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Final Fantasy XII - Staff Retroview

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  • colormonstercolormonster Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Jormungand wrote: »
    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.

    I believe this is thanks to Matsuno's influence on the games. All of his games mostly revolve around "believable" cast of characters. I believe this is because he focuses on big picture, like wars between countries, rather than characters. That's not to say that the characters are in anyway shallow or under developed. Rather, in my opinion, the characters behave like they belong in the world and act appropriately to given scenarios.
  • JitawaJitawa Member 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 ****.

    I agree with everything you've said. I found it irksome when the game came out that the gambit system was treated as some sort of brilliant invention (or even an invention at all) as if they hadn't seen any of the PC games with AI controlled companions. XII was massively disappointing to me. It felt way too much like they'd appropriated an MMO engine/scheme for the game, and focus-grouped the main characters Vaan & Penelo into a story they didn't belong in (probably because they did). The fact the game practically "demands" a FAQ/guide to secure rarer weapons was particularly ridiculous (punishing players for opening chests earlier in the game by dropping the odds of getting items later? who thought that up?!).

    It deserves the scorn it received, and the only thing I find myself willing to give the game credit for now is good localization and acting with the script (story aside).
  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed Full Members
    edited February 2012
    While it's true that PC games had AI-controlled companions before the gambit system came out, none of them to my knowledge had an easy, accessable macro-style system that the average gamer could use to influence that AI. That's the way the gambit system innovated, integrating that kind of system directly into the game and making it easy to use. If anybody can give me the actual name of a game that did this before Final Fantasy XII I will concede the point, but having played most of the major Western/PC RPGs from 1990 onward, I sure can't think of one.
    Becky Cunningham, Happy Snappy RPGamer Alum
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • ShadowcatShadowcat Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Ok I don't think I'll go into the "I hate RPG AI" thing as I've done it to death. The main reason I just don't like FF12 is the simple fact that it's too much like FFXI and at the time I'd been playing it constantly for at least five years. All the battle machinics, monsters and even avatars are there. Some of the battle system is sped up over the MMO but everything is nearly the same...and honestly it might as well just be a bad FFXI expansion pack...
    FFXI Character name: Shadowneko Server: Quetzalcoatl Main Jobs: lvl 76 THF, lvl 95 Summoner, lvl 39 Dragoon
    FlOzXvF.jpg
    My VAPS Entry,
  • EmeraldSuzakuEmeraldSuzaku Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Shadowcat wrote: »
    Ok I don't think I'll go into the "I hate RPG AI" thing as I've done it to death. The main reason I just don't like FF12 is the simple fact that it's too much like FFXI and at the time I'd been playing it constantly for at least five years. All the battle machinics, monsters and even avatars are there. Some of the battle system is sped up over the MMO but everything is nearly the same...and honestly it might as well just be a bad FFXI expansion pack...

    Wait, what? Skillchains were nowhere in XII, just as Quickenings were nowhere in XI. The summons/avatars/aeons/whatever were totally different between the games. Aside from FF staples, the spell and ability lists were pretty much different, too. The character advancement system was totally different between the games. XII was effectively classless (until the International edition), not that it terribly mattered--the job system is a on-again-off-again FF staple since III.

    The only similarities between the games were that you could control a single party member to the exclusion of the others, and that enemies showed up on the map. Unless I'm missing something? How is XII essentially the same as XI?
  • AiddonAiddon Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    I believe this is thanks to Matsuno's influence on the games. All of his games mostly revolve around "believable" cast of characters. I believe this is because he focuses on big picture, like wars between countries, rather than characters. That's not to say that the characters are in anyway shallow or under developed. Rather, in my opinion, the characters behave like they belong in the world and act appropriately to given scenarios.

    Yeah, XII was a massive letdown and that's mostly because its development time was such a gigantic cluster**** due to executive meddling that Matsuno barely got through the halfway stage in development before saying "screw you guys, I'm goin' home." XII could have been the adrenaline shot the series needed after Sakaguchi left but instead we got a slipshod story filled with flowery, shallow dialogue with boring characters and a boring battle system that wanted to involve the player as little as possible. I still wonder what Matsuno's game would have been like if he didn't have to deal with Square's idiot executive and got to have Basch as the hero like he had wanted instead of clumsily being forced to insert some pointless kids.
  • ShadowcatShadowcat Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Wait, what? Skillchains were nowhere in XII, just as Quickenings were nowhere in XI. The summons/avatars/aeons/whatever were totally different between the games. Aside from FF staples, the spell and ability lists were pretty much different, too. The character advancement system was totally different between the games. XII was effectively classless (until the International edition), not that it terribly mattered--the job system is a on-again-off-again FF staple since III.

    The only similarities between the games were that you could control a single party member to the exclusion of the others, and that enemies showed up on the map. Unless I'm missing something? How is XII essentially the same as XI?

