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Final Fantasy XII Pushes Envelopes

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the gotta-love-those-bunny-girls dept.


The anticipation surrounding Final Fantasy XII has resulted in Square/Enix's largest U.S. rollout for a title. Gamespot reports that 1.5 Million units were shipped to the country to meet demand. From the article: "Even if every last one of those copies has been sold, Square Enix still has a ways to go before the game duplicates the success it experienced overseas earlier this year. Final Fantasy XII has already racked up more than 2.4 million sales in Japan since its release there in March of this year." The game is pushing graphical as well as business envelopes; Kikizo has a feature talking with some of the game developers about the game's use of PS2 architecture. Essentially, the team says, FFXII is the best a game will ever look on the PlayStation 2.

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of course it is the best now... (0)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777033)

Everyone is moving on the PS3 that can really tax the PS2. I would imagine there is more than can be tweaked out of the little black box...but our corporate overlords have said it is time for a next-gen...so we have no choice.

Re:of course it is the best now... (0, Flamebait)

jpardey (569633) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777229)

All that the next gen has to offer is stupid motion sensing controllers. Who really cares? Oh, wait, your sig...

Pushing the envelope, eh? (3, Insightful)

Morlark (814687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777043)

I remember much the same thing was said about FF9 on the first Playstation. And indeed, that game was visually stunning. But to be honest, I was a little disappointed in the gameplay. Still a worthwhile game, mind you, but apart from the graphics, it was not the best in the series, IMHO. Now if FFXII can pull off amazing graphics and good gameplay, then not only will I be impressed, I will be overjoyed.

Re:Pushing the envelope, eh? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777093)

Actually, I thought 9 was the best FF of the playstation era (jury is still out on 12). A return to traditional rpg roots alone was enough to propel it past 7 and 8 (worst 2 of the series).

Re:Pushing the envelope, eh? (1)

Requiem (12551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777479)

My favourite was tactics, but I admit that that's a different beast than the regular FF fare. Of the regular ones, IX was by far my favourite for the PSX.

Re:Pushing the envelope, eh? (1)

amuro98 (461673) | more than 7 years ago | (#16778229)

Well, I hated 8, but I liked 7.

Still, FF7 was no Xenogears. Not the most graphically advanced RPG like FF9 or ChronoCross, but WOW, what a game!

Re:Pushing the envelope, eh? (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779949)

That was just the problem I had with IX - I got the impression with all the "the crystal has returned" promotional crap they were running at the time that they were hoping they could lure people in with crystals and 4-person parties and that would be it. The music was nondescript, the story was borderline terrible, and the game was overall way too easy. I love Final Fantasy, but IX was the one game I regretted ever spending money on.

Re:Pushing the envelope, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16777129)

Well, being 43 hours into the game, I'd say you will likely be joyous indeed. If you don't have an overly strong emotional attachment to the classical random-turn-based-battles-every-N-steps scheme, that is.

It's actually the gameplay folks are talking about (1)

jchenx (267053) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777585)

Now if FFXII can pull off amazing graphics and good gameplay, then not only will I be impressed, I will be overjoyed.
As someone who's spent many hours into the game so far, as well as read a multitude of reviews and opinions, I can definately tell you that it's the gameplay that's getting the most attention. It's a vast change from the traditional Final Fantasy games, and a lot closer to its MMO sibling. I'm not going to spend too much time talking about the new Gambit system and such (you can read more about it on game sites, or read the various Slashdot opinions), but just wanted to point out that your wish has been granted.

The only issue is that some people really love the gameplay change, while others hate it.

Pushing the envelope, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16779183)

Awesome, I need to do some mass mailing this week. How much is this envelope pushing software?

Re:Pushing the envelope, eh? (2, Interesting)

Reapman (740286) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779889)

Honestly the gameplay is keeping me going more then the graphics, and i do like the graphics. I really didn't like the battle system in the demo, but being able to get used to it... I'm a believer in Gambits now. Yes the game can "play itself" almost... but you can also tone it way down. I'm actually wishing I had more gambits to customize the characters further (you get more as you can find / buy them). It feels like a lot of freedom... no more omg i better heal that guy asap, because I know my healer will watch him and keep him going. Quickinings (super attacks) were confusing initially... but now that I got the hang of it I can pull off some crazy stuff. This feels like the most polished one yet. If you can try before you buy thats always good, everyones got their own tastes... but i'm seriously hooked. Good voice acting. And I prefer the license system vs spheres in FFX. No "mini game" tho which is surprising... I'd like to see them return one of the card games from 8 or 9.

Load Times (0, Flamebait)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777053)

With this game pushing the PS2 to its limits. I am really curious as to how crazy the load times might be.

Re:Load Times (2, Informative)

illeism (953119) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777159)

They are not too bad, a little longer than expected but still in an acceptable range. I've seen longer load times on games like Burnout Revenge... so it's not bad...

Re:Load Times (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780159)

Almost all the burnout games are poster children for bad loading times, made worse by the fact that you need to to load between what are essentially 30 second crash scenarios. (Fortunately, the races take longer so the long load times arn't as annoying.)

I can understand it would have been a challenge to program in soft resets (there are alot of game objects in each crash scenario to reset) without doing the easy thing and just reloading the assets off the disc but it would have been worth it. If you want to play the same crash scenario 10 times, you'll spend at least half that time waiting for loading or pushing 'x' to skip the slow and clunky GUI.

Re:Load Times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16781287)

Ohhh.... I don't know about that. Greg Dean seems to think otherwise as well as seen by this comic [reallifecomics.com] :P

Also boring (2, Interesting)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777077)

The battle system is like playing a MMORPG, but you are by yourself.

Battles are horribly boring. Auto attack, who in the world decided upon that? Hey, you there, attack those guys! I'll just sit back and heal...

If they had included auto healing as well, the only thing the player would need to do is walk around between way points!

Re:Also boring (4, Informative)

ogrius (186951) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777157)

Actually once you buy Cure you have auto-healing.

Ally:HP Cure

Will automatically heal any hurt party member.

I personally find the battle system fun. Now unless the sh*t hits the fan, I can just let the system handle it. Honestly for non-boss fights, why do you want to be hitting the same instructions over and over?

The other thing they have done is add in nasty high level monsters mixed with the easy ones in some areas. Since the fights aren't random, you can see them coming but if you don't pay attention or just assume you can kill it, Game Over.

Re:Also boring (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779099)

lol, both my friend and I (in our respective games), were dumbasses and attacked the green dinosaur in the Eastersands. I should have gotten a clue when I saw the FMV with it running along with the wolves fleeing in a panic... but I didn't.

Re:Also boring (4, Insightful)

spectral (158121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777225)

They did include auto-healing. And a way that allows you to specify when people heal, when people attack, whether or not they do it automatically or not, etc. You don't want them to do something/anything? They don't do it. You want them to cast Cure whenever they can if an Ally is below 50% health? Yeah, they can do that automatically too.

You CAN treat it like the other games, but guess what most of the other games were? Mashing the A/X/whatever button to accept the default menu option of attack, or down, X, down a bunch of times, X, to cast Firaga/Fire3/Whatever. Big deal. Unless there's strategy involved, I don't feel the need to destroy my thumb and my controller's buttons.. But if you want to, go right ahead -- the game isn't stopping you and removing all control over your characters, it's just removing the mind-numbingly boring generic fight scenes that have plagued the series since its inception. Is a random battle on a huge, open plain where a 40 foot tall monster snuck up on you, and now you have to hold down the X button on your turbo controller to 'Attack' it to death so much better than FFXII's system where you get to see them coming, run in a realistic fashion (and draw aggro), and take a hands-off / high-level approach to control the flow of the battle instead of the individual movements of each character?

Re:Also boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16777249)

Erm, there is "auto-healing". In fact, they included a system that lets you program your own decision tree for your characters. And personally, I love it. In what way is it better to be forced to continously press (X) during dozens of random encounters? This way, you can focus on the battles that really require strategy, and on larger tactical issues.

