OK! Enough hating on Japanophiles. Their lot in life is hard enough; they think an entire culture can be boiled down to softcore T&A anime, after all. Instead, let’s talk above love. And by “love” I mean “Final Fantasy XII.”

I’ve been going on for more than half a year about how completely great FFXII is, and now that the game has been out for a few days I assume most people have been able to work past the kinda pokey bits at the outset of the adventure and into the much more enjoyable experience that begins to take shape around the 10-hour mark. So! It’s reader feedback time. I want to hear your opinions about the game. Love it? Hate it? Spill.

I’m hoping most people share my POV, i.e. that it’s absolutely great. I can understand, intellectually, why some people might hate the game. But emotionally, and strictly in terms of taste, I think it might just be the finest RPG ever to grace a console.

P.S. I wrote an awful lot about Twilight Princess. That’s pretty much been my whole week, so please be kind and read it. At least the non-spoiler bits, anyway.

88 thoughts on “LOVE SONG

  1. Regarding TP: Monsters, you say, are tough and quick to attack. The game is more difficult than Wind Waker. THAT IS AWESOMETOWN.

  2. 1) Any character design that makes me pine for Zippers Nomura should never have seen the light of day. Since that’s the entire main party sans Balthiel, yikes.

    2) I think the first VA without a more-or-less stilted British accent (or British-Indian, yeeesh) showed up in Mount Sillyname. It’s a bit much.

    3) Speaking of localization, I think I’ve had my fill of inverted sentence structures and painfully obtuse faux-Shakespearean dialogue. I’ll be looking for Daravon’s name in the credits.

    4) While getting two-shotted by an elemental angered by a Gambitted Protect refresh brought back fond memories of FFXI, it’d be nice if they didn’t do that. Or if gambits were smart enough to not steal twice, that sort of thing.

    So I would have to say that it is Not The Awesome. But mechanically, it’s very solid, and it’s nice to be able to break the game with a Main Gauche + Gauntlets + Decoy combo making my tank more or less invincible and wade into areas far over my head with a minimum of invisible walls or blockades stopping me.

  3. I want Twilight Princess so bad. And I wasn’t even a great fan of Ocarina of Time. My dormant Nintendo fanboy genes are rapidly taking over my judgement. Which is probably a good thing.

  4. I love FFXII. I really do dig this game to the core. I think it is definitely has reminded me of the dusty PS2 although I did play Okami which is recent. Anyway Parish I am a huge fan of yours. If you were a band I would be that really annoying guy that throws a 45 of your debut album and a sharpie on stage and actually expect your vision to catch it. O well…your performance and a beating by security’s alright too. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that your Twilight Princess preview was great. I skipped the spoils and I totally was made giddy by this week’s subtle hinting. Keep It up J!

  5. The slowest start EVER for any FF game. Its merely upon the strength of the characters and setting that made me wade through the meh first 10 hours of the game, which I guess, is a good sign. Once you get more gambits and the kid’s gloves treatment stopped it’s a really awesome game. Totally in love with the world being that it is probably the most fleshed-out of all FFs, and for once it feels ancient and dangerous- filled with creatures you aren’t supposed to fuck with.

    Unfortunately the game sagged for me towards the end, and the story takes a very big dive when they decide to throw out the characterization they’ve built up the past 90 hours when people start doing things without much in the way of motivation. Left a really bad taste in my mouth :/

  6. o Yea. FFXII actually has a compelling story and I think the voice acting is absolutely stellar compared to some of the mickey mouse club talent they scored for FFX. The dialogue is well done which helps in regards to that. The CG speaks for itself. Best FF in a long time. I really was not expecting this killer of a game. Its epic. Sorry for my Parish frothing but I almost feel like Im going to go to the polls on the sixth to elect Jeremy

  7. I personally would recommend going on the seventh rather than the sixth. Although I suppose too early is better than too late.

    Haven’t played FFXII. I kinda broke up with the series after X. I’m willing to give XII the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s far better than that terrible, terrible demo that came with DQVIII–but still.

  8. Honestly, I know this isn’t what you’re hoping to hear, but I’ve pretty much given up on the game about 7-10 hours in. It’s just unplayable to me, and it would feel like a chore to play any more.

    I knew going into the game that it wasn’t going to be my favorite FF or anything — medieval war stories interest me not — but I was at least hoping for a good battle system and the game really managed to disappoint me on that front :/ .
    There’s just so little to DO. The battle system mostly involves standing next to monsters and watching your ATB bars fil up, and pretty much all the areas I’ve seen so far are huge morasses of repeating textures and geometry with only a handful of monster types per area. None of the dungeons have any kind of puzzles or unusual characteristics or anything (at least not so far), most of the treasures are randomized and worthless (I’ve opened chests that contained A SINGLE GIL) so there’s no incentive to explore, there’s no mini-games or sidequests (aside from more monster slaying), the License Board system is generic as hell, all the characters are basically identical … there’s just NOTHING GOING ON in the game. It’s so … empty.