    Sorry but you don't hold muster. I said "Offline fixes" which is what you're are totally rambling about and have no bearing on how this drives me crazy or the similarities(also I saw an Ifrit model that looked 100% FFXI in 12). At the core of the battle system without gambits you have the exact same system as FFXI(it's sped up but it still controls the same way with auto attack + the same long hand command issuing). If you look at FF12 without Vaahn or any real character references you could easily fit FF12 into one corner of the FFXI world as all the towns, areas and dungeons are elementally FFXI style and they borrow quite abit from the MMO(in fact the first city is a combo of Jueno and San d'Oria for example). Without knowing that you're playing FF12 you could easily think that you just walked into another FFXI expansion pack.

    Monsters- alot of the things I encountered before FF12 drove me crazy 2-4 hours in were either FFXI creatures or pallet swapped versions of the mmo monsters or the exact same ones(in fact the first hunt is a pallet-swapped FFXI mandy!). Anything new you could just drop into FFXI and no one would think that it looked funny.

    Areas- all the caves look alot like any FFXI dungeon I've ever been in and the first area looks like part Valkium Dunes and part Attohwa Chasm...
    FFXI Character name: Shadowneko Server: Quetzalcoatl Main Jobs: lvl 76 THF, lvl 95 Summoner, lvl 39 Dragoon
    FlOzXvF.jpg
    My VAPS Entry,
  • King Jowy XXIIKing Jowy XXII Regnus Obscura Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Aiddon wrote: »
    Yeah, XII was a massive letdown and that's mostly because its development time was such a gigantic cluster**** due to executive meddling that Matsuno barely got through the halfway stage in development before saying "screw you guys, I'm goin' home." XII could have been the adrenaline shot the series needed after Sakaguchi left but instead we got a slipshod story filled with flowery, shallow dialogue with boring characters and a boring battle system that wanted to involve the player as little as possible. I still wonder what Matsuno's game would have been like if he didn't have to deal with Square's idiot executive and got to have Basch as the hero like he had wanted instead of clumsily being forced to insert some pointless kids.

    Wow, pretty much ALL of this, reposted for truthiness. I obviously agree completely; FFXII seemed hollow...a world built with every necessary detail except those that drew you in to the narrative. The closest example I can compare it to would be the real-world capital of North Korea, Pyongyang...a shell of a city built to give the impression of an inward and probable culture, but completely lacking in the human qualities that create a sense of identity. We were told - not shown - the basics of the story behind most of the cast, and that lack of a journey provided little more than pretty backdrops to isolated events...few of which were tied together in any meaningful way.

    It's a shame, because there was obviously a great deal of care that went into creating the aesthetic of the world...its culture, economy, political backdrops...a tragic case of too many chefs in the kitchen, I suppose.
  • DravDrav A Serious Man Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Wheels wrote: »
    Rebuttal
    Most of what you're saying here boils down to "well, I didn't experience that", so there probably isn't much I can say to convince you, but there is one thing I'd like to clarify:
    Basic gambits? No way, and its not my problem you didn't want to play the game yourself. Gambits are not required.

    By "basic gambits" I didn't mean "only use a couple of gambits", I meant using a very obvious set-up for all three characters like raising dead characters, healing your characters when their health is low, and auto-casting buffs (as you get them). Not exactly a mind-blowing strategy, yet it allowed me to play about 95% of the main game on auto. That's my complaint; conceptually, I have no problem with the gambit system.
  • JitawaJitawa Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Ocelot wrote: »
    While it's true that PC games had AI-controlled companions before the gambit system came out, none of them to my knowledge had an easy, accessable macro-style system that the average gamer could use to influence that AI. That's the way the gambit system innovated, integrating that kind of system directly into the game and making it easy to use. If anybody can give me the actual name of a game that did this before Final Fantasy XII I will concede the point, but having played most of the major Western/PC RPGs from 1990 onward, I sure can't think of one.

    Well, I most of the infinity engine games allowed custom scripts. To start, you could select from a variety of pre-made scripts (ranged attacker, healer, caster) any of which you can select from the start, and override on the fly in combat. Even if you take the latest and greatest of those old games (Baldur's Gate 2), it still predates FF XII by 6 years or so I think. So, by default, you get AI that is customizable in a "general" sense, but also more accessible than gambits (which forced you to "make" AI yourself, and even then, lacks the more complex set of conditions built in to the standard set of scripts in BG:2 (or any of the IE games really, but yeah).

    I don't know that I dislike the idea of making AI for your characters necessarily, but to have the limitations they put on the gambit system (where you had to unlock elements to be able to use them in the scripting) seemed to make it an unnecessarily cumbersome and limited process. By contrast, the PC games mentioned prior (BG:2, for one) aside from having many available scripts to start also allowed you to use custom scripts in-game (custom is one of the options in-game). Whether or not you find it as "accessible" as the gambit system is a matter of opinion. I don't know how intuitive players found setting up conditions for gambits in XII, but the setup of custom scripts in infinity engine games isn't much more complicated. The sort of conditions used in XII are very easy to setup, but the scripting system also allows for much more complex behaviors (without the line limitations too).

