The Final Fantasy franchise has been going strong since the first one came out in 1987. Each game has brought new beloved characters and worlds to diehard fans. Names like Cloud Strife, and Squall Leonhart are commonplace, and Final Fantasy romances are expected and loved. However, when Final Fantasy XII came out, the fans seemed cold and turned off by it. Many believe that the franchise should have stuck with tradition, stating that Final Fantasy XII was not what was expected.
Final Fantasy XII is different from traditional Final Fantasy game, but that doesn’t make it a failure. It is an underrated game, and if people just enjoyed the game for what it is, instead of comparing it to all the others, it probably would have gotten better reviews.
The story follows Vaan, a seventeen year old orphan. He is a hero far from the brooding pretty boys of Final Fantasy’s past. Vaan is hopeful, and someday wishes to become a sky pirate. Vaan resides in Dalmasca, a kingdom recently taken over by the Archadian Empire. He accidentally finds himself getting involved with politics when he meets the princess to the throne, Ashe, and ends up helping her save her kingdom and take her place on the throne.
The rest of the party consists of your typical colorful characters. Penelo, Vaan’s young friend, Balthier and Fran, who are treasure loving sky pirates, and Basch, a Knight of Dalmasca accused of killing his king, Ashe’s father. There are no brooders, characters who hate themselves and are always frowning. In a way, the characters in this game are more real than any of the others, and to me, that gives it a plus.
While practically every Final Fantasy game has characters who are far from human, this one does not. Only Fran is not human. She is a viera, which means she has bunny ears and a tail, and lives in the forest. She runs around looking like a playboy bunny. That does not mean that this world doesn’t have its alien-like people running about. They just aren’t in the main party.
The story line revolves around politics. While all of the Final Fantasy games have a bit of politics in them, Final Fantasy XII relies heavily on it. That is a major turn off for most Final Fantasy fans, but it also keeps the story realistic. Hearing the characters speak in political tones can be a bit daunting, but it works. More than anything, Final Fantasy XII is a story about the characters, not the world around them.
Many of the classic elements in this game return. Chocobos, moogles, and flying ships, for example. Even Cid returns, this time a womanizer with a Spanish accent. Gone are the summoning creatures fans have grown to love. Players can summon in this game but they are new characters, with new names and abilities. The names of old summons, like Ifirit, Shiva, Bahamut, return as the name of warships. Gone is the traditional battle system. This new system is amazing. Instead of the screen breaking apart and changing to the battle screen, the characters walk right up to a wandering foe and the battle happens right then and there. Your characters lock on and attack, or cast magic, or heal, based on whatever you tell them to do. What’s even better is you can set your characters tasks before the battle even starts. If you tell them to always attack, and only heal when below a certain HP, then that is exactly what they will do. All you have to do is sit back and watch your characters make meat out of the bad guy.
The graphics are amazing, the best a Final Fantasy has seen at the time of its release. The characters are very real, as if you are watching a live action film. Moogles are adorable! Every CGI scene mesmerizes, and makes you want to watch it again and again.
The one downfall to the story is the lack of a romance. Every Final Fantasy has its lovers, but this one does not. The only hint at a romance is at the beginning, and then the guy dies before the game begins! It is disappointing to not have that expected romance, but it makes sense that it isn’t there. This is a war torn country, and the characters are fighting for it. They don’t have time for love.
In the end, Final Fantasy XII is a game worth playing more than once. While it is not as traditional as past Final Fantasies, the new it brings to the franchise makes it an amazing game by itself. I hope the series continues to stretch tradition and bring out more new ideas. Otherwise fans would get too bored and complain that everything is the same.