Retro Review – Final Fantasy XII

Final Fantasy XII, from Square Enix, takes place in the land of Ivalice, which is more than likely familiar to you who have played the Final Fantasy Tactics series. The story follows young protagonist Vaan as he seeks a better life for himself and best friend Penelo and after a series of events, ends up in a fight to save Ivalice itself.

The story presentation of Final Fantasy XII is superb, the characters feel like they have real emotions and thoughts and genuinely make you care for them, be it Vaan’s frustration stemming from the loss of his brother or Ashe’s desire to take back her rightful ownership of the kingdom of Dalmasca. It is not unusual for a Final Fantasy game to hold a lot of character development and this entry is unlikely to disappoint.

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Combat in this entry takes many of its cues from the previous entry in the series, Final Fantasy XI, which is an MMORPG. One might wander how gameplay from a MMO transitions into a singleplayer experience and that is quite a fair question. The combat takes place in real time in the field, with player controlling three party members at a time, switchable with the press of a button, with the two currently uncontrolled, being controlled by the AI, which due to the all new Gambit system can be programmed to handle a number of situations allowing for a smooth feel. The command menu is still present but thanks to gambits is not needed as often as in previous titles.

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Exploration feels mostly the same as in previous titles bar that there is no longer random encounters, making traversal far more pleasant and allowing players to pick their own targets (excluding aggressive enemies of course). The world has plenty to offer from vast caves to gigantic open fields and is unlikely to be fully explored in less than 120 hours.

The environments are absolutely beautiful featuring a vast variety of locales ranging from the relaxing but monster filled sandy shores of the Phon Coast to the bustling gigantic metropolis of Archadia pushing the graphical capabilities of the Playstation 2 to its limits, complimented by smooth, believable character models the world of Ivalice is really brought to life.

The average playtime for the story clocks in at a monstrous 50-60 hours meaning players will be hooked in for a massive amount of playtime, and if you’re aiming to knock out all the sidequests as well expect to be playing for upwards of 140 hours, beating a certain superboss alone takes about 2-3 hours.

All in all, Final Fantasy XII is one of the most superbly designed and polished titles of its time and is highly recommended to any RPG player – both MMO and Singleplayer RPG fans alike. It is one of the games I regard highly in my all time favourites and recommend anyone reading this to check it out.

Final Fantasy XII is still available for Playstation 2 on Amazon.

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