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In Defense of FFXII 146

Posted by Zonk
from the happy-as-long-as-it-has-moogles dept.
Next Generation has an article defending many of the somewhat 'controversial' decisions made in the design for the newest chapter in the Final Fantasy series. While it recieved a 40/40 from Famitsu, Final Fantasy XII has recieved some harsh criticisms for straying as far as it has from the Final Fantasy norm. From the article: "With Gambits turned on (and configured with just five minutes of commonsensical thought), battles go at least twenty times more quickly than in any other RPG. At their best, Final Fantasy XII's battles resemble rollicking fights in fantasy movies. The player merely directs his party through an area, freezing the action when he sees fit to make adjustments on the battle plan (stronger enemies appear, et cetera). This alone should be enough to qualify XII as a 'videogame.' The controller's vibration, for example, provides wonderful feedback. Yet players feel betrayed. They say, 'I want to press buttons.' They say, 'I don't want to watch my videogame.'"
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In Defense of FFXII

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  • I find it just a bit odd that Final Fantasy is seeming to be trending more towards the story aspects of the game, while the latest D&D isn't much more than a button masher.

    Good for them!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't know much about XII, but in previous games there has been very little roleplaying. One just watches the story unfold without any input into how it progresses.

      While I certainly find the series to be enjoyable, I never get the sense that I have any real control of the character outside of combat and exploration.
    • When I think of some of the great western RPGs -- Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, Baldurs Gate, and even quasi-RPGs like System Shock 2 and Deus Ex, I find that I have to disagree. The story was integral to all these games, more or less as expected.
  • Gameplay? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Since when has the FF series ever been about gameplay?

    Isn't it's major selling point the whole story line and cinematic visuals. Having played a few of the more recent ones I think this feature would be really beneficial when you get about 3/4 of the way through and spend hours tediously looking for fights to level up before the final battle.
    • FF's I, II and III where pretty deep with a lot of choices that could effect the game. IV and V had complex job and leveling systems and VI had a ton of options for each character and several really tough boss fights. Even VII had a good chunk of real gameplay (mini-games, chocobo raising, etc). It wasn't till VIII that it started to stray from gameplay, and even IX was trying (even if the chocobo search game fell flat, I think they still wanted a gameplay driven rpg). X, X-2 and now XII is where the series
      • FF's I, II and III where pretty deep with a lot of choices that could effect the game.

        Wait, what now?

        FF I had a lot of deep choices? It was almost completely linear. (the only real "choice" was whether you go to Gurgu Volcano before or after the ice cave.

        IV and V had complex job and leveling systems

        FF IV had no job system. The levelling system was simple: Get enough XP, go up a level. If level = X, learn spell (for shifting values of X).

        FFV was really when the game started giving you choices and becoming le
      • You mean Level 5, not Factor 5. Factor 5 is known for games like Turrican and Rogue Squadron.
      • VI had a ton of options for each character and several really tough boss fights

        Tough boss fights? Give me a break. Perhaps they might have been slightly annoying before the world of ruin, but afterwards, once you get every character past level 40 and do all the extra side quests to get the rest of the good gear and spells, you can pretty much stomp over all enemies in the game. Overall, I found this Final Fantasy to be one of the easier ones.

        It's still a great game though!

        • once you get every character past level 40 and do all the extra side quests to get the rest of the good gear and spells, you can pretty much stomp over all enemies in the game

          Well, yeah, once you do all that. But not everyone finds all the secrets, or cares about all the sidequests. And the bosses on the "critical path" of the storyline shouldn't be impossible for them.

          The only way to keep both groups happy would be to scale up boss difficulty with party strength. I am actually pretty convinced some game
          • I'm pretty sure they didn't scale up Lavos. My second time beating him was kinda hard, since I only had Marle and Chrono, but all the rest were really easy.
      • Even VII had a good chunk of real gameplay (mini-games, chocobo raising, etc)

        Mini-games are the absolutely most annoying part of RPGs for me. I'm playing for story, for drama, for the strange new world I get to explore with each new game (and ideally, though less often these days, for the ability to make decisions that affect the story in serious ways).