Re:Also boring (1)

Cerium (948827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779227)

Battles are horribly boring. Auto attack, who in the world decided upon that? Hey, you there, attack those guys! I'll just sit back and heal...

I've played a number of jRPGs in my day, and in the FF series the gameplay in XII is easily my favorite.

I've been spoiled lately by other developers like Game Arts (Grandia series) and Tri-Ace (Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile, Radiata Stories) and their game's lack of random battles. As a result, I've come to grow very sick of games that still use these archaic systems and have since found myself avoiding those games. Why? Strategy perhaps, othertimes it's just lazyness. If I go back to an earlier area of the game the battles are usually a waste of time. Non-random battle systems allow you to avoid them all together, but in XII you can take it one step further. Think about the enemies you can drop in one hit. As you run by them, your AI-controlled allies can strike down any would-be pests while you continue your trek, uninterrupted.

I think most people just aren't ready to give up control and automate the battle process. As it's already been said, most of the time the battles are done on auto-pilot with the player just mashing x. This system just rids the need for button mashing.

Seriously, play through this and get used to the battle system, then go back to a game with a "traditional" battle systel (if you really want to torture yourself: Dragon Quest 8). You'll really appreciate how much less the game feels like a grind-fest.

If they had included auto healing as well, the only thing the player would need to do is walk around between way points!

Remove the random battle and level grinding and that's all you're doing anyway. Sure, there's the occasional puzzle and/or cutscene; but it's generally: bring some object to some location, defeat some boss, repeat.

Graphics that great? (2, Interesting)

Zinnian (958511) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777087)

I was looking forward to the game, being a long time Final Fantasy fan. Unfortunately it looks awful on my TV. I have an HDTV and playing the game I keep thinking that this sure is last generation. It's jaggy, and frankly looks bad enough that my roomie's non gaming eyes can even tell it looks kinda bad. I long to be able to slide it into the Xbox360 sitting next to the PS2 and see the game the way it should be displayed. Maybe when I break down and get the PS3 in the next year or so (resold, as I'm not buying a new one from Sony) it will look better.

Re:Graphics that great? (1)

row1 (930208) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777265)

For a PS2 game it looks great, even through the PS2 component cables on a HDTV. http://ps2.ign.com/articles/741/741991p4.html [ign.com]
10 Graphics A PS2 technical accomplishment in every sense. Slowdown is a non-factor, model detail is incredible, facial and skeletal animation is stellar, and the artistic design kicks ass.

FFXII is pushing the envelop, but showing age. (4, Interesting)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777227)

I recently got a 360 about 6 monthes ago. FFXII came out last month. The only thing I can say about FFXII's graphics is "this is last gen". It really does push the FFXII to a limit, but there's better graphics. By which I mean less jaggies, better looking, or more fluid. It's true FFXII is impressive in it's graphics, but it still suffers from FMV lag. If you watch the FMV and then jump back into the game the game's graphics look poor. FFX had slightly better ways of dealing with this.

Overall FFXII is visually impressive but coming out when it did it's showing just how weak the PS2 is to the next gen systems, and totally invalidating Sony's claim that it could have lasted 10 years. It could only have lasted that if people didn't care about graphics and they do. Early Gamecube games looked on par with some of FFXII's graphics and even first gen 360 games easily smoked it.

That all being said FFXII is an incredible game, and that's coming from a guy who really hasn't liked a Final Fantasy game since FFVI. It breathes new life into the game while retaining the same style setting it always had. If it wasn't for Gears of War, FFXII would be the only thing I'm playing. Both Gears of war and Final Fantasy XII are worthy of all the praise they have gotten as one is the final "great" game. And Gears is one of the first of the new generation.

If you enjoyed Vagrant Story... (4, Interesting)

casualsax3 (875131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777237)

... I think you're going to love this game. The score sounds like it's Vagrant Story 2, the animation and character models are like an upgraded version, the voice acting is stellar, the script is superb - and the battle system is so much fun once you really get into it. It's no surprise, since it's the same core team. Probably the best part about the game though is the actitechture and overall design - it's so very atmospheric, there's just so much mood to everything. The tone of the game is much more mature than previous FF's. I could go on but I'd rather get back to playing right now actually :)

Gabe from Penny-Arcade has a review of his first 20 hours with the game that I think is spot on.

http://www.penny-arcade.com/news/show/21973 [penny-arcade.com]

This game does for Final Fantasy what Resident Evil 4 did for Resident Evil - it reinvents itself and succeeds in surpassing its predecessors in nearly every way.

Pushing the envelope? (0, Flamebait)

chowdy (992689) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777245)

The only thing about FFXII that pushed the envelope was the main character's metal bra. What happened to character design since FF8?

Re:If you enjoyed Vagrant Story... (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777471)

Takes the name and completely removes everything then eh? People act like RE4 improved RE. where as the truth is it started it's own series using the RE characters. You can't say RE4 is an improvement on everything since it's not remotely scary in a genre based purely on fear.

...and the box/case art is sad (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777489)

Now, I'm familiar enough with the series that I'm quite likely to buy this game, however looking at the box art it shows that at least in some arenas an extremely underwhelming effort was made to promote this game. Perhaps it's just the local copies I have seen, but the case art seems to be simply a resized image with no blending or filtering. That is to say, looking at it anywhere up close shows pixellated edges and jags.

Perhaps it's only the local copies, but something seems horribly wrong. If it weren't for the fact that these copies are selling on retail shelves, I would think that they were actually rip-offs or black-market cheap copies.

Can anyone else confirm the massive pixellation on the box-art? Certainly when that is the first thing consumers see on shelves one would think a bit more care could have been put into it, but again perhaps these are rushed pre-copies or something like that??

Re:Also boring (1)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777535)

Is a random battle on a huge, open plain where a 40 foot tall monster snuck up on you, and now you have to hold down the X button on your turbo controller to 'Attack' it to death so much better than FFXII's system where you get to see them coming, run in a realistic fashion (and draw aggro), and take a hands-off / high-level approach to control the flow of the battle instead of the individual movements of each character?

For myself, perhaps suffering from nostalgia, there is room enough for both systems. I don't, honestly, much like having to worry about pulling fiends or adds spawning in on top of me, or of having to literally guide my guys away when I'm running from something that outclasses me--of which there are many more things (more little "knots" of very hard fiends, I mean, as opposed to general areas of somewhat harder fiends) than in previous FF games... except for FFXI, where it was not uncommon (as I think happens in many MMOs). Frankly, I think the two battle systems are both highly workable--the traditional method assuming the design of the game is such that random encounters aren't happening every two steps; the newer method only because of the gambit system that streamlines grinding so very well.

Where does it push them? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16777571)

I hope the envelopes are full of cash, and they're being pushed my way. I have a feeling though that they're full of souls, and they are being pushed to sony.

Re:Also boring (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777575)

Is a random battle on a huge, open plain where a 40 foot tall monster snuck up on you, and now you have to hold down the X button on your turbo controller to 'Attack' it to death so much better than FFXII's system where you get to see them coming, run in a realistic fashion (and draw aggro), and take a hands-off / high-level approach to control the flow of the battle instead of the individual movements of each character?

Of course not. Not including meaningless battles would be better. Automating meaningless battles is one of the dumbest, laziest ways out of it. You still have to watch the pointless, meaningless battle play out. If there's no point to the fights - don't include them.

If the battles are meaningless to the point that they can be automated, maybe they shouldn't be in the game in the first place. One of the most annoying things in most console RPGs is traveling through an area you're far too powerful for and having to churn through the same stupid enemies, who even your healer can kill in a single hit, every ten steps. It's boring and slow.

Making it so that the battles are automatic and you don't have to mash X doesn't make the battles any less pointless. If the battle is so simple that the developers decide to automate it to prevent the game from being boring, the battle shouldn't be in the game in the first place.

Right. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16777599)

"Essentially, the team says, FFXII is the best a game will ever look on the PlayStation 2."

That's because Netcraft confirms it, the PS2 is dying.

