Saturday, February 24, 2007

Video Game Impressions: Final Fantasy XII battle system

Vaan and Penelo was at Level-4 when I had them hunt a large wolf called the Wolf in the Waste. We were almost raped by the giant. Lucky for me Penelo was on Gambit, which allows her to automatically target and fight nearby enemies. I was busy using Vaan to heal instead and occasionally having him cast a wide variety of offensive Magick. Before long she (or he) was down and I was off to collect my 500 gils bounty. Then I went to the Clan Hall to gloat at Montblanc, the cheeky Clan Centurio head honcho who also happens to be a Moogle, while he showered me with gifts due to my updated clan status from Moppet to Hedge Knight. Nice. Hunts are basically side-quests but this is the only way one can increase the clan status (how very MMO).

Enemies now visibly roam the open land (or dungeons) so there are no longer any random encounters that jRPG-haters hate, no longer turn based (turns are still governed by an ATB like gauge similar to that of Final Fantasy VI), but thankfully still menu-based. If any enemies are nearby simply open the battle menu and select attack. The party will automatically attack the enemy of whom the party leader has selected. It is also possible for different party members to attack different enemies in the surrounding by navigating the d-pad and opening their individual battle menus, but I found this chaotic. I am looking forward to expanding the auto-party control system called Gambit once Yamoora's Gambits store opens and Gambit is available on the Party Menu.

The new system to obtaining new skills such as Magick or the abilities to don certain armour or weild new weapons are now governed by the License Board, which looks like a checkers/chess board, and is similar to Final Fantasy X's Sphere Grid. Basically each victory will yield License Points (LP) in addition to Experience Points (EXP) and loots (which have to be sold to obtain gils, the currency of Final Fantasy games). You can then trade in LP on the License Board to unlock new Licenses. I believe this is a balancing feature. If a party member obtains a powerful weapon early in the game he or she would not be able to use it until you unlock the particular License to use it on the License Board. In addition to Magick, the License Board is used to unlock Technicks (eg. steal) as well as permanent stat bonuses.

I have only been playing the game for 3 hours now but so far everything about the latest Final Fantasy numbered game is engrossing. The visual style is excellent and the graphical capability of the six year old PS2 console is pushed to the limit. The architecture of Rabanastre, the town Vaan lives in, is beautifully constructed. I can't wait to start exploring Ivalice. Sadly there isn't an option for enabling progressive scan, but the game does support widescreen in the PAL version. Game of the year candidate, surely.

Play the game now.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the description. I have been looking forward to this game but been vary about the lost of random battles and turn based combat. This helped explained a lot.

Jon said...

I love the new battle system. Reading the reviews I thought that it would be complicated but after a couple of hours I found it to be just fantastic.