        I don't want to have to deal with reflex or memory challenges when I'm playing an RPG. I'm not here to hone my twitch skills, or test my patience. If

  • Classic RPGs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Eightyford (893696) on Monday March 27, 2006 @05:29PM (#15006076) Homepage
    Maybe it's time that the mainstream Final Fantasy games take a cue from FF Tactics, and add a little more strategy to the game. I wouldn't mind seeing a Zelda style, action oriented Final Fantasy game either.
    • Why not just play Zelda? What is to be gained by making a "Final Fantasy" Zelda? Final Fantasy doesn't involve a cohesive set of characters, a standard world, even a set storyline. It's a blanket term to collect otherwise disparate RPGs. So for all we know, Zelda *is* a Final Fantasy Zelda just without Final Fantasy in front of it and not made by Square.

      Perhaps you should say, "I wouldn't mind seeing a Zelda style, action oriented Final Fantasy IV [or VI, or VII, etc.] game."
      • Final Fantasy doesn't involve a cohesive set of characters, a standard world, even a set storyline.

        The name FINAL Fantasy seems to imply that the adventure (fantasy) would be the FINAL one for those characters. This idea of course was broken with FFX-2 and the several offchutes of FFVII.

        I do remember hearing a theory a few years ago that could have tied the first 6 to the same world, just not in that order.

        Storyline:

        Good vs. Evil

        Usually the main characters have a prexisting relationship with the one of the

        • Try relating any of the main characters of Final Fantasy I to the main boss. Cecil didn't have a relationship to the ultimate evil, although he does defeat himself at one point by refusing to fight.
        • To jump off topic real quick...

          Final Fantasy had a crossover with Mario RPG (Culex and the Crystals that parent was talking about). More things like this need to be done.
          • A little bit of cross over is ok, like Cloud in FFT.

            But I got alittle annoyed with Kingdom Hearts.
            Sure all those other "worlds" being attacked was part of the story, but I thought it got to be a bit too much.

            I never played Mario RPG, but which FF game is Culex from?
            The only references I can find say he wasn't from any FF game, but just designed to look like he was.
        • "and of course Tidus has to kill his daddy."

          Well, now at least I don't have to actually play through that game....

    • I wouldn't mind seeing a Zelda style, action oriented Final Fantasy game either.

      Then perhaps take a look at the Seiken Densetsu series?

      Final Fantasy Adventure [wikipedia.org] was the first game in the series. It was later remade as Sword of Mana [wikipedia.org]. The second game in the series is a favourite RPG for many people: Secret of Mana [wikipedia.org].
      • Not to mention, Seiken Densetsu 3 was hands-down one of the best 16-bit era RPGs. It's a shame it didn't make it to North America, but a translated ROM is out there.
    • I'd guess that scripting your team is a lot more strategic than simply responding to stimulous during a battle, and probably a lot more interesting. Sure it may break down to a question of who casts cure on the guy who is at 30% health, but that kind of planning is the strategic element of RPGs. Now it has been distilled in a unique package.

      I'm utterly excited about this. I haven't bought the last 4 Final Fantasies, but I'll buy this one. I can only hope it lives up to the promise of being the Final Fan
    • I wouldn't mind seeing a Zelda style, action oriented Final Fantasy game either.

      Crystal Chronicles?

  • by the_demiurge (26115) on Monday March 27, 2006 @05:30PM (#15006081) Homepage
    I've played Grandia III and the battle system is superb. Classic turn-based, no "active battle system", but the battles are fluid and full of motion and strategy. The demo for FF XII seemed exactly as the quote described (although a link to the article would have been nice...): the game plays itself.

    I like RPGs not just for the story, but for the challenge of beating some bad guys using some tactical thinking. The demo didn't offer any thinking. I'll watch a movie or read a book instead if there's no meaningful interaction with the game.
  • People act like watching a video game is something new, when the Final Fantasy games have generally been more about bashing a button than thoughtful gameplay since at least FF6. Now-a-days you play FF for the story, and FF12 does nothing to make that any more or less true.

