hours to complete the game (excluding the failed attempts where I had to load the game again, which must have added at least a couple more hours on the total), but this is without all of the side quests, Marks, Espers and whatever else. It is a very long game, and after the penultimate area, I wanted to bring the game to a close, and that is why I decided to go to the final area to complete it, rather than finish the sidequests and what not. The penultimate area, The Pharos, is so large and repetitive that I got bored and frustrated. It feels, at times, that there is too large a gap between cutscenes to move the story along, but this is simply because I am a tactical and patient gamer - I can spend a while battling wild foes over and over, collecting loot, EXP and LP. You must look at this game as not only a game, but also as a story, because it is very well written and directed. The cutscenes, I must admit, are a bit too long sometimes, but I do recommend that you watch all of them and do not skip them, because it is important that you watch them all and take in the story to get the full Final Fantasy XII experience.

      I was always intrigued, and wanting to progress. When I wasn't looking forward to seeing what weapons and Magicks I could buy at the upcoming city, I was looking forward to the next location, or the next chapter in the story. However, as the end of the game approached, I felt it drag. There were flaws, and very ineffective moments (and really corny moments). The game would introduce new characters late on, and try to create drama around them, when really we couldn't give...about them. The story was always fantastic for a game, however, and this is why you should take Final Fantasy XII as a story, as well as a game.

      The final location consists of the party aboarding the empire's Bahamut airship, where they must defeat Vayne (the newly appointed leader of Rabanastre) and sort out the nethicite nonsense. It all brings itself to close, as you must fight creatures and guards, before facing a total of four bosses, before the final cutscene. I do not plan on spoiling the ending, but there is a 'one year later' scene, which is accompanied by the Final Fantasy XII theme song 'Kiss Me Good-Bye' by Angela Aki. Now, a lot of the characters of the party in Final Fantasy have something in common: they've lost loved ones. Vaan has lost his brother and parents; Penelo has lost her parents too; Basch was abandoned by his twin brother; Fran is no longer welcome by her Vieras, after abandoning her way of life, and Ashe has lost both her husband and her father. With this in mind, the final scene is emotional. You can easily say 'well, it's only a game', but you could say the same for a TV programme or a film, too. Nonetheless, the final scene can be perceived in many a way, and can relate to many a person. Have you ever lost somebody you loved? The beautiful imagery accompanied by the deep and meaningful ballad 'Kiss Me Good-Bye' provides a perfect conclusion to Final Fantasy XII, and if by this point you'd lost track of what it is you loved about Final Fantasy, this, somehow, as if by Magick, reminds you all over again.

      I haven't played any other Final Fantasy game, but I have read by others that it isn't as good as other games. Whether that is true or not, I have reviewed this under my circumstances, and believe it to be a very good game. There are not many games out there that provide the player with hours upon hours of gameplay (and you can choose how long you drag the game out for), a gripping storyline, a well directed story, raw emotion, stunning visuals, some good accompanying music and a fantastic gaming experience, but Final Fantasy XII achieves this. Yes, it gets boring and slow at parts, but this game is what you make it. When you return to places in the game that you hadn't been to since you began the game, you realise that it's actually been quite a while since you actually did begin it. It feels like you've been on a journey - and a satisfying journey at that. Final Fantasy XII is a beautiful experience.

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        29.04.2010 23:32
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        Well worth playing and falling in love with

        I recently reviewed FFXIII for the PS3 and mentioned this title as the one I really fell in love with. Here's why; the graphics are mind blowing, the gameplay is great, the 'gambit' system is a real innovation while not quite perfect it's a breath of fresh air and the story, while complicated, is gripping and addictive.

        What you do: The gameplay revolves around a central character Vaan, a likable protagonist, an orphan who wants to create change for his world after the enemy invades and creates war. The party builds up with several mysterious characters turning up, with their respective stories coming out steadily throughout the game. At the start, you may be inclined to ask; where's my game with this, albeit beautiful, movie. It's so true, the game is to start with slow, but definitely beautiful. However, in next to no time you'll be off exploring, there are loads of side quests to do as well as the main ones with many monsters to fight, some to run from and loads of places to explore for treasure for new weapons, money etc. The rest of your quest will involve trying to come with effective gambits, which can be pain, but when used correctly, can put away enemies in a flash. The battle system is great, and is seamless with the rest of play, but this means the enemies lose some of their impressive size etc. Another (unfortunately) major part of the game is leveling, when you reach parts of the game, you inevitably won't be a high enough level to defeat the tough boss or a particular enemy, thus a great deal of time has to be spend leveling characters with remedial fighting.

        Graphics and Sound; these are unbelievable. You have to remember that its a PS2 and not in HD, not powerful and is using a DVD not a Blu-Ray disc. The graphics and sound quality that comes through is amazing. It looks cinematic and the design of the worlds and characters is incredible. You feel the potential of the PS2 has been reached.

        Opinion; I think this game really is fantastic. Well worth buying. Seriously, there isn't another RPG out there like a FF game, and this is the best yet. Many people say FFX was the best, but I fell in love with this game because the story grabbed me and gripped me, the learning curve wasn't too steep, the gambit system is a good innovation, graphics are great and the game plays out like a traditional RPG, something FFXIII doesn't do.

