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Platform: PlayStation 2
Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: Square-Enix
Developer: Square-Enix


Related Articles:

Review: Final Fantasy X-2 (PlayStation 2)

Review: Final Fantasy XI (PlayStation 2)

Review: Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (Gamecube)




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Final Fantasy XII


If there’s anything you can count on from Square-Enix, it’s that they’ll pump out a steady stream of Final Fantasy games.  The series is their bread and butter after all, allowing company investors to dance around in showers of money.  While we’ve been seeing quite a few spin-offs coming out for the franchise over the last few years, like Crystal Chronicles on the Gamecube, as well as FFXI's online exploits, and a sequel to a sequel in the form of Final Fantasy X-2, there hasn’t been much in a 100% new original story in a single-player format for the series in some time.  This isn’t to say that a new installment is not in the works, as Square-Enix has been plugging away on Final Fantasy XII for some time.


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With Yasumi Matsuno, most popular for his work on Ogre Battle, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Vagrant Story, at the helm, this twelfth edition in the long-running series is trying to provide a new experience, while remaining familiar enough so as not to alienate its fans.  Where things will feel familiar is Final Fantasy XII’s story, as it revisits the theme of a small band of resistance fighters trying to overthrow a hulking, oppressive regime.  In this particular instance, the game takes place in the world of Ivalice, where the Archadian Empire has been rapidly expanding, conquering neighboring kingdoms to call their own.  One nation to fall under the control of the empire is Dalmasca, where players will meet the game’s main character, Vaan, who is a bit of a vagabond, holding Archadia in contempt after they killed his brother, his only remaining relative.  Eventually Vaan decides that he will get some revenge on the Empire by breaking into their headquarters in Dalmasca, and stealing himself some treasure.  However, as he is about to make his move, a rebel group launches an attack on the Archadian occupation force.  During the battle, Vaan spots Princess Ashe, heiress to the Dalmascan throne, amongst the rebels, which comes as a bit of a surprise since most had written her off for dead.  Eventually the two join together to fight the Archadian, and are joined by several other adventurers, including Vaan’s friend Penelo, Balthier the sky pirate, and his partner Fran, among others.


While there will be plenty of specifics found in Final Fantasy XII to set it apart from its predecessors, the overall theme of its narrative appears very similar to quite a number of Final Fantasy’s of the past, from FFVI with Edgar, Locke, and countless others fighting the emperor, to FFVII where Cloud and the gang fought against Shinra, or even Zidane, Vivi, and Garnet’s adventures in Final Fantasy IX.  With the conflict between the rebels and Archadia in Final Fantasy XII, it would certainly appear that the series is returning to games where a small group fighting for the forces of good will face an uphill battle to defeat an omni-present evil empire.


Where players will likely see the biggest change in play is when entering battle.  Firstly, one will be able to rotate the camera as they see fit to get the best possible view of what is going on.  This won’t just be an aesthetic thing either, as the game will make far more use of terrain than any previous game in the series, thus necessitating a more versatile camera.  In Final Fantasy XII, players will be able to take advantage of land elevation, and target 

visibility while locking swords with the enemy, bringing a lot more to the table than in previous Final Fantasies.  Another factor that will come into play for this game is the use of ranged attacks, as characters will be able to attack from a distance as well.  Looking at what is planned for the battles thus far, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Mr. Matsuno’s work on Ogre Battle and Vagrant Story are going to have an effect on Final Fantasy XII.


From a visual standpoint, the game is looking similar to Final Fantasy XI in terms of art, while the level of detail is more along 



the lines of what we’ve seen in Final Fantasy X, and Final Fantasy X-2.  Also impacting the visuals of the game will be the airborne theme within it.  In an abrupt u-turn from the water theme that we saw in part ten of the series, Final Fantasy XII has its eyes on the sky, as there is a heavy emphasis on airships this time around.


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With so much known about Final Fantasy XII already, the one thing that will likely annoy fans of the series more than anything is how long it is taking for the game to come out.  Usually, when a new edition in the series-proper is announced, Square-Enix works like a finely tuned watch in how steadily it reveals new images, cut scenes, and makes playable demos available.  However, with part twelve, this has been coming along very slowly.  It’s been about a year since we’ve seen much in the way of new screens, and the game was a no-show at E3 this week, despite the it having a playable demo available a year earlier.  With that, a lot of people are wondering what on Earth is going on with the publisher for the game to be taking so long to come along.  Since Final Fantasy is one of Square-Enix’s two flagship series, there’s no reason to start predicting doom and gloom for Final Fantasy XII, as the company simply wouldn’t let the game get botched.  Nonetheless, it’s easy to understand how fans can be frustrated with the wait.  Square-Enix is planning a show for their games in July of this year; hopefully by then we’ll have a better idea of what they’re doing with FFXII.


Mr. Nash

(May 20, 2005)




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