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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spicing Things Up (Final Fantasy XII)

I'm now three hours into Final Fantasy XII. Other than a few regrets about not properly selecting my first few Licenses in the game and perhaps taking too straight-forward a path, I am extremely happy with my gaming experience thus far. FF XII does so many things right for the RPG genre that I can't help but be super excited about the 2010 release of FF XIII.

One of the biggest improvements I've seen in Final Fantasy XII is the lack of back-tracking during quests. I've only had two or three quests so far (it's hard to keep track given FF XII's open gaming structure) and have not had to back-track once.

There has also been an appreciated lack of fetch quests, even in the early-goings of the game. Two obvious opportunities for fetch quests have come up in my first few hours of FF XII. The game has avoided the temptation to subject me to finding certain items scattered about the map. Instead, my quests have veered off in a more practical and enjoyable direction. At one point, one of the game's many characters makes a good joke about sending Vaan on a fetch quest before laughing it off and moving the story forward.

As for my regrets, I'm pretty sure that I should have tried to fight more of Final Fantasy XII's easier creatures when I had the chance. Instead, I ran past most enemies, fighting only when required to reach some objective or another. Then again, the fighting should be a little easier now that Balthier (British sky pirate) and Fran (bunny-eared dominatrix) have joined ranks with Vaan (17 year old street urchin). I'm really looking forward to combat with a full squad. And I'm hoping to be given the chance to make use of the Gambit system (which I'll likely discuss in a later post).

The concept of Licenses in Final Fantasy XIII is also a little confusing right now. Actually, confusing is not really the right word here: intimidating is probably closer to the truth. Characters require licenses to use accessories, armour, weapons, magicks, and technicks. To use a longsword, for example, you'd need to find or buy a longsword and you'd need to obtain a license for a character to use that longsword. A character can only equip an item or use a spell or skill once he/she has both a license and its matching item, spell, or skill. It doesn't sound too complicated until you see the vast license board tied to each character. The opportunity to make short-sighted mistakes seems like an unavoidable truth to fledgling FF XII players such as myself.

On the whole, I'm getting excited about Final Fantasy XII. The story and cut-scenes are both very good, even in the earliest stages of the game. I'm really looking forward to Balthier and Fran spicing things up a bit. Sky pirates have a way of doing that!