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        04.09.2009 19:26
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        These games just keep getting better and better, this is no exception

        The 12th game in the official series, and it's not showing signs of getting old or losing steam.

        As usual of late, you play a male main character with a feminine edge, in this case an adolescent by the name of Vaan. The story revolves around Vaan and his troupe prancing around the world in an attempt to save it.

        The first point to bring up here is the battle sytem, as it's ever so different to previous games. Instead of picking your moves in a turn based system on a seperate battle field, battles take place on the field of play, with all enemies visible and no surprises to be had. The player can set up 'Gambits', which is an AI system used to control characters. When certain requirements are met they will perform certain actions based on their gambits, for example, if you set up the gambit 'Ally Health < 40% : Cure' when one of your party's health drops below 40% that character will cast the spell cure. At the same time, characters are controllable manually if you choose, any action can be overridden by selecting an action manually. This makes the game flow a lot more but still allows the player to feel involved, which is great.

        The story is good and long, meaning you'll spend hour upon hour immersed in this world, and there's plenty of mini games to keep you entertained when you don't feel like completing the story for a bit.

        You will occasionally find that a bit of grinding is needed; you will come across a boss that's too hard and be forced to level up before being able to beat it, meaning walking around enemy infested areas and fighting to gain levels. Thankfully, this is a much more enjoyable experience than in other games as if you set your gambits up right and find the right are to fight in, you can pretty much just leave your characters to it for an hour or so only controlling their movement towards the next enemy, rather than constantly having to walk around, hoping you'll have a random encounter or 20 in order to level up.

        The series is always changing and innovating with every new title, and this one is no exception, as seen with the improved battle system. Another improved upon feature is the way one equips items and spells. A character can't just pick up an item or spell and use it right away. Of course, one must have the right amount of MP for a spell, but one must also have a licence. Licence points are earned after every kill and are usable on the licence board. Here, one purchases licences for spells, armour, clothes and weapons, along with the summon Espers that I shall discuss later. In order to purchase a licence, you must have bought the adjacent licence to it, otherwise it remains unnatainable, and often hidden. This is a great feature, as it means that you can't just go picking up a super strong weapon early in the game and obliterate all in your path. It creates a smooth difficulty curve that's not so steep it becomes a wall, but not so shallow it becomes more of a paving stone.

        The summoning of powerful beings is nothing new in the realm of Final Fantasy, it has been a staple feature for ages. In this game, the summons are called Espers. In order to gain access to an Esper, you must first beat it in battle, no simple task, let me tell you. After that, a new square will appear on your licence board for each character and one character will have the option of buying it's licence for use in battle.

        Once an Esper is summoned, the character in control and the Esper itself are the only characters remaining on screen, besides the enemy of course. The Esper then has a limited time to unleash oblivion upon it's enemies before it's sent back from whence it came, and play returns to normal. If either Esper or chracter are reduced to 0 HP or the Esper uses it's finishing attack, the same effect occurs and the character must be revived if dead. It's great because it means ou get a powerful companion rather than just a one move god. You can pick the strongest Esper for the job and try to ensure he doesn't get killed by healing and using clever tactics, hoping he'll be around long enough to use that super move. It's not a single shot and then you can't use them again until your next battle with full HP, it's a true fighting buddy.

        The music in this game is, as ever, beautiful and really fits the characters, scenery and setting. I could spend hours listening to some of that beautiful music, and hours still just on that epic Final Fantasy harp theme.

        The graphics, as expected, are wonderful, the colours are vibrant and full of life when needed, dry, hot and earthy in the right places and dark dull and dreary where necessary. The characters are well polished and the scenery is to boot. The cut scene graphics are phenominal and seeing some of those beautiful videos is often the highlight of the game.

        Characters can sometimes get annoying, and the voice acting isn't always perfect, but for the most part, the script is well written and the voices fit the look and personalities of the characters. There are literally thousands of NPCs that populate the towns, cities and wastelands of the game and there's always some new dialogue.

        While the game does have a lot of similarities to it's predecessors, it also has a lot of differences. It's look is fairly original, and the story is too for the most part, spare the base elements. But what really sets this game apart from the others is it's level of addictiveness; I sat for days playing this game, trying my best to complete as much as I could, and still I was nowhere near completing all the side missions and sub stories, and after reading about some of them online, I finally gave up at the thought of facing a 5million HP dragon! But it just goes to show how vast this title really is, and I can't wait for the next installment to hit shelves because I'm expecting some truly great things.

        It's Final Fantasy, what can I say?

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        03.09.2009 12:23
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        well it is certainly better than FF X-2

        Will there ever be a Final Fantasy that betters the seventh installment of this series??
        This one is good but the story line didn't really capture me as did some of the others.
        In a nutshell, you play Vaan a street urchin who has no link to the story other than the fact his brother Reks served under the Captain Baschs command and died shortly after witnessing the death of Prince Rasler who was due to marry Princess Ashe of Dalmasca but King Raminas is assasinated, things all go wrong and the Marquis Ondore (who actually narates the game) pronounces both Basch and Ashe dead as the two main empires, the Archadian and the Rozzarian prepare for battle.