    Rob
  • Here we go again. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday March 27, 2006 @05:31PM (#15006102) Homepage Journal
    Is it just me, or has pretty much every FF game changed something major that pissed off the fanbase to no end until they played it and possibly found it groovy? People bitched and moaned about FFX's sphere grid and Blitzball, FFX2's lack of blitzball, FF7's steampunk-over-standard fantasty, FF9's standard-fantasy-over-steampunk, the dress-up, the card games, the battle systems, etc, etc, etc...

    I'm an RPG fan in general, and a Final Fantasy fan in particular. I like some of them more than others. The one's I'm not much of a fan of - wait for it, this is the good bit, the bit with "+1 insightful" written all over it - I don't play with anymore.
    • "Is it just me, or has pretty much every FF game changed something major that pissed off the fanbase to no end until they played it and possibly found it groovy?"

      With games like Final Fantasy, it's hard to pin down exactly what it is about the game that made it so compelling. Was it the setting? The story? The battles? The graphic style? OMG if they change one of those aspects, are they going to ruin the magic? Honestly, I think the reactions you mentioned are perfectly normal and to be expected. Peopl
    • Let's see, i thought FF10's sphere grid and Blitzball sounded cool and played it and it was. I was annoyed by FF7's steampunk-over-standard fantasy then played it, thought the game was okay but would have been better without the steampunk. I thought FF9s standard-fantasy-over-steampunk sounded awesome then played it and it was. Furthermore i thought FF8s non-leveling up sounded like crap, then i played it and it _was_ crap.

      As far as i know FF4 and FF5 didn't change much and they're two of my favorites. FF

  • LINK TO ARTICLE (Score:1, Informative)

    by Sean0michael (923458)
    Here Is The Article [next-gen.biz]
  • I think the critics have something correct to say. I absolutely hated KOTOR and found it completely unplayable due to the fact that it never felt like I was controlling the character. The controls for battle were completely disjointed from the on-screen action. If the new FF has the same schema, I think it really will alienate the die-hard fans. Of course, it could also help pick-up all those XBox players that made KOTOR game of the year . . .
    • Actually, I quite like Kotor, and beat it several times. I also enjoyed the sequel.

      But then again I played on the PC, not x-box.
    • Did you try turning off the auto-pause in KOTOR? Or were you playing a guardian and just queuing flurry?

      I find myself drawn to games where I can micromanage and yet I loved the combat in both KOTOR and KOTORII (but the story in KOTORII sucked).

      Square is definitely trying to remove some of the "grind" through automation and this is definitely a welcome change in terms of modern gameplay. The problem is all of the gamers who grew up on dungeon crawlers and the early FF titles and have posters of Chrono Trigg
    • "RPGs" like Final Fantasy don't really feel like you're controlling your character. It's more like: wait for your timer to charge, wade through a menu, watch a pretty animation. Wash, rinse, repeat. If FFXII has more of a "real-time" version of this, I'd think it's at least more interesting than the previous system.
  • by Lewisham (239493) on Monday March 27, 2006 @06:04PM (#15006396)
    Disclaimer: I've only ever played Final Fantasy VII, and I don't generally like RPGs.

    So, I was thinking about the gambit system, and I have come to the conclusion that it sounds great. RPG combat (from what I've seen, and the games I've seen other people play) is not really a battle of brains, but situational timing. And so being able to program how I would play ahead of time, sounds pretty cool.

    I wondered how much this would translate to MMO play. I decided it would make for a horrible game, where you just continually ran forwards and hoped your gambits didn't suck. But what if the gambits were perhaps meshed to a trading card battling type thingy? Maybe that's too geeky.

    But if you could program a gambit system for World of Warcraft... I think it would be worryingly simple for some classes like the Rogue. This makes me question my whole love of WoW: why do I love something so very... repetitive? Guild chat and stuff is why I keep coming back, so maybe gambits *would* be better, then I could just sit in the chat room and see whether I live or die.

