Final Fantasy XII – What Love Story?

Raise your hand if you liked the love story in Final Fantasy X. Don’t be shy, I won’t make fun of you.

Now, if you didn’t like it, then you’ll be excited to know that this next installment in the series (not counting the online game, FF XI) has a much darker, political story. In this game, it’s not about stabbing the man who stole your woman, it’s about stabbing a man who took away your homeland’s freedom.

Of course, nobody like spoilers, so I’ll be talking about the gameplay instead. This game feels very much like a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) except without the people populating the world map.

The combat has dumped the turn based system. Now you fight in real time, and have freedom over the whole map. No invisible barrier to trap you in combat in this game. Don’t like the encounter? Run. No, you don’t have to hold R1 and R2. Just use the pretty analog stick that moves you like always. When you choose an action, a bar will charge up, and once it does, you execute the action. Whether it’s using a potion, casting a spell, or doing the classic sword slashing.

Of course, this means you can’t easily have direct control over your allies anymore. Well, you can, but that would take away from the fast-paced feel of it all. So, the game has introduced something called a “gambit.” These nifty little things give rules to your party about how to fight. You can give them a gambit that says “Heal when health >50%” and you they will use potions or a cure spell whenever anybody has their health somewhere below 50%. If you apply gambits to the character you’re controlling you can effectively win many battles with only the analog stick, since you still have to control your own movement. Beware the boss battle however, you can’t try this on those guys.

The leveling system is also completely revamped. It resembles the sphere grid in FF X except with much less restrictions. There are no “locks” to block you from going anywhere. You also don’t move a certain amount of spaces with a cool little icon either. In FF XII you get the *drumroll* “license grid!” The license grid resembles the sphere grid, except it looks like a chess board and you can earn any point on the grid as long as you have enough License Points (LP) and have the spot next to it already earned. I’ll explain how to get License Points later. Now, this means you can develop all your characters in anyway at all. You can make your heroine a warrior and your hero a white mage if you wish. Or you could make them a white mage with a giant sword. It’s all up to you. However, there’s a balancing point for this. You see, to equip ANY items you have to have the item earned on the license board. After that, you have to go buy it. Same thing for spells. Get the license, and go throw away some gold on it.

Money and items are obtained differently now. One of the things people noticed first is…wolves no longer drop gil. Yes, those cute little monsters no longer randomly swallow money and make you rich when you gut them. Instead, you get loot from them that are pathetically useless. However, they sell nicely. What merchant wouldn’t want a nice fur coat made out of that wolf pelt you have on you? This adds more realism to the game, and also gives that MMORPG feeling to the game, along with the combat system.

Gathering experience is still the same as previous games in general. You get the experience and gain levels which add to your strength. However, you don’t only get EXP (experience), but also LP (license points) when you kill a monster. Experience functions the same as most RPG’s, once you get a certain amount your character gains a “level” and becomes stronger. However, LP is spent on the license board, and careful spending can you make your characters very powerful. Or you could be evil to yourself and not spend any, causing your early death.

Setting up gambits is fun!

See those blue and red ribbons of light? That’s the enemy (red) targeting the good people and the good people (blue) targeting the squishy monsters. Also, notice the action bar under the words “Attack.” Once that bar fills with orange, the character will, er, attack.

That’s the pretty license board. As you can see here, this person loves guns.

Not a scene from the game, but I couldn’t get a screenshot of somebody using grenades. This was the closest I got.