Review by Darker Zen

"A true masterpiece defined by 5 years of hard work and 35 million dollars"

I know 10 is a score that should be reserved for only the greatest of the greats.. and the word "perfect" is a tad strong, but this game deserves a 10 in every department that defines a videogame. The graphics, sound, gameplay, story.. everything was so masterfully done that it enthralls you into a living breathing world that you can easily get lost in. The final, epic tale, on the PS2, and last Final Fantasy of the current generation is one any RPG fan will enjoy.. and any FF fan will drool over.

First things first, with the release of FFXII, a few new things have come to light that were never before seen in an FF title, until now.. those few new things, of course, pertain to Gameplay. The first of these new additions is the battle system. Before you go thinking, "it isn't classic FF/RPG gameplay, waaah!" let me set you straight, the only real difference is you get to move your characters around at will.. instead of just standing there in 2 lines, player/enemy parties, and trading blows, enemies can join the fray, fight with each other, ambush you and the like.. of course, this can happen just as easily for you, too. With this, Gambits are used.. which are basically preordained orders you give to your AI party members (ex. Target = Foe: 100% HP > Attack). It allows you to preselect a target and give a certain order which is then carried out automatically by the AI when the target requirement is met. Its a rather unique system that takes some getting used to, and experimenting, but I think it was implemented very well. If done right, the game becomes that much more enjoyable.

The next addition is that of the fully 3D environments. Sure, FFX had 3D, but with a stationary camera.. but with XII, you're fully immersed into a world so grand in scale, single areas will take you hours to search every inch.

The last change, as with nearly every FF title, is the ability system. In this title, something similar to the Sphere Grid of X is used. You gain License Points, which, in turn, purchase new skills like [Cure] and [+50/100/500 HP], among other things like the ability to equip certain items. This may sound tedious as you think, "why do I need a license to wear armor?" ..Think of it as earning experience until you're able to do so. Either way, the system is very well done, even though all characters will learn all abilities eventually (a la VII, VIII and X), you can start them off on different paths so they master different things in the beginning and you can create/customize each character for given situations you're in.

The gameplay is a nice change of pace.. just remember, if you choose Wait Mode.. it's classic FF only you can move, if you choose Active, it's all in real time like an MMORPG. Overall, it's very well done.. and this paragraph is long.

We also see the return of Espers, though there's new ones apart from the classic FF summons. The ones shown in this game are of Ivalice and from the FFTA and FFT games. And, they are truly a sight to see in full 3D. In battle, when summoned, they appear alongside the summoner, while the other 2 party members disappear, and the Esper fights alongside you a la FFX, until their time, turns or HP is out.

The next step is Graphics.. the first thing anybody will see and I believe they were amazing. Many will say the graphics are ugly, the characters look dumb and/or towns are drab, but I beg to differ, because its the little things that do it for me. For example, Square didn't need to make patterns on the tile in towns in place of all one color, they didn't need to make pillars with grooved edges instead of flat surfaces, they didn't even need to make designs on the ceilings instead of making them flat.. its this attention to detail, I feel, that the graphics easily deserve a 10. Sure, they look decent enough.. but it isn't until you truly look at the craftsmanship put into it, that you can truly appreciate as a gamer. Also, this was the first FF to really get deeper into facial animations and expressions. Sure, X had 'em, but XII does them right. You can truly see emotion in characters faces, even without any words, and get a hint into their personalities from body language.. yet another plus for realism in these fictional heroes.

As for Sound, I feel it easily was one of the best parts of the game. The musical score, while Uematsu is preferred by all under the Sun, I felt was delivered very well. Each piece fit the mood of the story whether it be an action filled scene, visiting a small little village for the first time or exploring through a dark, eerie jungle. The voice acting was very well done, too. I never encountered an irritating voice and every character I heard, their voice seemed just right. And, the voice actors did a very fine job, as well.

Value? It's chock full o' it. The game will last you for a good amount of time what with the exploration factor being introduced, that is.. getting lost in this world is fun. Also, there's sidequests available from the start called "Mob Hunts." These hunts have you talk with a petitioner, or client, and go hunt a particularly strong monster. Other quests are to get you optional summons, called Espers in this iteration, and rare/strong equipment, but that isn't to say this title relies solely upon sidequests to lengthen the time spent on it. The story will last you about 40 (if you jet through) to 60 (take your time) hours and easily 100+ hours with all sidequests and extra things done.

The tilt factor.. I loved it. This is coming from someone who's favorite RPG is Final Fantasy IX, but it's still coming from a true FF fan. The 5 long years and 35 million dollars put into the title truly shows and has proved to be worth the wait. It's epic, magical and loads of mob slaying fun.. along with a little political intrigue, and is easily RPG of the year, in my humble opinion. The mobs (monsters), races (like Bangaa, Viera, Nu-Mou) and foliage of FFXII were all done well and were truly a sight to see based not only on their FFT counterparts, but also upon just seeing it all in full 3D for the first time. Everything is unique within the world from the NPCs that populate the cities, hunters that slay mobs with you, thieves that ambush you and flora/fauna you discover. While it's the big things that truly leave their mark upon gamers, it's the little things that should be took into account along with it. And, FFXII is a perfect example of how a little can go a long way.

This is truly an adventure not to be missed and a title the creators should be proud of.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/13/06

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