Developer(s) – Square Enix
Publisher(s) – Square Enix
Director(s) – Hiroyuki Ito & Hiroshi Minagawa
Producer – Akitoshi Kawazu
PEGI – 16
It’s my opinion that ever since Squaresoft and Enix merged into the entity Square Enix, and the subsequent departure of many of the central developers of previous Final Fantasy games, such as series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi and long-time composer Nobuo Uematsu, the Final Fantasy games have taken a huge turn for the worst in terms of quality. To me, Final Fantasy XII is the best example of that.
Graphics – 4/10
Although the graphics are technically marvelous, in lieu of the franchise’s tradition of bringing cinematic experiences to gaming, not only is this set in an already established universe, breaking series traditions, but I didn’t find it very conceptually compelling either. It seems to encompass a world heavily influenced by medieval fantasy and steampunk fiction, which was done with Final Fantasy IX, and Breath of Fire IV to a certain extent, but both of those games did it infinitely better than this; as has every other Final Fantasy game since number VI.
Gameplay – 0/10
In all honesty, I couldn’t get through the prologue of this game without feeling acrimoniously disappointed by it. It was the first time I’d ever witnessed the combination of turn-based RPG combat and real-time combat, and I’d never been more sorry to see a franchise undergo such a negative change. I remember watching a video on YouTube published by a reviewer called Stan Burdman. In it, he voiced his opinions of the deterioration of the Final Fantasy franchise and commented that developers don’t improve on either turn-based RPG combat or real-time combat by combining them together, but rather they are both made worse; and I couldn’t agree more with that point. The video itself no longer seems to be on his channel, but he was the very first video game reviewer I ever found on YouTube, and I would highly recommend readers check him out.
Controls – 3/10
Since Final Fantasy XII was also very much a question of trial and error, since it was also one of the first games, unfortunately, popularise this style of play, the control scheme was always going to be a matter of contention. And in my opinion, it’s handled very poorly within the combat system, and only served to make this game feel like that much worse experience.
Lifespan – 10/10
In lieu of Final Fantasy tradition, however, the game lasts about the amount of time that could be expected of a game of its kind and does offer an extremely long experience for those who are more lukewarm to this style of play. Leveling up characters takes a long time, and there are a great many side quests to keep players entertained at least.
Storyline – 5/10
Aside from the game being set in an already familiar world, it also has an already familiar plot attached to it; another Final Fantasy convention to be unfortunately broken with the twelfth game. It takes place in the world of Ivalice, the same set of Squaresoft’s own RPG Vagrant Story, and tells the story of an orphan named Vaan, who along with the traditional supporting cast of characters, is caught in the middle of a raging war, and must fight in order to bring peace to Ivalice.
Originality – 0/10
Though the game has a unique combat system, I think that it makes it unique in a much more negative way. In my opinion, it’s too much of a radical departure from other games in the series and has lead to a sharp decline ever since. As I pointed out, there is also hardly any originality about the visuals or the story, and in that respect, makes it seem even more like a step down from every other exceptional game in the franchise.
To sum up, Final Fantasy XII is unanimously my least favorite game in the Final Fantasy series, and one of the worst games ever made. I’ve hated this title ever since I first played it, and there haven’t been a lot of games released throughout the years to have disappointed me as much as this.