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Final Fantasy XII


The NZA
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Ok, so: X2 is out soon, XI is the online one that looks to be released next spring, and Chronicles is the Gamecube-only co-op multiplayer one. Which means XII is lookin to be the next traditional Final Fantasy game released for a bit, amongst a few experiemental titles.

 

Still quite far off, details are only startin to leak through. Here's what's out, more as it comes.

 

Gameforms...

 

A week before the game was supposed to be publicly revealed, the first screenshots and character renders of Final Fantasy XII have been printed in the Japanese magazine Shonen Jump.

 

Two major characters have been revealed so far, a man and woman named Van and Ashe. Ashe wields a sword in her picture, a departure for most Final Fantasy heroines. Also shown in the first shots are such Final Fantasy staples as a chocobo-mounted soldier and an airship.

 

FFXII is already known to contain a number of key staff from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and several elements of FFTA appear to be making their way into this new title. One picture includes a Bangaa, the species of yellow lizard-like creatures that fought alongside Marche in FFTA. Some have also speculated that the silhouette above the game's logo is a FFTA Judge, though it is a bit early to tell.

 

01.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

logo.jpg

 

Gameforms...

New Tactics for an Old Series

Games | Ed McGlothlin [Contributing Editor]

 

Final Fantasy XII may be a departure for the series, but it happens in a familiar place – Ivalice, home to both Final Fantasy Tactics games. Director Yasumi Matsuno wasn’t just making a portable sequel with FFTA, he was previewing a number of features to be expanded on here. The game’s staff brings experience from across the series, and it promises to show with a variety of races, features, and themes.

 

It should be no surprise that the creator of Vagrant Story and the Tactics series is building FFXII around a plot with major political overtones. The game’s heroine is a princess named Ashe whose kingdom, Dalmasca, is seized by the invading empire of Arcadia. Vaan is an easygoing thief in said kingdom and puts his dreams of airships aside to join Ashe in the rebellion.

 

One group they’ll be rebelling against are the judges from FFTA, who drop their impartial role for a more sinister one, terrorizing citizens as a kind of secret police. That game’s races also reappear here, with the burly Bangaa serving as underlings to the judges and a third major character being a Viera archer. Moogles and chocobos had already been confirmed as returning.

 

Akihiko Yoshida, character designer on all of Matsuno’s previous titles for Square, will be working with him again here, though the characters seem to drop VS's more mature look for a standard teenage FF design. Notable FF veterans returning to the series include Hideo Minaba, art director for FFIX, and famed series composer Nobuo Uemtasu. Uematsu will only be working on the game’s theme, however, with Matsuno collaborator Hitoshi Sakimoto handling the overall composing duties.

 

As for the engine, the game is to include characters lighter on polygons but heavier on texture and lighting effects. There will be increased polygon models for the character faces, though, and a first-person viewpoint will be included.

 

The first screens show an Active Time Battle system from the pre-FFX era, but according to early information, battles are infused with some kind of combo ability. While the game is slated for a summer 2004 release, Square was mum on any further gameplay details.

 

Screenshots

 

4 CG shots

 

01.jpg

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And, finally, a review:

 

Not Your Father's Final Fantasy

Games | J.T. Kauffman [staff Writer]

 

For a long time, it was one of the things setting Final Fantasy apart: no direct sequels. Each game was an epic ending for its own world, and thus the Final Fantasy. But with the release of Final Fantasy X-2, a direct sequel to 2001's Final Fantasy X, the mold has been broken, though the result is a slightly less accessible game because of it.

 

Final Fantasy X-2 continues the story of Yuna, summoner heroine from the first game. Taking place a few years later, Yuna and fellow FFX character Rikku have gone from adventuring to "sphere hunting." Though the title may be new, the job isn't much different from what they were doing in Final Fantasy X.

 

Joined by the gruff, enigmatic Paine, our FFX duo traverses the world of Spira searching for spheres, devices with recordings from Spira's past. Much of the past has been lost, making the spheres quite valuable. They also give certain powers to characters, making them useful to the player also.

 

The party joins together under The Gullwings, a sphere hunting group including a level-headed Al-Bhed named Buddy and the hyperactive Brother, Al-Bhed leader of the group. The Gullwings traverse Spira quickly with an airship available from the beginning of the game. This is a dramatic change from other Final Fantasy titles, but airship access is almost a necessity, as paths between the locations were already traversed in the first game.

 

Yuna and Rikku begin by visiting old friends and getting updated on their lives; those who are at all familiar with the first game will find many familiar faces, including Wakka and Lulu, and many questions left open by the first game are answered here. For those less interested in the returning characters, many of the less-important areas and people can be skipped.

