Review of Final Fantasy XII
The graphics in the game were very realistic to me. The eye catching colors, The smooth lines, and the detail put into every little aspect of the game really sold the graphics. The scenes for the Mist attacks were very well done and, while a bit distracting while trying to make a chain, were very well done. However it was on par with other PS2 games of the time and didn't do much to improve on what was already there. While the details put into the scenery and characters are superb, they just didn't hold up to a couple other games on the PS2 released at roughly the same time. For example ICO, while not a great game, had some of the best graphics I have ever seen and Final Fantasy XII just didn't make the same level.
The sound is one of the things that sold this game to me. Whether you're wondering through Arcadia or fighting monsters in the Ozmone Plains the music always fits the situation. While it was more dramatic and movie like than previous games, the music still fit in well with the new combat style and cut scenes. The voice acting was superb and the voices fit the character well. From the slightly youthful tilt of Larsa's voice to the undertone of brash confidence in Vaan's, the voice acting was spot on. There was also several points in the story where who you had as a team leader affected the dialog, which is a new thing that I found interesting. For example, in the Henne Mines, there is a soldier at the first junction who will react differently depending on if Fran is your team leader or not. However they removed the repetitive catchy sounds of the previous Final Fantasy's that just take away something that you didn't know was there until it was gone.
Final Fantasy XII is one addicting game. From the myriad of side quest, to the dozens of potential combat paths and the attention grabbing story you'll want to come back and play this game over and over attempting to do at least one thing different just to see what changes. I found myself playing this game repeatedly just to take advantage of the new combat system. However the endless hours of helpful, but needed, grinding can grate on anyone's nerves, so that takes a bit away from the addictiveness a bit. From mixing in different combat styles, teams, all the extras, and the great story I don't believe I ever had a reason to not replay this game, except for the endless grinding.
Starting in the land of Ivalice with a small resistance movement to stop the king of Dalmasca from signing a so called peace treaty with Arcadia, this games story is not lacking in depth. While playing through the game you see the Power struggle between two major empires and the small desert country stretched thin in the middle trying to keep it's freedom. Starting as a young war orphan you play through the game as Vaan, a brash young man that dreams of the freedom that the skies offer. Throughout the game you are also joined by a Sky Pirate, an outcast of her own race, a captain falsely accused of treason, an on the run princess trying to reclaim her kingdom, and a fellow war orphan. While battling the many forces of the world and the enemy nation Arcadia, you can see the thought and attention put into the story. From the behind the scenes dealings of Vayne Solidor, to the loyal pursuit of Gabranth, and the elusive help of Halim Ondore IV, the story does not lack in characters or depth.
With over sixty hours of game play, hours worth of side quest, sixty rare monsters, a couple of mini games, and hundreds of weapons this game lacks nothing in depth. I spent so much time running back and forth trying to find all the rare monsters that, while frustrating, was worth it for the achievement in the Sky Pirates Den. The side quest, while not necessary, add a lot to the game by giving you better items earlier, more Espers, new areas to explore, and several helpful items. I spent at least eight hours on nothing but side quest towards the end of the game. For a person who likes to complete everything in a game, like myself, and enjoy it when there is a lot to offer, Final Fantasy XII offers the most out of any of the games at the time. The rare monsters that only appeared under special circumstances added a while new level of depth to the Bestiary. The mini games, while not plentiful, did provide a nice distraction if you find yourself a bit stuck or just wanting to relax for a little while. The foot race in the port town got harder as you went and provided better items for the wins even though the race track and the runners stayed the same. I spent several hours running and fishing just to get the special items, while it surprisingly never got boring. But with so much to offer, I doubt the game will disappoint anyone on its depth.
Personally I found this game difficult, but not too difficult. It really all depends on if your trying to complete everything, or just the story. Trying to complete everything will make it one of the most difficult games ever. To complete the Sky Pirates Den alone, you have to earn every achievement and some are hard, such as completing the Bestiary. Which means tracking down every rare monster, doing whatever is needed to make them appear, and then fighting them to get the in the Bestiary. Add in all the side quest, which some are easy and some are difficult, and that's another 6+ hours on top of your game play time. If your doing just straight story line then the difficulty drops a bit, but not too much. It will still take several hours of grinding plus strategic use of the new License board system early on, but it is doable with just the minimum amount of extra playtime. All in all I would say it depends on the type of player you are for how difficult it is.
Overall I would say it is a great game with graphics that are great, but just don't stand out compared to other PS2 games of the time. With great sound that adds depth to the story and game play, but sadly missing the catchy tunes of earlier Final Fantasy's. It is also amazingly addictive with the only black mark being the hours of grinding needed to complete the game. Plus a story that will grab your attention and keep a hold of it without letting go. Add in its endless depth with a myriad of extra things to do and see and it being decently difficult to extremely hard depending on your playing style and you have one of the best games in the Final Fantasy series and one of the best PS2 games ever made.