Review by greengobrin
"A whole new Final Fantasy that leads us to the depths of medicore game design"
Ah Final Fantasy probably the biggest name in RPG history. Making some of the most memorable moments in gaming history with your wonderful game play, sound tracks, and stories that can move even the most frozen nerd hearts. And instead of any of those things you give us 100 hours of side quests and a thousand shades of bland.
Lets get the ball rolling with Sound and Music aspect of the game. Yes it verrry impressive with its various symphonic music tracks that give a supposed grandeur to the game, but that all falls flat with the pacing of the rest of the game. The main story bosses induce drooling seizures with how dull they are which really takes away from the glorious massive orchestra that is playing such dramatic music. And with all the big side quest bosses take who take around 30 minutes to kill for the weakest of them have music that just repeats itself after 25 seconds that really just bringing new heights to drawn out game play. And a lot people are stunned by the games voice acting , but in my opinion they don't seem to notice that there are more boss battle cut scenes then scenes that involve the characters actually talking. So yes the voice acting is good for the dozen or so moments where they bother using it.
So now on to graphics. Yes they do look detailed and with big impressive buildings and what not, but like the sound aspects it doesn't really execute them well. First off, there is hardly any major detail changes between Rabanastre and the various giant doom temples you run around in. They all have just that generic boring kind of design to it that only seems to change in colors between them. Also the whole massive size of the areas work against them in many ways. The city of Rabanastre seems to have sewers more expansive then the city itself. The city only has about 14 general areas worth of going to, while the sewers are a bizarre labyrinth of monsters, giant fortified gates, and water ways that are cleaner then the lower city. Just lots of strange things seemed to slip past the design team at Square that ended making the game vast amounts of amazing textures for the most random things. Also another important part of graphics the developers seemed to skip on is the usage of color in game environments. The color layout of the whole region is as follows: orange yellow to the west, just yellow in the middle, foggy green areas to the south, and orange gray areas to the east. One of the biggest playing factors in games are that they won't keep your eyes bored with the same thing and Square just seemed to blow that off with just about everything looking the same.
Story is probably one of my biggest issues with this game. The is just so little to the characters past the first 5 hours of play and they all just lose individuality past then. Really the game starts out promising with Vaan's brother being used by the evil empire to gain trust, Ashe's totally worthless marriage that lasts a total of 15 minutes and yet fleshes out to more interesting underground resistance movements, various princess related junk and whatnot, Basch's whole betrayed by my evil twin brother to make the empire look better. And that is about it to your partys development. Penalo is the around because of her BFF Vaan and just ends up standing around in backgrounds doing nothing for the story. Balthier's whole purpose behind coming is to steal Ashe's wedding ring, some magic chunk of rock, and kind of sort of not really resolve his daddy issues who may is so totally could be that crazy Cid guy who comes into the game with barely any reason. And finally there is Fran... she is the fan service bunny girl who is a almost not really could potentially may be a love interest of Barthlier if she had any dialogue to back her up. Really not only does she have the worst stats in of the characters she also really the most 'pull out of your ass' back story of any FF character to date. She is seriously with Balthier because she hung around civilization instead of the Marlboro infested woods and she ended up smelling bad and having bad hearing in the eyes of the other fan service girls and was exiled.
Finally with the story problems is the main plot itself. People seem to claim that it is a stunning and new feel for FF games for being "political" and not having a love story or an evil empire/ organization. Ya I'm not sure what game they are playing because it is like every FF except there isn't a love story being that the characters are just cardboard cut outs with weapons stuck through them. And the whole political is on the level of Arnold Schaziangianerenrrger's governing career. No real clear objective behind it and no fleshing out of what is going on to any extent. Really the party's objective in this "political" story is to run across vast amounts of wolf infested fields and deserts to beat up big statue looking things to gather ancient artifacts that are some of the worst items in the game.
Now on too the horrors of game play. First off the License Grid and Gambit system. Licenses are just a big interesting waste of time being that you drown in points for it and half of the thing is stuff you will never use at any point in the game. Its just not anything you bother thinking about or putting any major tactic into. Just dump points when you pass into the menu. At least with things like the Sphere Grid and Junctions from older games you had to really look at how you wanted to use them and it was fun to be able to make the most out of them. Now the Gambit system, really its just a way of making a large faulty AI system that your characters will screw up now matter what you do. For example you cant make them do one command like steal or something until it succeeds, they just keep doing it for no reason unless you waste the time to go back through five menus and options to make them stop wasting turns. Honestly the only thing the gambit system could do right is spam all the buffing spells if they weren't up and say if your party wants to consider healing which in itself is a joke considering you can more or less just sit around casting the heal that does your maximum health.
While I'm on the subject of magic I'll get my black magic problems out of the way. For who knows what reason the battle developers decided that only one animation and cast can happen at the same time for each type of magic. This means that when you fight something immune to magic and want all you party to spam Flare they all separately go through its 10 second cast animation before the next one can even start up leaving the boss they are targeting to wail on them with no hassle at all. Honestly the only magic that is worthwhile is Curaja and Green magic (protect shell etc.) being that they are the only thing that is sensible about magic. Also speaking of terrible lets go over the summons. They are in my opinion the coolest looking summon beasties from any FF and just really look like time was put into them. The problem being that 1: To get them you have to fight the most irritating fights in the game and 2: They all blow hot ass. In terms of the fights the ones in the main story aren't that bad, but the optional ones that actually look decent are just absurd in terms of in-battle crap to deal with. Everyone of that has either don't use physical damage, don't cast spells, drain your health constantly with nothing you can do about it, or go invincible with nothing you can do but wait 2 minutes for it to fade. This leads to drawn out 30 minute tear fests where you have to try to stay awake long enough to kill them and hope the stop casting Paling (if this will be your first time playing you will dread this spell). And when you finally get them they are a waste of 100 license points to use. They are like FF 10 summons only they are much much much weaker then any of your characters they replace when they come out and to get there limit break ultimate spell thing, you have to do pretty stupid things. For instance for one summons limit you have to cast Break on yourself wiping a character out for a small chunk of damage that barely puts a scratch in any real fights health pool. So yes they take a perfectly good set of models and FF villains and takes a dump on there chest.
Now the real stake in the heart for this game. Bosses and side quests. Side quests are in every FF game and are there for fun and to make your gaming experience a bit funnier. In this game you are almost forced to go do the tedious Hunting quests or else one you won't get the rewards that are pretty much necessary to complete the main quests and you won't even find enough money to buy a rest at the inn. The first case of just how terrible these hunts are is the Trickster fight. To lure out this 20 foot tall Chocobo you run in and out of an area and hope it just freaking appears. Then it spends the fight get large amounts of hit chains on you, running away faster then you can catch, and going invincible if it isn't moving giving you about 5 seconds at a time to try to hurt the damn thing. Oh boy its as thrilling as it sounds and they just get worse from there. Really this game is just dotted with poor choices with game play from how to unlock the strongest weapons to making any sense of the plot.
In conclusion, avoid this game like the plague it is, don't be a fool like me and spend $65 on the collection's edition. And let me finally my a quote from the last boss of the game toward the main characters which I found beautiful. "Just who are you people?"
Reviewer's Rating: 1.0 - Terrible
Originally Posted: 07/24/09
Game Release: Final Fantasy XII (Collector's Edition) (US, 10/31/06)
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