Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age review
Overrated mess of graphics and hype

The good:

Voice acting isn't too bad
The first few hours of the story

The bad:

The rest of the story
Little to no emotion or character development
Gambits system makes Kingdom Hearts 2's 'mash X to beat the game' battle system look ingenious (and that wasn't very fun) (in a nutshell, it sucked)
Licence leveling up system is much worse than Final Fantasy X's Sphere Grid System (which was only confusing at first)
Forgettable music
Takes too long to complete and too much of that time is put into sidequests which feel more like filler than actual sidequests anyway


Final Fantasy 12, to me, says "hey, you know the old Final Fantasy games right? Yeah, we got none of that. Instead, we got AWESOME GRAPHICS and an EPIC STORYLINE, now give us your wallets!" Hey, give me my $50 back Square! Your game sucked! While this game isn't broken, it sucks and it takes out everything that made Final Fantasy so great.

First off, you remember turn-based systems (whether it was speediest goes first or ATB system where you must keep on your toes while keeping your eyes on a meter to let you attack)? I sure do, but is it (or anything like it) in this game? No. Instead, you have this tedious real time battle system which starts out awkward, then ends up just annoying. You have to approach an enemy, lock on to it, open up the command menu and select something (Attack or Magic), then watch the battle go... Like a boring MMORPG! I was never a big MMORPG fan, and I thought this would win me over, but no. It embodied everything that turned me off it in the first place. And you can't dodge hits either, you have to take it unless you run far away from enemies. Like REALLY far from the enemies. With allies, it's a pain too, because it's hard to focus on them. No, not in the sense that it's going to be exciting, but you'll probably be half asleep because you're basically watching fights against generic enemies (more on that later). You do basically nothing but input very few commands. Just open up the menu after locking on to an enemy, press attack and watch. Maybe open up the menu again for the item command if you're low on MP or HP and find some healing item in your item screen. BORING!

Remember leveling up? Remember how it was so simple that all you needed to do was kill a lot enemies and get a certain amount of EXP from them to increase in level and get some higher stats and cool new attacks? Well, there's that. But they manage to screw this one up by making it so that you have to choose to have certain attacks, certain equipment and certain magics. This might seem innovative and therefore cool, but it gets very tedious after some time when you finally get this new sword that seems like it could kill foes in like one hit as well as this new armor that could really help you survive in battle, but you realize that you can't equip them because you didn't level up those sorts of equipment on the license board (yeah, a "license board"). What the hell? Like I said, I guess it's to try and be new and inventive, but what we got was just an incoherent level up system WHICH DOESN'T EVEN FEEL LIKE LEVELING UP! Remember the Sphere Grid system from Final Fantasy X? Yeah, that started annoying but when you got used to it, it got tolerable (not great, but just tolerable). License board? Intolerable! One of the worst leveling up systems (if you can even call it a level up system) I've seen. Now, to be fair, I have played games with similar, but they didn't make it so you can only equip a certain weapon! Just certain abilities! If you don't it's that bad, hey, I'm not judging you there, I just found it to be unnecessarily tedious to master and, well, use even. Not cool man...

Do you remember when side quests helped you throughout the game? Well, yeah, this game has that, but it manages to screw up. There's this one sidequest where all you have to do is... It's the same as actual gameplay, just find some guy named Mark, talk to him, hunt for monsters in an open field and get money for it. Yep, almost the same as the boring regular gameplay. This makes up a LOT of time, as you have to do this to find a point in leveling up aside from just to survive (you get like very little Gil [Final Fantasy currency] for defeating enemies, you have to do the Mark Hunting thing to get most of your Gil). There's also this one sidequest where you have to find summons. Remember in Final Fantasy X where the summons (who were called Aeons) literally tore through enemies, bosses and monster arena creations like they were nothing? I do! Final Fantasy 12's summons are kind of like that, but they're a fair bit more fragile and a crapload harder to find. In FFX, aside from 3, all of them you find via story events. In FFXII, there's fewer story summons and more optional summons. They are not worth the find either. They can help against story bosses, but that's it. Here's two fatal flaws: Too much MP is needed, so use them sparingly, and they aren't all that useful against optional bosses as they'd get the crap kicked out of them there. Yeah, VERY WORTH FINDING THEM!

Speaking of costing too much MP for a weak attack that is easily substitutable, there are Quickenings. Yeah, they cost a LOT of MP (like all of it or maybe close to) for FLASHY ANIMATIONS that don't do that much damage. They start alright, but at a certain point, DON'T EVEN USE THEM! What are Quickenings anyway? Aside from being a stupid name for a flashy attack, they're basically the "super duper strong moves" that you can do. Remember Final Fantasy X's Overdrives? Yeah, well, they're always useful! The Overdrives always helped you win battles! Tidus's Blitz Ace always owned enemies left, right and center, and Wakka's Attack Reels owned everything else. Got anything like that in this game? Nope. Just flashy moves which don't do squat! Well, they do some damage, but later in the game, your mage will cast offensive spells stronger than the Quickenings and still have the MP to do more offensive spells or healing spells. What a waste!