FF 12 is one of the last games that's going to be released on the Playstation 2. Were that not the case, games would eventually be developed that kick the shit out of FF 12.

In the early days of a console, game developers seem to have no clue. By the end of a console's life, developers know every little trick and performance tweak they can do. There's a reason that as time goes on, a console's games look better and better.

Compare Kessen (Which was in the initial PS2 launch lineup) to Kessen 2. Hell, compare it to a game made today. Kessen was fucking gorgeous when it came out. It looks horribly dated today, even when compared to games on the same console - even when compared to games in the same series!

Right, then. Sorry, everyone, for apotheosizing myself into Master of the Obvious for this post, but it had to be done. I'm by no means a hater of Square (Xenogears FTW!), but I'm no fanboy, and that comment of theirs smacks of a very undeserved "LOL WE R TEH BEST!!!!!!!!!!11111111"

Actually not... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777633)

The thing is you have to hit the x button, and navigate every time anyone completes any action to 'try' the old way. So it's significantly a bigger PITA to do it manually.

What if you hate square-enix? (1)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777635)

I'm seriously not trolling, but I havn't enjoyed square-enix games for quite some time. While I loved FF1,3, and 6, I thought 7 was the downfall of the series, and havn't played anything after 8. Not only that, but I finished Kingdom Hearts II and put 25 hours the latest Dragon Warrior, and honestly thought both were junk. To explain myself, I felt KHII was too much of a buttonmasher and the story was too convoluted (this is coming from someone who enjoyed mulholland drive), and the entire time I played DW I kept thinking to myself "why do I even care? I just want to ditch this poor excuse for a king and go do my own thing".

I actually really want to try this game, as I really enjoyed the earlier final fantasies, but I don't want to put another 25 hours into a game only to be disappointed. So, here are my questions.

1. I understand the battlesystem has been streamlined, which is ok by me. But do the boss battles actually involve some strategy?

2. Is the story engrossing enough so that you actually care what is going on? (for instance, I got bored with oblivion after a few hours, but the story of neverwinter nights 2 is engrossing for me so far).

3. Is your character completely railroaded? I understand j-rpgs are more linear, but sometimes at least the illusion of choice allows me to become more engaged in the story.

My thoughts on XII (2, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777719)

I'm a fan of JRPGs in general, and the FF series has generally been solid, though not always great. (Ignoring FFXI because the concept never appealed to me so I can't judge).

I've been playing FFXII a while and am underwhelmed, a few points
-Graphically, beautiful, no complaints really. Well, except no progressive scan support.
-The cities, admittedly, feel like realistic cities, well, except for the MMORPG-style icons popping up everywhere, which are actually kinda annoying. I am never bothered by the notoriously sparse cities in JRPGs, but I do have to concede they could be judged weird (a huge metropolis with maybe 13-17 people you can see is not atypical in JRPGs).
-The battle system is really uninspired. Doing it manually is just not made remotely feasible in the game, and distilling your strategy into fairly hard and fast rules makes for very boring fights. Now admittedly, high rates of random encounters in previous games were monotonous as hell, but the difficult fights were more interesting, and you had the opportunity to contemplate at most any given context the risk of damage and whether heal or attack is good. In XII, the decisions are either done in advance (i.e. if health 50%, heal will happen, no thinking), or else not given a good opportunity to recognize your situation if trying the manual approach. I really liked Chrono Trigger, no random encounters, no separate battle screen, yet a traditional JRPG battle system
-The story. I'm fairly far in, and it remains one of the most boring FF stories ever. Basically there is little depth and it's a fairly cookie cutter high-fantasy story with some Squareisms tossed in (Moogles, Chocobos). It's not the first fairly boring story (FFV was very much along the same lines, and FFVIII was boring to me, but maybe a little more interesting, VI, VII, and X are fairly strong IMO).
-The characters. The characters are all very very flat and lacking depth, similar to the story
-The music. The music is also very ho-hum. FF has a tradition of memorable music, even among other games in the series I wasn't crazy about. FFXII consists of fairly generic background music with some hints of remixes of some of their staple music from the past. I have some FF tracks play on occasion in my car, but nothing from XII appeals.

All in all it feels like they wanted to make a generic western RPG with little story and heavy inspiration from the popular MMORPGs, but done very well graphically.

This is the first single-player FF series title in a long time I think I'll pass on buying.

FFXII on PS3 (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777733)

I bought FFXII Collector's Edition for my fiancee. She doesn't play the games, she just likes the art and videos. I'm probably not going to play it for a while, maybe not until the PS3 comes out.

Does anyone know if FFXII will look better being played on a PS3 than on a PS2?

Given the Lik-Sang shutdown by Sony, I have a fair amount of hatred stored up for them, so I'm still wavering on if I'm going to buy a PS3 or not.

Re:What if you hate square-enix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16777979)

I find the boss battles to be fun if you are at a standard level for the encounter. Some people spend their first 10 hours in the game grinding their characters up to ridiculous levels (which the game allows since you can go almost everywhere at the beginning, though you will likely die many times getting through the harder areas). Then they complain that the boss battles aren't challenging.

Of course they aren't, you're level 99 and you read the FAQ to gear yourself in all the secret gear and know the 'winning strategy'. For these poor souls, the gameplay will 'suck', even though they spent the majority of the game fighting battles.

So, on your first playthrough at least, play the game normally, and use FAQs sparingly if not at all. The game will be pleasantly challenging and you may actually feel a sense of accomplishment when you kill that boss that was giving you trouble.

I tend to focus primarily on story, with gameplay being secondary. From my perspective, FFXII is a good game. The story is somewhat lackluster, forgoing the complexity of something like Xenogears for something 'safe', which is somewhat typical in the Final Fantasy Series, and not altogether a BAD thing. But despite the story not being stellar, the gameplay is indeed very fun when played properly, as I mentioned above.

I haven't completed the game so I cannot comment on the amount of side-quests available for 'extra' material.

Overall, if you liked Final Fantasy X, you will probably like this game. It focuses more on gameplay and less on story, and the tradeoff works for the most part. /MLS

Pushing envelopes? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16778055)

The only envelope I can see being pushed is how effeminate they can make the male characters and not have them mistaken for females.

Re:My thoughts on XII (1)

lkeagle (519176) | more than 7 years ago | (#16778085)

I was a big fan of FF 1-3 on the SNES, and then I played FFX. It was the first 3D FF that I was inclined to buy, mainly because of the awe-inspiring cutscenes (for the time), and incredible area detail. I also have studied classical music my entire life, and composition/arranging since college, so I feel I can comment on this matter.

I feel that the battle system and the music in FFXII are superb. One of the most annoying aspects of random encounters is that they break up the music. The new system lets you listen throughout an entire area. I've found myself humming and whistling the FFXII themes this entire week after playing non-stop last weekend. The music is very well composed, and interesting in that it manages to be highly melodic and atmospheric simultaneously. That is not easy to do.

I, for one, actually appreciate that FFXII has managed to tastefully include thematic material from earlier FF games. It appeals to the nostalgic culture that I believe the series owes much of its acclaim to. If you don't like it, well, it's not like it wasn't expected.

If I have any criticism of the Gambit system, it's that it doesn't let you combine gambits together (i.e. if A && B then heal). More control is needed to achieve truly user-defined automation.

Bleh. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16778093)

Too bad the GAMEPLAY and STORY envelopes were pushed to the limit for Square back with FFVI.

Re:What if you hate square-enix? (1)

Saint_Waldo (541712) | more than 7 years ago | (#16778125)

If you liked KH, you should feel very comfortable with FFXII.

1. Yes, boss battles involve strategy. There are powers in the game that only unlock based on your MP bar's full status, so you have to anticipate a boss fight to enter it fully ready. During the fight, you have opportunities to chain your powers together, but since this is based on reaction time and luck, you may have to prepare back up tactics. There aren't any auto-win setups that I've found on par with chain+ultima+mimic+(repeat) that you could do in FFVII, but that can be seen as a good thing.