        All sounds a bit 'royal' does it not?
        That is a very gentle description of the story as to give away any more would give away the story line which does have it's twists but didn't really captivate me as some of the other games in the series did.
        But for it to try and better what was possible the best game ever to be created is by no means an easy feat...
        Other things include Mist, License boards and Espers...
        9/10

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          11.08.2009 17:35
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          The worst Final Fantasy title to date.

          Final Fantasy XII is a role playing game from Square Enix developed exclusively for the Playstation 2.

          This game stars our hero Vaan a street urchin who wants to become a Sky Pirate, the supporting cast include his friend Penelo, Basche a sky pirate, Ashe a warrior princess, Fran a Viera warrior. The storys focus is mainly on the politics and conflicts of the world of Ivalice and the character development takes a back seat, I feel this was a poor move on Squares part as this is easily the least compelling story and set of characters in a recent Final Fantasy.

          The gameplay engine has been totally revamped for Final Fantasy XII, turn based combat has been relegated to a more real time action based system. You now see your enemies roaming the battle fields and there is no need to enter any kind of special battle mode to engage them.

          The game uses a new Gambit system which you can use to customize how you and your supporting characters will attack, like use Thunder spells on flying enemies, engage the closest enemy, engage the party leaders target, when HP is below 10% use a potion and so on. As you progress you will be able to buy new gambits which are more useful. This system makes the game really hands off as your characters will do most things all themselves leaving you with the task of pressing the up arrow to move them forward! Again I am disappointed with the combat; it's almost as if the game doesn't need you.

          To upgrade your characters in this game you use the license grid, this is used to allow your characters access to weapons and armour as well as increasing their basic stats and learning new moves. This is much like the sphere grid in Final Fantasy X though improved a bit as you don't need to go back to unlock items you didn't get the first time around.

          Graphically this is the best Final Fantasy on the Playstation 2, everything looks good and is topped off with amazing CG cutscenes, it's good that for the first time ever we get proper widescreen support! Voice acting and music are both good quality, it's just a shame about the rest of the game.

          The weakest entry in the Final Fantasy series so far, let's hope Square can get it together for Final Fantasy 13!

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            11.08.2009 02:46
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            A million changes all at once, but Final Fantasy's structure and quality remains intact

            Final Fantasy XII is quite a remarkable triumph for Square Enix. The enduring, familiar formula upon which the series RPG traits are built have been changed in so many areas and in some cases, to such dramatic effect, that it seemed inevitable that FFXII would collapse under the weight of its own ambitions. But after eighty hours immersed in perhaps the most in-depth Final Fantasy universe yet, the feeling is the series is back to somewhere near its best.

            Given the acclaim the three iconic PSOne Final Fantasy's were met with, the following few years felt like something of an anti-climax. It was hoped the PS2 technology would allow an even grander envisioning of Square's franchise, but ultimately, beneath FFX's pretty skin lay an adventure with ageing gameplay mechanics and a listless story. Compounding the problem was the strange decision to make the sequel-within-a-sequel X-2, an unnecessary distraction for Square as they busied themselves with an online-only FF, released in Japan in 2002 but taking nearly four years to surface on a home console in the UK. Thus expectations for FFXII were slightly more reserved than usual.

            The recurrence of beaches locations, bright landscapes and a ludicrously dressed blonde hero suggested only a small departure from its PS2 predecessor, but looks can be deceptive. Indeed, in terms of the gameplay, Final Fantasy XII makes what are probably the biggest and most significant changes in the series twenty year history.

            Most extensive among them is the battle engine. Random battles have finally been cast aside, with all fights now taking place within the field of play and all enemies being visible. The player has control over character movement now so its no longer a case of simply waiting to select the 'attack' command every few seconds, though you still have to wait for your bar to fill before you can make your move and the command menu that consists of physical attacks, magic and items will be familiar to fans.

            Real-time movement in itself doesn't make a great deal of difference - you can run around a bit to distract enemies for instance, but there's no dodge or block command to react/counter their attacks. It takes a bit of getting used to but the result is really dynamic and free-flowing; all the battles zip along at a good rate and boss fights in particular require constant tactical evaluations as you judge when to replenish health and when to chance landing some critical damage.

            There's only really one small element of the battle system that doesn't excel, so I'll get that out the way first. Espers, long-time series mainstays that can be summoned to do your bidding, sadly feel surplus to requirements with all of the other stuff going on in battle. You'll rarely consider it to your benefit to use them; as doing so removes two of your three party members, leaving the remaining one vulnerable to attack and in the bigger battles, your Esper often gets overpowered before they can make a meaningful contribution. A bit of a shame really, as their special attacks are as spectacular as ever.

            For those looking for an extra layer of tactical input, the Gambit system is ideal. Basically, it allows you to customise and prioritise the exact moves your computer-controlled allies make in specific situations, with literally thousands of possible combinations and outcomes. So you can designate a comrade to heal your party when someone drops below 30% health; use fire magic on enemies vulnerable to that element or use a healing Antidote when someone gets poisoned. At first it seems like a needless complication, but it's hugely satisfying when you devise a strategy whereby own team-mates can help you out of trouble and win a fight you otherwise would have lost. It feels so different, and yet fits so comfortably - and that in a nutshell, is what makes Final Fantasy XII so successful.

