Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Further Final Fantasy XII Thoughts and Impressions

I'm currently about 40 hours in and approximately 60-70% through Final Fantasy XII and have come to realize that there's a lot to unpack here. So rather than save it all for an epically long review once I complete the game, I thought I'd give some updated thoughts and impressions from what I've experienced so far:
  • I often hear FFXII referred to as a “single-player MMORPG” and I've come to realize this pretty much exactly what I want from the modern JRPG. The MMO battle mechanics are a great way to modernize and speed up traditional turn-based combat while still requiring a layer of strategy often absent from the more button-mashy battles of an action RPG. Unfortunately, unlike in a proper MMO, there's no way to edit button mapping or assign hotkeys to commonly-used abilities. Thus, every time I want to take control of a character away from the Gambit system (i.e. player-defined AI routines), there are entirely too many button presses and menus involved in order to select the spells/skills I want. However, due to the age of this game, I can be somewhat forgiving of this clunky interface.
  • I've observed that the difficulty curve of the main storyline quest seems to have a lot of spikes and steps. I often experience abrupt shifts from steamrolling enemies in one zone to getting decimated in the next even though I rarely ever avoid battles. Did the designers of the game intend for the player to take breaks to grind between every story beat? This would be a departure from the other Final Fantasy games that I've played.
  • The irregular difficulty curve coupled with this game's unique battle system makes it very easy to throw off the balance of combat. Playing straight through a story quest will cause boss battles to be like hitting a wall. However, if the party is over-leveled from taking grinding breaks, those same boss battles will essentially play themselves out without any real strategy or input from the player due to the Gambit system. Ideally I want to be a manager of my AI-controlled party, manually adjusting the strategy and putting out fires as needed while the gambits handle the rest, but this has been a difficult equilibrium to maintain.
  • While the story thus far hasn't been quite as gripping as some of the other Final Fantasies, I've really been enjoying the setting of Ivalice. It truly feels like a fully realized and cohesive world rather than a series of disparate fantasy environments linked together by story conceits. It becomes more apparent as I play that the voice acting contributes quite significantly to this sense of place. The fact that each region in the game world has its own accent (Archades – English, Dalmasca – American, Rozzaria – Eastern European, etc) is a nice little touch that allows the player to tell where a new character is from as soon as they begin speaking. I'm definitely curious to try out other Square-Enix games set in Ivalice such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story as a result.
Overall, I've been having a lot of fun with Final Fantasy XII and am looking forward to playing through the final third of the adventure. As tempted as I am to dig deep, I'll probably continue to stick primarily to the critical path and limit my side quests since there are still many more big RPGs and open-world games I'm planning to tackle before the end of the year. Stay tuned for my wrap-up and review of Final Fantasy XII within the next few weeks!

No comments:

Post a Comment