Game of the Month - November 2006
Final Fantasy XII
The fears surrounding Final Fantasy XII’s long development, frequent staff changes and drastic departures from Final formula were all reasonable. At the time, they were even justifiable. They were also so wrong that it’s hard to look back at them and even understand how anyone could think that Final Fantasy XII would be anything but what it is: an extraordinary swan song for the PS2 role-playing game genre. More than a great end to the Final Fantasy games on the PS2, more than one of the last great games on the system, this is simply the best RPG to have been released for any Sony platform.
The fast, thrilling combat system rewards players for passionate play, but simple-minded fans can pursue quick and easy options. Slight camera issues can make control in tight spaces cumbersome, but the combat in XII raises the bar. Enemies are visible at all times on the world map, and initiating combat consists of simply walking up to them and fighting. From there, combat proceeds exactly how you want it to. Traditional Fantasy fans can set combat to unfold turn by turn, issuing orders to each of their characters one command at a time—just set combat to “continue,” and the system becomes very similar to the familiar Active Battle Time of Fantasies past. But Gambits, simple command sets that let you program your allies to act according to almost any situation, are what make FFXII’s combat so rewarding. Using the Gambit system and watching your party fall into perfect combat form no matter what situation they face isn’t, as some pundits feared, giving up control of the game—instead, it’s combat where your characters actually have character, something that used to be possible only in RPG cut scenes.
This combat system stands tall with the art and story, and combined, all three leave any other current-gen RPG behind. The in-game engine and CGI cut scenes (of which there are plenty) are nothing less than the result of master craftsmen working in the medium they know best. For the graphics and combat alone, it would be worth seeing a PS2 sequel done FFX-2 style, but the story brings every bit of the game together in a way no other Final Fantasy ever has. The maturity of storytelling here is a true coming of age for the series—themes like the horrors of war, mankind’s lust for power, and young love have all graced the series before, but never before have they been presented as comfortably and adroitly.
This is a wonderful story, an epic RPG and an amazing final Final Fantasy for the PS2. Buy it, and plan to spend a lot of quality time together over the holidays.
- Available: Now
- System: PlayStation 2
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Rating: T (Teen)