    I know that part of the idea of the game was to adapt some of the gameplay of MMORPGs to an offline game. That could be a good idea in theory, but I feel like they ended up with all the BAD parts of MMORPGs — the endless monster grind, the sprawling areas to get through — and none of the good parts. So far it seems like the whole game is meandering through featureless maps while the party auto-fights the same monsters over and over :

    I hope you don’t take me for some kind of rigid traditionalist or Kitase/Nomura fanboy or whatever. I love old-school FF, I love new-school FF, I loved Vagrant Story, but FF XII is just boring me to tears. I was excited when I originally heard what they were doing with the battle system and I was hoping it would be a lot better than this :

    Sorry, that’s probably more than you wanted to know about my feelings about the game, but as you can tell, I’m pretty sorely disappointed by the game and wanted an excuse to vent.

  9. I’m not sure if I’d say it took 10 hours to warm up, the game seemed pretty much full on about 5 hours in, once you’re escaping the castle dungeon. From that point on, though, to where I’m at now (just past Viera woods), it’s been way better than any other FF game, and most other RPGs. The fact that you can remove Vaan from the party is like icing on the cake.

  10. Thanks, Paul, but you can stop now. It’s getting a little weird.
    I keep forgetting that people still play games for the story. I’m so sick of video game “plots” that I’ve grown to consider them an excuse to trash bad guys at best, an impediment at worst. Maybe I like FFXII so much because it’s the first single-player J-RPG in about a million years not to put plot ahead of doing my own damn thing.
    The endless-steal Gambit problem confounds me, too. I’m absolutely positive that I had Steal slotted in as Vaan’s top Gambit in the Japanese version and he had the good sense not to keep trying to swipe stuff from already-plundered bad guys. I’ll have to go back and check on that.

  11. “Maybe I like FFXII so much because it’s the first single-player J-RPG in about a million years not to put plot ahead of doing my own damn thing.”

    I think you wrote II with the wrong set of numbers, JP :p

  12. parish- have Vaan steal at 100% HP, have someone else hit the highest HP mob with both of them prioritizing mobs below 50%? keeps things moving along at a pretty good pace.

  13. I have not yet played FFXII.

    I am pessmisitic that I will enjoy it, mainly because it is the apparent inversion of FFIX, which is a game I absolutely adore in spite of that fact that it recieves the brunt of so much criticism.

    FFXII looks big and polished in all the ways that completely fail to charm me. The art direction seems impressive yet lifeless, the story seems excessively epic to distract from engrossing character story telling and combat modeled after MMORPGs turn me off. The rich customization options are nice, though.

    I may change my mind when I actually get a chance at it but I’m in no hurry.

  14. “parish- have Vaan steal at 100% HP, have someone else hit the highest HP mob with both of them prioritizing mobs below 50%? keeps things moving along at a pretty good pace.”
    This sounds disturbingly like Math Blaster.

  15. Ohhh yeah. I haven’t gotten far enough into the U.S. version to get the advanced targeting Gambits… I forgot about that.
    But “lifeless,” Mewd? Really? I feel like it’s the first PS2 RPG I’ve played that feels alive rather than generic pastel faux-anime drek. I really love that the in-game character models try to capture Yoshida’s brushstroke art style rather than striving for smooth, plastic “realism.”

  16. I got FFXII and Phantasy Star Universe at the same time. FFXII saw about three hours of play before I got bored and went back to PSU.

    I hope one of these days I might touch FFXII again…one of these days.

  17. Also, having just read the non-spoiler part of your Zelda preview, I’m basically frothing at the mouth for this game. I actually feel like I did when I was thirteen and anxiously awaiting Ocarina of Time.

  18. Final Fantasy Tactics was probably my favorite game until Resident Evil 4 came out, so I was looking forward to FF XII. My only nitpick so far (18 hours in) is the License Board setup. Some of the stuff in there I just find completely pointless, but I guess pointless things to me would be good for other people and their worthless stuff would be good for me.

    Whatever, I’m itching to play more FF XII, but these crazy things called “sleep” and “work” keep getting in the way.

  19. I am about 24 hours in thus far and it has become my favorite in the series surpassing Final Fantasy IV. Everything about this game is amazing and I think anyone who enjoys RPG’s owes it to themselves to get it.

  20. Thanks for splitting up the Zelda review like that! I was really curious to read about the controls without learning too much of the plot.

    And I am all about the storyline in video games where they matter. In some games they just get in the way, but if I didn’t care about stories in video games all I would play would be sports games.

  21. I really believe that it is the best Final Fantasy game ever and possibly the best console rpg I’ve ever played. Putting into context the only Final Fantasies I “loved” were V, VI, Tactics and Final Fantasy Legends (Mana 1) and I really have a general distaste for the Nomura produced FF. I think the combat/gambit system (once I got Fran and Balthier) was what pushed it over for me from enjoyment to love.

    The question is, will I put it down when Zelda, my favorite franchise ever, comes out ever? I think so. What about everyone else?

  22. I’ve never liked Zelda, except all the gameboy renditions. Wierd, I know.
    Ironically, it always just seemed like a boring monster grind with no real rewards for combat.

    Anyways, I just thought I should add in, I wish it was possible to do nested gambits in FFXII, for the full BASIC-style command system. You know, instead of simple IF/THEN stuff, you could have:
    IF HP > 50%, and IF MP > 20, THEN cast fire, else CURE.
    Rough example, but you get the idea.