    It's an interesting system, and I'll definitely give the game a rental when it arrives, just to see how it all plays out.
  • Enix's Influence (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheZorch (925979)
    In FFXI you start to see Enix's influence. Its a subtle change, most of FFXI is still very much a Squaresoft dominant game, but game elements like missions and the rank system are Enix influences.

    FFXII is the first Single-Player FF game since the MMORPG was released. Square and Enix have settled into their new role as a combined company, thus ideas from both sides will unsurprisingly be incorporated into the game. So, future FF games will start to look like a cross between FF and Dragon Quest. Dragon Qu
    • Check Wikipedia. FFXI came out about a year before the Enix merger. And FFXII isn't the first single-player FF since then: FFX-2 was released half a month before the merger, nearly a year after XI. Although DQVIII and FFXII were both published by Square-Enix, the actual staff involved in creating each game was completely different (DQVIII was developed by Level-5 vs. the in-house FF team). Simple things like DQ's lack of voice acting (completely absent in the original Japanese version, which is heresy b
  • Setting the strategy and watching rather than button-pounding is something I've been wishing more RPGs would do for AGES. Some of us have RSI and don't like doing pointless repetitive things. Hearing about this new battle style makes me want to play the game even though I lack a console...
    • Yeah, I get tired of hitting "Attack->With my Sword" a gazillion times too. I just hope there's a way to override the player's actions in battle when you want them to do something unusual.

      Also, if the system is not sophisticated enough it could be a problem. Say I run up on an ice creature, normally I'd have the mage cast "fire" on it. Is there going to be a rule like "Target (Fire Weak) creature"? The article made it sound very primitive, although I can easily see the battle system designed to re
      • This might sound a little crazy, but what if the next FF had a battle system that went in the total opposite direction from XII's. I've always thought that if the battles were more like a fighting game or possibly something like a third-person shooter that the RPG games could be tons of fun. I realize that some FF's already had realtime, skill-based sequences though. I played FF VII up to the point where you race chocobos. I really enjoyed that more than any of the battles. I guess I'm one of the type
      • Yeah, I get tired of hitting "Attack->With my Sword" a gazillion times too. I just hope there's a way to override the player's actions in battle when you want them to do something unusual.

        Yes. The circle button always brings up the standard menu. Changing your action -- even targeting another enemy -- causes your ATB meter to reset, though.

        Also, if the system is not sophisticated enough it could be a problem. Say I run up on an ice creature, normally I'd have the mage cast "fire" on it. Is there go

      • not many people like grinding or farming spells. hes not alone.

        i think the author was touching on the fact that in most final fantasy games its quite rare to see the game over screen. not all, but the majority of RPGs are way too easy and simple. if you level properly, and buy the right equipment and magic, you are guaranteed for the win. with only few exceptions, such as fighting the final weapon bosses in ffvii, you can pretty much trample on anyone. if you find yourself in trouble, you can always run.

        in
    • Final Fantasy Tactics (for Playstation) has this. There's only 4 AI's to choose from, but you can have the computer run all the fights and you just tell it the priorities. Your choices are:

      1 kill this specific target (you choose which)
      2 protect this specific ally (your choose which)
      3 flee/run away from enemies.
      4 attack enemies but save allies if they are critically wounded

      #4 is the basic AI that most enemy characters play with; some do #1 instead, targeted on your main character.