            It doesn't stop there either. The standard experience points system (kill lots of beasties = get stronger) is complemented by a Licence grid. With licence points (LP) attained from defeating the various monsters in the game, you can buy licences that allow you to use specific magics, accessories, weaponry and armour as well as numerous status upgrades - think FFX's Sphere Grid, only a little more user-friendly. It allows for some degree of freedom in the manner in which you develop your characters; some may learn to use high-level Swords or Crossbows, whilst others may choose to learn healing magics or attacking spells at the expense of something else. It works well because it gives you a frequent and tangible sense that you are expanding your characters abilities, though it does feel like it's complicated for the sake of it. Acquiring a licence itself doesn't necessarily mean that you can use the designated ability straight away - so for instance if acquire the 'Flare' magic licence, you'd still have to buy the ability itself from a magic store to be able to use it, and this also works the other way as certain equipment you buy can't be used if you don't have its specific licence - checking the selection of goods in the various armouries against what your status menu says you can or can't equip can get a bit tiresome.

            The depth of the gameplay is enough to gloss over what is not the best of stories. Granted, it's an improvement on FFX but still suffers from excessive high-fantasy posturing, relying on clichés to such an extent that at times it feels at the point of parody. The cut-scenes look splendid, but are punctuated by needlessly convoluted and strangely worded dialogue exchanges, and there's still just an inkling of unwelcome pomp and pretentiousness about it all. Vaan is a better lead character than his predecessor Tidus and this goes for the majority of his cohorts as well, thanks mostly to some improved English voicing.

            Sky-pirate Balthier teases Vaan for having a bit-part role, a bit of an irony given his increasingly diminished involvement in the second half of the game. As his allies increasingly establish their roles, relationships and motivations within the bigger picture, the youngster's part seems restricted and colourless, almost to the point where you feel he's simply along for the ride, just to see what happens. The tale of the promising youngster with ideas above his station and potentially great powers is a well-worn one though, so maybe the shift in focus was no bad thing. The plot does become heavily bogged down by the middle part of the adventure, though fortunately the game-world itself remains a fascinating place to explore.

            The world of Ivalice is just enormous; the scale and grandeur is really quite difficult to describe concisely. It's perhaps the biggest Final Fantasy yet and for the first time, almost every location in the game is linked to at least one other, creating the feeling of a truly complete landscape with a very impressive structure. The locations are endlessly excellent; from the mist-shrouded Feywood to the swirling sandstorms of Dalmasca Westersand desert and the spooky swamps of the Nabreus Deadlands, exploring is a pleasure. The towns are also fantastic, particularly Rabanastre which plays the centre point to the opening few hours of play; there's so much to see and do it takes a long time for the novelty of the bustling market-city to fade. Such places are packed with people to interact with, many dropping hints or rewarding your curiosity with mini-quests or some funny anecdotes, so whilst the main story may not be all that great, the dialogue exchanges with the townsfolk go someway to making up for it.

            Compared to the lofty expectations set by its predecessors, FFXII's in-game graphics don't actually stand out a great deal. This is relatively speaking of course; the FMV's are still jaw-droppingly fine and the general architecture of the surroundings is as ambitious and outstanding as ever. However, the texturing is a little unattractive, with buildings and characters also lacking a bit of clarity and sharpness, though it's hard to complain too much as everything moves smoothly and for the first time in a main Final Fantasy game, you have full control of the camera, which is a nice touch.

            Anyone who has ever played a Final Fantasy will be prepared to tackle a bewildering array of side-quests and FFXII is no different. There are so many, the majority of gamers probably won't even discover half if they looked for them. Undoubtedly the best time-waster is the bounty hunting missions. Various characters within the game request help in hunting unique foes, each ranked according to difficulty, known as marks. Defeating them sees the player rewarded with money, items and occasionally a greater rank in The Clan - a group in Rabanastre set up specifically for rewarding hunts. There are dozens, and part of the fun is deducing where to find the creatures as you are given a hint to their location - they range from dragons and sandworms to giant wolves, rampaging chocobos and sewer-dwelling ghouls. It's easy to get side-tracked for hours is search of these prized-beasties, and they provide the most satisfying challenge of all, a few of which proving harder than the final boss. The hunts provide an excellent means of gaining experience points for your party members without it ever feeling like you have to stop for a session of level-grinding.

            On top of all this you have another quality soundtrack and a main game that, even should you chose to avoid all the additional trappings will offers weeks of play. The puzzles are mostly do-able and the objective marker on your map helps keep track of your immediate aims should you get distracted. There is still the odd baffling moment, such as the need at one stage to summon an Esper to help open a sealed door and several obscure pedestal challenges in the closing stages - but aside from this, there's plenty to recommend Final Fantasy XII to both beginners, who might find the new combat more to their liking, and long-term players, who will appreciate the raft of new features and the chance to be immersed in an adventure that has unrivalled levels of depth.

