Seeing how enthusiastic I am, going into Final Fantasy XII, I have a feeling I might want to keep track of how the game shapes up. It could well be that this is the first and only entry in the planned series, but you never know.
The opening twenty minutes or so of plot exposition via animation was surprisingly thrilling stuff. I thought I had long since become too cynical to appreciate lengthy CGI or JRPG plotting, but the introductory movie was so well directed that I ended up very interested in the fates of the people depicted. Also, having never played any of these new-fangled post-VIII Final Fantasies, it was a thrill just to see stuff like Chocobos rendered in a realistic fashion. Oh and speaking of fashion: the game’s production is overall breathtakingly designed, putting just about every Hollywood fantasy to shame (yes, Star Wars prequels, I’m looking at you). The focus is not on realism by any means, but it just looks good. You know, beautiful.
Getting to control Reks, the young soldier in the game’s opening scene, I was disoriented first by the doubly inverted camera controls (which can’t be realigned!) and then the combat system, which I frankly have not grasped at all yet, some four fights in. Things seem chaotic and I feel like I’m not fully in control of my character, despite the chance to pause the combat at any time. I guess it’s the combination of real-time movement, paused commands and automatic attacking that somehow just hasn’t gelled yet in my head. Maybe it’s my experience with Knights Of The Old Republic that’s skewing things; Final Fantasy XII’s battle system is a lot like KOTOR’s, only without automatic movement to target.
I quit playing at the first save crystal, impressed so far by the quality of craftsmanship. The menus are a joy to navigate despite looking very nice. Even the English voice acting seems professional. The loading times grate a bit though.