Next off, remember meaningful stories, or at least coherent stories? I sure do! I remember Final Fantasy (the original for the NES) had these four warriors having to save the world from evil after having some powerful orbs stolen from them. Might not be complex or anything, but it was simple and good for its time. I remember Dragon Quest 8, a much more recent game, having a simple yet good story of a king and princess turning into a troll and horse, as well as the antagonist who did that screwing up the rest of the world by filling it with monsters and darkness, having the four protagonists needing to stop him. Simple but it works. Unfortunately, Final Fantasy 12 has nothing that really works. Well, for a few hours it works, as it's your typical revenge story but it works. It's a war with airships and soldiers killing each other and there's a country between the two countries that are killing each other. That in between one gets taken over and its ruler, Ashe, disappeared. Two years after the war and take over, it goes to this guy named Vaan who pretty much lives in the sewers. He hears of a new ruler named Vayne so he eventually infiltrates the castle, despite objections by his friend Penelo. As you can tell, it starts out alright, it's been done many times before but at least it's working. He meets up with new allies and they end up getting captured and thrown into a dungeon. Eventually, they're thrown onto an airship where they meet a disguised Ashe (they figure it's her after a bit). A whole lot goes on, can't quite remember what though. Oh, did I forget to mention that the story ends up taking a nosedive after some time? Or the fact that the scenes are presented in a way that doesn't pull you in or even get you to care? Alright, the scenes are just as boring as the combat! I honestly don't care for the story after castle infiltrating. It's basically an idea that was screwed up by UNNECESARILY LONG CUTSCENES and a huge amount of them too. If you think Metal Gear Solid 4 is bad in that department, you're wrong, Final Fantasy 12 is BAD! I'm too ADD for this stuff! At least you can skip the cutscenes, which is good because you're not going to care for any of them. Adding on to that, there's literally no character development.

Folks, remember character development? Remember how there's scenes of characters' backgrounds and how they change and such? Yeah...I do, though I'm not too sure where I do this time. Anyway, this game has very little of it. There's some background information like the character you play as before Vaan being his older brother and dying, but before this I think he says some stuff about Vaan being an orphan and such... and a whole lot of "must save world, must restore order, must get kingdom back, must" blah blah blah, and "cannot show emotion, I might appear weak" Just no. Every character (aside from the smooth talking Balthier, but especially the robotic "driving force" of the game Ashe) is without emotion or without any, well...point. Very little character development, very little point to like the characters because they show nothing but roboticness and "MUST GET STRONGER TO SAVE WORLD AND NOT GIVE A CRAP ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE" (aside from Balthier). It's just a bunch of great voice actors wasting their time.

Speaking of such, the voice actors do a fairly decent job of voicing the characters. Nothing worth whining about, I actually like the voice acting. Well, actually, there is something to complain about here. Not much emotion is shown. Only a bit is shown. But a bit isn't enough. The plot had potential for emotion, but there wasn't much, so you had to look for the voice actors. They show more than the plot suggested, but not by much. What I do like about them is the fact that they don't make your ears bleed when you hear them speak, and they suit their roles quite finely (job well done Gideon Emery :thumbsup: Job well done...) I especially like how Vaan sounds like Tidus from Final Fantasy X, but with less emotion and whinier. I'm aware both contradict, but hear me out. Whinier /= more emotional. He's that way for the hell of it.

So is there anything I like about this game? Well, aside from the beginning of the story that went nowhere shortly after the beginning and the voice acting just lacking a bit of emotion here and there, not much. Graphics is one, definitely. Whenever Square screws up gameplay, hell whenever ANY company (Sega especially from what I've been noticing lately in the Sonic series) screws up the gameplay and has sub-par voice acting (or in Sega's case, horrific voice acting, but it's 4kids doing voice acting for the Sonic series, what do you expect), just put in a bunch of pretty pictures that are almost realistic, and have every trailer show a bunch of impressive clips in hopes that people buy it (like myself, I saw some trailers and reviews, wasted $50 and then traded it in a couple of months later for Ratchet And Clank: Size Matters [PS2]). It always works! That's why people buy games, or at least look up some reviews (or rents the game) before buying it. The trailers and graphics being impressive! I like it when a game has great graphics which are almost realistic, ESPECIALLY THE FMV'S, but if that's all a game has or if it's the best the game can do, then what's the point?