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              06.08.2009 12:24
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              My favourite of the FF series

              I'm a huge fan of the Final Fantasy series of games and have played (and completed) most of them. I love the way the combination of exceptional graphics, complex storyline and multiple sub-plots immerse me in a fantasy world. Final Fantasy XII (FFXII) is no exception and I must say it's probably my favourite of the series. As with all the Final Fantasy (FF) games, this is a RPG or Role Playing Game, where the player takes on the role of a hero in a world that needs saving.

              In FFXII you take on the persona of Vaan, a young street rat, a mere boy whose brother was treacherously murdered 2 years ago and while looking for revenge Vaan finds himself in a position where the fate of his home town and indeed whole world falls in his hands. The plot is well thought out, if a little contrived in places and needs to be followed in order for the game to be completed. As well as the main plot there are a number of sub-plots and mini-games that make this the most complex FF yet.

              Graphically speaking this is the most impressive FF yet, backdrops are beautifully rendered and look extremely realistic with very few glitches. The characters are also beautifully drawn even to the point that when the weapon equipped is changed the character will be carrying the new weapon. But, there is something very familiar about some of the characters. If you've played FFX or FFX2 then you'd probably notice that Vaan has something of the look of Tidus (the main character from FFX), and Ashe could easily be Yuna's sister. This isn't just something that I have noticed, my partner noticed it too and he doesn't play the games, he's only ever watched me playing them. The score is not so impressive, yes it is haunting, but it's also very similar to that in other FF games, and it never takes long before I turn the sound down.

              For seasoned FF players, FFXII brings a whole new system of play, from controlling characters, to battles, to levelling up and even in gaining money to buy new weapons, it's all different (and in my opinion better). One of my favourite new aspects is that the view can be changed (using the right joystick), this makes it easier to spot monsters, switches and little things that are otherwise missed. The random battles of the past are gone with the majority of monsters being marked on the map. I find this makes levelling up far less frustrating as I know where the different monsters are in any area and as they re-spawn regularly I know that I can gain a certain number of points from each area. The old system of just waiting for the action bar to fill and then controlling each characters actions one at a time has as gone, it's now possible to set 'gambits' for each character so that they automatically perform certain actions in particular circumstances. I found this a little confusing to start with, but now love the fact I can play around with these settings and so work out the best plan of action for some of the tougher bosses. Even with these gambits set up there are areas of the game that are a real challenge and one boss in particular took me a total of about five hours to defeat.

              The monsters themselves are pretty varied, with a number of different strategies needed to defeat them. They also get progressively more difficult, and there's always something to challenge your characters, even when levelled up to the max. Aeons (powerful allies) also make a return appearance, but personally I didn't find these much help in the battles. The limit break system has been replaced with mist abilities, and combining these powerful attacks can be fun, but the cut sequences are simply too long.

              With previous FF games gil, the standard currency, could be gained simply by defeating monsters, but in FFXII the monsters drop items instead of money and these need to be sold in order to buy weapons, armour, magic and potions. But selling items also leads to something called 'bazaar goods' being available, some of the rarer items can only be obtained in this way and I personally find that while this can be a little confusing and hit and miss, it does add a little something to the game. It can be quite challenging collecting all the different items needed to unlock a super-duper new weapon. Simply purchasing weapons, magics, etc does not mean that they are available for use. Each character needs to unlock licences by means of licence points that are gained after each battle. Again this adds to the challenge and it can occasionally be frustrating buying that fancy new weapon only to find you can't use it.

              The world map has also improved in FFXII, although only a few areas are available at the start of the game, this soon increases and quite early on you find that you can visit most places. (Even though if you do visit some too soon you'll find the monsters impossible to defeat). Each location is split into several areas and as they are explored they become visible on the map. There are plenty of save crystals, even if there are times that there's not one quite when you need it, and there's a new 'teleport' crystal that allows instant re-location to areas already visited. Airships are also utilised between the main cities so it's very easy to go back to different areas to complete the side-quests.

              As with all FF games this takes a long time to complete. I finished the basic story within about 60 hours, but at 400+ hours I'm probably only 75% towards completing all the side quests and mini-games. There are actually a greater number of side-quests to complete here, and some of them are very difficult and a few are extremely frustrating. I'm not going to describe them all here, but I will say that I don't think I'd have even got as far as I have now without using an online FAQ to give me the occasional clue.

              So am I recommending FFXII? Without out a doubt my answer is yes, this is simply the best RPG I have ever played. It's not just a game, but a whole world, with beautiful graphics, complex puzzles and even when you think you've finished there's something else to discover. But this isn't a fast paced action game, it's a game where you have to think about strategies, solve puzzles and think 'out-of-the-box'. The battle system is as near to perfect as it can be (although it can take a few seconds for areas to load) and although the different control aspects can be complex they are all introduced in an almost tutorial manner at the beginning of the game. The only problem that I can really think of is that as this is a PS2 game, it's unlikely that you'll be able to find it new on the High Street, although it is available at Amazon for £16.99 It's also quite difficult to find second-hand, as most FF fans (myself included) treasure their discs, but I did find this used in Game after a few months of searching for a reasonable £7.99 and think it's worth every penny.