2. Depends on how engrossed you get in "regain the throne" style storylines. If you liked the storyline in Final Fantasy Tactics, you will have no problem getting into this one, as it's very similar in both characters and events. Barring that, "engrossing" is such a subjective term that reasonable folks will disagree, often violently, and they will all be correct.

3. Story events are linear, but your character is pretty free to beef up and explore in between triggered events. They really knocked out much of the annoying travel time between already unlocked and visited areas, and it's also very possible to explore yourself right into an area that's not meant for your level at the time. There are also plenty of mini-quests and activities to engage you while you are grinding to prepare for the next raft of story events, so I'd give them very good marks on at least disguising the more linear aspects of the story. The FF series is famous for giving a linear impression with subtle differences that lead to different endings, while still making it seem that everything was meant to happen the way you played it, this time. So, yes, it's mostly linear, but with plenty of slack and self-directed activities in between the choke points.

And, back to the original topic, it looks fantastic, as good as GT4 as far as elimiating most of the jaggies. The FMV could benefit from progressive scan, as interpolation shows up during heavy panning, but this is more of an annoyance than a heartbreaker. If this is the best that the PS2 will ever do, it's pretty darned good and deserves to only be usurped by an entire new generation of hardware.

P.S. I'm also a David Lynch fan, and I approve of the not-too-convoluted storyline of FFXII. ;)

Slightly offtopic but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16778189)

Couldn't they have made two separate franchises? One could be the traditional medieval fantasy setting with subtle references to technology similar to FF1-6 and another franchise that is more sci-fi similar to the way FF13 is heading. This new franchise could be similar to Xenogears and Xenosaga in setting.

Re:My thoughts on XII (1)

getNewNickName (980625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16778269)

Whenever I read a review like yours I'm always tempted to ask what you feel is the best game you've ever played. This way I can get a gauge as to what your tastes are. You're rather harsh with your comments and your opinion of the game obviously doesn't agree with mine, but everyone is entitled to an opinion. Whether that opinion matters is a different question. Some people just like to be critical for the sake of being critical. Others just have a beef with certain franchises. Thus I ask, what do you feel is the best game you've ever played?

There are other ways to improve combat.... (1)

Brian_Ellenberger (308720) | more than 7 years ago | (#16778409)

Maybe the problem is that the battle system needs dramatically redone. Some suggestions:

1) Instead of making hundreds of repetitive battles against less skilled enemies, why not make fewer battles against more difficult enemies where you are not guaranteed to win every time?
2) Make the battles more like FF Tactics, where you incorporate positioning. Instead of Fire1/Fire2/Fire3 have a mass range fireball vs a controlled stream of fire with the differences being the area of effect. Incorporate flanking attacks, etc.

Re:What if you hate square-enix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16778417)

I'm about 35 hours into it so far, so here are my impressions regarding your questions:

1) The battles are streamlined, and are actually pretty 1 dimensional for the first 5-10 hours. During this time, you haven't had enough time (or access to enough abilities/AI Options) to really try out a variety of tactics. Once you get all six characters, and start working through the abilities, the battle system becomes more strategic than tactical; you'll fight through a dozen fights to test different combat strategies more than for the fighting itself. (Personally, I find that enjoyable).

The Boss Fights are a whole 'nother thing. In addition to the scripted story boss fights, almost every area has either a "Mark" boss, or a "Rare" Boss. Regardless of which type of boss you are fighting, relying on your pre-planned AI to win the fight for you is a bad idea. It will manage the basics, like keeping people hitting on it when they have nothing better to do, but autoheals and the various special abilities will need personal attention, or they will quickly falter and leave you dead. Often, boss battles can end with 4 or 5 of your team dead due to a small mistake in tactics or timing.

2. The story seems most similar to that of Final Fantasy Tactics (for the PSone). Its heavy on the political intrigue, and there is a lot for those with a penchant for history to chew on. What there is not a lot of is verbose teen angst, or drama queen love triangles. The story revolves around plots, powerplays, and assassinations; a good portion of which is carried out by NPCs without any direct interaction on your part. There isn't a main character really, so you can choose which of the main 6 characters you want to root for and put your time into; it defaults to Vaan, the wouldbe hero/pirate, but each of the others can easily take his place once aquired for your party.

3. The main storyline is basically out of your control; you don't really have a main character per se, so you just listen in as the party as a whole experiences the main plot. That being said, you can customize every aspect of the main party, from their abilites to their equipment, so who and how they fight is up to you. In addition, there are a number of side quests and rare monster hunts that can very easily become their own mini-stories for a couple hours. After a certain point, the whole world is pretty much open to you, so if you want to ignore the main plot after lvl 10 and just explore all the way to lvl 99, you have the option. Its very Oblivion-esque that way, if you want it to be.

Re:What if you hate square-enix? (1)

amuro98 (461673) | more than 7 years ago | (#16778459)

The KH series has always been action-based, making it a button masher. And I don't know how much sense KH2 would make if you hadn't played the first one (or the horrible sequel on the GBA).

Dragon Warrior isn't Square's franchise, but Enix's, and hasn't changed much based on what I've seen of the previous games... I played DW7, and got the same feeling you had. Guess that's why they named the series "Drag On, Warrior"... It wouldn't have been as bad if at least the combat system was halfway interesting, but it was strictly something out the NES era. And you NEEDED 100s of random battles in order to train your characters' classes...

I liked FF9 OK, but I'd advise you to avoid FF10 - VERY linear. In fact, the only exploration you get to do is at the very end, and that's just to get everyone's ultimate weapon. Most of these tasks are just downright aggravating and tedius. Not that you need them, just level up a bit in the bonus dungeon, and you'll stomp through the rest of the game easily. The story was OK, but not really "surprising" (hint: Tidus is an idiot) but the characters were pretty amusing...well, not Yuna. You never really believed she was really going to do anything but sit in the corner and look at her shoes.

Re:What if you hate square-enix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16778495)

There are soooo many other games out there that getting FF12 when you think there's a decent chance you won't like it (and will be putting lots of time in to figure that out) is crazy. Literally so. One of the definitions of madness is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Try another genre or something.

P.S., if you like old-school FF then get FF3 DS (that's Japanese 3, not US 3 - i.e. you probably haven't played it).

Re:FFXII on PS3 (1)

amuro98 (461673) | more than 7 years ago | (#16778509)

The latest word from Sony is that PS2 games will receive no boosts or enhancements on the PS3. They will play and look exactly as they do on the PS2.

This is rather disappointing as at one time Sony said the PS3 would up-scale PS2 game graphics, giving them a HD-boost. But alas, it seems this was just another pipe dream from Sony.

Win cash and giftcards just for clicking your mouse!
http://www.netwinner.com/?signupCode=amuro98 [netwinner.com]

Re:What if you hate square-enix? (2, Informative)

jchenx (267053) | more than 7 years ago | (#16778659)

1. I understand the battlesystem has been streamlined, which is ok by me. But do the boss battles actually involve some strategy?
So far? Yes. Usually, the strategies that you have setup for normal battles, aren't going to work quite well in boss fights. So there's a lot more micro-managing involved. And that's not so much of a bad thing. One thing I really do like is really being able to swap gambits out on the fly.

So basically, instead of traditional J-RPGs where you're just micro-managing actions, you are managing strategies. Instead of saying, "Oh, character X is hurt, time for me to have character Y heal them", it is now, "Oh, I should have this character do all of the healing, and let my other guys just focus on damage."

2. Is the story engrossing enough so that you actually care what is going on? (for instance, I got bored with oblivion after a few hours, but the story of neverwinter nights 2 is engrossing for me so far).
Can't really answer that for you, since story is obviously subjective. That said, it is FAR more story intensive (albeit linear) than a game like Oblivion. I haven't played NWN2 yet myself, so I can't compare against that game. As some other folks have mentioned, the game and plot are a lot like Square's lesser-known titles, Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy Tactics. And I think that's a very good thing, since it's much more mature than your typical "stop the evil bad guy, save the world" fluff.

