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Final Fantasy XII - Staff Retroview

Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: KirinAdministrators
edited February 2012 in Latest Updates
The Final Fantasy series' last showing on PS2 took five years and tens of millions of dollars (converted) to finish. How well that time was spent is entirely subjective, but the money's there on the screen.
No Bosch as lead - it got the kibosh.
It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
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Comments

  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    edited February 2012
    Agree with the cons there, but I'd personally drop down FF12 an extra point (maybe even a point and a half) due to 2 glaring flaws for me...the first being lack of character uniqueness in battle. I mean, they can learn anything, and their stats end up too similar in the long run, making it so there's no need to level everybody up, you can stick with just one party. The second glaring flaw being bizarre problems with the ATB at times. For example, this one enemy gets to pull off 2 spells in a row, when my person attempting to use a Phoenix Down, which he STARTED before the first spell was cast, cannot use it until after both spells are done? WHAT THE HELL MAN!?
    "Yes, because apparently blindly jumping headfirst into a firefight without a grasp on the situation or any combat experience is a sign of genius these days."
  • ArticianArtician Onion Kid Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Nice review of the game. Too many people dislike it for superficial reasons, but it was really artfully done. Despite the "wtf" story, it turned out to be one of my favorites in the series in a long, long time. I wish they'd port it up to HD, even.
    ... lack of character uniqueness in battle. I mean, they can learn anything, and their stats end up too similar in the long run, making it so there's no need to level everybody up, you can stick with just one party.

    Square has traded off and on experimentally with that type of combat system for the whole series. FF3, 5, 6, and largely 7 and 9 all had the generalized class assignment as well.
  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    edited February 2012
    Artician wrote: »
    Square has traded off and on experimentally with that type of combat system for the whole series. FF3, 5, 6, and largely 7 and 9 all had the generalized class assignment as well.

    FF3 your stats changed as your character gained levels in the job, so stats were different enough along with skills for you to relegate each character to a specific role (since changing classes meant starting them off at very low stats again, thereby punishing the player who changed their roles). In FF5, you only had 4 characters the entire game, and a ton of classes, so you could set your own classes up for each character for the entire game (and still not have mastered all of each type). In FF6, each character had a skillset unique to them, such as Sabin's Blitz skills, or Edgar's Tools. FF7 had the weapons and limit breaks going for them, plus the character stats were completely different by endgame (as the stat differences between people were significant enough from the beginning for you to relegate each character to a specific role). FF9 each character had different skills they could learn the entire game, different limit breaks, different equipment, and were just overall different to the point where I wonder why you listed that one.

    FFXII may be the only FF game where the characters had absolutely nothing differentiating themselves from each other during battle. Luckily that was fixed in the International version with the addition of "job" license boards (which limited each character to a designated "role"), but for the version we have here in the US, the problem still stands.
    "Yes, because apparently blindly jumping headfirst into a firefight without a grasp on the situation or any combat experience is a sign of genius these days."
  • Doctor ChaosDoctor Chaos Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Definitely one of my favorites in the series. The battle system was excellent, the world was very rich and detailed, and the designs were fantastic. Really, some of the monster designs were pretty amazing.

    I agree that making all the characters "blank slates" is not ideal. FF8 had that issue as well. The license board makes it so that it pays off to have characters specialize in particular weapons, but in the end, I think all my characters were pretty similar. I never got to play the international version. I would LOVE to see an HD port of the international version for PS3 & Vita.

    My main problem with the game was the story pacing. It started off OK, but the pacing really slowed down in the middle. There were long stretches of the game where I lost the plot thread, and mostly stopped caring about the story. That didn't happen with FFX, which had a really dramatic and deep storyline from start to finish (despite being nearly incomprehensible at times).
  • Just DougJust Doug Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    EDIT: I took so long to post this the Zodiac Job System already got mentioned! My bad.
    Agree with the cons there, but I'd personally drop down FF12 an extra point (maybe even a point and a half) due to 2 glaring flaws for me...the first being lack of character uniqueness in battle. I mean, they can learn anything, and their stats end up too similar in the long run, making it so there's no need to level everybody up, you can stick with just one party. The second glaring flaw being bizarre problems with the ATB at times. For example, this one enemy gets to pull off 2 spells in a row, when my person attempting to use a Phoenix Down, which he STARTED before the first spell was cast, cannot use it until after both spells are done? WHAT THE HELL MAN!?