 

After this sentimental beginning, the plot moves from the past to Spira's tumultuous present. The country is now split politically between two factions, New Yevon and the Youth League. New Yevon seeks to revive the Yevon faith, a major part of the first game, while the Youth League wants no part of it. The rivalry between the factions is very well portrayed, and the hidden goings-on of each group helps the relatively simple plot smoothly grow more complex.

 

As a very nice bonus to thorough explorers, there are major optional revelations that turn parts of the story upside down. FFX-2 also avoids explicitly spoiling anything from the first title - many things are hinted at, but its secrets or ending are never given away. As far as the base plot of the game goes, it's brilliantly laid out to keep the players guessing.

 

But if the game focused only on that plot, it would be the length of a normal action-adventure title. To pad playing time, the developers introduced a huge amount of largely dull side-quests. The story itself is broken up into five chapters; each with two or three mandatory missions that must be undertaken. Most can be completed in well under an hour, and the rest is optional.

 

During side quests, players catch up with characters from Final Fantasy X, help organize concerts, rid the wilderness of fiends, and help friends pay off their debts. Unfortunately, none of this is very interesting. Some will undoubtedly enjoy the plight of Tobli needing to sell enough tickets for his stage show to break even; most will find it distracting.

 

Due to the way many missions are set up, most side quests must be done in bulk, which amounts to 45 minutes of plot, a few hours of side quests, then 45 minutes of plot. This slows the main game to a crawl, and may turn some gamers off completely. If the difficulty level didn't assume you did the side quests (which feature a good amount of battles and level-gaining), this might not be an issue, but avoiding extra missions usually gets you slaughtered.

 

Pacing aside, the game adds some interesting features to the Final Fantasy mix. Though it discards the Sphere Grid, a new twist on the series’ job system is added. Called Dresspheres, these new jobs are very much like those that Final Fantasy veterans have encountered in the past.

 

Equipping a Dressphere lets you learn abilities related to that job. The Black Mage Dressphere includes Fire and Water, leading up to Fira and Firega. Many of the characters’ stats are affected by the Dressphere they equip, as Mages will see their MP skyrocket and Fighters will see huge boosts in Strength.

 

As a nice touch, the game works on a percentage system when it comes to keeping MP and HP while switching jobs. If you change from a Fighter with 30/40 MP to a White Mage with a maximum of 160 MP, the Mage will have 120 of those MP available, instead of a mere 30. This makes switching jobs much smoother and helps the player feel more comfortable doing so in the middle of the game, let alone the middle of battle.

 

Unlike in previous Final Fantasy titles, jobs can be changed at any time during a battle. They are arranged on items called Garment Grids, and each grid holds a number of dresspheres in slots that vary according to the grid. Pressing R1 in battle switches from the current dressphere to a neighboring one, and if that switch passes a certain icon, the character may gain additional abilities for that battle. A Garment Grid that imparts Cure may give the character Cura if a certain part of the grid is accessed.

 

Later in the game, players who access all the jobs on a grid will be able to access special Dresspheres, one each for each of the three characters. Wide customization is available, and the ability to switch jobs in battle does wonders for the game, especially after a physically attacking party is wiped out by an enemy vulnerable only to magic.

 

Another minor "system" added here seems sounds significant: jumping. When Yuna approaches the edge of a platform, holding the circle button will let her jump if there is somewhere to land. Some feared this would lead to a platform feel or include a difficult, jump-filled area a la Xenogears, but the game avoids both of these potential problems. Jumping is not important and may even slip your mind sometimes, but the ability does feel at home.

 

Also appearing is a new version of the classic Final Fantasy-series Active Time Battle system. Each character and enemy has an ATB bar, and when that bar is full, the character acts. On the default setting, enemy bars even fill while you choose what to do. The system varies the length of the bar depending on a character's job and last action, and a special attack can extend the bar almost to the edge of the screen. The ATB here leads to battles that are fast, flexible, and quite fun, combining the option to increase battle speed with the ability to change jobs mid-battle.

 

The game continues the graphical splendor of Final Fantasy X, no surprise considering many locations are found here in updated form. Ruined areas have been repaired, while others have been expanded. The dungeons themselves are not repeats, but much of the rest of the game is, meaning gamers will either enjoy revisiting or find things a bit stale. Either way, the repetition is almost a necessary evil in a direct sequel, and Square Enix has done everything reasonably possible to make the game feel different.

 

The characters display most of the new graphics through the costumes found with each Dressphere. It would have been easy for each character to wear the same clothes for each job, but Yuna, Paine, and Rikku will look extremely different even with the same equipment. These costumes are not simple palette-swaps either, but fully modeled attire that is unique to each of the girls.

 

Unfortunately, there are some detractions from the game’s otherwise quality production. For some reason, much of the character animation is over-the-top to the point of absurdity. This bizarre animation isn't confined to just one person, either. Rikku and Brother suffer the most, but it is present in many, many starring and supporting characters. Many scenes involving Rikku or Brother are almost painful to watch. The characters seem to wail about onscreen, their limbs all over the place, making themselves look like idiots.