3. Is your character completely railroaded? I understand j-rpgs are more linear, but sometimes at least the illusion of choice allows me to become more engaged in the story.
Surprisingly, yes. I can't say enough good things about the License Board system. It's a weird mechanic and not really realistic ("I have to have a license to wear a hat?" is a common complaint), but it allows you to do customize your party very differently than how others may have.

For example, my friend and I are playing through the game, and we've set each character up with a completely different arche-type. Some of the bad ass warriors in my party, are spell-slinging mages in his. And neither of us appear to be punished for doing so, as the difficulty appears to have remained the same. That's amazing.

Re:FFXII is pushing the envelop, but showing age. (1)

adam31 (817930) | more than 7 years ago | (#16778693)

Overall FFXII is visually impressive but coming out when it did it's showing just how weak the PS2 is to the next gen systems, and totally invalidating Sony's claim that it could have lasted 10 years.

FF XII is not the best the PS2 will ever look. It's worse graphically than games like Jak2 (came out 3 years ago) which used techniques like super-sampled antialiasing, tri-linear mipmapping, full day-night cycles, no loading times, vehicle physics (albeit annoying at times), and all at mostly 60 frames per second.

How can this guy can call his game the best... running at 30 fps, with horrible texture sparkling, tons of loading screens, no day/night effect. Don't get me wrong, I love the game, but technically it wouldn't even have been the best 3 years ago.

And there are other polish issues, like terrible camera control, poor player controls, poor animations... the same thing that made GTA feel so sloppy despite being really fun. The truth is that they have great artists, a compelling story, and an addictive game format. Enjoy it for that.

FFXII = Spiritual successor to FF Tactics? (1)

jchenx (267053) | more than 7 years ago | (#16778929)

My feeling is that FFXII is the spiritual successor to Final Fantasy Tactics, which isn't surprising since I believe they were mostly developed and managed by the same teams.

For those of us who happened to love FFT, I'll go out on a limb and say that we are all loving the changes in FFXII. I like how the story is a lot more mature. I wouldn't say it's "boring", just a lot less flamboyent and in-your-face fantasy than some of the other FF games. The music, is a lot like the other FFT titles, which I am digging. The battle system is very non-traditional. There's a huge emphasis on strategy, on setting up your team the right way, rather than emphasizing on the actual actions themselves. Again, very similar to FFT, since that boasted a completely different battle mechanic than the other FF games, yet was also very strategic.

As for the graphics, they're pretty, but that's completely not what makes this game good, for those of us who really like it.

But I can understand that a lot of people don't dig the new direction. Unfortunately, they'll have to wait until the next FF game (assuming it goes back to more traditional J-RPG roots). That, or look into other RPGs and see if they provide what you want.

Re:What if you hate square-enix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16778991)

As far as I know, the game has been designed for people like you. I've heard all sorts of people saying it's the first one they've liked since FFVI. None of that Cloud/Squall angst, a deep, interesting story, and real strategy involved in the tougher battles.

Re:It's actually the gameplay folks are talking ab (1)

shamer (897211) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779043)

I was a bit disappointed by the graphics (especially if you compare it to recent release of Valkyrie profile 2) , but the game play totally makes up for it.

Re:FFXII on PS3 (1)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779049)

Does anyone know if FFXII will look better being played on a PS3 than on a PS2?

It won't. There is no added content to be unlocked by a PS3. In fact it may look worse (inconsistant framerate) depending on if they use emulation or not.

Re:It's actually the gameplay folks are talking ab (1)

codeviking (685537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779191)

It's a vast change from the traditional Final Fantasy games

And that's why I am enjoying it so much. I have always hated the random battles of the FF series: walking along in a completely empty area, and then suddenly a monster materializes out of thin air. This new approach makes far more sense to me. If there is a giant monster out there, it makes sense that I can acutally see the thing first.

Re:Pushing envelopes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16779245)

Seriously, I can see lots of fanfic writers having a poorly punctuated low vocabulary field day in bad grammar with Vaan's girlyness. How appropriate that the botfilter word was "skirted" for me.

Re:If you enjoyed Vagrant Story... (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779347)

I'll probably stay away from Vagrant Story then, because as much as I absolutely love FF12, it's musical score is probably the weakest link. I'm a big prog head, and Uematsu's scores actually started me playing video games in the first place... I just miss the classical/rock fusion that Uematsu brought to the genre. Hamouzu did a great job doing similarly fuzed work, but with his own style, during FFX, and I was really hoping he'd take the reigns for FF12. FF12s score, while "pretty" just seems a bit "safe" to me... not the same amount of energy and drama that separated the FF series' scores from the rest of the pack. There was a bit too much emphasis (musically) on "trying" to be sophisticated, where-as I thought the previous scores just "were" sophisticated, in their own right (FFX a little less so).

That said, I applaud the rest of the game for greatly upping the sophistication factor, and proving that great dialog, wonderful character portrayals, and tasteful plotlines can be just as entertaining as sophomoric ones.

Re:Also boring (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779367)

exactly - the auto/AI npc feature is supposed to remove the annoyance of having to actually pay attention to who's turn it is when you run into, say, a level 5 wolf when you are at level 40 or 60. from what I understand, like you said, you can still micro-manage turns for those boss fights where you aren't exactly at such an insanely high level that you can just smack it a few times with even your weakest character and it's dead in 3 to 5 turns...

Re:...and the box/case art is sad (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779405)

Well, I got the Limited Edition, which has no artwork on it, so I can't say for myself. But the limited edition strategy guide is WORTH EVERY PENNY simply for its artwork. It even includes a full, 100+ page book with illustrations and renderings of all the airships, espers, primary and secondary characters, landscapes, and archetecture. It is simply breathtaking. I have seen the cover of the regular edition box, which just has Vaan doing an afeminate little pose (which, btw, doesn't fit his in-game persona at all... even his outfit is pretty unassuming once you get used to it). I haven't checked the back of it, but the copies I saw looked very professionally rendered.

Re:FFXII on PS3 (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779457)

Does anyone know if FFXII will look better being played on a PS3 than on a PS2?

Unlike the PS2 and Xbox 360, the PS3 does not do any enhancements in backwards compatibility mode. How it looks on the PS2 is how it'll look on the PS3. There's no free upscaling to 720p or 1080p or free FSAA like the Xbox 360 does with Xbox games, no texture filtering like the PS2 does for PS1 games, etc. Just the same old PS2 game being played on the same old PS2 hardware embedded inside the PS3 (that's what the slim PSTwo was all about -- reduce the size of the PS2 to a single chip so it could fit inside the massive grill of the PS3).

If you really are going to buy a PS3, I'd wait to see if Squeenix is going to revamp their older titles. There was a rumor that they would remake 7/8/9 on PS3, which might be worthwhile. Whether they'll get around to X/X2/XII is anybody's guess.

Re:What if you hate square-enix? (1)

Sage Gaspar (688563) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779485)

I've got the same question, and actually, an additional one: the PA site mentioned that he went out of the city to grind monsters for a quest. I've put in my time on the MMOs, I've ground levels in previous RPGs, and frankly I'm done with grinding. I'm wondering exactly how much "grinding" there is in the game, whether it be for questing or levelling.

Pushing the PS2 architecture (2, Insightful)

zsazsa (141679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779505)

Unfortunately the article really doesn't say how they pushed the PS2 architecture. Before clicking I was looking forward to an article like this amazing presentation by the SOTC dev team [edusworld.org] that really goes in depth to how they implemented the amazing effects on the PS2. Instead, we get this about the development, in its entirety: "The graphics were created using the power of the PlayStation 2 fully," Akihiko Yoshida, character designer for Final Fantasy XII, told us. "We believe that this is probably the limit of how beautiful the graphics can get on the PlayStation 2 console.". Is there anything more in depth than this miniscule blurb?

Speaking of which, does this game look better than Shadow of the Colossus? Or does it look about as good but actually has a decent frame rate?