    Oh, and I enjoy FFXII because it means I don’t have to do all the random combat anymore, I just set gambits to auto-fight any aggro monster I approach, and it takes care of the rest. So sick of random battles and having to select ‘fight’ in RPGs… Finally, they remove the game bloat! Now I can go to the next scene to enjoy the wonderfully original voice actors, and enjoy the tradiionally overly-complex story I expect out of Yasumi Matsuno. So far, though, he seemed to have skipped the usual ‘organized religion is corrupt & evil’ parts, though.
    One last note: Delita still has my favorite video game personal story of all time, but they still hide Balthier’s plot, and he is oh so awesome.

  23. It’s brilliant.

    I don’t see why most people think that pressing all the buttons for “steal, attack, poach, heal” is somehow better gameplay than freely moving while the game handles most of that on its own. Plus, it’s not like some boringly easy RPG where it would actually be enough for the game to AI itself through boss battles, which are so intense. I do have to hope that spamming Quickening/Knack chains becomes less overpowering later on, though. Ripped the boss after the first Esper a few new holes instantly like that… :( (had to not spoil it, then realized I forgot the name anyway XD). Character building seems finely tuned and it’s pretty frequently a hard choice (though, I’m mostly investing in Augment licenses so far, since extra HP and whatnot seem good).

    It’s also damned beautiful and has a nice soundtrack (not my favorite Sakimoto but definitely nothing to complain about). Oh, and the ace in the hole is skippable cutscenes.

    Favorite PS2 RPG? No. Not yet anyway. BoF V was restricting as hell and definitely not for everyone, but I loved that, and my favorite of all is Radiata Stories, even though that was too easy, since it also gave you way more to do on the side than any aspects of the main plot.

    Also, the “The Hunt Begins” text is cheesy as all hell. Sweet!

  24. I keep going back and forth on FFXII. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it and that’s mostly due the battle system. I don’t like MMORPGs and that this one adopted a lot of MMORPG traits is kinda off putting. The Gambits are neat though– diverse enough to be flexible, but not overly complicated.
    What I really like is the challenge it’s presented me so far. That there are monsters that just pop-up and kick your ass is awesome and I really like the emphasis on status effect type attacks. Also good is the license board, because it allows for lots of customization and the diversification of the characters, if you play it right. I also love how much territory there is to explore.
    This is the FF for people who would rather wander around the country-side than be pushed through plot check-points. I would like to see more reasons to explore and I hate the random treasure chests, but just walking around seeing the sights is a lot of fun. Also, what I’ve seen of the story is pretty good and, at the very lest, it seems to be something completely different from past FFs.

  25. I’m not saying that FFXII doesn’t look good, but with the massive influx of playworthy stuff coming in lately, I’m going to have to hold off a purchase until January or so.

  26. i’m about two hours into it, and i just can’t get the hang of the combat system yet. i’m sure it will come, but i just keep getting crowded out by enemies and overwhelmed. It makes me yearn for the days when an encounter had a fixed number of badguys, and not some sneaky fucks who would catch you when you weren’t looking.

  27. It says a lot when the major complaints I have are regarding the camera. It feels too claustrophobic, as it’s up too close and low to the party leader. During combat, it would be better if it zoomed out a bit because I end up spinning the damned thing around to keep watch at the casters in the back. Also, why do they reverse the x-axis? WHY!?

    Oh, and while I’m at it, did the entire cast have brain freeze with the pronounciation of marquis? Or are they trying to say it differently?

    Other that that and the fact that it is more slow to start up than any other FF, it’s amazing. When it gets going, it’s complex, quick, beautiful, and totally immersive.

  28. “Mar-kwis” and “mar-kee” are equally valid pronounciations. The latter is just more commonly used because there’s no better way to appear cosmopolitan than to rock your Qs and ending consonants like a bona fide Frenchman.

  29. Also waiting for January. Between Contact, FF3 and the Wii launch I just don’t have enough time for it, but it sounds great. Not everyone likes it, but it seems the people who like the same games I like like it.

  30. Final Fantasy XII. Also known as, Square’s public apology for the mess that was FF X-2. Okay Square, I recieve your reparations with a hearty smile. Thank you.

  31. Skipping reading the comment thread for now for fear of FFXII spoilers, but yeah… I am hoping I get out of this dungeon soon (about 7 hrs in now). I just wanna go back and kill that darn wolf that was kicking my ass. Is that too much to ask? But yeah, it sure is pretty, and the systems show promise once the develop some more. Though I have a hard time deciding what directions to develop the characters in when I have to acquire everything new twice (License and purchase). Anyway, I’ll be back to read the comments after I’m farther in.

  32. I don’t know if I’ve just grinded too much or what, but its kind of off putting when I can one-shot the first Judge with a Mist Quickening. Other than weirdness like that, though, I’m loving the whole package, especially that soundtrack.

  33. J, I can’t afford to get FFXII in the same pay period as Gears of War and Guitar Hero II, so it’s going to have to wait, but I do want to thank you for all the Contact recommendations. I’ve been working through that slowly, and it’s fantastic. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up without your constant promotion (and the same goes for Megaman ZX), so thanks for that at least! Sometime around the time you’re in full Wii/Launchageddon mode in a month or so I’ll probably come back, late to the party, and thank you for the FFXII recommendations, but for now, thanks for Contact! (And thanks Tomm!)