      The downside? These are over
  • Then why are you playing Final Fantasy?
  • ...I have to say, the gambit system is just a little bit of genius. The thing is that, to maintain an active, well-paced battle system, you have to have some automation. That said, the people who see the gambit system as some huge, new, radical thing are complete idiots. This is the exact same way you've always played an FF title. You make your choices in advance, then your characters follow through on those actions. Honestly, did you need the freedom to tell your mage to cast ice on an ice elemental?
    • I'm happy to see that the game will let you slow down and micromanage back to the old FF levels if you want to. The demo with DQ8 didn't really help show this off. It also didn't help you show how to set up these AI scripts for your characters... basically the whole thing felt like it was an auto-pilot, I was just leading a band through a dungeon. Are there better camera angle options to facilitate the deeper level of control? In the demo version I had trouble watching my party members let alone contro
    • THe problem is that when I play a RPG, I *don't* use a small set of easily macroable commands. So I'm fighting an elemental and he hits me below 70% health. Do I automaticly heal? Maybe not- maybe I know he's down to 1 round worth of health, and I decide killing him will save mp or hp. Maybe I'm in a really wierd configuration of monsters where I want to cast an unusual spell (maybe a crowd control). Maybe I usually kill the highest damaging mobs, but this time they added a healer in and I need to kil
      • lol yeah... you won't be able to use those health-dependent weapon-combos like the ones in FF-X2 where you get 9999 damage regardless of enemy's defense if your health is at 1... (more than 1 rpg have done this) that is, unless you spend tons of time micromanage when the game's level-up system is designed around zipping through battles... i can see that as a potential issue...
        • There are "go crazy when your HP are low" attacks. They take a lot of License Points turn earn (go south from your characters' inital investments in the top License Board), which means you'll need to kill monsters to get the LP to learn the abilities and this naturally cause you to level. You can, however, cleverly script a party to keep one member of three at perpetually low HP if really want that. Here's a quick example:

          Say you've got one Tank, one damage platform, and one healer (these can be any of

      • This is why you can easily switch to any of the characters in your party at will and override their gambit coammands. Also, MP regenerates now, so you don't have to be worried about one character wasting 8mp casting Cure on a member of your party.
      • There are three ways to disable scripting for your characters (in battle, click an option right below the Attack/Magic/etc bar, on your menu screen mark all of their programmed Gambits as Off, or give them Gambits which are intentionally unsatisfiable ("Target someone not in your party with Potion", etc). Any of these will let you play the game in the traditional FF fashion. There's one MAJOR problem with this work-around, though -- you don't get the traditional prompts for action. This means, every time
  • 'I don't want to watch my videogame.'

    This is a joke, right? Are they actually talking about Final Fantasy games? Outside of Xenosaga, the FF games have the highest ratio of watching : 'playing' I've ever seen. And the stories (at least in the later ones) are pretty amateur trash that hardly bears sitting thru. Although having said that, the only FF game I've really put time into was FFX, and the rock/paper/scissors gameplay of that game turned me off the FF games forever. Although I hear the earlier one
    • Although having said that, the only FF game I've really put time into was FFX, and the rock/paper/scissors gameplay of that game turned me off the FF games forever.

      I've played the Fire Emblem series and I never really had any problems with this type of gameplay. I've also played Age of Empires Age of Kings where this was also prevelant. It's not a feature that will doom gameplay. In some instances it makes sense like Age of Empires where a pikeman definately has the advantage over someone on a horse and

      • Well then it must be okay then. It may not doom gameplay but it certainly dumbs it down. I don't call it tactics if all I have to do is make sure a certain unit attacks a specific other unit to guarantee a thrashing. I want relative positioning, terrain, attack direction, cover, etc to all affect the result, not just that my swordsman dealt 95% damage to their pikeman while only taking 10% because swordsman > pikeman.

        The RPS style of combat in Fire Emblem was exactly what inspired me to put that game
      • However, in FE or AOE you have more than three units in play and they can stand in more than one position and they may be needed in more than one place. In FF there is no flanking, no luring troops out of their advantageous terrain (e.g. base), just "select your character and the matching monster".
  • final fantasy series never had a whole lot of strategy and difficulty to it... the 99 limit in number of items, the endless casting of pheonix down and such made dying "just another part of the game". some of the "hardest" fights were fairly easy, and i've managed to defeat toneberries with little trouble when the walkthrough said they are impossible at that stage of the game. (in FF8's battle arena, in the last fight, i was berserked after being turned into a toad and mini'd, so i only dealt 1 point of dam
    • the endless casting of pheonix down and such made dying "just another part of the game".

      Items such as Pick Me Up in Super Mario RPG and Phoenix Down in FF7 had the effect of turning dying into the equivalent of fainting. The Pokémon series just ran with this realization.