    I think another "difference" is the alternative. There's an expectation that you'll use gambits in XII I think, and if you aren't, the selection of party abilities and skills in combat always seemed cumbersome (in comparison to prior games). I think Baldur's Gate:2 had a similar setup in some ways. You can have the whole party controlled by AI or you, but if you do opt for manual control it's more streamlined.

    I guess you can distill my issues with the gambit system to: it's limited/crippled from the start giving you few options, it comes off almost as a "we're going to make you make your own scripting" (optional in games 6-8 years earlier), it seemed disingenuous to introduce something as "new" that had been around for awhile, and the game's combat is awkward both with and without it.

    This is sort of separate issue compared to other problems with the game. The arcane manner in which you may/may not procure a Zodiac spear was bizarre, and it seemed to punish players who were completionist/opening every chest. I don't think there should be elements where it is impossible to suss out things without some sort of guide, and more so than any other type of "secret" in a Final Fantasy, that screamed "you should've bought the guide".

    I also (personally) found the game to have a grindy/generic MMO type feel to alot of the gameplay, the hunting progression, etc. was more generic/phoned-in sort of gameplay in comparison to an actual sort of scripted side-quest. It's not really what I expect in a jrpg.

    I will say, I think the voice acting and dialog was better than any Final Fantasy game before or since.
  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed Full Members
    edited February 2012
    I agree that having to unlock gambit system bits limited the system's usefulness, and thank you for actually providing an example of PC game AI scripting. :) I admit that I never touched the scripting in the Baldur's Gate series because I found the combat system unplayable without using the options to turn it into a turn-based system in which I micromanaged every character action (yes, I am a PC gaming heretic--I strongly disliked the Infinity Engine combat system). I still think the gambit system's accessibility and full integration into the game was an innovative move on Square Enix's part, and I think BioWare absolutely looked at both the scripting in Baldur's Gate and the FFXII gambit system while putting together the scripting system for the Dragon Age series. I'd also argue that Final Fantasy's battle system, with attacks and spells that are easily identifiable and have been refined through tons of games and spin-offs, is better suited towards a player-controlled AI scripting system. It's less manageable when you're dealing with a new IP that has a ton of skills the player isn't instantly familiar with (Dragon Age) or a more complex, open system like D&D (Baldur's Gate).

    Also, whether or not the gambit system innovated in general, it certainly was an excellent addition to the world of single-player JRPGs, which have increasingly used AI for party members as games have migrated towards primarily action combat. I know that the very fact that the gambit system exists has caused me to quickly lose patience with games that don't allow me any control over team member AI, especially when the default AI is poor.
    Becky Cunningham, Happy Snappy RPGamer Alum
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • JitawaJitawa Member Full Members
    edited February 2012
    Ocelot wrote: »
    ... I think BioWare absolutely looked at both the scripting in Baldur's Gate and the FFXII gambit system while putting together the scripting system for the Dragon Age series. I'd also argue that Final Fantasy's battle system, with attacks and spells that are easily identifiable and have been refined through tons of games and spin-offs, is better suited towards a player-controlled AI scripting system. It's less manageable when you're dealing with a new IP that has a ton of skills the player isn't instantly familiar with (Dragon Age) or a more complex, open system like D&D (Baldur's Gate).

    Also, whether or not the gambit system innovated in general, it certainly was an excellent addition to the world of single-player JRPGs, which have increasingly used AI for party members as games have migrated towards primarily action combat. I know that the very fact that the gambit system exists has caused me to quickly lose patience with games that don't allow me any control over team member AI, especially when the default AI is poor.

    Dragon Age definitely had shades of the gambit system with its AI setup. I was surprised at the time because the older Infinity Engine games has demonstratively more flexibility with their AI scripting (options like use "this" spell then, or use this "kind" of spell if hp is low.. etc.). Baldur's Gate even had a spell that functioned like a "minor" script: the contingency spell.... you'd set it up with a condition like "health at 20%" and it auto-casts ironskin. The AI was frequently awkward in Dragon Age though, and I found myself often opting for manual control. I was also a bit puzzled as to why they'd have the similar "unlock parts of your AI" as the gambit system, which was the worst part.

    I can see what you mean though, especially with games like Tales or Star Ocean, which don't lend themselves to controlling everyone.
  • Michael BakerMichael Baker RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2012
    Keroro RPG had the basic Tales series AI choices, but also allowed the player to purchase more AI options with special points gained from quick wins in battle. It wasn't as in-depth as any of the other examples mentioned, but it definitely improved the characters' actions in battle.
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