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                04.08.2009 16:15
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                overall a great game

                My review on final fantasy XII

                This game is a Role Playing Genre

                The game takes place in a place called where there is a war between Archadia and Rozarria.

                The Playable Characters

                The game's main character.

                Vann.

                Vaan lives in the Royal City of Rabanastre, who Despises the empire, who has a longing to becoming a Sky Pirate.

                This is the character you control for most of the game.

                Ashe.

                Ashe is a Princess of Dalmasca. which has been taken over by the Empire, She wishes to bring peace to Dalmasca.

                Penelo.

                Penelo is a friend of Vann's she is always around for Vann when he needs her the most, Vann and Penelo are like brother and sister.

                Balthier

                Balthier is a Sky Pirate, has his own airship the Stral and is a risk taker who doesn't take orders from anyone.

                Fran.

                Fran is Balthier's friend they travel together assisting him on his adventures. She is from Viera, who has a extremely long life.

                Basch.

                Basch is a captain in the Order of the Knights of Dalmasca. But was considered a traitor and sent to Prison. He was set free by Vann and his friends and joined to help him clear his name.

                Battles:
                The battle system is now an active battle mode but there are no longer random battles. Your character wanders around the map and has an area around him and any monsters close by will be engaged in battles, with the aid of Gambit's (Automatic Actions).

                This battle system is real time based not random compared to the old final fantasy's which in some way better because you can see the enemy's before you go into battle. There are also target markers which consist of lines. Blue lines shows who your going to attack and red lines shows who is attacking you.

                Monsters:
                There are a huge variety of monsters on final fantasy from Cactoid (Easy Enemies to Red Chocobo (More advanced and rare) and then the Bosses of the game.

                Most of the Monsters drop Loot kind of like a bag with items that can be sold for Gil. (Money) after you kill them also you gain Experience and LP (Licence Points).

                Some times you see enemies fighting each other.

                Gambits:
                Gambits is new to final fantasy. It allows you to set an auto move to your characters i.e. if you choose Cure on a gambit which says a party member has HP below 50% then the person who has the active gambit will heal with cure on any character with less than 50% HP and there are lots of different gambits in the game which you can buy with Gil which can cast magic use items or Technics.
                You can activate or deactivate gambits at any time on your main car actors.

                Status Effects:

                Status effects are things which can heal you and make your battle easier like Regen and Haste and other status's that damage you or make the battle harder for you to win there are many different status's like Poison, Slow, Slip, Oil, Confuse, Petrify, Death, Blind, and Silence. Also if you die your status effects don't go away.

                Quickenings attack:

                and each car actor has 3 mist allocated to them

                Quickenings are like a finishing move attacks, special attacks to deal
                extra damage. When used, time stops and the attack occurs. you can also chain together everyone's Quickenings to create an powerful attack, Also, once used Quickenings drain all MP depending on how many you have on a character. They are purchased by using LP on the LP board for 50 LP. Each character can learn only 3 Quickenings, with each being more powerful.

                Summons:
                Summons are called Esper's on FFXII and can only be obtained by defeating the esper first. You can obtain 5 espers in the main quest and then find the other 7 through side quest's like Quickenings, Summons take most of your MP. Personally they are a waste of time trying to find as they are not that powerful and a pain to use.

                Magic's:

                Magic's are a vital part of the game White Magic for healing, Black Magic for attacking, and Time Magic for speed or slowing enemies, Green Magic for status effects like Protect Silence, Poison, Blind and Sleeper, Dark Magic is new and has spells like Vanish - invisible status, Reverse - Switch health and damage points on a target, Bubble - double HP

                This game will keep you going for hours on end. I played this game for 90 hours (not Straight though but coming back to the game after saving it) and I still hadn't finished the game so personally for me this is a great game to have

                Graphics are 10 fold compared to the old Final Fantasy's like VII and VIII

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                10.07.2009 00:05
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                Best in Class

                I like the Final Fantasy series, and most square Enix games, they are one of the companies, where I will pretty much put their games on pre order as soon as they become available. This review will consider four key aspects of the game:
                * Plot
                * Game play (including battle system)
                * Graphics
                * Replay ability
                Plot
                The plot is nothing new, it is fairly typical of the JRPG (Japanese Role Play) genre, with a typical save the world style, filled with clichés, yet despite this it remains engaging, it might be typical but where the Final Fantasy series really excels is in the execution.
                Game Play
                One major feature that changed from Final Fantasy X to XII (XI was an online game so I'm not counting here) is the move away from turn based combat, as well as removing the use of a separate battle scene, incorporating enemies and battles into the main map. The battle system uses what is know as gambits, basically you can control one character directly then use 'gambits' to control the other characters, basically setting parameters within which the AI works. It seems simple, but has a certain degree of strategy to it, and really does work extremely well. Another feature I like is the licence system, basically you gain licence points from defeating enemies, and use them to gain licences to use different items for that character, seems odd but the big advantage with this is that unlike previous games individual characters are no longer tied into individual weapon sets or classes, and while you tend to still have a degree of specialisation amongst you party members it does allow you to adjust them to suit your needs.
                Graphics
                Graphics look somewhat dated now especially against the images coming up from Final Fantasy XIII, but they are more than serviceable, and the CGI is impressive for the time, and the pre rendered footage is a pleasure to watch, it might not be the best even for its time but its more than adequate.
                Replay ability
                With a host of extra post game features, dozens of side quests, this game provides huge amounts of play time, and is one that you can happily pick up and play through all over again every now and again.
                Conclusion
                As has being previously stated its not that the game is particularly unique, its the flawless execution each aspect of the game mesh together, and just works. Final Fantasy it the game that all other JRPG's are compared to for a reason, it is what sets the standards, and is truly one of the best of its types, and a good introduction to the genre.