  34. If I was paid to say it is a great game I would say it is a great game. But no one is paying me, so it is not a great game. Avoid like the plague, 1 out of 5, etc.

    Play Wizardry 8 or TES:Oblivion instead.

  35. I wish I could get the US version before Christmas, but since I’ve played the Japanese version I decided to get FFIII first. Maybe the battle system seems fresher and new to me because I never play any MMORPGs and thus haven’t even looked at FFXI. But for the most part, when I heard that the guy behind the FF Tactics Ogre Battle series was making a mainline Final Fantasy, this is pretty much what I expected.

    I do wish that they’d get some new CG modelers for facial features, though- Ashe’s face is still too similar to faces from FFVIII on forward, and we don’t have Nomura’s skills to blame this time.

    (Incidentally, Parish: I probably never mentioned it before but I bought Vagrant Story based pretty much on your writings about the game and enjoyed the hell out of it. Until my PS2 ate its CD-ROM-related components. :( But anyway, thanks!)

  36. FFXII is the most incredible game experience I’ve had in some time. I adore nearly every aspect, from the battle system, to the characters, the graphics, and even the storyline is decent thus far. I’ve been yearning for a battle system like this for years, but I thought it would come in the form of a Star Ocean sort of game first.

    As far as stealing goes, I don’t gambit it yet. Everyone is set to heal and attack, while my main character steals once, which sets everyone else off onto their attack pattern.

    For those that don’t like the gambit system… don’t use it! You can choose each character’s actions, with each enemy encountered, and it would play out like classic FF; so I don’t understand the few complaints I’ve seen.

    The lack of random battles is an incredibly necessary evolution for all RPG’s to make. I seem to really only enjoy RPGs without them anymore, I just shake my head sadly whenever a new game is released with them. This is probably part of the reason that I’m such a TRPG nut. *Fingers crossed for another Yasumi Matsuno tactical game.*

  37. You were completely right on about FFXII. I’m loving it. The lack of random battles , huge maps, and the semi-random treasures make going back and level grinding actually enjoyable at best and at the very least not tedious at worst. The character customization feels a lot live V’s, and I love that each of the weapon types have actual differences in how they are used. I’m still waiting for the story to pick up, but FFXII has already become a classic in my mind if only for the system and the world design.

    My only complaint is Fran’s voice actress and her “wandering accent syndrome”.

  38. so i played some more, and i’m getting really tired of staring at sandy blond characters running around a sandy blond desert fighting sandy blond monsters. Its like i’m being overwhelmed by japanese fetishes every step of the way.

    If this game wants to be all open-no random encounters or whatever- then it needs to go all the way and become an action game. There’s nothing more retarded than sitting there watching vaan and penelo circle some hyena while they wait for their bar to fill to attack while getting pounded on all sides by monsters that you can’t do a damned thing to.

  39. I’m about twenty hours in, and I still feel as if my gambit selection is kinda small. Nevertheless, I made it so that if an enemy targets Ashe that she’d cast Oil on it, and that should an enemy be inflicted with Oil either Fran or Balthier would cast Fire on it.
    Me and this game, I think we’ll be just fine.

  40. I imported FFXII as soon as it came out in Japan – even before I had an import-ready PS2 to play it on. Months later when I did, I still can’t explain how happy I was to have the spiritual successor to Vagrant Story – not necessarily in gameplay, but from a design and audio standpoint. Everything was so meticulously crafted, from completely natural looking environments (i.e. individually crafted ‘areas’) to flawless lip-synching to a perfectly complementary musical score. It lived up to the years of hype, but at the same time, I realized that this would be one of the most divisive games in the series.

    People seem to eschew the battle system; ever since the DQVIII demo, I always saw it as Active Time Battle, in reverse. While in ATB, you waited for a bar to fill up then selected a command, in FFXII, you select your command then wait for a bar to fill up. Plus in FFXII, you have the totally useless bonus of being able to run in circles around your opponents.

    I also deemed FFXII a giant “FUCK YOU” (or middle finger or whatever colloqiualism you prefer) to players that picked up the series with FFVII – not only is the game as a whole less flashy, the characters exhibited more depth and seemed more personable and real – even through a different language.

    I could go on and on, but Parish himself has spoken enough gospel truth of this opus – my recommendation is to heartily ignore “visual pornography/Hollywood Blockbuster/directed by Michael Bay” (i.e. SHALLOW) games like Gears of War and give a little bare-chested thief one more chance.

  41. Fran’s voice actress is my favorite by far. There cannot be too many things better than a no-nonsense bunny girl who sounds exactly like Björk.

  42. I’m taking screenshots of this, because Mr. Parish going on about a Final Fantasy game with so much unending love and affection is a landmark event and worth recording.
    I rarely have the time to play console games these days, but I think I shall definitely pick this up when I can.

  43. Yeah so it’d be pretty cool if this didn’t degenerate into insulting people with different opinions. I’m interested in hearing why people like or dislike the game, not why people who disagree are big dummyheads.
    I wonder if Matsuno’s future games will take place in Ivalice, or if that’s Square Enix’s trademark now. In either case I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t poach Yoshida. (Sakimoto is already there.)

