An Unbiased Review of Final Fantasy XII

I made a promise that I’d write an unbiased review of FFXII, and I’m damn well going to keep it.

Three Things That Sucked:

1. Boring Townsfolk

Booooooooorrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnggggggg

Is it just me, or do 90% of the townspeople in this game have nothing interesting┬╣ to say? If I wanted to hear boring conversations go absolutely nowhere, I’d talk to people in real life (and I don’t).

┬╣Interesting [in-tuh-res-ting] -adjective: where to find treasure

2. Slow Leveling

Only 55 levels in 80 hours (past FF games have taken me about 50 hours for 50 levels). On top of that, my entire party had been equipped with Embroidered Tippets (doubles EXP earned) since level 38. Without them the game may have taken 100 hours. It’s a sad state of affairs when the most useful item in the game isn’t something that helps you in combat.

3. Unexplained aspects of the battle system

  • Opening one random treasure chest early in the game precludes you from obtaining the most powerful weapon in the game
  • A second quickening level doubles your max MP
  • The strongest weapons and armor aren’t necessarily the best (though you have no choice but to buy them since attack power and defense are the only stats you see while shopping)

I didn’t know any of this until late in the game. Sure, the Forgotten Grimoires might’ve said all that, but I’d rather catch Weil’s disease from swimming in a pond contaminated with rat urine than pay 18,000+ gil for an instruction manual.

Three Things That Rocked:

1. Balthier

Best character in Final Fantasy history.

2. The Hunts

I hate random bosses popping up out of nowhere (e.g. Elder Wyrm and Ahriman), but if they’re optional, it’s a completely different story (e.g. Wild Saurian).

3. Axes & Hammers

Axes and Hammers present a classic trade-off between risk and reward. They’re typically the most powerful weapons you can acquire at any given stage of the game, but they vary in effectiveness with each hit. Are they worth it? Yes, in terms of attack power they have the highest expected value of any weapon. Finally, a practical use for math.

Three Things I’m Indifferent About:

1. Penelo

I don’t know why she’s in the game, let alone a playable character. Her only role in the story is giggling in the background while real characters take care of business.

[vid]tfqTLODDupU[/vid]

Al-Cid: what a player

That’s why it’s so fun to make her your plaything. I’d alternate her with Basch and send her into battle with unfitting weapons (poles, katanas, etc…). Much to my surprise, she often survived.

2. Gambits

They’re certainly useful, but I was too lazy to take advantage of the fancy ones. My formations didn’t change much from the ones I used at beginning of the game.

Center: Ashe/Vaan (party leaders, equipped with axes/hammers)

  1. Attack party leader’s target
  2. Attack nearest enemy

Wing: Basch/Penelo (usually left unsupervised, equipped with axes/hammers)

  1. Attack party leader’s target
  2. Attack nearest enemy

Defense: Balthier/Fran (equipped with guns/bows/crossbows, occasionally used axes/hammers in my ultra-offensive “Hammer Time” formation)

  1. Cure HP-Critical Ally
  2. Attack party leader’s target

Flexibility is nice, but when all the characters’ stats are basically the same, I will not have a dedicated mage. I am cheap, both in real life and in video games. Why waste all my precious magic points on black magic when I can pound away at the enemy for free?

3. Technicks

The only ones I ever used were Libra and Steal. I can’t even remember any others.