 

Small amounts of “wacky” animation have been used to great success in classic cartoons, but the developers here took the careful exaggeration that has been honed in 100 years of traditional animation and blew it out of the water. The absurdity of characters such as Rikku and Brother is sometimes infectious, spilling over to Yuna and Co. from time to time. It ruins certain scenes and leaves a bad taste in your mouth for certain characters.

 

Add in the often exaggerated voice acting for Rikku and Brother, and the game can become embarrassing to watch. Each of the returning characters is voiced by the same person as in Final Fantasy X, something that otherwise ties the two games together very neatly.

 

Another possible downside is the all-female cast, but Square Enix has done its best to balance the game away from feeling too "girly." The skimpy costumes for many of the Dresspheres are obviously aimed at males, but females will enjoy the interaction between the three heroines. Rikku's high-pitched antics are opposed by Paine's deadpan lines and glares, with Yuna staying firmly in the middle.

 

Not only is Final Fantasy X-2 the first series sequel, but it sports the first all-female cast, the much-talked about Dressphere system, and... jumping. It was natural to wonder if Square Enix could pull it off, but they generally have. The story could have been more focused and the silliness toned down greatly, but the game succeeds on many levels, including the ones where many doubted it most. Though far from a perfect, it's a solid entry into the lengthy Final Fantasy series.

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great.  now square's marketing is bearing some ass.  what'll they do next?

? Where was an ass? You mean Final Fantasy X2, right? That's a different game man..this is 12, not the sequel to 10. And yeah, i guess X2 does kinda use ass to sell a bit, but i still think its aiming for the chick market.

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Bringing with it a wide array of new gameplay elements, Final Fantasy XII will change the way players think about the Final Fantasy series. Numerous possibilities abound within each scenario, allowing for a less linear, more unique experience for each player. The game also supports Dolby Pro Logic II both in-game and during movie sequences, immersing the player in the middle of the action. True to the series’ tradition of progress and change, Final Fantasy XII will move the role-playing genre forward and establish itself as another landmark title for Square Enix.

 

what do you guys think?

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Sorry man, MMORGP's arent my thing, so i was never onboard; been waitin for this one.

In another thread, Baka mentioned the revamped battle system, i think it sounded more adventure/diablo-ish, which could be a great turning point for the series. Ive got too much love for single-player RPG's to see them bury themselves in repetitive combat.

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I'm hoping and praying that FF12 will measure up to my very high expectations. I haven't had my FF fix since 10 was released (what, 4 years ago?) so I'm becoming quite ornery with Squenix. I'm not some rich punk who can afford to play that online FF11 shit, and FF10-2 just didn't do it for me...

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FFXII is a PS2 game, okay thats settled

 

What I'm saying is...

 

PSOne > 0

PS2 > PSOne

PS3 > PS2

PS3 = super powered backwards comptible zen balancing machine

 

I want to spend money on a machine that will play these titles in particular:

 

FFVII, FFT, Tobal No. 1, Bushido Blade, Brave Fencer Musashi, FFVIII, FFXI online, and then Ill fill out with the rest of my FF collection :)

 

Why I want to hold out for PS3: FFXII is the last FF for PS2, then onto 3. Why not holdoff so I dant have extra boxes and spend extra bread where not needed?

 

I'm being cheap yeah, but dammit how else am I ever to move out again (fourth attempt and counting) from my mom's house? lol

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Eh, ill get a PS3 eventually, no hurry.

 

...you still play Tobal No. 1? Really? did you ever import Tobal 2? It had a whole RPG inside of it, over 200 playable characters, shit was cool, just confusing....

ps i never got to play more than a demo of brave fencer, but it was fun.

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  • 4 weeks later...
The Square Enix Party demo consisted of two separate play sections: Fone Coast and Miriam Ruins. Both are pure gameplay sequences featuring lots of enemies to kill, but none of those lovely cut scenes that the Final Fantasy series is known for.

 

Miriam Ruins takes place in an underground dungeon environment. When you begin play, an instruction screen appears, suggesting that you to kill a character called the Ring Dragon. The game lets you in on how to make the Ring Dragon appear -- by collecting the Dragon Key, which is being held by a large, multi-part creature called Adamantai. The game also gives you a hint as to how to progress: Adamantai is blocking the road somehwere.

 

Fone Coast, in contrast, takes place above ground, on a beach, complete with beautifully rendered sand and water. This mission requires that you kill a boss called Rock Eater. To make Rock Eater appear, you have to kill 3 "Slavunell" creatures. The game gives you the hint that the Slavunell creatures aren't too friendly with the puny Mandragora creatures (from Final Fantasy XI) and suggests that you let the two creatures fight each other first and then go in for the kill yourself.