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                26.06.2009 09:48

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                Worth playing though once, fun game but no replay value

                I was a bit dubious of this game after reading about the Gambit system, liscense board and the new battle system. And as i'd give 7 (5stars), 8(4stars), 9(3stars) and 10 (0 stars as i couldnt even bare to finish it) i was worried that FF games had been destroyed.

                But having put this game on when it arrived (whilst in the middle of playing 'Lucifers Call') i immediately stopped playing the latter...and that's saying something!!
                The story is intrieging so far(i've done about 30hours)and it makes me want to keep playing to see how it all un-folds. The characters are interesting and are all pretty useful in battle.

                I love the battle system....you can still select ATB options to 'wait' and turn off gambits to have the feel of a traditional style rpg battle.....but i think the new system is great, a refreshing change. It flows really well.

                The liscense system is very good....it allows for complete customisation of each character in anyway you want. Unlike FFX where you had 1 route and you didn't have much customisation for each character. FF12 allows you complete freedom in who you use, what weapons they specialise in, spells they use, summons etc.

                The optional hunts are also a very good adition to the game. It's hard to distract yourself from the story at times but Hunting down strong monsters is a perfect way to do it. I've completed about 15 so far and enjoyed each one!

                Although it is not very good wondering around at level 10 then your party attack a level 50 enemy and you get slaughtered....but there is a skill to prevent that...just don't learn the hard way like me!

                Anyways....all in all i'd say this is the best FF game ive played and from the amount of optional stuff ill be playing for a lot longer! Deffinately worth buying if you want a slightly different...but extremely enjoyable RPG

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                24.06.2009 16:59
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                An excellent RPG and PS2 swan song

                It has been some time since a Final Fantasy game has been released that truly retained the tone of the series. Final Fantasy X and X-2 were rather grand departures from that aspect, and whilst fine RPGs in their own rights, left fans wanting for the type of game of yesteryear. Final Fantasy XII, it appears, is the antidote to this.

                The PS2 has certainly been kind to the Final Fantasy series on a visual level. As, along with God of War 2, FF12 is one of the swan song titles of the console, it's no surprise that it is a fantastic looking game, and a real surprise that the console ha come this far. It wouldn't be too far stating the case to suggest that the visuals of FF12 aren't too far removed from the cut scenes of FF7, the first PS1 FF game. It is, even now, in the seventh generation of gaming, a ridiculous achievement for the hardware it is being played on, and whilst Square Enix clearly recycled some textures from the previous titles on the PS2, they have also been refined considerably.

                The visuals aren't the only thing undergoing a facelift, though - the gameplay has been honed remarkably, although it is sure to be divisive with gamers, notably hardcore fans of the series. The random battles, which you will have considered either a great, easy way to level-up, or the bane of your existence, are gone, and instead, you can see all enemies before you encounter them. Also, the game doesn't shift into another mode or area as per the previous games: the environment where you encounter the enemy is the battle zone itself, which helps with speeding up battles and makes for a far more streamlined experience.

                Another important facet of the game is the Gambit system - it is essentially a buffer system that allows you to, to an extent, automate the activities of your party. In its most extreme forms, it means that some battles can be fought without you even really touching the controller, although that may well take the fun out of it for some players. It is overall a helpful and welcome system that makes micromanagement of tough battles easier, although some may argue that it makes the game too easy.

                There are a few little changes that I'm not too please with, though - no longer do enemies drop Gil and other goodies like the previous titles. Generally, they drop scraps and trash that you then have to sell to a merchant for Gil. It becomes quite an arduous process after a while, and whilst the previous method was absurd, this isn't exactly the most realistic series of games now, is it? Also, I'm still surprised that saving automatically restores your health and other stats - perhaps I'm just nostalgic for the older FF titles, but I always liked the Tent item!

                As far as Final Fantasy games go, this feels like a return to old form. It feels a little more rustic and austere, and the dialogue often feels rather Shakespearian. Boss battles are typically outstanding, as has always been a series perk, and the sheer scale and aesthetic of the adventure is breathtaking. FF12 may alienate some of the core fanbase with some pretty drastic changes - i.e. doing away with random battles - but there is enough here that they should identify that this is an excellent slice of RPG entertainment.

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                06.05.2009 23:16

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                amazing game

                Written Summer 2011

                I began this game two years ago during my GCSE study leave and I've finally finished it!! Been meaning to complete it for sooo long but just haven't found the time to get back into it until this Summer, and wow, do I wish I played it all in one sitting- it's such an amazing game!

