I’m changing things up this week! While I love espousing about games I have played in the past, the experience proved to feel a little vapid. I will now be using this weekly post to revisit, or discuss for the first time, games that are at a minimum 10 years old. Based on how I play, games will often stretch over multiple weeks of the canon.
Let’s get to it.
I purchased Final Fantasy XII in the spring of 2006. The PS2 was nearing the end of its dominance over video games, making way for the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii. At the time, I was 14 and thought any Final Fantasy game was a guaranteed fun time, having played FFX and FF Tactics Advanced. I distinctly remember getting home from the store and setting up my PS2 in the basement, having ceded the living room to my younger sister and her pre-school love of Dora the Explorer. It is at this point that my memories of FFXII become a bit fuzzy.
I remember being wowed by the opening cut scenes. Having re-watched them in the past 48 hours, I am still fairly impressed. The opening screen promises gorgeous cities to explore, airship battles, and an adventure inspiring score to make any Final Fantasy fan dive in. The next thing I remember is the disappointing realization that FFXII functions differently from FFX. While I was hoping for the old school turn based battles, FFXII employed a new system of open world battles more in line with how MMO combat. I was bummed but I kept playing for a while. My final memory of FFXII from that time is not fully understanding the mechanics, getting discouraged, and walking away from it far from finished, a fate it shared with many games I tried when I was a kid.
Coming back to FFXII now, almost exactly ten years later, I find myself disappointed with how I left it in 2006. Playing it now, it’s clear that I didn’t fully utilize the systems for improving characters nor did I use the “Gambit” system that allows the player to prioritize decisions made by the AI allies. Having looked over these mechanics again, I realize I may have been a little dumb in my teenage years.
Over this long weekend I played around 10 hours of FFXII. Although the time may be brief, this play through has already kindled my love of the Final Fantasy series. The combat is simple enough with numerous complexities to explore in the “Gambit” system. Character advancement is straightforward and, as of my current location, hasn’t offered much in the way of character distinction, but I figure as my characters reach higher levels their abilities will be more distinct.
The setting and story are everything one wants from a Final Fantasy. A melodrama set in a fantastic world that defies logic of fact or fiction. The main character, Vaan, is young, earnest, and somewhat bland. Vaan falls in with an unexpected group made up of sky pirates, friends, and a man believed to be a regicide. Together they’ll take on the encroaching empire and, if they follow every other Final Fantasy, save the world.
I look forward to dissecting FFXII further in the coming weeks, be sure to check back here next Tuesday for part two.