We recently had a chance to play Final Fantasy XII and what we discovered may surprise you. Unless of course you've read any of the hundreds of other FFXII previews currently making the rounds, in which case the only thing that will surprise you is the fact that we've waited nearly two months to give this game a proper preview. In either case, we encourage you to sit back, relax, crack open a carbonated potion and enjoy this article on one of the most eagerly anticipated games since, well, the last Final Fantasy.
While the demo on hand gave us access to around 10 different sequences in the game, there is still a lot we don't know about Final Fantasy XII. We do know that development began 'some time ago' and despite the recent announcement of FFXII being delayed, Square Spokespersons have cited on multiple occasions that the title is for all intents and purposes complete.
We came away with mixed feelings about FFXII after having played the game. The fully 3D environments sound good on paper, but all they equated to was less impressive graphics on the screen I was looking at. The pre-rendered backgrounds of the previous PS2 games just look better, IMO. The combat dynamics threw me for a loop also, as they now occur on field in real-time. It didn't take long to realize where Square was coming from with this bold "new" direction.
Frankly, it's too early to tell whether this dramatic change to the series will result in a more intriguing experience. Even a small alteration in the FF formula at this point could potentially piss fans off, so it'll be interesting to see how this departure from traditional mechanics plays out.
FFXII was originally scheduled for a summer 2004 release in Japan but the delay has put its release somewhere between winter 2004 and spring 2005. Speculated reasons for the delay range from the company's official explanation of "to improve the quality of Final Fantasy XII" (which pretty much means nothing to no one at this point) to more money-minded explanations suggesting the company wants to pad out the release of their big name titles (FFXII, Kingdom Hearts II, Dragon Quest VIII) for the coming Fiscal Year.
Ummm, we know chocobos will most likely be used for transport purposes. The airship designs seen in the CG sequences look absolutely amazing. A nice chunk of info about the game's characters has also surfaced:
Princess of Dalmasca
Race: female Hume
Recent trailers gave the impression that Ashe will be featured separate from the other characters in the World of Ivalice.
Race: male Hume
A Dalmascan. Looks like an anemic backstreet boy. Partners in 'mischief' with Penelo. Both are friends from the outset of the game.
Girlfriend of Vaan
Race: female Hume
Lost her family during the Dalmascan/Arcadia war. Helps out in a bazaar. Singer and dancer. Skilled in the Art of War. Taught by her brother, who was a knight.
Most likely a playable party member
Race: female Viera
Has big floppy bunny ears. An Archer and rifle user.
Most likely a playable party member.
Race: male Hume.
Not much is known about Balflear, but illustrations depict him in a fancy royal breastplate toting a nasty looking rifle.
A Dalmascan military general
Race: Male Hume
Known for his heroism in battle and his strong sense of justice. Killed the Dalmascan king during a treaty ceremony with the Arcadian Empire.
The Dalmascan Army and Arcadia Empire War
An airship battle between these two factions over the fate of Dalmasca (a kingdom which sits between the two warring states) will be the highlight of the game's opening CG sequence.* The clash results in, among a bloody trail of dead, the death of Vaan's parents.
You know these guys from the Final Fantasy Tactics series. Whether their purpose in the game will be servants of justice, maintaining law and order throughout the world of Ivalice, as was the case in the Tactics games, is not yet known. Though speculation suggests that they will play a more sinister role this time around. They are also pictured prominently in an Amano painted FFXII logo.
Oh they're here, you bet your sweet apple candy kupo they're here. Listen up, Irene. I'm only saying this once. Moogles will, hehe. Sorry. Moogles will be featured in different classes. This is something Matsuno (XII's producer) has been wanting to integrate for years (eight) but hasn't, until now, been able to justify the inclusion of heavy metal armor plating on the cute, fluffy, tribble-like creatures.
As always, we'll let you know what we know about Final Fantasy XII as we come to know it. (If only two months after the fact.) In the meantime, enjoy these bite size morsels of information pertaining to Square and their beloved Final Fantasy franchise.
Directing the art for FFXII will be a guy named Hideo Minaba. Minaba has tended to the series since 1992 (starting with Final Fantasy V).
The multi-syllabic Akihiko Yoshida will be designing the characters in FFXII. Yoshida did the characters in Final Fantasy Tactics, in case you forgot.
Nobuo Uematsu, the guy responsible for most of the music in Final Fantasy (period), rustled up a memorable orchestration for FFXII's theme song. Oh, and its inclusion ended up changing the game's storyline slightly. Noyce. Ok. What else.
Veteran FF series artist is a foreigner named Yoshitaka Amano. An artist whose work would compliment most any room in your house.
The guy who "made" Final Fantasy, or as people who eat in fancy dining parks would say – the series creator – is named Hironobu Sakaguchi.
Square-Enix's current president is Yoichi Wada. Nothing is known of this man.
Square-Enix has some big games coming out. Like Kingdom Hearts II, and Chain of Memories. There's the CG DVD Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, which will also see release in UMD form on Sony's upcoming PSP handheld. Running time is said to be 60-minutes. Story will take place two years after the conclusion of Final Fantasy VII. Aeris will not be resurrected. Or will she? On the online front we've got FFXI: Chains of Promathia.
According to independent research (aka: I Googled it) Square Enix made 563.5 million dollars during the 2004 fiscal year. The company walked away with a cumulative 97.2 million dollars of take-home.
Guess what. Square-Enix is huge. Friggin' huge, in fact. Don't forget about Dragon Warrior. That's a whole 'nuther bucket of chicken right there. And don't forget about Final Fantasy X-2 and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and the over three million units pushed through the doors. 1.3 million units of Dragon Quest V for the PS2 sold during the first two days of the game's release recently in Japan. FFXI currently has over 500,000 subscribers worldwide. Oh, and Square-Enix's MMORPG CrossGate has 10 million subscribers. That game is only prevalent in Eastern civilization. However, Westerners will feel the impact of Square-Enix's recent "mobile services" launch across AT&T's and Verizon's networks. The list goes on and on and on.
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