Re:My thoughts on XII (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16779635)

-The characters. The characters are all very very flat and lacking depth, similar to the story

They've done that ever since Tifa got her breast reduction surgery sometime between FF7 the game and when Advent Children happened. Why the fuck did they give her such itty bitty titties in the movie? More proof Square and the whole country of Japan is run by poofters and metrosexuals.

Re:Pushing envelopes? (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779637)

Dude, you're not kidding. I thought Larsa was a petite woman until it was actually explained that he is really a young boy.

Re:What if you hate square-enix? (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779645)

Well, honestly, FF12 is impossible to compare to any of the previous final fantasies (the ones you love, and the ones you don't like), or Kingdom Hearts (which I thought, blew as well, btw), or Dragon Quest 8. The "streamlined battle system", that you talk about, makes the full game much MORE strategic than the rest of the series, instead of being a button masher, it becomes more like a small-scope RTS. You become the "manager" of your party, not so much the invisible hand.

Actually, the closest thing I can think of is, did you ever play Secret of Mana? The battle system actually has some large similarities at its most basic level. Imagine if, in Secret of Mana, the characters just automatically attacked when the bar got up to 100%, that's pretty much what the basic attack system is like in FF12. NOW, on top of that add the need to do a lot of customizing of the AI, the management of a very in-depth skill system, and a lot finer control over movement. And with that AI, you can choose to play the game in many many different ways. I have a friend, for instance, who plays the game with NOTHING but black magic, and won't even use healing spells, and focuses his energy on using various tactics to recover lost MP. He's basically playing a totally different game from me.

The best way to describe FF12s battle system is as a direct hybrid between an RTS and an Action RPG. You have much more subtle control over your characters than the old ATB systems, even if you don't ACTUALLY get to make the final attack. This conception that the ADB system takes away control of the game from the player is totally incorrect, you are MUCH more actively involved than ever before, and your choices have much bigger consiquences.

As for the storyline... I would liken it, best, to a Suikoden game. It deals with an international conflict, in which there really is no obvious "good" and "evil" side, and you're just left to deal with the consiquences. It really has no relation to anything else Square has produced. The story is not a hardcore mellodrama like Xenogears, FF7, or Chrono Cross (all of which I dispise), it has a few similarities to FF9, having a very "Renaisance" feel to it, although being much more realistic. My only gripe with it is that like the Suikoden games (which I really like, btw), it's not quite as personal as the previous outtings, which is good and bad. The good part is that it is almost completely clear of any cheese factor, of which made games like Chrono Cross and Xenogears almost completely unplayable for me. It's much more sophisticated, and doesn't have the "wiz-bang" that will attract many

Annoying article (1)

macshome (818789) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779781)

Anyone else find it annoying that TFA talks about how good the game looks and then only has screenshots of the pre-rendered videos or hand drawn art?

Re:What if you hate square-enix? (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779871)

1 - The boss fights involve a modicum of strategy, but more importantly they're actually tough. Having a boss fight completely exhaust all my characters' MP and all the items in my inventory isn't something I've really enjoyed since Lunar: Eternal Blue.

2 - Think the politics of Final Fantasy Tactics without the religious tie-in. It's an "us vs. the empire" story that isn't just about you chasing after a madman like in Final Fantasy VI, you're actually working towards kicking the empire out and establishing your country's independence. There is no ridiculous love story and (in my opinion) all the characters are sufficiently different and interesting in their own way. JMO, but they've taken all the best elements out of the previous games and made a good story out of them.

3 - I haven't played nearly all the way through (only 25 hours in so far) but from what I've seen you're perfectly free to customize your characters just about any way you want - in terms of what weapons they can wield, what spells, etc. Storywise not so much though.

Re:What if you hate square-enix? (1)

hords (619030) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780055)

I haven't played too far into the game yet myself, only about 2.5 hours. At first I hated the combat system (MMORPGs are not my cup of tea), but it's growing on me how fast you can get in and out of combat. Also, the non-random battles are nicer.

Gabe from Penny Arcade answers many of your questions about it on this page. [penny-arcade.com]

Final Fantasy X was a pretty good game IMO. I'm hoping I enjoy this one at least as much. Though I did like Dragon Quest 8 quite a bit so my opinion probably doesn't count much for you ;)

Re:FFXII on PS3 (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780091)

Hmm, I'll pass on 7,8,10,10-2, or 11, but if they redid 9 for PS3, I'd definitely buy it. =)

It's a shame too, since the PS3 has been in developer's hands for so long, they should be able to release a PS3 version at the same time.

Uhm (1)

togashi06 (1013825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780115)

Essentially, the team says, FFXII is the best a game will ever look on the PlayStation 2
Yet you can't find any in-game screenshots in TFA, just some coming from cg's

A for effort (1)

vga_init (589198) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780167)

I give this game an 'A' for effort.

I have been a diehard fan of the series for several years. I started playing Final Fantasy titles on the SNES when I was kid, and I watched the series have its ups and downs. Looking back on them, I have to say that I started playing the series right around its peak (VI being my favorite title, followed strongly by VII). I liked the other games a lot too, but I could tell that the series was floundering. Each new installment had something great about it, but also something sub-par.

Clearly the series is in its decline. There's nothing wrong with that--12 installments is a good run (not including various other titles stemming on different platforms).

I planned to buy this game long before it came out. I didn't know what it was going to be like, but the closer it got to release, the more I began to suspect that this title was going to be some kind of step up compared to the last few games.

Upon playing it, I was right in many ways; I find this game to be much more engaging and entertaining than X was, and the "fun" factor gave it a definite edge. This game is not spectacular, but it's got firm footing in trying to be the best it can be in spite of having to live up to the greatness of episodes gone by.

If you are a Dream Theater fan, you will probably understand what I mean when I say that Final Fantasy XII is in many ways the Octavarium of FF games. Dream Theater's latest album doesn't seem to offer anything spectacular or amazing, but you end up listening to it forwards and backwards, saying to yourself, "You know, every way I look at it, this is a good album." It has fewer flaws than the others--even the better ones. You can't find anything not to like about it, but you just don't like it as much as your analytic skills say that you should. That's art.

I like this game. A lot. I'm going to keep playing it, but it's not the hallmark of the series. It is a result of much refinement, and its perfection finds it to be definitively imperfect.

Do I recommend it? Yes. It's the kind of game that you can hand to a newbie, and they will get a good feel for what Final Fantasy is all about. Going back to my Octavarium analogy, Dream Theater has said the same thing about their album--that you could give it to someone who has never heard their music and they will get a good all-around feel for what Dream Theater is about.

Re:If you enjoyed Vagrant Story... (-1, Troll)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780191)

Shit yeah, they've really reinvented themselves by using a recycled plotline, recycled characters and having some surfer dude as the main character. After FF8 or maybe FF9, the games have all sort of blurred together in my mind, and I've lost track of how many they've even released.

Re:What if you hate square-enix? (1)

Bongo Bill (853669) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780245)

Well, the plot is railroaded, but for the rest of that, definitely yes. You can make your characters into more or less whatever you want them to be, and the story is a welcome diversion from the usual JRPG dreck. And the bosses certainly require strategy - not so much the intervening short battles, which are more about planning than tactics.

Re:What if you hate square-enix? (1)

dank zappingly (975064) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780277)

How old are you dude? If you hate Square Enix games, why did you think that the one with all the Disney characters was going to reward you with a compelling story? I don't know much about this stuff, but as far as I can tell those games are designed to hook 10 year olds with easy gameplay and as much Disney-branded goodness as can be crammed into a single disc. If you are old enough to be allowed to watch Mulholland drive then you are WAY outside of the target audience. You're complaining that Oblivion didn't have enough of a story, but that Japanese games are not flexible enough. You have to understand that it is very, very hard to do both. With all the time it takes nowadays for a game to look good, most developers don't have the time to make the game so that every little thing you do leads to a different, yet equally compelling storyline.

Re:A for effort (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780525)

Dammit, now you just have me salivating thinking of getting XII.

Dream Theater owns. And apparently, so does the new Final Fantasy. To be honest, I didn't get into FFX-2 (it's probably been played all of 2 hours so far) so I was holding my breath on XII...

