Review by Liu Domi

"The 12th Installment Does Not Impress"

Final Fantasy, objectionably the predominate video game series of all time. Just as almost every other Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy XII grew up to be a best seller, and as unsurprisingly as unsurprisingly can be, topped the message boards and was instantly flooded by reviewers worldwide. Most were expecting much change or no change, better or worse, and most received what they'd expected. Like the majority of Final Fantasy players, I skipped to FFXII from FFX, and in my humble opinion, Final Fantasy XII wasn't much better, IF better, in nearly every respect.

Gameplay: 7/10

-Fighting- 8/10

Final Fantasy XII's battle system definitely was confusing from the start, however, as you continue to play through, it grows on you and garnishes your applause. From Final Fantasy X's turn based system, Final Fantasy XII makes a giant leap in the other direction with actual RPG style fighting. You command (up to) four players and travel a certain area or areas fighting a wide variety of monsters unique to those regions. Anyone who has played a game of the .hack series or anything similar will feel right at home with Final Fantasy XII and its battle system. The one downside of this new system is the repetitiveness, and occasional lack of difficulty of various enemies. No matter how anyone who has played this game looks at it, fighting gets boring as all hell as time goes on. This does not apply solely to Final Fantasy XII, and goes for nearly all RPG style games, including Final Fantasy X and others. Another bad thing about the system is the lack of difficulty of common enemies. Once your party has reached high enough levels, any new areas or revisited areas become about as challenging as a walk in the park. An upside, however, comes with bosses and rare monsters. Considering you aren't the type of player that levels up early on for 40 hours and heads out, the bosses will almost always be a fair challenge, especially early on. And even as you do grow more in level and stats, rare monsters can sometimes be considered mini-bosses, particularly if you are after their loot. Overall, the fighting/battle system of Final Fantasy XII isn't without merit, and can appeal to just about everyone.

-Level-Up System- 6/10

This system, too, has seen much change since the days of Final Fantasy X and has grown more generalized, in the sense that most RPGs employ it. As your party goes about slaying creatures great and small, the active/alive members of your party will gain experience, which transfers over into your character's levels (yes, levels, 1-99, bye bye Sphere Grid) and all your little guys will receive stat raises per each level up. Another thing that comes along with slaughtering monsters great and small is LP. This LP is used to unlock new abilities and such to also strengthen your characters (YES, the Sphere Grid isn't so dead after all!). So Final Fantasy XII keeps some of the good ol' stuff and brings in some new material, so it may not be so bad after all, however, I DO NOT like it. That's all, thanks.

-Party Customization- 9/10

Ok, so armors and such do not affect the look of your party members. However, what is much loved by me and others is the ability to equip any sort of weapon to any member of your party! WOAH, imagine the possibilities. A little, tiny girl in your party equipped with a giant, two-handed sword, or a huge, buff dude with a little, insignificant dagger or some girly star rod. I may sound a little geeky their, but I don't care, it's cool. There is also much variety in weapon choices, ranging from the daggers, to swords, to bows/arrows, to spears, to giant swords, to guns, to ninja swords… to katanas………. to rods…………………. and beyond.

Sound: 5/10

-Music- 3/10 for Old Timers, 5/10 for New Players

For those of you that care about the beautiful music that has been provided in the Final Fantasy series (Nobuo Uematsu, you genius…), it has fallen to unprecedented lows (not your best work Nobuo =(. What did Hitoshi Sakimoto do? =P). For those of you new to Final Fantasy, you may or may not like the music that comes with the game. Myself, I feel it sucks (if you couldn't already tell) for one reason in particular. That is, it is not mood setting whatsoever, which I feel has been key to the past Final Fantasies. The only song that comes remotely close to setting any sort of “mood” is in the opening of the game, which may “psyche” you up for a moment, but is as quickly lost. I came to hate the songs in the game, as it sounds like much of it belongs in some B-grade pirate movie. If playing a game silently didn't bother me to death, I would definitely mute the television.

