What is new in Final Fantasy XII and what were the others like? here is a brief guide to FF from VII onwards. My sister finished VII and has given me the story as I watched some of the breath taking grahics(at the time), handy to know the story before you watch the film. Below I give a brief description of the games and then for the FF vetrans I tell you of the diffrences that you may like or dislike in the new FFXII.
If you are new to the Final Fantasy series, then you will find FFXII a great experience and ground breaking graphics. FFVII and onwards are noted for their graphics, stories and combat system as well as their unique gameplay. To this day many still claim VII to be the best story, mainly down to the link between the 'Good' and 'Bad' Characters, Cloud and the Infamous yet loved Sephiroph. The 3D film 'Final Fantasy' was also a follow up to FFVII. My sister has played every FF game and thinks there is no match for Sephiroph. Altough and old game by todays standards, one worth playing.
FFVIII again broke the graphics mold with its 'Ballroom dance' scene, with the hero 'Squall' and the love itnerest 'Rinoa'. The story is one off friendship and Squall's upbringing is told as the game unfolds. a Mini-Game is introduced where you play a certain Card Game. Although you don't have to take part in these card games, the rewards are as good as the top loots when fighting. Your Characters gain levels as normal, by killing fiends, you also get abilities, but these only come about if your character has equipped a GF (Guardian Force). These abilities are essential and enable your characters to cast magic, Draw magic and other items(Even other GF's) and also give you abilities to increase your attributes. Quezacotl (GF one of your first) has a very important ability to change the cards you win into items, better the card better the item. Although the 'Bad' Character/s are not quite as indepth as VII it is still a huge bundle of entertainment, not to be missed.
FFIX I Hold my hands up, played about 2 hours worth and gave up. The graphics go back too cartoon type graphics and the story less mature, again my sister completed it, showed me the story and the best Graphic parts (Bahamut's entrance is a great scene to watch). All in all this did not grab me. Saying that, it's horses for courses and you may well think it the best ever.
FFX (The PS2 era begins) After IX it took me a while before I even bothered with X, as you may have guessed by now I am quite lazy and stuborn and played it sometime afters it's release. I was wrong, I should have played it from the momment it was released. Loveable characters, breath taking graphics, best story (IMHO!!), Fantastic mini game (Blitzball), awesome Aeons such as Shiva :-), (Gf's but only one chatacter uses them), and for the first time the characters speak with voices and not just words. I was enthralled from beginning to end. Even if the ending was just not right (IMHO)
FFX-2 A follow up to FFX, the reason for it I can not say as it would spoil the ending of FFX. Here you have three young girls, icluding Yuna and Rikku from X in search of 'Someone', They hunt 'Spheres' which hold magic and clips that tell the story. It is not as long as the others, but it is just a follow up. Now you may think i'm mad, but the weapons used in FFX-2 are not Gunblades, staffs or even Blitzballs but umm.... Dresses, yeah thats right dresses. sounds crazy but it's rather good fun, and if you complete the game to the highest level (You'll need the secrets book..that all the above FF's have) you get the ending you wanted (or I did..the happy ending).
FFXI This was an Online game and nothing like the above games or indeed XII.
FFXII A new era, very different to the older FF's. Main difference is the Combat system. No longer do you run round till (TiSSSShhh) and you are thrown into a random fight, you now get to see where you're enemies are in the area and chose which ones to fight. You are back to leveling (Unlike X) and you also get a Licence Board (No where near as complex as the Sphere Grids). No GF's or Aeons, very little storyline as opposed to playtime, no mini-games (Unless you call the Hunt's a mini game with no great rewards). When running round it is no longer the 'Main' character you see running but the three you have chosen, here you also need to mark the one of the three who is actually leader of the group. You can also make your character do Automatic actions in fights by using Gambits. (I.e. a players drops below 60% health and a character will automatically cure them.) Confusing to begin with but very handy when you get used to it. The graphics, needless to say are amazing but you feel that the characters could have had a more indepth history. As always Cid is a character in FF, this time bigger then ever. It is very short, almost as short as FFX-2, and the final boss fight is nore annoying then rewarding. At the end you feel the story is not finished and that the person you help all of a sudden has no wish to know you (Like you're not good enough). all in all it WAS fun to play, just did not feel like a FinalFantasy. Still it is worth playing.
Hope this help you!