I keep hearing this point being made (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780553)

and it's bunk. Wild Arms 3 pulled off turn based gaming with a strong strategic element. And let's not forget Valkyrie Profile. Then there's Breath of Fire V, who's action point system and insanely tough battles force you to consider each move pretty carefully. The entire Dragon Quest series does a pretty good job of being gameplay driven and rewarding smart playing, but you can (and most do) grind it to death. Hell, the GBA Golden Sun games require extremely careful use of summons to beat bosses. Calling out a summon unbound it from you for a few turns, which lowered your stats. But you'd run out of healing gear before winning if you didn't use summons.

Too many people act like FFXII's combat is some kind of natural progression. That's only true so long as Square abandon's Gameplay Driven RPGs. I'd love to see them go back to Gameplay. FFIX promised that, but all it delivered were retro character designs. By the same token, I don't want a game that's just pointlessly and brutally hard . What I like about RPGs is the freedom you get from taking the game at your own pace. You can grind to make it easy or plow through to make it challenging. Too easy and there's never any reason to delve into the Gameplay (read: Legend of Mana). Too hard, and I just give up (*cough*Saga Frontier*cough*).

Re:FFXII is pushing the envelop, but showing age. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16780603)

Another Microsoft fanboy pretending to be impartial but still trying to bash Sony while giving Bill Gates a blowjob.

I love how you snuck in "Gears of War" even though it has nothing to do with the article.

Keep giving Bill your money, but don't pretend to be neutral.

Played it in Japan, burned out 30 hours in (3, Interesting)

patio11 (857072) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780637)

I have more affection for some of my non-plot characters in Disgaea ("Noooo, don't hit Margaret with the fireball, she only has 250 hp and is weak against OH YOU BASTARD YOU WILL PAY FOR THAT") than I do for any of the characters in FFXII. Not a single one of which I can name at the moment, incidentally. Vann or something? Vash? Whatever, whinny effeminate boy who is dating forgettable Japanese girl (who wears both the pants and the shirt in that relationship) and fated to rescue princess in distress, who currently hates his guts but we all know that will change. Throw in bunny-rabbit-who-looks-like-Storm, tank-straight-out-of-WoW-raid, and Air Pirate to round out the cast. They're trying to save the dutchy of whocares from the empire of whatever, which they can only do by gathering... what was it, I forget. Probably crystals. Thats generally a safe bet for a FF game, isn't it? I remember they spent some time in a mine. Was I trying to find a crystal? Or was I just trying to find the next cutscene? I don't know.

I notice one of TFAs says there is no main character, which is more or less true -- I was equally bored with all of them. The only time one shows a spark of that old Square spirit is when Air Pirate says, ironically, "I'll tell you who I am: I am the main character of this story!" And for a brief period of perhaps 15 seconds I was thinking "Alright, I have passed the boring prologue, now we are going to get to some ADVENTURE". Nope.

It was about 10 years ago when I played FFVI for the first time, and you can see how low Square has fallen in the plot and memorable character department. Compare Air Pirate Dude with Edgar. The very first time you meet Edgar, he shows more panache than the entire party has in the time I've played FFXII. I remember his lines from a decade ago ("First, I'm captivated by your beauty. Second, I'm dying to know if I'm your type. I suppose your... abilities are a distant third consideration.") FFXII, I swear, its been maybe two months and I would have to wrack my brains to dredge up anything related to the plot or characters. Marle? Marsh? Whoseherface, the princess. I remember her skill readout like it was yesterday (I was aiming for white mage with a sword). Can't remember a thing she ever said.

Re:FFXII on PS3 (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780717)

Its going to look like FFXII on the PS2.

Just because its using a faster system doesnt mean it will look better. Just look at any PS1 game you played on a PS2. In some cases the load time was worse on them. Going to be the same with the PS3 as it is emulating BOTH the 1 and the 2.

Re:Slightly offtopic but... (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780859)

It tends to go in trends. FFVII and VIII were high-technology (along with Crisis core and Dirge of Cerberus if you want to count them) whereas IX was back to medieval times with X mostly being medieval (yes, I know the past was modern, but you spent almost no time in that part, the rest was VI level technology). X-2 and XI if you want to count them is back to medieval with XII medieval from what I've heard. So we have: medieval (6 games) -> high technology (2-4 games) -> medieval (3-5 games) -> high technology (1-3 games so far, all set in the XII world)

So it's trends. Eventually I think we'll get to the stage where it alternates from 1 world setting to the next.

Re:Slightly offtopic but... (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780889)

Woops, add 1 more to the 2nd medieval, I forgot to include Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings

Re:Pushing the PS2 architecture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16780959)

Shadow of the Colossus was an insult to video game developers, despite its artistic appearance. It was short, it was overly easy and the frame rate felt like a beta version or a first generation PS2 game.

Re:FFXII on PS3 (1)

ViperDC (614055) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780983)

I believe sony has stated that PS2 and PSX games will not look any different on the PS3, ie, no graphical upgrades.

Re:FFXII is pushing the envelop, but showing age. (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#16781519)

I'd like to quickly point out that every single screenshot in the linked article was either CGI, or something that looked like an in-game shot, yet was higher resolution than the PS2 is capable of.

wow, let's have everyone open up a can of hate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16781601)

Damn, is this game really so bad that everyone has to flame it into oblivion? "zOMG teh graphics are ze sux0r 360 rulz!!!!11!!1" "auto attacking iz teh l4m3" I was under the impression that this game was fairly decent, considering Famitsu gave it a 40/40. I was also under the impression that said rating is rarely given to any game, and it's the first in the series to earn it. Not that one magazine's opinion matters, but it shows that someone at said magazine must've liked it a lot. Though everyone seems to want to flame away at the graphics quality, even though this story pretty much says the graphics can't get any better than this for PS2.

Funny, I didn't know graphics had anything to do with how fun or enjoyable a game is; to tell you the truth I kinda thought gameplay was a bigger factor in whether or not a game is good. Well, now I know, guess I should throw out all the games I own because that 360's graphics are so good that, well, why would I want to play anything else? Oh wait, there's that PS3 thing coming out, every game for that is gonna look so awesome! Every game for THAT system will be so much better than anything I've ever played before. And to think that I thought that my Super Nintendo was fun. At least when I dump my old game collection on eBay I'll make so much money my head will spin because, for some reason, people seem to want to pay a lot of money for those older games. Don't know why, the graphics are terrible...

Reality Check: Graphics do not, under any circumstances, make a game fun. They merely enhance the gameplay experience by adding a greater sense of visual realism. Not that you can make a magic spell look real, as they don't really exist...

Point is, every time a new game comes out, every jackass on the planet has to point out whether the graphics are good or not and then base their entire opinion on some unattainable standard of visual excellence that no game on earth can attain. "OMG jagged edges on a screen! This game is unplayable." This is usually because today's so-called gamer doesn't want a game, they want eye candy. Those people should go watch Lord of the Rings or some other Hollywood blockbuster with "incredible visual effects." The best part is you'll get lifelike graphics on your PS2 and the discs will cost less than $20! Wowzers!

I bought Final Fantasy XII the day it came out, I've played it, and I haven't played any other game I own since I got it. It might be the best damn game I've ever played, period. That's MY humble opinion. And I'll tell you right now, the Gambit system is indispensable due to the fast-paced action in battles, don't knock it until you try it. Oh, and the graphics are the best the series has seen, so stuff your 360 rhetoric and save your flames for a barbecue.

I'm an Anonymous Coward, and I approved this message.

Re:If you enjoyed Vagrant Story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16781641)

Too bad the game goes completely stale after the first 20 hours. Vagrant Story 2 this is not.

Re:Pushing the envelope, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16781867)

4chanites had to go somewhere I guess.

Re:Also boring (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 7 years ago | (#16781891)

I did the exact same thing last night, and I missed the save crystal right outside that area so it was back to the fortress for me.

