Thursday, 8 September 2011

Final Fantasy XII PS2 Games Review

I began this game two years ago during my GCSE study leave and I've finally finished it!! Been meaning to complete it for sooo long but just haven't found the time to get back into it until this Summer, and wow, do I wish I played it all in one sitting- it's such an amazing game!


~~~PLOT~~~
Plot Summary (From Amazon.co.uk):
"As war looms on the horizon, the mighty Archadian Empire begins a campaign to subjugate its neighbours. The small kingdom of Dalmasca shares their fate, and it is here that our tale begins.


Two years after the fall of Dalmasca, the citizens are without guidance and direction. In the capital city of Rabanastre, the denizens gather and await the introduction of Archadia`s new consul. To Vaan, a young man living on the streets of Rabanastre, the Empire is a hated enemy who took the life of his brother, the only family he had left. In an effort to exact revenge, Vaan hatches a plot to break into the palace and steal from the occupying imperials. There, he gets more than he bargained for as he runs into Princess Ashe, the sole surviving heir to the Dalmascan throne. Together, the two will embark on an incredible journey through Ivalice, tracing the mysteries behind the Archadian Empire`s invasion. The choices they make will determine the very fate of the world." 


I was completely immersed by the storyline much like any Final Fantasy game and wow is it deep and mystical. I'm so easily addicted by these games because of how real and imminent their problems seem to be! I thought this particular plot was quite emotional in terms of the characters involved and there was quite a lot of drama going on!

The movie cut scenes which play throughout the game were very good though at times a bit long when you just want to go on ahead and slay that next boss! Thankfully they can be skipped. However, I love watching them as they add so much more to the dynamics of the game and the characters.
 
~~~GAME PLAY~~~
The six main controllable protagonists (Vaan, Penelo, Basch, Balthier, Fran and Ashe) each have their own unique personality, their diverse personas enriching the storyline as well as battle with their unique traits and stats. Side characters are also lively and a few will join your party at times to give you added help! 


My favourite character was Ashe and Basch as they were my strongest- they also had the coolest 'Mist' abilities, which are their 'Super' powers. They can be used any time in battle as long as they have MP (Mana points/Magic points) which allows them to cast spells as well. 

Battle is conducted live and not turn based like previous games. This gives it a slightly more exciting and tense feel, though is pretty fun once you get used to it. You can give commands to each individual character to override the automatic actions queued for them through the gambit system (a system where you set a series of conditions and responding actions for characters e.g. if ally < 50% HP, cast Curaja (healing magick)).


Apart from Magick spells, characters can attack physically with weapons. A wide range of different weapons are available: axes, swords, bows, hammers and more which come both one handed and two handed, some with elemental powers too! You encounter weapons of different attacking power as you progress the story, or by purchasing them in shops at different towns and cities, where you can also buy other useful items such as new magicks, gambits and useful travel items.

The world of Ivalice is HUGE and each city has it's own character to it. I loved exploring each city and often got lost given how gigantic they could be sometimes, but each one is absolutely stunning. I was mesmerised by the beauty of game settings. Even in destruction, the detail was fantastic.


In order for characters to use the weapons and spells they've bought, they'll need to unlock it using the new license board feature. LP (license points), the currency to purchase these licenses, is earned in battle by killing monsters. The board is pretty large and I found I finished the game without unlocking all of which as well as a large proportion of it contains licenses for rare objects you have to hunt down so you find you won't need to unlock a lot of it.


~~~DIFFICULTY~~~
It was most difficult at the beginning of the game as you start off with few weapons, little cash and hardly any experience. A lot of grinding (levelling up) is required in order to beat certain bosses. However, towards the end of the game, things went pretty smoothly and I didn't get any game overs. I beat the game with all characters at around level 50 and the final boss was surprisingly reserved- only used three of my characters and he didn't manage to kill any, whilst a monster in the dungeon just before it killed 5 of my characters!!

~~~GRAPHICS~~~
Graphically, the game is pretty amazing even for today. I'm not really a person that bothers about the latest graphics; as long as the game play is good, graphics is less important. 

However, the movie cut scenes, settings and the when magicks are used are all impressive, runs very smoothly and definitely still competes with 3rd gen games. You do notice some flat mesh qualities with some of the characters' hair but that's about it.

~~~OVERALL~~~
Despite taking just under 80 hours and spread over two years to complete, Final Fantasy XII is one of my favourite games ever due to the immersive story line, complex battle system, beautiful graphics and an all round exciting experience. This is definitely one of the games you must play before you die, at least for the PS2, and I would highly recommend it to all RPG fans!

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