  44. I will say that the fact this takes place in ivalice thrills me to no end. I’m a total flavor-junkie, and the world of tactics is wonderfully fleshed out. What i wish we could have had was the history of Orlandau and how he became thundergod cid, or the rise of the church or something. But i’m only a handful of hours into the game still.

    Does ff12 have summons, and do they match the summons from tactics?

  45. XII has summons, but you can’t summon the tradional monsters from previous FFs (Ifrit, Bahamut, etc). To make up for it, you CAN summon the final bosses from FF I, III, IV, and V. That is even more awesome.

    On a side note, I can’t use Quickenings without thinking up Highlander jokes in my head. Does that make me a bad person?

  46. Is “visual pornography” not a redundant term? I know what it means (as opposed to plain “pornography”), but it seems like a clumsily crafted label.
    Regarding Ivalice as a staple of the series, it makes me feel somewhat discouraged. I grew up with Final Fantasies that took place in several, different settings. I have no doubt the game itself is a highly enjoyable marvel of digital craftmanship, but still, it feels weird. Though in all fairness, the same could be said about the constant reuse of the Summons, Classes or the White/Pearl/Holy spells (all of which I loved back in the day). And I just realised that last sentence automatically beats my own argument.
    Meh, I guess it’s just the power of nostalgia.

  47. “Play Wizardry 8 or TES:Oblivion instead.”

    A friend of mine got Oblivion and I tried to play it. As usual, the only good thing about a PC RPG is the character generator (I made Ganondorf). I guess the fact that you can harvest an ungodly amount of different types of mushrooms is cool, but the game never gave me a good reason to care about mushroom picking, or getting better armor, or doing anything. Sorry Emperor, but your world’s so boring I think I’ll just let Oblivion take over it. At least Diablo just lets you click repeatedly to win.
    Oh yeah, FFXII. Yeah, it rules… does anyone think Migelo sounds like Harvey Fierstein, or am I crazy/dumb?

  48. Visual pornography I meant as a definition for when movies are sold to audience based mostly on the strength of the visual effects alone, or other factors such as the ‘hotness’ of actors. Perfect example: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. This, naturally, parallels to graphical prowess in games, which is why I made the comparison.

  49. I picked up XII on Halloween after a full day of watching fourth graders splosh Blickrylic paint onto paper plates. It is superb. I think it’s the only RPG I’ve ever actually had my character walk around instead of going at full blast, just so I can look at the high fantasy architecture.

    Speaking of plot, I tend to approach most games like pulp fiction. It’s not a very good story medium, but they sure are a guilty pleasure. I -like- really getting into the characters and XII’s politics are way more interesting than the midterm elections.

    My only concern is being able to finish it in time for me to get a Wii. I don’t have one pre-ordered and I live in New York, though, so I might not get one until well after the holiday shopping season chills off, though. That won’t prevent me from picking up my Twilight Princess preorder day 1, though.

    Squall, Game Boy Zeldas are fantastic. Link’s Awakening will always be my most favouritists.

  50. You try juggling a kid, a pregnant wife and a full time job writing web pages and try to play Final Fantasy XII!!
    That was just the jealousy talking, sorry.
    I picked up the game on Tuesday morning and was able to get off work early (stupid work Halloween party) that day and play through a little more than an hour into the game. It seems like it has a lot of potential to satisfy those who love Final Fantasy for the stories and those who love the series for its detailed game play and systems.
    Actually I wrote a pretty epic essay on the experience of my experience playing the game so far coupled with my feelings about being a busy gamer trying to get into a Final Fantasy epic, but then I thought better of posting 20+ paragraphs here and decided to store it away for when I finally start that blog on loving games and being too busy to play them. I’d of course have to update it from work, the only reason I have the time right now is because my daughter is watching Dora the Explorer and my wife is (ironically?) playing New Super Mario Bros on my new DS The paradox still remains however, how is someone like me, who loves epic RPGs, especially the Final Fantasy series, supposed to experience the games when frankly there are other more important matters to attend to like family and work? And I don’t mean to sound all important about that, there actually is a part of me that is envious of all of you guys who have the free time to play this game. I still plan to fit the game in when I can, because I’ve loved the series since I was a freshman in High School, but it will probably take me several months at this rate to finish it off. I just wish there were more options besides a console attached to a TV. I also have to get my wife more into games, the DS I think is a start, but thats another subject entirely.

  51. I’m absolutely loving FF XII. Before playing it, i was afraid of the lack of turn-based combat, despite having a fair share of it in DQ VIII. Vaan looked like yet another angsty, foul-mouthed teenager, probably angry with his father or something as stupid. The story would have involved yet another Evil Guy trying to Destroy The Mana Flow, complete with hours of lame explanations about how the world was Mana .. Well, you know, yet another next-gen FF.

    Needless to say, it’s nothing like that, and i can’t stop playing it. Can’t stop as in, “i have already played it 60 hours and it doesn’t seems to be ending anytime soon”.

    There’s even a built-in challenge if you find the game too easy : never use an epser, never unlock any quickening. The game becomes way harder when you have a very low mana pool and no “i win” skills like these. (Okay, to be honest, i was too scared to mess up something with these, so i didn’t bought the license before i was well into the game. Makes some of the boss fights a lot harder, and way more enjoyable in my opinion).

