Why Final Fantasy XII is secretly the best in the series

Posted on June 13, 2012 - 2:04pm by dragoon-killa



Editor's Note: g1 dragoon-killa loves him some Final Fantasy XII and I happen to be right there with him. Now he did get a little carried away on his lead up to this actual post, so I have put that into a separate blog post. It details his relationship with Square games and explains his Final Fantasy pedigree. If you want to check that out, go here. Otherwise, let's gush over why FFXII is so badass in the comments below.

I bought this game a few months ago with no intention of really getting into it, it was 5 bucks and I had enjoyed a lot of games in the FF series so I grabbed it. Well it is fu*king great! It’s an inspiring game and in a lot of ways not only one of the best JRPGs on the console (which is really saying something considering that console has about 20 really special JRPGgs on it) but it’s also ONE OF THE BEST RPG'S OF ALL TIME! Honest it is. If I have one gripe with the game is that it starts with a really stupid gameplay sequence that despite introducing you to the fighting mechanic and a main character, it doesn’t really serve a purpose other than to give new players a wrong idea as to what to expect for the rest of the game. From here on out I going to just go over each part of the game and why they're so damn good so yeah enjoy!


The plot starts out really complex and layers on a lot of confusing political jargon, mixed with characters that are initially really annoying, but it gets better. You start to grow with your party and learn from them. It has a very Star Wars feel, including you meeting pilots in a cantina, one of which is a badass and the other is a rather furry bunny lady. There’s an old man who’s not entirely who he claims to be a young boy who is a street rat, and a princess who helps the team get out of trouble. Even though at the surface it’s a Star Wars rip off, it becomes a lot more complex and unpredictable, as characters are killed off separated kidnapped and go fu*cking crazy, the story keeps you guessing and never bogs you down too much.


What’s a good video game without good gameplay? The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, but that’s a topic for another time. Moving onto the gameplay in FFXII, it is as management heavy or light as you want it to be, it’s virtually the most customizable FF game ever and not just in the leveling system, which btw allows any character to get any ability. Although nothing new, it’s handled in a way that just makes you want to make each character serves a genuine propose. The games combat is simple and for series veterans remains almost unchanged, except now you have the freedom to move as you would like and flee like a normal human for the first time by running away. There’s so much to talk about here I have to break it up.

So there's a new mechanic called the Gambit system, which basically allows you to adjust the AI behavior of the party members and if you don’t like it you can actually turn it off at any point. You basically stack actions such as [if HP <= 50% then Cast: Cure]. This is just a basic example, but eventually your characters will pretty much become a force to be reckoned with! Some may say that just sounds like the auto system in FFXIII... WELL IT'S NOT! This system not only rewards the player for using it, but it also makes grinding painless (although there’s very little of that in the actual main quest).

It also allows for lots of exploration of different gambits, like what if every time we encounter an enemy we all cast Berserk on ourselves (that makes you wildly attack btw, and is a really bad idea) it also doesn’t take complete control of your characters, you can stop them at any time in the battle menu, which pops up at any time with X. What’s also great about the combat is it allows you to play in real time, so the menu goes up and down without breaking the flow of combat, or more turn based where when you open the battle menu the game stops and you can fully control the camera. It makes for some badass moments stopping right hen one character is casting fire another is healing and one is attacking. It looks really cool, and as my preferred method, it feels more like chess and less like checkers.

The final component of the gameplay is the world, which is one of the vastest and beautiful the series has ever had, it’s really dressed to impress. The scale of the world is amazing, and full of exploration right from the start, and when it starts to open becomes quite a marvel, and the loading is almost non-existent! Also the bosses are great and really require a fine tuned team and a leader who can quickly asses a situation and take advantage of weaknesses. The dungeons might start off kind of bad (there’s just a lot of cave levels), they eventually become both beautiful and complex!


The art is great and very reminiscent of Yoshitaka Amano's work from the original games mixed with the style we’ve seen in Vagrant Story and the Tactics games. It’s a real stunner, it creates a lush world with at times more than 30 characters on screen with castles and airships in the background, my only gripe is the dungeons really can at times (early on) leave a lot to be desired, they just don’t hold up with the rest of the game. I got to say real quick, I’m a pretty decent artist myself I don’t think I’ve posted anything on here but I intend to soon, I said that just so you understand I take a lot into consideration when viewing a game, good art direction trumpets all in terms of graphics, just look at games like Uncharted 2, Sonic Generations, Valkyria Chronicles, The World Ends With You, and Kingdom Hearts 2. If you want to see how great art direction can really make a game look limitless in terms of tech, all of those games have surpassed their competitors with great art from concept to execution to really make an overall beautiful work of art!

THIS IS NO EXCEPTION, the art direction is amazing the game looks great and at times makes my jaw drop. If I have to complain about the visuals overall it’s that the CGI cut scenes really looks worse than the in game (I realize how stupid that sound, but I'll explain) the CG is too smooth and realistic, it makes the character look nothing like they do in game and is very off putting at times, in KH and KH2 this works because it bookends the game, but here CG is used in constantly. I think for some of the scenes they just couldn’t do what they wanted to do on the PS2, and I get that. Sometimes it just gets in the way though.


A great game that fans of the series can’t overlook and need to play, and an easy entry level Final Fantasy. If you want a compelling story, deep and innovative gameplay, and one of the best looking games on the console, pick this one up. If you don’t like JRPG's, this one may make you change your mind. Hope you guys liked this, and I didn’t ramble too much, please give me feedback!

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