Re:Pushing envelopes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16781995)

Fool. Everyone's gay for Bridget!

FF6 and FF12 thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16782621)

Ok, before I begin, a rant based on some of the comments above. Specifically, all the "I've hated every FF game since FF6" comments. These always make me laugh, given how they almost never turn out to be about anything other than ego and one-up-manship. Compare the US and European sales figures for FF6 and FF7, particularly the "first year after launch" figures. One simple message comes out of this. FF7 sold a hell of a lot better. However, check the postings on more or less any online forum that discusses FF games and you'll read the same thing; hundreds of people claiming that the "used to love the series" until "it went mainstream with FF7". What a joke.

Simple fact is that FF7 (or indeed a later installment) was most people's introduction to the series. The vast majority of people who claim otherwise are lying. It's similar to the effect when a teacher walks into a riotous classroom. Suddenly, all is peaceful and everybody says "Oh, no sir, it wasn't me. Yes, there were people throwing desks around, lots of people. But not me, sir."

Let's face it, FF6 remains one of the most over-hyped games in history. Sure, it's good. There's no denying that. In fact, by the standards of its time, it's very good. But it's not in any way deserving of the pedastal it finds itself placed upon. In terms of gameplay mechanics, it was simplistic. There was very little flexibility to its interpretation of the ATB system. No limit breaks (except for a very, very rare might-see-it-once-in-a-playthrough chance to do very high damage when on critical hp), no overdrives, no combination attacks. If you couldn't beat a battle, you just had to go away, level up and learn some more spells, then come back. The stat development system, which revolved primarily around learning spells from the Espers, was primative, boring and emphasised grinding. Compared with later experiments such as the Junction system in FF8 or FF10's Sphere Grid, it was lacklustre in the extreme.

The plot and characters weren't *that* great either. There were a couple of cool scenes, but most of the characters fell into one of two broad groups. They were either "tormented by some incident in their past which results in them having a generically angsty personality that never actually changes much" or "one-trick-pony charicatures". Very few of them actually have any kind of development at all over the course of the game. Later games in the series at least tried to move a bit beyond this (even if it didn't alwats work).

Ultimately, many people claim to see FF6 as the high-point of the series because, by doing so, they can establish some kind of moral high-ground (in their own minds at least) over those who will admit to having come to the series later and preferring the newer games. While good for its day and still entertaining enough in a retro kind of way, FF6 is nothing special.

Anyway, with that out of the way, time for some thoughts on FF12. I'm still pretty deeply divided in my feelings over this game, after about 20 hours play time.

The graphics are, I suspect, about as good as we're going to see from the PS2. Personally, I actually think Kingdom Hearts 2 had a *very* slight edge, perhaps, but it's hard to make that call. What is certain is that nobody else has put out a game for the system that looks anything like as good as Square-Enix's offerings. Frankly, despite the PS2 being the ugly duckling of the last console generation, nobody has put out any games for the Xbox or Gamecube which look even remotely as good as the PS2 FF offerings. I see no reason why Square-Enix shouldn't feel slightly smug about what they've managed to achieve on such limited hardware, even if it is now obsolete (and yes, nobody can deny that it is).

In terms of gameplay, there are elements of FF12 that I love and elements that I'm really not taken with at all. The Gambit system (which allows you to construct increasingly sophisticated AI routines to govern your characters' behaviour) is much, much better than I had expected. Far from taking away the inter-activity of the fight, I found that the gambit system allowed me to focus on what really mattered. Now, if I think up a multi-turn strategy to defeat a boss, I can focus on that, without being distracted by the character I've had to set aside for healing.

The license system is also a decent addition. In many ways, it's a logical extension of FF10's sphere grid, with the addition of an extra degree of flexibility early in the game. My only comment is that it would have been nice if the entire grid could have revealed from the start, so that I could be more strategic about the direction in which I wanted to take my characters.

However, I have big concerns regarding the pacing of the game and the balance of its combat. Simply progressing through the main plot requires that players put quite a lot of time into "grinding" for experience, license points and gil. Unless players do this, they will quickly find themselves overpowered as they move through the plot. I regard this as a very bad thing. In my opinion, a game such as this should ideally minimise the amount of grinding needed for plot progress, while providing rewards and incentives for those who do put in the extra time and effort. Most FF games since the start of the Playstation era (with the exception of FF9) have been very good at this. FF10 in particular was excellent in this respect - the main plot could be completed with almost no requirement to spend time specifically devoted to levelling, but there was an entire new end-game included for those who wanted to take things further. This allows people to experience the plot without excessive interruptions the first time they play and then adds replay value later on. I am finding it frustrating in FF12 that when my characters say "quick, we need to go and do X before Y happens", I instead need to go away and spend three hours killing bats and skeletons in the mines before I can realistically progress. In a MMORPG, this would be acceptable. In a single-player RPG, it is not.

In balance terms, things seem a little odd. When you first get access to Quickenings, they seem ridiculously overpowered. However, they fairly quickly become obsolete, due to the fact that they drain all of your mp. At no point in the game so far have I found an actual use for summons.

In terms of plot and production values, I am more generally impressed. The plot looks decent so far, has a degree of depth and is well-told. Characters seem reasonably rounded, although they perhaps lack some of the depth of characters in previous installments. The voice acting is a huge improvement over that in either of the FF10 games. Sadly, the soundtrack has left me unimpressed so far, without any of the real stand-out tracks that FF games traditionally contain at least a couple of.

On balance then, from what I've seen so far, a decent enough entry to the series, but probably not one of its high-points.

Re:wow, let's have everyone open up a can of hate. (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#16783017)

I'm currently playing FFIX and I'm planning on playing FFVIII after that, and then if I'm still into the FFs I'll be playing FFIV and then FFV before completing FFVI.

If I do get sick of the FFs I'll move over to BoF IV before hitting Wild Arms and then Suikoen 1 and 2. Then I might get me some Kartia.

I've got 5 other games on the PSX that I've never completed, and after all these years I do want to complete. And I enjoy every single one of them (school and "teh latest game" often got in the way of finishing them ;) That and brothers who have deleting save games as one of their hobbies). So yeah, I obviously follow the mantra "graphics are teh best."

I agree with you, it's rubbish. While it's nice to have eye-candy (hence the reason I'm playing FFIX and FFVIII first, well that and the gameplay and story), but it won't make or break a game.

I reckon I'll be a few years before I even think about buying any more games. And I've still got a few PSX games on my to-buy list before I even think about moving onto the PS2. Although by all means, to those who need the latest thing, have fun waiting in lines for 9 days. Me? I'll be kicking back in my nice, warm home playing great games with great stories and great gameplay.

Re:FF6 and FF12 thoughts (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#16783043)

I've heard that FFXII is even more linear then FFX with it having quests you have to complete and the map showing you where exactly to go in each quest. Is that the case? Can you shed a bit more light on it?

Feh, Square is like Apple (0, Troll)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#16783389)

They could release a 50-minute-long DVD of someone taking a dump, label it "Final Fantasy 13" and they'd sell a million copies.

Re:Right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16783471)

FF 12 is one of the last games that's going to be released on the Playstation 2. Were that not the case, games would eventually be developed that kick the shit out of FF 12.

In the early days of a console, game developers seem to have no clue. By the end of a console's life, developers know every little trick and performance tweak they can do. There's a reason that as time goes on, a console's games look better and better.
Yes, but you can't keep that up forever. Eventually you will hit fundamental hardware limits that can't be superseded by clever software, and you hit the regime of diminishing returns. It's not hard to imagine that after 6 years, developers might be running up against that wall. While it's likely that continued development could produce something better than FF12, I doubt that anything running on PS2 hardware will be able to "kick the shit" out of FF12. Incremental improvement at best, is my guess.

Re:Pushing the PS2 architecture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16783625)

It looks pretty good. However, would you expect Square-Enix to say something like "it's one of the top 5 best looking games on the PS2"? Off the top of my head, the recently released Valkyrie Profile 2, for example, has better graphics. Okami also has standout graphics, though in a different style.
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