-Other- 6/10

Battle sounds always sound the same, but for some reason, I extremely hate the sound it makes when your party leader or someone else with a sword hits an enemy. It sounds like a flat, bendy piece of metal being hit and wobbling. Really dumb. However, the sound of arrows being released and striking an enemy sounds pretty cool, like a stealthy, but whip-cracking kind-of sound. Moving on, the characters voices vary. The main, main guy of the game sounds kind of girly, as though puberty ditched him. Most of the others sound all right, so don't be concerned if you have some voicephobia or something.

Graphics: 8/10

-In General- 8/10

The general, standard gameplay graphics look more than decent, a little beautiful even. The cities, or at least the parts you can actually walk through, are beautifully colored and shaded and highly detailed. The thing that kind of sucks, though, is everyone looks the same (yes, I hated this from Final Fantasy X also), yet there is some higher amount of variety among forms, and those forms even receive a change of clothes now and again. The lands which your party bravely travel also vary much between separate areas. All of the monsters look great and leave little to the imagination. Tough guys look tough, and weak guys, for the most part, look weak. The main characters of our little tale also are highly detailed. Generally, and unfortunately, they are quite ugly. Only two of the three chicks in the party look acceptable, and only two of the three guys in the party look sort of cool. The various weapons and shields available throughout the game look pretty awesome. All in all, Final Fantasy XII's graphics definitely met expectations.

-CGI- 7/10

I am not quite sure what it is, but the CGIs do not impress me so (in contrast to Final Fantasy X's). Perhaps it is because the ratio of CGI to standard graphics isn't as wide as Final Fantasy X's was. Or, maybe there just weren't as many. They don't look bad, they are actually very good and look a stone's throw away from realistic. Just, whatever. Moving on.

Story: 3/10

Yes, 3/10 for a Final Fantasy story, brought to you by Square Enix/Squaresoft, masters of storytelling. Ask anyone in the world or go check the message boards for 2-3 minutes and you'll see… the story is quite awful. Not even awful, higher up towards bad, but about as poorly executed as a preschooler would've done. The story starts off fine, the classic tale of an untrained knight fighting until the shadow of death falls upon him and fortress falls. Then we, suddenly, out of the blue, awaken to a teenaged orphan boy, tasked with killing rats in a sewer. Around here the story takes off on it's doomed voyage. As I've said before, the story isn't so bad, but it's complete randomness and sudden dropping of something of interest makes it seem much more awful than it is. Quite frankly, it is rushed through the good parts and freezes on the bad. And, what I especially hate, the summonings, as have also been key to the Final Fantasy series' stories, are basically unimportant to the story, and placed as extras to get you to continue playing without too much boredom. However, redeeming additions come along with the game, and that's the challenging hidden bosses that take time to find let alone defeat, along with the hunts that you are free from the opening of the game to begin, well, hunting down. Still, the story struggles to grab hold of the player and sink in. Maybe the lack of in-depth character detail and development, or perhaps the lack of death being the central detail that the Final Fantasy world spirals around, either one or both, the story is not so good.

On a side note, those of you who know the Star Wars story well will feel right at home with Final Fantasy XII. How so? Play and find out, bhadra.

Replay Value: 6/10

As previously stated, the game starts off strong and quickly loses the greater amount of your attention, so starting over once you've beat the game is basically a non-issue and doesn't come without merit. However, loading up and playing the same game save goes from being fun to being a chore, something you gotta do but don't enjoy doing.

Buy, or Rent?: Rent

Basically, this game is just a bit too expensive at the moment to buy based on the minimal, limited fun it can provide you with, so for the moment, I'd recommend you go out and rent it. You will definitely be finished and satisfied within a week or two, and that $7-$14 is obviously better payment than the hefty $50.00 price tag. Perhaps once the price drops to around $30.00 or so it will be worth it, but that seems unlikely in the near future.

Conclusion and Grading:

Let me just repeat a few things, this game is mighty fine, and I do not mean to downplay it so much, but if I didn't, I would be lying. The horrible execution of the storyline, primarily, is to blame. But newer additions, such as the now wide variety in weapons and availability to equip those weapons to any character you choose is a grand new idea. Yet, the often times non-challenging or over-repetitive gameplay brings the game 2 steps back.

Gameplay: 8/10

Sound: 5/10

Graphics: 8/10

Story: 3/10

Replay Value: 6/10

Overall Grade: 6/10

But, hey, what do I know? -Liu Domi

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 03/30/07

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