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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Final Fantasy XII

Video Game Connoisseur
Video Game Connoisseur

Publisher: Square Enix / System: PS2 / $49.99/ ESRB: T (Teen)

I would like to talk about the survival of long-running video game series to get started. However at 12 games and counting plus spin-offs and remakes I really can’t think of any other series I can compare Final Fantasy with. Oh sure, there’s Mario and Zelda, but both of those series deal with the same characters each time around with most games just being updates of the previous incarnation with some added features thrown in. Final Fantasy builds a new world from scratch each time around creating a new universe and a new mythos with each successive game. There’s reinventing yourself, and then there’s Reinventing yourself.

Final Fantasy XII takes place in the world of Ivalice. This is not the first time that Ivalice has been used, a world called Ivalice was used as the setting for the ingenuitive yet badly translated Final Fantasy Tactics (“Let’s assume the best solution is to forget your duty. But, that’s only if you know the meaning of the word “preparation”.” ) and was revisited for it’s spiritual successor Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. To sum up the games back story two years prior to the games opening two empires were on the verge of war with one another. One empire invaded the Kingdom of Nabradia to set up a zone between them and the other empire. The other empire retaliated by invading Nabradia’s neighbor, the Kingdom of Dalmasca. Shortly before the invasions the

Prince of Nabradia and the Princess of Dalmasca had gotten married to cement an alliance between the two. The prince is killed during the invasion and destruction of Nabradia. The king of Dalmasca is forced into an unconditional surrender and is apparently murdered by the captain of his guard, Basch Von Ronsenburg, for selling out the country. Basch is announced executed and a short time later it is announced that the Princess Ashe of Dalmasca has commited suicide. Are you with me so far?

Fast forward two years to the desert city of Rabanastre, the capital of Dalmasca. Vaan (the main character) is a young orphan and thief who dreams of being a sky pirate and captain of his own airship. During a celebration welcoming the new empire appointed governor of Dalmasca Vaan sneaks into the castle in an attempt to steal from the royal treasury. During this attempt he runs into two sky pirates with the same Iidea as him, the overly dramatic Baltier and his partner the bunny girl Fran, and all hell breaks lose when a resistance movement attacks and Vaan, Baltier, and Fran are caught up in the middle. They get sent to a prison where while escaping they run into the supposedly dead traitor Basch who was also imprisoned and claims his twin brother killed the king (I blame stuff on my evil twin too). After the four escape they end up being enlisted by the resistance to help rescue the leader of the attack, the also supposedly dead Princess Ashe(doesn’t anyone stay dead any more? Seriously, this game starts with more”I wasn’t really dead”s then a soap opera plotline). Somehow these five plus Vaan’s childhood friend Penelo (making six characters) end up going on a journey to find out what really happened two years ago and to prevent another war from starting.

I just gave you the first 10 or so hours of Final Fantasy XII, but don’t worry. As far as detail goes I barely scratched the surface and most of this info can be found in the manual. And that’s just the first 10 hours, Final Fantasy XII has like 80 or so, more if you do all the optional stuff. Also FFXII (I’m tired of writing it out every time, Okay?) is one of the most political Final Fantasies. I’d say it’s as political as FF Tactics (which was all about class struggle and the role of history, Marx would love it) With more of a focus on international politics then Tactics. While your crawling through dungeons looking for ultimate weapons your also learning about the delicate balance between to empires on the brink of war and how a small occupied nation declaring it’s independence could send them over the edge. The best example is during a conversation Ashe is told that Dalmasca can’t declare it’s freedom just yet because the empire that is occupying it wont listen to her because they want war and the other empire can’t support Dalmasca because that would start a war, and either way Dalmasca would be caught in the middle. It the little details explaining like explaining the global political conditions that lend credibility to Ivalice as a world that other Final Fantasies were missing.

Final Fantasy XII also stands out for it’s method of character development. Each character has a ‘License’ board (they’re all the same), as you kill monsters you gain license points, which you use to unlock new licenses on the board. These licenses are everything, they say what spells a character can cast, what weapons an armor they can use, and how effective items the use are. Every characters license board is the same, customization comes solely from the player. You can make every character the same or you can develop one into a spell caster, another into a healer, give one person a sword and another a gun. Whatever you deem fit. The possibilities are endless. Most of my characters tend to follow what’s considered the ‘Paladin’ build: much like the job class from other FF games they use heavy armor, swords, and white magic (basically tanks that can heal).

Because I’m talking way to much and this article will probably need to be edited down I’m going to conclude now. There is some much more I can say, visually it’s the best Final Fantasy yet, however every final fantasy looks better then the last, this time though buildings and people are actually on the same scale (not that common in Final Fantasy) making the game look extremely realistic. The battle system (discussed last issue) actually works better then expected and does away with boring random encounters (with gambits you don’t even need to do anything during combat with enemies you run into on your way to where your going). The world is huge (I miss the world map though). And the characters are interesting (except Penelo, she has little character development and was just given to you to give the party six characters). I give Final Fantasy XII a 9/10.