This is the greatest Final Fantasy of all time. I will now separate the games I play from this point on into two categories: Games I played before Final Fantasy XII and those I've played after. An RPG that I thought was good before Final Fantasy XII might not be considered so now. Every detail in this game is detailed. This just shows you what four years in the making can do. I honestly feel a little sad because I am having doubts if another game can be better than this. How much money would they have to spend and how long would they have to work on a game to make it better than Final Fantasy XII? All those people that wrote reviews about how this game didn't live up to expectations need to get on some type of medication because they are clearly delusional about the reality and history of video games. Many might be young kids whose first system was Playstation one. My first system was Intellivision. Yes, this was before Nintendo and Atari 2600.
When you look at the evolution of video games you also have to look at the evolution of their target audience. The audience for this medium has evolved along with the games. If you are someone that has been there from the beginning you will realize what I'm talking about.
The story moves away from the typical Final Fantasy storyline, one that focuses on a central character's story; or at least a typical storyline as of late. It also moves away from the evil force attempting to destroy the world scenario. This time they move to a story that is closer to that of a Suikoden title than a Final Fantasy. It is a more political storyline with countries and empires in conflict, rather than just characters. The story flows very well. It doesn't push you through too fast or too slow. It allows you to go at the pace you want to go at. As a side mission you get bills to hunt down certain bosses that are not storyline affecting nor give experience points but will raise your rank in the Hunters Guild, they call “Clan”, which will give you certain benefits; item's, gold, etc. Basically it's just plain fun, and gives you something else to focus on as well as the main story.
Personally, one thing I enjoy in a Final Fantasy title is running around, fighting, and leveling up my characters. This title will provide a good opportunity to do that without having to fight a thousand weak enemies to level up. I hate RPGs where you have to reach a certain level to be strong enough to compete at the next part of the game. In FFXII you always have access to two or three other areas where the monsters are a lot stronger than you. So you can continue the path of the story and plot, or if you want to level up you can fight enemies in your territory, or current location, until you are tough enough to venture into those other areas. Once you are there you will level up faster because the enemies are tough and provide more experience but they are harder to kill. The good thing about that is that you need to use skill to kill them, having everyone just attack all the time is boring and monotonous. It is in your benefit to try to venture into these areas because it generally advances the overall story or adds to the depth of the storyline.
WOW! This game single handedly convinced me to not get a PS3. This is reminiscent of when FFVII came out and it used 100% of the Playstation to point where they were overheating. (I had to play mine upside down) I'm sure some of you remember that. Final Fantasy XII must have come the closest to date to using 100% of the PS2 because I haven't seen anything on this system that even comes close. Why buy a PS3 and go through that first generation of sub-par games when games like this are possible for the PS2? I doubt, however, that there will be any more of this caliber. It goes to show that this system has much more potential than developers were willing to shell out the dough to take advantage of. But I digress, back to the graphics. Every brick, every pebble, rock, rock wall, enemy, decaying wall, cobblestone, plant, etc, is detailed. You should definitely spend time exploring every nook and cranny of every dungeon or explorable area. You may walk around a corner that every other player may walk right by and find that, yes, they took the time to detail that as well; put a plant or debris there just for you, the one person to see it. You may turn a corner and find the most beautiful and aesthetic scene. The game is alive with birds that fly overhead, clouds, weather systems, and people going about their daily activities. Nobody just stands there still. An NPC might be sitting on a ledge but their legs may be swinging and hair blowing in the wind, and look at you when you address them. When you think about it, nobody in real life stands perfectly still and neither do the NPCs in Final Fantasy XII. The CGI in the FMVs are spectacular and on the scale of Final Fantasy the movie. But the in-game cut scenes look fabulous as well.
This is without question the best Final Fantasy since FFVII, possibly the best ever. It really doesn't matter whether you rank it one or two because in my opinion that is a win-win situation. Do not think that this game is all hype. Go buy it, play it, and you'll love it. However, if you have any other RPGs you want to play also I'd buy FFXII, put it on the shelf and play the others first because they won't be the same if you play them afterwards.
First off, don't listen to the hype about the Gambit system not being very effective. Since there are a ton of reviews on this game but no one really goes into the gambit system I will be the one to explain it to those interested in Final Fantasy XII. The Gambit system is one of the best improvements to the Final Fantasy series. There are hundreds of Gambit situations and hundreds of ways you can have members of the party react to them. For example you can have a gambit for a player to cast Cure on any member of the party whose health falls below 70% (or any percent you choose). And each member can have many gambits, and you can rank them in order of importance. So you can have them cast cure only if there is no threat from enemies. You can have them cast Blizzara on enemies that are vulnerable to ice magic, or you can cast Oil and have a gambit for a member to cast Fira on enemies only when they have oil on them. The possibilities are limitless. So what is the point of gambits? It's just to make the battling easier. Correct me if I'm wrong but in Final Fantasy, the name of the game is fighting and leveling up, and it makes that a whole lot easier and faster. But it also helps in tough levels by keeping your members alive and helping inflict the most damage you can think of. Since the game does not take you into a separate battle screen it can be tough to stay on top of everything going on on-screen as you battle. The Gambit system is there to help. You tell you players what to do in a certain situation and they do it. Do not think it makes the game less interactive though, because you are constantly unlocking or purchasing new gambits you can implement and adjusting your gambits to different strategies is very fun.
Getting around Ivalice is fun as well. You can run to your destination, of course, but running through some of the areas with easy monsters can be annoying and time consuming. They have save crystals where you can save your game and restore your characters. Say good-bye to tents. There are two types of crystals. Blue save crystals allow you to save your game and replenish your characters. Orange save crystals allow you to do both of the former and in addition allow you to teleport of any other orange crystal you have found. Of course, you need a teleport stone to do so, so choose your teleports wisely, but I've found I have enough teleport stones that I really don't worry too much about running out. You usually get them as part of your rewards to the Hunts you complete, because you usually use them while tracking the hunts as well. But you generally get more than you use.
The voice acting is the best I've seen in a game. Each character has a unique voice and accent to reflect their character and personality. The actors do a great job of capturing the mood. I'm sure they do so with thanks to the writers or translators who did a good job of not setting them up for failure with awkward dialogue. The sound effects are awesome. The surround effects sound great throughout the game, whether it is combat, cut-scene, or FMV (full motion video). Not only do they sound good as surround effects but the effects are deep, rich, and full. It gives you a cinematic and engrossing experience. The music is beautiful. The different background music for different areas will leave you humming it long after you turn the game off. At the sound of the music as you enter an area or dungeon you will get excited about going on. The music for the cut-scenes is very well done and adds to the cinematic experience. You will still find a few classic Final Fantasy songs, perhaps a little touched up and tweaked for the new game.Many explorable areas have secret passages not on the area map or minimap. There are many, many weapons, armor, magics, and techniques, you can use. There are limitless combinations one can do to form the party they want and you can always go back at any time, if you have the license points available, and change your party around. You may decide that you like so-and-so better with more magic power and a different weapon, and that is okay, that's what it's all about and you should have that freedom to make changes or not to. In addition, you can ride chocobos, but I haven't found this as amusing as other might. My favorite part about this game is the fact amidst all the new technology it still has the FEEL of a Final Fantasy title.