                ~~~PLOT~~~
                Plot Summary (From Amazon.co.uk):
                "As war looms on the horizon, the mighty Archadian Empire begins a campaign to subjugate its neighbours. The small kingdom of Dalmasca shares their fate, and it is here that our tale begins.

                Two years after the fall of Dalmasca, the citizens are without guidance and direction. In the capital city of Rabanastre, the denizens gather and await the introduction of Archadia`s new consul. To Vaan, a young man living on the streets of Rabanastre, the Empire is a hated enemy who took the life of his brother, the only family he had left. In an effort to exact revenge, Vaan hatches a plot to break into the palace and steal from the occupying imperials. There, he gets more than he bargained for as he runs into Princess Ashe, the sole surviving heir to the Dalmascan throne. Together, the two will embark on an incredible journey through Ivalice, tracing the mysteries behind the Archadian Empire`s invasion. The choices they make will determine the very fate of the world."

                I was completely immersed by the storyline much like any Final Fantasy game and wow is it deep and mystical. I'm so easily addicted by these games because of how real and imminent their problems seem to be! I thought this particular plot was quite emotional in terms of the characters involved and there was quite a lot of drama going on!

                The movie cut scenes which play throughout the game were very good though at times a bit long when you just want to go on ahead and slay that next boss! Thankfully they can be skipped. However, I love watching them as they add so much more to the dynamics of the game and the characters.

                ~~~GAME PLAY~~~
                The six main controllable protagonists (Vaan, Penelo, Basch, Balthier, Fran and Ashe) each have their own unique personality, their diverse personas enriching the storyline as well as battle with their unique traits and stats. Side characters are also lively and a few will join your party at times to give you added help!

                My favourite character was Ashe and Basch as they were my strongest- they also had the coolest 'Mist' abilities, which are their 'Super' powers. They can be used any time in battle as long as they have MP (Mana points/Magic points) which allows them to cast spells as well.

                Battle is conducted live and not turn based like previous games. This gives it a slightly more exciting and tense feel, though is pretty fun once you get used to it. You can give commands to each individual character to override the automatic actions queued for them through the gambit system (a system where you set a series of conditions and responding actions for characters e.g. if ally < 50% HP, cast Curaja (healing magick)).

                Apart from Magick spells, characters can attack physically with weapons. A wide range of different weapons are available: axes, swords, bows, hammers and more which come both one handed and two handed, some with elemental powers too! You encounter weapons of different attacking power as you progress the story, or by purchasing them in shops at different towns and cities, where you can also buy other useful items such as new magicks, gambits and useful travel items.

                The world of Ivalice is HUGE and each city has it's own character to it. I loved exploring each city and often got lost given how gigantic they could be sometimes, but each one is absolutely stunning. I was mesmerised by the beauty of game settings. Even in destruction, the detail was fantastic.

                In order for characters to use the weapons and spells they've bought, they'll need to unlock it using the new license board feature. LP (license points), the currency to purchase these licenses, is earned in battle by killing monsters. The board is pretty large and I found I finished the game without unlocking all of which as well as a large proportion of it contains licenses for rare objects you have to hunt down so you find you won't need to unlock a lot of it.

                ~~~DIFFICULTY~~~
                It was most difficult at the beginning of the game as you start off with few weapons, little cash and hardly any experience. A lot of grinding (levelling up) is required in order to beat certain bosses. However, towards the end of the game, things went pretty smoothly and I didn't get any game overs. I beat the game with all characters at around level 50 and the final boss was surprisingly reserved- only used three of my characters and he didn't manage to kill any, whilst a monster in the dungeon just before it killed 5 of my characters!!

                ~~~GRAPHICS~~~
                Graphically, the game is pretty amazing even for today. I'm not really a person that bothers about the latest graphics; as long as the game play is good, graphics is less important.

                However, the movie cut scenes, settings and the when magicks are used are all impressive, runs very smoothly and definitely still competes with 3rd gen games. You do notice some flat mesh qualities with some of the characters' hair but that's about it.

                ~~~OVERALL~~~
                Despite taking just under 80 hours and spread over two years to complete, Final Fantasy XII is one of my favourite games ever due to the immersive story line, complex battle system, beautiful graphics and an all round exciting experience. This is definitely one of the games you must play before you die, at least for the PS2, and I would highly recommend it to all RPG fans!

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            • Product Details

              War was on the horizon. Seeking to strengthen its base of power, the great Archadian Empire had been invading and subjugating its neighboring kingdoms one by one. The small Kingdom of Dalmasca, the stage on which this tale is set, was one such kingdom. When the occupying Archadian forces established a new consul in Dalmasca's Royal City of Rabanastre, it caught the attention of Vaan, an urchin living on the streets. To Vaan, the Empire was a hated enemy who had taken the life of his brother-his last surviving family member. Vaan hatched a plan to sneak into the castle housing the new consul and pay him a surprise visit of sorts. Once inside, he thought to unburden the consul of one or two of his treasures. But before he would have the chance, Vaan got far more than he bargained for; a resistance movement of former Dalmascan soldiers rising up against the Archadian Empire was launching an assault!