    Wow, that was a long rant. Hope i didn’t bore anyone to death with my poor english skills.

    Short version : FF XII = Game of the year. Best FF since the SNES day.

  52. Ejsmith, I said I knew what the term meant. You made a fair point with it; I just thought it was a redundant word-thingy. I did not mean you were clumsy, but whoever coined it was, at least in its roots and actual meaning.

  53. Kevin, Nick Hornby recently published his part novel, part autobiography that is more or less about him buying more books than he could read. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

  54. Juan, but I ‘coined’ it inasmuch to compound two word meanings for my own benefit. :( Glad you understand it though, I just wanted to make sure the meaning hit home!

  55. Uh, apologies. It does come accross, so you shouldn’t worry there. I have seen it before in the Internets, though. That’s why I thought someone else coined it first.

  56. I’ve been having fun playing the game. This time though, it hasn’t been in that binge-like “must keep playing” manner that certain games have done (FFX and KH2 come to mind). I’ve clocked in about 30 hours, though i’ve used the time to just run around and explore, do some monster hunting and generally filling up my license board pretty quickly while only just making it to Bur-Omisace. If I had to grossly simplify the experience of this game, it would probably be “It’s very Star Wars-like”. There’s something about the mix of spaceship like vehicles, Vader like Judge armor, large deserts and the Ewen MacGregor (or Jude Law?)-like Balthier that is making me feel this way.

    When I started playing the game, I was a bit worried I was not going to like it. Not for the battle mechanics (as a diehard FFXI fan I pretty much felt at home, though maximizing my Gambit efficiency is still eluding me), but for the fact that Vaan is dumber than a bag of hammers.

    All my doubts soon faded when the unabashed giddyness inducing Balthier and Fran show up and promptly steal the show for me. However Vaan, Basch and Penelo seem a bit too generic for my liking. I felt the same way about Ashe at first, but somehow, her character has grown on me.

    I’m also finding that whoever did the editing for the localization needs to take a break from the Tracy Hickman novels. Since I haven’t been privy to the Japanese version, I don’t know if, for example, Ashe/Basch/Larsa use keigo extensively whereas Vaan speaks in that plain-spoken, but kinda slurred manner most Japanse guys talk in, but whatever the case, there has to be a better way of translating those speech patterns to English. Larsa and Basch’s lines are especially grating to listen to.

    I can’t yet yet whether this is ultimately an enjoyabale game overall, and enjoyable for Final Fantasy game, or just mediocre. I like what’s I’ve experienced so far, and I’m exited to see what’s coming up, but I’ll get to it when I get to it. Maybe I’m just getting old?

    Quick question: What is the point of measure/scale weapons?

  57. hey, there’s nothing wrong with tracy hickman =)

    my issue is that the NPC accents are some psycho blend of scots, jamaican, and new delhi by way of los angeles. its making my linguistics sensor break.

  58. I’m enjoying it. Storywise it’s Star Wars without space. The License board is okay. I much prefer the Sphere Grid. No character has really resonated with me like Auron or Vivi yet. They’re mostly just… there. I really like the voice acting. Simon Templeman as Judge Zargabaath FOR THE WIN! I like the battle system for regular fights. Not so much for boss fights. I find myself enjoying grinding (which is a first), but I long for FFX’s fantastic strategic turn-based system when it comes to boss fights.

  59. So anyone want to start counting the amount of references to other Matsuno games present in FFXII? :D

    Whats with the line breaks anyway? >_

  60. I absolutely adore it.
    Now, I am an unabashed Final Fantasy whore, I admit that. But I swear, I feel like this game was made for me. It’s Final Fantasy, it’s Vagrant Story, heck, it’s Star Wars. I’m totally biased, and I’m all the happier for it.
    I love the artistry. I love the fleshed-out world. I love the localization (everything Balthier and Fran says is GOLD. I love them). I love the openness of the license board (The Sphere Grid was neat until you realized it was almost entirely on rails, and the only real choice you get is in how to develop Kimahri.). I love the Gambit system. When my party approaches a group of enemies, steals loot, clobbers them and heals themselves, I’m absolutely thrilled. It means I have planned and prepared properly (right parameters, right equipment). I feel of sense of accomplishment from that. (perhaps I would’ve liked Carnage Heart?) What the gambit system does is allow you to take a step back from the inherent drudgery of console RPGs, so you can see the larger picture of what’s going on while all of the usual little details play out.
    I think I lost my “innocence”, as it were, when I took on the extra dungeons in FF1 Dawn of Souls. It was just floor after floor after floor of pressing A over and over. It’s not even like I had to heal or anything. It was absurd. I mean, when you think about it, even a game like Shin Megami Tensei III — with a strategic battle system that requires careful thought lest the enemies wipe the floor with you — has an autobattle function to take out weak enemies in a flash. So unless everything’s as actively engaging as Nocturne, give me the streamlined version.
    Or maybe I just wandering around the beautiful environments, and the clobbering is just a bonus. It’s hard to tell. I’m biased, remember?
    (I encountered the Foe: Any – Steal loop as well, but since then I’ve used Foe: HP=%100 and even >%70 (for when stealing misses often), and all has worked out well.)
    I was going through withdrawal when I took a break to watch Galactica last night. I couldn’t wait for it to be over so I could get back to the game. I haven’t been this addicted to a game for a while. (I did play KH2 almost non-stop, but I rented it, so I was on a clock there)
    So, awesome? Yes. Beyond awesome.