Sorry, but this game is no fun at all. It's a mess. It takes everything that made Final Fantasy such a successful series in the first place and takes it all down the crapper, but keeps the graphics. A fine example of graphics NOT MAKING A GAME. Nothing more than boring and repetitive combat and dungeon crawling, uninteresting story and no motivation to continue other than to see a lame ending (won't spoil it, it's not worth it, but to me it felt lame, though I've seen far worse endings). Everyone says that this is the second best Final Fantasy game out so far, I have to disagree. This was a terrible game even on its own, let alone a Final Fantasy game! Pass this one up, it's not worth playing.

So to sum everything up:

Gameplay: 1.5
Too many unnecessarily hard and/or pointless sidequests which make up a LOT of the game, an incoherent and boring battle system where you basically watch fights and a much more incoherent level up system makes this game nearly impossible to play, or want to play anyway.

Control: 3
It's simple and it works. The problem, like I said, is that you hardly ever do anything with it. Lock on, open up menu, input command and watch, all done with a shoulder button and X. Sometimes move left and right with left analog stick.

Story: 1.5
Like I said, it started pretty good, a typical revenge story. Been done, but still worked. The major problem is after a few hours, there's NOTHING to care about in terms of story. There's very little character development and everyone seems to not care that there was a war which had their country be invaded, and as if they don't mind the changes. Basically, there's no point. But unfortunately, Ashe has a huge ego and thinks SHE has to rule the country and no one else should until she dies (or steps down because she wants to). Wow.

Graphics: 5
Probably the only consistent good that came out of this game. If you know what Square has been doing since the days of the NES, you should guess that when they do graphics, man do they do this part well or what? The graphics are detailed and almost realistic. Nothing short of excellent. But this is the problem. They spent 95% of the time on graphics and 5% on everything else. Square, stop focusing ALL the attention on graphics and focus on the gameplay and plots! You know, the REASONS we play RPGs? I think other games have that problem too. Too much focus on graphics, too little on everything else.

Sound: 3
Voice acting isn't too bad. Tolerable. Don't mind it personally. Only problem: Little emotion. The voice acting has some emotion, but not enough to disguise the fact that it feels robotic, both in terms of plot and some of the voice acting. Oh well. The music is composed alright. For a game on its own, the music is kind of impressive, but for a Final Fantasy game, it's unimpressive. To make things worst, most of it recycles itself. Worst part - it's forgettable anyway. No point having many instances of the same music if you're going to forget it anyway. Great voice acting, poor music.

Lifespan: 2.5
This game takes about 70-100 hours to finish the game 100%. This would seem cool, except there's no New Game+. Again, that's not too bad, just means you have to look everywhere on the large map for stuff you've missed. Here's what I thought made this section terrible: Too many cutscenes, they're too long and the boring mindlessly repetitive sidequests makes the boring mindlessly repetitive main story take a backseat. There is no replay value to be had by the way.

Funfactor: 1
Constantly opening up menus, doing boring sidequests, watching boring cutscenes about some plot nobody cares about with little to no character development and watching your own fights... Is that fun? Nope. That's boring. You're also putting up with a tedious level up system, so that makes this game a lot less fun. Again, all they cared about was graphics. But graphics doesn't make the game any funner so it doesn't matter. Sometimes, you get to actually do something that is fun like hard boss battles requiring constant menu opening and well actually doing something often throughout the battle. That saved the score from being a big fat 0.

Bottom line:
Final Fantasy XII should've been one hell of a release, and judging by trailers + reviews which make it out to be the best game ever, I expected more. I wasn't just disappointed. I was annoyed, frustrated and a part of me died inside. The graphics may look realistic and Balthier may seem cool, but don't let them fool you - this game sucks and is not worth owning.

I give this overrated mess of a "Final Fantasy game" a 2/5. May god have mercy on Square's soul...

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11 members like this


0 thumbs!
Asianz Dec 30, 10
Sounds like you were just upset with the change square made. Detailed review though
0 thumbs!
Vergil Ties Dec 30, 10
haha sounds the part. I didn't like the game either, but I can acknowledge good design when it's good. The only aspect that truly sucked was the story. Ugh. I mean, it's far from a good game, but for what its worth, it's... at least better than Final Fantasy X-2 (a REAL piece of shit).
0 thumbs!
Lukas Feb 1, 11
Guess I was kind of upset Asianz. What I was really upset at was just how tedious it felt. Felt like a graphics > gameplay game, and to be honest, even two and a half years later, although I'm a bit more sympathetic towards it, I still don't really like it.

Thanks for the comment though. You too, Vergil Ties.
0 thumbs!
InsanityS Apr 15, 12
Having played the game myself now, I can see and agree with rating it low. The game felt so boring, needlessly messy and seemed to try and promote extra grinding just to do what other RPGs let you do normally. I didn't have fun with it either.
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