 

As they were at the game's E3 2004 debut, the similarities to Final Fantasy XI are clear here, even beyond the presence of the Mandragora beasts. Compared to most traditional Final Fantasy games, FFXII offers a surprising amount of freedom, giving you vast environments to explore and full camera control as you move about. There's no switch to a battle mode in this game -- battles are intermixed with dungeon crawling, making for a seamless experience.

 

The game also includes an interesting dynamic involving enemies. As the Fone Coast hint suggested, you're not the only one fighting the creatures of the FFXII world. They also fight amongst themselves, and you can see this as you move around (and take advantage of it in the Fone Coast demo). Just like in FFXI, once you've engaged an enemy, other creatures will take notice of this and will come in for attack, adding a new dimension to the closed battle systems from previous FF games.

 

In case you didn't read through IGN's E3 2004 coverage, here's how FFXII's basic gameplay system works. You have three characters in your party, with the Miriam Ruins stage defaulting to Fran, Balfre and Ashe and the Fone Coast stage letting you play as Pannero, Bash and Vaan. You control one of these characters, moving him around the field, with the other two characters following behind, controlled by the computer. You can toggle on and off an AI routine, called a "Gambit," for your allies, and can also switch control between party members by cycling through the characters using Up/Down on the D-pad.

 

The fun begins when you engage an enemy, or find yourself engaged by one. In Final Fantasy XII, enemies are visible on the screen ahead of time -- so, no more random battles, although the enemies to seem to replenish randomly throughout the stage if you wait long enough. Some enemies, the Mandragora for example, are content with just going about their own business. They won't even attack you if you run right into them, only fighting back if you're the first to attack. Other enemies will charge at you if you come in too close, forcing you into battle.

 

FFXII is still menu based, but it's in the Final Fantasy XI sense of the word menu. To bring up the battle menu, you press square. This gives you access to commands for item use, attack, magic use, summon and toggling your characters' Gambit setting. To attack an enemy, either one that's currently attacking you or one that is wandering around in the distance, you select attack and choose an enemy from the available enemies in the area -- enemies that are within range of your attacks. Your character is then locked in battle with the enemy and will continue automatically attacking until you give commands. You can also select commands for the other characters in your party without switching control to them.

 

When you're locked in battle with an enemy, the game displays a blue "Target Line," connecting you to that enemy. To switch targets, you simply select attack again and choose a different enemy. Enemies that are attacking you, but aren't necessarily being attacked by you, are connected to you via a red line. This information is visible for all party members, meaning you can get a fix on who's attacking who and who's being attacked by what.

 

You have full freedom of movement over your playable character during battle. You're free to move close to an enemy or run away. Let go of the controller and the computer will take over your character's movement, moving in for an attack at the right moment.

 

Your characters can only attack from a fixed distance, dependent on the type of weapon the character uses. Vaan uses swords, for instance, so he needs to be close. Pannero uses arrows, so she can attack from farther away. If you force your character out of range of attack, he won't attack until you allow him to get back in range. You can also unlock yourself from an enemy and run away from battles by holding down R2 as you move.

 

Magic and item use are done in the same way as standard attacks, by bringing up the battle menu and selecting the commands. Magic is split into groups. There's the usual White and Black magic, with white focusing on cure spells and black giving you access to heavy attack spells, but I also noticed a couple of other mysterious groups.

 

The demo at the Square Enix Party gave access to a summon attack. Once I'd advanced far enough, I noticed that my summon meter had maxed out, and I was able to call upon a powerful beast to help out in battle. Expectedly, a summon spell results in a flashy call routine. However, the actual summon takes on a different form than in previous FF games. In FFXII, following the call spell, the summon beast appears in battle alongside you, with your two allies disappearing. He then follows you around like a body guard, taking out enemies using powerful attacks, until time runs out. Your character also gains power for a limited time, making walking through the stage a breeze.

 

With this direct battle system, Final Fantasy XII feels like a completely different game when compared to pre Final Fantasy XI entries in the series. The game almost feels like a real time simulation, where you can micromanage three characters. While the battle system feels more real time than the active time battles that the series is known for, it's worth noting that the action actually pauses in FFXII when you bring up the command menu, so there is some time to catch a breath during the action.

 

I'll have to play more of FFXII to see how much I truly enjoy the game, but this twist in gameplay is one that's sure to split the series' hardcore fans. As I waited for our chance to play, I noticed some rumble amongst those lined up that the game looks totally different from previous titles. It should be interesting to see how the game buying public, who help make every main Final Fantasy game sell two million copies on the day of release, accept the game.

 

:huh: Well, the battle system is gonna rock at least...but the quality of the storyline remains to be seen.

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