  61. I’d completely expand on exactly why I like FFXII further, but that would waste so much of your bandwidth I think I’ll just summarize it and say that it really, really, rocks the house and it gives the swift kick in the ass that RPG’s have been needing lately.

  62. If I cared about FFXII, I’d probably love it. But I can’t for the life of me care in the slightest. I probably just don’t like JRPGs–I still have that barely-unplayed copy of Dragon Quest VIII laying around. So Final Fantasy is completely irrelevant to me.
    I AM suddenly even more excited about Twilight Princess now, though. Seeing some actual previews, some actual details, and some actual people saying the Wii controls work is a lot better than “it’s Zelda, it’s going to be amazing.”

  63. I knew FFXII was going to be my favorite Final Fantasy going in. But what do I REALLY think of it?
    It’s not without its flaws. The interaction between different weapons and armor and the characters’ stats is too poorly documented. I can’t tell whether the game is doing all the messy calculations for me or whether I’d actually be doing a lot more damage with Balthier if I’d just get him something other than this crappy staff the game keeps auto-equipping him with. And while I’m sure I need to rethink my License Board choices–as much as Balthier needs to not rely on weapons, he’s worthless with the magic I had him learn–it’s hard to care when Mist Quickenings completely annihilate just about any boss or mark I’ve come across that didn’t have some sort of instant-death attack.
    I love Final Fantasy XII, but it still doesn’t transcend the barrier into becoming the Holy Grail of gaming: something I can pick up and show to a friend or family member who doesn’t play games, and make them interested enough to start playing.

  64. FFXII? Uh, maybe later on down the road. I’m going to be spending enough money this month as it is, what with a new tv and the Wii and all. The game looks pretty amazing and I’d like to give a shot at some point (if for no other reason then I almost consider it a duty to give a new FF a fair shake), but yeah… not now.

    That said, I am fighting the impulse to pick up FFV and FFIII over the next couple of weeks. FFIII I think I can resist, but a non-crappy port of V? That might just be too good to pass up.

  65. Newbie — I’m playing through FF6 right now (it kills me that they’ve made six more in 12 years!) and there’s the same equipment and stat problem. I’m not sure *precisely* what the stats signify in ANY FF game.

    Your equipment difficulties are unavoidable though — there is absolutely no way to auto-calculate whether physical defense or magical defense or agility will be the best stat bonus for your character in a particular area. The FF6 solution was to just “run with it” and always auto-equip the one with the best physical defense… if you wanted better magic defense you’d have to select it yourself.

    This “Gambit” system for programming battles might be useful in programming your weap/armor equipment. Say, “if something has better magic defense, equip it unless physical defense drops by greater than 50”. But then you still get your Ribbons or Hairpins with those super duper 1/2 MP cost bonuses — the more gambits you have for special bonuses like that, the more you know what the potential “hot” equipment is from the beginning of the game. And what’s the fun in that?

    But then, say you take gambits to their furthest limit, using them for everything shy of character movement, and allowing nested decision making and stuff like that. It’s not going to get your “holy grail” — Mom likely has NO interest in setting up “If/Then” clauses for RPG battles. :)

  66. I love it. I personally don’t know what people were bitching about with the gambit system, considering it’s completely optional and can be turned off entirely. I love the characters, I love how this is entirely political, cloak and dagger storyline, and the art direction. This game screams “VAGRANT STORY” to me, and I love it. Thank you, Squenix. You are wholly forgiven for The Dirge and Butchering of Musashi.

    About the only thing that irks me is the soundtrack. While I’ve liked Hitoshi Sakimoto’s work in the past, I really wished that he could’ve got to work with a live orchestra for more of the pieces or that he experimented more *cough cough, better sampling and equipment cough*. Seriously, after how freaking awesome the soundtracks to Valkyrie Profile 2 and (forgive me) Xenosaga Episode III were this year alone, it was a bit a shocker to hear that an RPG soundtrack that was so….lacking. Not cool.

  67. I really can’t work up the effort to bring myself to purchase this Twelth Final Fantasy. While I’m sure all of the people who hold RPGs in the higest regard will vastly enjoy it, people like me who maintain an undying love of games like Devil May Cry 3 are likely simply incompatible with such an experience. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy a decent RPG, merely saying that I’ll likely enjoy a decent action game more.
    It’s probably just as well, In two short weeks, I’ll have my grubby little mitts on A Wii, complete with Zelda, Red Steel, Metal Slug and Excite Truck. I figure that lot should keep me occupied well through Christmas.
    Perhaps I’ll investigate this 12th FF sometime next spring, after it’s gone down 20 dollars in price. Alternately, I suppose the brave commentors of this site could try to convince me that it’s better than Skies of Arcadia, the only RPG without a tangible “Action” element that I loved enough to see through to the end. To any who might attempt preforming such a conversion on me, take note: There are better things you can do with your time.