    Agreed. Well, mostly agreed. XD

    I was a little annoyed by how similar the 6 playable characters were too, but it didn't bother me that much since I'm used to it from more than a couple FF games (not that that excuses it!). There are a couple other factors I think are worth mentioning at least: 1) their growth is left in the hands of the player in a very broad way from the very beginning--obviously with enough LP you can just fill everyone out completely but I think the idea was to take specific paths with characters first. Seemed like a good idea at the time maybe. Of course it didn't help that one would naturally try to learn the most practical setups... which in my case at least lead to everyone being similar to each other (my party wound up being a party of paladins/red mages, essentially). And 2) for what it's worth, they did address this flaw with their "International" Zodiac Job System version. Not that we got to play it... and that wasn't the version being reviewed either. I wonder what it'd be like playing XII while trying to emulate that edition's limited License boards.

    Contrast the License Board with, say, the Sphere Grid (just like JuMeSyn did). The Sphere Grid in FFX *eventually* lead to everyone having the same abilities sans overdrives/summoning but you spent a bulk of the game with only moderate overlap. Even the Crystarium in XIII which gave people the same basic roles but with slightly-to-moderately different skillsets in each. In those, there's a level of forced or built-in diversity that all but necessitates certain characters for certain situations. XII was pretty much unfettered in this regard.

    As for the other glaring flaw you mentioned... that really got on my nerves too. As far as I know, it had to do with the visual effects. Too much going on at once and it would prioritize and put stuff on hold while all the big stuff took a while to resolve. That's bad in and of itself but what made it even worse was that for whatever reason, it would stop your team from being able to do anything--items, simple auto attacks, nothin'--but the enemy would still be punching your face in. So the game hangs up on the big spells... leaves your other party member(s) paralyzed... but not the enemy. Totally unfair and infuriating. The only solution was to never use stuff like Scathe or Flare, which feeds straight back to leaving my team as a phalanx of paladins/red mages doing nothing but thwacking the enemy and curing and/or buffing themselves.

    Anyway, I wouldn't take 1~1.5 for all that though, probably just 0.5.

    As for the actual review... spot on as far as I'm concerned. Unrealized potential in the story (I've always thought that FFXII seemed like the first disc or two of a PSX era FF) that seems a bit too cliched at times despite their effort to rise above such. On the other hand, excellent localization and voice acting superior to its predecessor in the (offline) series. Additionally, I loved the style in which the dialogue and flavor text was written and just like FFT I enjoyed the look down to every last bit of art, font, and interface. Some people don't like the battle system but that's something that comes up with any FF (or really, most JRPGs) and is of varying importance to different people and depends not just on the battle system in question but on the rest of the game. FFXII to me seems like a game that can maintain appeal even if one is not sold on Gambits. I for one thought gambits and the battle system in general were neat despite their limitations--maybe it helps that I had already been playing XI for years when XII came out.

    The story was always my big "I wish..." about this game, the other quibbles I had were just that, so I agree with the 4.0 (the 0.5 I'd subtract for the seemingly-hardware-issue with using big-ticket spells and being funneled into making a team of paladins gets made up by the fact I don't consider the hunts/nasty fights a minus...well Yiazmat sure but I just didn't bother with him :P). I would put FFXII in my top-five list of PS2 RPGs, but man don't ever ask me to set that list in stone, heh.
    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." - Shakespeare, Hamlet Act I, Scene 5

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  • freykinfreykin Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    It's too bad the international version of this didn't make it over here, as the zodiac job system in it is incredible and adds a ton to the game.
  • colormonstercolormonster Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    I agree with the cons, as well. My two biggest gripes are the incompleteness of the story and Quickenings almost ruining the strategic element to the game mid-game due to it being overly spammable.

