Side games? Crisis Core, X-2, even XIII-2 offer tenfold what XIII offered.
Which speaks nothing of the several other side games released in the Final Fantasy franchise... you know, like Dirge of Cerberus or Dissidia?
Zero grinding needed if you want to only beat the main game
Grinding has little to do with whether a game is easy or not. A handful of the bosses and post game enemies were ridiculously strong on Normal Mode, being able to one shot your entire team unless you figured out an effective tactic (and contrary to popular troll statements, staying on Relentless Assault isn't a foolproof method to beating the game, even on Easy Mode0.
the automated battle system, there is nothing to 'master'.
Except the entire Paradigm system. Using "Auto Battle" is horribly ineffective at beating multiple bosses and post-game enemies as, as mentioned above, they can one shot your entire team. --- "S.H.I.E.L.D. takes the world as it is, not as we'd like to be." -Nick Fury http://backloggery.com/calhoun1389
The voice acting of FFXII is actually one of its strongest points, as they actually captured the essence of what the actors were asked to do
Blame the direction for the terrible voice compression, the horrid storyline, and the decision to create characters that are to display practically no emotional range of any sort.
The actual script, and delivery of lines, was excellent, and the accents seemed authentic (in most cases. Some seemed forced, but Fran, Reddas, and especially Balthier and Al-Cid, were some of the best acted characters ive ever heard in a JRPG, better yet a Final Fantasy)
Vaan, Penelo, and the one-dimensional Ashe really pulled down the overall memorableness of this games voice acting. FFX also gets an edge because that game was designed so rhat its characters could show more diverse emotion in their recital of lines, which is a trait thats often considered more relatable.
FFXII characters seem far more subdued. It fits the games story well, but its a terrible story. Cant blame the VAs for that, to me. Thats like blaming James Arnold Taylor for "withyunabymyside"
EDIT-Upon second thought i actually disagree with a lot of your points, but i dont want to post anymore essays in which i give my opinion --- Learning something new every day
If you're looking for good gameplay/battle system as a main point you have 3 choices:
FFX-2, best ATB system ever. FFXII: CTB/gambit system and seamless transition between exploring and combat FFXIII: Paradigm shifts, enough said. --- "O Admonishing melody, arise in the of Necromancer. Mystic Cage" PSN ID: Otonio_Bruno
I usually advocate starting at the beginning of the series, and now that I think of it, I'll do that here too. Since the release of the GBA versions of the earlier FF titles, FF1-6 have a much easier time of getting into. While IV is my personal favorite, I strongly recommend at least PLAYING 1-3 so you can understand how they mostly set up the mechanics for these games.
You should mostly remember that these games have a story to them, so to enjoy them actually read the text the first time. Its not just hack and slash all the time like newer JRPGs. Talk to everyone and take it slow. I don't think many people enjoy the game, they just want to watch it.
One more thing is the spin-offs, side stories, and other non-main games. There's a lot of them. I actually enjoy Mystic Quest and Legend III for the SNES and GB respectively, but there is a whole subsection known as the "Crystal chronicles" that some people love as well.
As for your first, I say start early, maybe I&II lost souls, but you should definitely try the others as well.
start with XIII,2,LR so you can go back to the old ones and see how good they are by comarison. --- Name: Mark; FC: 2148-8143-6697 "'Lightning Returns' is not a 'Final Fantasy', Final Fantasy games have 'Final Fantasy' as a title."
After looking into each I decided I'll start with V because of its job system more gameplay focused approach. I'd rather save the best ones for last anyways. --- http://abload.de/img/seinfeld-kart-finallkaaz.gif 3DS Friend Code: 2895 - 6673 - 0314 NNID: Vin_Megadiesel