  68. On the subject of equipment, this page has some really useful info on how the game crunches weapon damage: In brief, some weapons get a bonus based on speed, magic power, strength, etc., but I haven’t really any documentation in-game that tells you this.

    Especially useful: guns bypass physical defense — in my game, Balthier can have the lowest attack power stat and do the most attack damage in the right situation; katana damage is linked to your magic power; daggers are linked to speed; and hammers and axes have high attack power but a huge variance in the damage they actually deal.

    Uh, and oh yeah. The game is completely awesome. I’ve only been a little disappointed in the boss fights — a well-done chain of Quickenings can take a boss down to 10 percent health in one shot much of the time. Mateus is the only one I’ve had trouble with so far.

  69. D’oh, just saw this entry. I’ve been playing FFXII pretty non-stop lately. I’m really enjoying it, but I keep feeling like I’d enjoy it more if I were more intelligent and strategic. I’m talking about the gambit system, of course. I just have this nagging feeling that in better, more able hands, my party would be brilliant and unbeatable, but instead, most of my gambits are just “Enemy HP=100%, then Steal” or “Ally HP

  70. Here’s an all-purpose string that’s worked well for me so far:
    1. Ally — Raise or Phoenix Down
    2. Ally HP

  71. I’m really enjoying FFXII, and I don’t even really like RPGs. So, that says something. It feels more like an action game in a lot of ways.

  72. Ah! Thanks, JH. I didn’t realize that you could do “Ally — Phoenix Down.” That would have really made life more pleasant. I was just holding out until I got a gambit like “Ally = KO” or something. This’ll really help.

  73. I did the same thing. It works for any status effect; they just carry out the action when it’s needed.

    Oh, and it’s Self — Libra, not Ally. Durrr.

  74. Thanks to this discussion I played another hour and a half of the game last night after everyone went to sleep. I actually got to my first “oh crap I’d better backtrack and go buy more potions before I go in here” point. I am very proud. :D

  75. I realize that this discussion on FFXII may well be over, but since my home internet is on the fritz I thought I might as well respond while at work.

    Personally, the game has been quite fun and a great change of pace. I enjoy the combat system, plot, music, and characterization. The game isn’t without flaws though. Just like the MMO games that the game learns from an annoying amount of level/gil grinding occurs though I admit that I am not completely sure how badly I need better weapons and armor. Though I’ve learned to steal. All the time. Good game so far though, this coming from one of “those” people who started the franchise with FF1 on the NES and still liked it, apparently oddly, during the FFVII – FFVIII era.

  76. Ah, yeah, now I feel like the gambit thing is opening up for me. I can’t believe I didn’t know you could do all of that. Thanks again, JH. With that phoenix down thing set up, I was able to take out the Gil Snapper without any trouble (finally. sheesh).

    But yeah, I’m sorta like that, too, Nicholai. I started with FF7, and it’s still my favorite in the series, but I’ve played the others (well, except three), and I enjoy them all, as well. So I don’t know, I might just be too easy to please.

  77. One other thing I realized while playing this game (I’m about 25 hours in) is that I rarely use attack magics because weapons are so effective. Yet another homage to Vagrant Story? I don’t know.
    I’m still not sure if I like this or not – first off, it’s pretty clunky to use magics other than healing spells in the first place because it’s too uneconomical with your limited MPs to gambit an attack spell, at least in the early part of the game. Therefore, you have to resort to going to the menu constantly to cast them.
    On one hand, I feel like it’s a major part of FF that’s underutilized; however, on the other, magic is used more strategically, especially during boss fights and other tough opponents. Either way, though, I feel like many of these spells I unlock are going to go unused for the most part.

  78. I’m surprised by how little I use Black magic — but I’m constantly using White and Green, due to the frequency and effectiveness of buffs and status effects. (And Time magic like Immobilize came in pretty damn handy during the mine chase sequence.) Part of the problem with magic in the early portion of the game is its relative MP cost and the fact that there’s not much available in the way of mage-oriented gear, but once you get some license points and augment someone to have cheaper and more effective magic, your party becomes much less physical in nature.

  79. If you’re talking about the mine chase with the Bangaas, after I got my ass kicked the first time, I just kept my finger on the R2 and high tailed it out of there. The radar had a sea of red following me until the exit, which was quite funny…too bad I was too scared to turn back and see what was actually there.

  80. now that i’m learning how to enjoy the game more, i’m getting sadder that not that much of the original tactics was brought to this game. I’d love to see the vedic summons of the old tactics come back here, or locations (even though i realise that this is just the other part of the map) or other links.

    but then, i’m still like 5 hours in.

  81. One thing I really liked, for sure, though, was that flowery dragon in the first forest. That really made me nostalgic for Vagrant Story (which I only ever rented). At first, though, the various areas kind of reminded me of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, which is kind of the worst mental association I could possibly make. But it’s grown on me. Unlike Curse of Darkness, this game is actually fun.

  82. Oh, you were supposed to run away from those Bangaas? Well, that explains why that fight was so tough…
    I’m loving this game. I’m not eloquent enough to put into words all the things this does right versus typical Nomura faire. Suffice to say, I’m really sad we probably wont see this from Square again.

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