    I'm playing through the International Version right now and it's a blast.
  • ClixClix Former Listmaster Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Glad you had fun with it, Jumes. It is a bit of a mix bag since it's not too hard to see where the rough development hurt the end product, but it's certainly one of the better entries in the series in the past 10+ years.
  • DravDrav A Serious Man Full Members
    edited February 2012
    FFXII is a solid A for Effort, but most of the criticisms people have aimed at it over the years are completely true. I think the only non-retarded review Gametrailers ever did was for this game, which was the only mainstream review I read that actually took it to task for most of its major issues (even though they ended up giving it an 8 when they really meant to give it a 6). I think FFXII was pretty much the last year where the people who reviewed JRPGs only played JRPGs, and therefore didn't realize that there were so many other games that did what FFXII was trying to do much better. It's too bad SE never attempted to make a proper sequel (we'll pretend Revenant Wings never happened), since if they'd had a chance to fix all the balance and pacing issues they could have made something genuinely great.
  • ElementolElementol Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    FFXII is one my favorite FFs, ever. I played through it twice using a FAQ that showed you how to emulate the International Version on the standard game and it really enhanced my enjoyment of the game. To this day, I still have a desire to play the game again with different jobs for each character.
    “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it and it will never be used to hurt you.” - Tyrion Lannister
  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed Full Members
    edited February 2012
    The job grid was a plus for me, because I used it to make my own little tank/healer/dps team out of my three favourite characters, and I never used anybody else.
    Becky Cunningham, Happy Snappy RPGamer Alum
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    edited February 2012
    Ocelot wrote: »
    The job grid was a plus for me, because I used it to make my own little tank/healer/dps team out of my three favourite characters, and I never used anybody else.

    This is one of the first games that gave me a open character builds that I did this for, too. I made Basch a dark knight (damage magic and power weapons), Balthier a red mage/healer, and Penelo a paladin tank (white magic and heavy armor). Loved it.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
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  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Macstorm wrote: »
    This is one of the first games that gave me a open character builds that I did this for, too. I made Basch a dark knight (damage magic and power weapons), Balthier a red mage/healer, and Penelo a paladin tank (white magic and heavy armor). Loved it.

    Heh, I made Ashe a paladin tank, Balthier a black mage bomber, and Fran a white/green mage.
    Becky Cunningham, Happy Snappy RPGamer Alum
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2012
    FFXII is a solid A for Effort, but most of the criticisms people have aimed at it over the years are completely true. I think the only non-retarded review Gametrailers ever did was for this game, which was the only mainstream review I read that actually took it to task for most of its major issues (even though they ended up giving it an 8 when they really meant to give it a 6). I think FFXII was pretty much the last year where the people who reviewed JRPGs only played JRPGs, and therefore didn't realize that there were so many other games that did what FFXII was trying to do much better. It's too bad SE never attempted to make a proper sequel (we'll pretend Revenant Wings never happened), since if they'd had a chance to fix all the balance and pacing issues they could have made something genuinely great.

    What games that came out around the same time as FFXII were doing the same thing only better exactly?
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  • LassicLassic Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Elementol wrote: »
    FFXII is one my favorite FFs, ever. I played through it twice using a FAQ that showed you how to emulate the International Version on the standard game and it really enhanced my enjoyment of the game. To this day, I still have a desire to play the game again with different jobs for each character.

    I've been trying to get my hands on a FAQ like that for some time but had no luck. If you can provide the link to that FAQ it would be much appreciated ;)
  • MiyosakaMiyosaka Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    I enjoyed FFXII on my first playthrough, but I found it completely boring on my second go-round. I couldn't make it past the Sandsea. Great music, graphics and plot, just a slog in the gameplay department.
    thanks for reading
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2012
    Miyosaka wrote: »
    I enjoyed FFXII on my first playthrough, but I found it completely boring on my second go-round. I couldn't make it past the Sandsea. Great music, graphics and plot, just a slog in the gameplay department.

    You probably would have found the international version more to your liking, it includes a fast forward button for combat.
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  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Wheels wrote: »
    What games that came out around the same time as FFXII were doing the same thing only better exactly?

