Review by Ragnarok2887

"1st playthrough - poor, 2nd playthrough - Excellent. Give it a try & you will be rewarded!"

I have to start by admitting that I am a fan of the Final Fantasy series, and have been for a long time. It is no surprise that I was looking forward to playing this game long before its release date. Having bought the game when it first came out, the anticipation of playing through another epic chapter of the FF series was almost unbearable. So I powered up the trusty PS2 and sat back in a nice comfy chair and started to play. I played for a bit, played some more, but something didn't feel right. I persisted and continued playing for a few days, however this niggling feeling inside wouldn't seem to go away. I seemed to be playing an FF game, I checked and it said so on the box ‘Final Fantasy XII'. There were the classic FF series inclusions like chocobos, summons, moogles, etc. However this feeling just wouldn't seem to relent, appearing to get worse the longer the game went on. Then one day I finished playing for the day, but I never carried on from where I had left off. This wasn't intentional, I hadn't decided to stop decisively, and I just never turned it back on. This has never happened to me before, of all the FF games I have played, I have never failed to finish one until now. Final Fantasy XII didn't seem to fit with the rest of the series. I didn't hate it, but I far from loved it. Was this due to the seemingly boring story line, the dry dialog, the characters lacking much character, the horrible camera, the game feeling like a dungeon crawler instead of an imersive RPG. I could not put my finger on one particular aspect, but this game lacked the soul of the other games of the series, and I don't believe that I was the only FF fan to feel this way. So at this time I would have given the game a 6/10 and said that in my opinion it was the most disappointing game of the series. But a year or two later I turned it back on…

I admit I was bored one day when I saw it sat in-between my other games and decided to give it another chance, and was I glad I did! This time around the game seemed so much better, I began to see not all the bad things, but all the excellent aspects of this huge game. I began to like the characters, in particular Balthier, Penelo and Basch (Is it me or does Ashe look like a hooker). The story seemed more imersive than previously. The spectacular scenery of each map was breath taking (I'm thinking walking towards Tomb of Raithwall as a good example) and you can clearly admire the work put in by the developers. I became much more interested in all the side quests that I had missed. I began to like the changes that the series had done such as abolishing the random encounters so that you see all of the monsters in the map. One thing that I seemed oblivious to through my previous play through was the weather effect on all the maps, which I think is such a brilliant idea in gaming. More importantly to me however was that I finished this twelfth chapter of the series, and when I say finished I mean completed the sky pirates den.

I love this game, and I feel kind of stupid that I didn't like it the first time round. I do think now I know why I didn't like it first time round. Being a fan of the series as many other people, we judge the game against the rest of the series first before we judge the game against itself and this is wrong. I think this is a lesson a lot of FF fans could learn as too often FF games are slated, being judged against fan boys own personal favourites instead of seeing the game for what it is. True this game has its faults (still hate the camera, and I don't have to say anything about Vaan) but they can be easily overlooked for what is a great game. Is this game the best of the FF series? No, but that shouldn't matter. Is this game a great game? Hell yes!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/01/10

Game Release: Final Fantasy XII (EU, 02/23/07)

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