      • the pokemon series was much more clearly marketed towards little kids - it doesnt sound good with kids yelling and screaming "DIE DIE DIE" to a pokemon in front of their parents, whereas yelling and screaming "FAINT FAINT FAINT" doesnt sound so bad - its not good to keep your game from getting bought cuz of parents that control what their kids buy cuz it "makes" them violent and want to kill stuff
        • Reminds me of the instruction manual to one or another of Pac-Man's original Atari console incarnations.. even my mom reacted with an "oh, come on" when reading that touching a ghost makes Pac Man tired and ends the round.
      • I think the FF games don't call it death, they say the character is wounded or incapacitated. Which would also explain why you can revive a characer a hundred times during battle but it suddently stops working when the character is killed in a cutscene. Though it does not explain why damage in a cutscene is fatal in a single blow while you can take tank shells to the face without even flinching in combat.
    • Dude, you need to be playing Shadow Hearts. The judgment reel rocks.

  • From the article: "Meanwhile, the Gambit system is, well, probably the most brilliant thing ever to appear in a Japanese role-playing game...." and later "...This is where producer Yasumi Matsuno shines most -- in creating straightforward game concepts that eliminate waste. Matsuno saw a way to get rid of the tedium of role-playing games (heal when low on HP, attack, attack, attack, get hurt, heal again, attack, attack) by implementing a simple AI programming scheme. The dead simplicity of the AI programmin

  • Actually, this all sounds pretty good to me! I actually hate all of the menu popping in battle. And I mainly play FF games for the story. So I'll be grabbing XII asap.
  • But I love the old FF games. I actually just loaded up LJP and played FF1 (yes, 1) all last week. Love it. I've got 2 and 3 loaded up and they're the next on my list.

    Of course this might have something to do with the fact that I haven't had a game console since the N64. And even that was a hand-me-down from a friend.

    Maybe I'm just getting old...
  • This is a good thing (TM). In many RPGs, the fighting engine ends up being nothing more than mindless button mashing. I game that removed that redundancy would really appeal to me. Change isn't always bad!
  • FF 12

    Where The Spirits Within meets Progress Quest. (With 5 minutes of setup via GUI).

  • I've seen the Gambit system in action and its one of the best ideas to come out of RPGs let alone console RPGs in a long while. Compared to the archaic systems like Dragon Quest 8, Gambits make the fights move much faster in a franetic fashion that makes it move more like how you'd think a fight scene in a movie would go without the pestering you. Not the whole Xenosaga thing where you are watching the "movie of the game" but it is controlable. Considering that the game tries to present the other people
  • Quite frankly I really liked Dungeon Siege when I first started playing. Sure, some of the obvious problems showed up pretty early (e.g. the obvious linear road through the entire game, the lack of game balance, etc.) but when you were just controlling one character it felt like a fun, pretty Diablo II clone. As soon as you started adding party member though you lost almost all of your control. I often felt like I was merely playing the manager making sure they were stocked up with plenty of potions and in
  • Fans are critical when the director leaves, the musician leaves, the company goes bankrupt, and they change the fundamental system?

    How totally bizzare!

    May the wind be always at your back,
    -Tim_Ceete_Smith
  • ...and even though I haven't played the game yet, I still don't agree. There's better games out there, and even better plots if that's what people play FF for.

    I also agree pretty much with this article [geocities.com], but it's directed at all of the series, not just XII.

  • It sounds like Progress Quest [progressquest.com] with a prettier interface. One of many available "fire and forget" rpgs.
  • ....is the ability to automate easily. The point of games is to be interactive, not to watch battles take place and have you gain experience. Why not just have instant battles if you're not making any of the decisions? Just to waste your time watching the same animations over and over again? Please -- I have better things to do.

    My girlfriend and I are playing through Dragon Quest VIII and learning chess at the moment. In one, we set the thing on autobattle and watch animations. In the other, we make c
  • Yet players feel betrayed. They say, 'I want to press buttons.' They say, 'I don't want to watch my videogame.'

    I thought everyone who felt that way stopped playing FF years ago?

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