    Yeah, I'm coming up blank on this one. I recall the world of WRPGs being a bit desert-ish at the time, other than MMORPGs. Inform us, Throne. :)
    Becky Cunningham, Happy Snappy RPGamer Alum
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2012
    Ocelot wrote: »
    Yeah, I'm coming up blank on this one. I recall the world of WRPGs being a bit desert-ish at the time, other than MMORPGs. Inform us, Throne. :)

    here's a list of games that came out that year for reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_in_video_gaming

    As far as similar games go, Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2 had obviously been out by then, and those are better for the most part, but not by the levels he's talking about. For instance - imagine if KotoR had FFXII's interface, which made it extremely easy to pause and issue commands to different chracters.
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  • DravDrav A Serious Man Full Members
    edited February 2012
    The first games that came to mind were the Baldur's Gate series, but KOTOR, the Temple of Elemental Evil and even Neverwinter Nights 2 had better combat mechanics, character systems and ability balance. My point is that they style of game that FFXII is was not a new concept and deserved more scrutiny than what it was actually given.
  • ElementolElementol Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Lassic wrote: »
    I've been trying to get my hands on a FAQ like that for some time but had no luck. If you can provide the link to that FAQ it would be much appreciated ;)

    this is the link to the guide I used: http://www.neoseeker.com/resourcelink.html?rlid=162717&rid=150697

    if u do decide to use it, i hope you have as much fun playing the game with this guide as I did :D
    “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it and it will never be used to hurt you.” - Tyrion Lannister
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2012
    The first games that came to mind were the Baldur's Gate series, but KOTOR, the Temple of Elemental Evil and even Neverwinter Nights 2 had better combat mechanics, character systems and ability balance. My point is that they style of game that FFXII is was not a new concept and deserved more scrutiny than what it was actually given.

    Sorry but I don't buy it wasn't given a great deal of scrutiny, nor do I think some of the games you mentioned (mainly ToEE and NWN2) are as good as you make them out to be. Issues with character advancement aside, FFXII had a lot of gameplay improvements that games like KotoR and NWN2 sorely needed. I think you're looking too much at one factor (D&D rules obviously trump FFXII's systems) and not looking at the complete package.
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  • DravDrav A Serious Man Full Members
    edited February 2012
    I don't think KOTOR or Neverinwinter Nights 2 had particularly good combat or mechanics, especially not compared to ToEE or Baldur's Gate. I just think they had better mechanics than FFXII.

    FFXII was very poorly balanced. Physical attacks were so overpowered that there was no reason to use any other kind of offence. Most of the techniques were useless. Offensive magic was only useful when bosses threw up their physical invulnerabilities, and even then it was often more efficient to just wait it out. Summons weren't even close to being worth their MP cost. There was practically no difference between weapons, not even ranged weapons vs melee weapons. The game throws license points at you like there's no tomorrow, so you never have to make tough choices about what upgrade to pick next. The net effect of all of this was that you ended up with a party of 3 characters built the exact same way: physical characters with white magic and buffs. Set up some very basic gambits, and the game plays itself.

    None of the other games, for all their flaws, have issues like this. Some of them have lots of useless abilities (NWN2), some of them are generally too easy (KOTOR, although set the base difficulty higher), but FFXII felt like it hadn't been playtested at all. Hardly anyone gave it the scrutiny it deserved, because hardly anyone said it was ****.
  • AngelonightAngelonight Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    For as beautiful as the game was design wise and graphically, I just could not connect to any of the characters. And the combat absolutely killed it for me. So much so that by the time I got to Fran's village I was so sick of the game I just looked the ending up on Youtube. I really really really hope that when FF15 comes out SE gives full control of the characters back to the players.
    Kain: "Conscience...? You dare speak to me of conscience? Only when you have felt the full gravity of choice should you dare to question my judgment!"
  • TwinBahamutTwinBahamut Staff Healer RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2012
    I'll agree about the game being poorly balanced... I mean, one of the most important tactical considerations in the late game is animation length. Thanks to the way the game executes attacks, it is useful to use long-animation attacks like Holy if the enemy is trying to use spells or skills, but suicidal to use that kind of spell against an enemy who focuses on powerful basic weapon attacks. It's ridiculous.

    Also, this review doesn't quite cover some of my biggest complaints about the game... First off, the basic balance of effort and reward in the game is terrible. If you've got the slightest bit of completionist bone in your body, it will punish you horribly. The sidequests ask you to go to rather extreme effort in order to give you a chance at a decent reward, and the few reliable good rewards require a lot of grinding. Poor localization of puzzle hints doesn't help very much, either. I haven't had to look at GameFAQs just to understand the basic concept of a puzzle since Wild ARMS 2 for the PS1, yet I had to do so for this game.
  • Confessor RahlConfessor Rahl Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Ahh the last true Final Fantasy game. Had some amazing times with this one, and the review is damned spot on. I really enjoyed the story, it actually "felt" like a FF game. The last game to feel like one is Lost Odyssey.
    "Back when FF9 was coming out. People were rejoicing because it was actually a fantasy game and not a sci-fi game like 7 and 8. It's hilarious in modern context, with everyone wanking themselves to dehydration at the thought of a FF7 remake."
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2012
    I don't think KOTOR or Neverinwinter Nights 2 had particularly good combat or mechanics, especially not compared to ToEE or Baldur's Gate. I just think they had better mechanics than FFXII.

    That's not very specific.



    FFXII was very poorly balanced. Physical attacks were so overpowered that there was no reason to use any other kind of offence. Most of the techniques were useless. Offensive magic was only useful when bosses threw up their physical invulnerabilities, and even then it was often more efficient to just wait it out.

    Not my experience. Magic was almost always more useful in my experience, especially when it came to fighting multiple monsters at once. I'm not sure if your definition of "offensive" magic includes de-buffs, because those were incredibly useful. There was a ton of use for the many buffs in the game as well.
    Summons weren't even close to being worth their MP cost.

    No, but neither were they an integral part of gameplay
    There was practically no difference between weapons, not even ranged weapons vs melee weapons.
    Do you mean damage/skill wise or as far as actual usefulness? I'll grant you your choices basically boiled down to melee one hand, melee two hand, or ranged, but there certainly were some differences. I stuck with a ranged weapon on the character I controlled and let the other two go in melee range so I could stay back and heal. Ranged weapons also were useful in drawing the attention of a monster without getting too close to others.
    The game throws license points at you like there's no tomorrow, so you never have to make tough choices about what upgrade to pick next. The net effect of all of this was that you ended up with a party of 3 characters built the exact same way: physical characters with white magic and buffs. Set up some very basic gambits, and the game plays itself.

    Actually unless you're doing a bunch of the hunts and fighting pretty much everything you run into, it does not. Many of the most powerful spells/weapons etc. are quite costly and often require tough choices. The LP gets even scarcer if you're trying to keep all six party members leveled instead of focusing on a cast of three.

    Basic gambits? No way, and its not my problem you didn't want to play the game yourself. Gambits are not required.
    None of the other games, for all their flaws, have issues like this. Some of them have lots of useless abilities (NWN2), some of them are generally too easy (KOTOR, although set the base difficulty higher), but FFXII felt like it hadn't been playtested at all. Hardly anyone gave it the scrutiny it deserved, because hardly anyone said it was ****.

    Actually they really do. KOTOR's interface issues are pretty terrible in retrospect. It sounds to me more likely hardly anyone had the gameplay experience you did.
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  • King Jowy XXIIKing Jowy XXII Regnus Obscura Full Members
    edited February 2012
    I think you went surprisingly easy on the game, JuMeSyn...granted, it's important to remain objective with a game (which is why I could never do what you do) but I will say that 4.0 feels rather generous.
  • JormungandJormungand Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    The real question is... will there ever be another FF character as badass as Basch?

    One thing I really liked about the cast (both main and supporting) of FFXII is that they acted in believable ways. There were very few "over-the-top" characters, at least relative to the typical FF and certainly to JRPGs in general. Adults acted like adults, and even Penelo, who I dreaded would become the token bubbly teen, was surprisingly mellow. (As an aside, perhaps someone who believes this game's characters are shallow could explain why the (unfortunately mandatory) teen personas of Vaan and Penelo are so much more mature and clear-headed than similarly-aged characters in other JRPGs, FF or otherwise?)

    The cast was largely no-nonsense. They had a clear goal in mind and went after it. No endless dilemmas about identity, and no irrational beliefs or convenient misunderstandings woven into the plot. And, hilariously, as many have pointed out, the story was essentially incomplete (or, as was perfectly summarized in the review, unable to reach its potential)--and yet, I think it's still much better than at least half of the FF series.

    Square ought to look at all the things that were done right with XII, and start taking notes.
  • NergalNergal The Don Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Perfect game IMHO - definitely among my favourite gaming experiences of last decade. I really wish there were more JRPGs that borrowed elements from it.
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