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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Final Fantasy XII

Final Fantasy XII is a console role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 2. Released in 2006, it is the twelfth title in the Final Fantasy series. The game introduced several innovations to the series: battles occur without a transition to a separate screen; a customizable "gambit" system automatically controls the actions of characters; and a "license" system determines which abilities and equipment are used by characters. Final Fantasy XII also includes elements from previous games in the series such as summoned monsters, Chocobos, and Moogles.

The game takes place in the fictional land of Ivalice, where the empires of Archadia and Rozarria are waging an endless war. Dalmasca, a small kingdom, is caught between the warring nations. When Dalmasca is annexed by Archadia, its princess, Ashe, creates a resistance movement. During the struggle, she meets Vaan, a young adventurer who dreams of commanding an airship. They are quickly joined by a band of allies; together, they rally against the tyranny of the Archadian Empire.

Story

Final Fantasy XII begins in Dalmasca's capital city of Rabanastre, where the happiness from the union of Princess Ashe of Dalmasca and Prince Rasler of Nabradia is interrupted by the Archadian Empire's invasion of Nabradia. In the subsequent war, Nabradia and Dalmasca are subjugated by Archadia; Prince Rasler is killed, and the Dalmascan king Raminas, after signing a treaty of surrender, is apparently assassinated by the Dalmascan captain Basch. Reks, a young knight under Basch's command, bears witness to the assassination, but later dies of his injuries. Marquis Ondore announces that Basch has been executed and Princess Ashe has committed suicide.
Two years later, Vaan, the younger brother of Reks, is living a life of a street urchin in Rabanastre. Despite his friend Penelo's objections, he infiltrates the Rabanastre palace during a dinner celebrating the appointment of Vayne Solidor as consul. During the infiltration, Vaan encounters Balthier and Fran, a pair of sky pirates who are after the magicite that Vaan took from the royal treasury. Their escape attempt fails when a battle breaks out between Imperial troops and Dalmascan Resistance forces, and they end up in the sewers where they stumble upon the Resistance leader, Amalia. Vaan, Balthier, and Fran are captured by the Archadians and detained at the Nalbina Dungeons. In Nalbina, the three encounter Basch, imprisoned but alive, and they escape with him; Basch pleads that his twin brother, Gabranth, had posed as him on the night of the treaty and was the true assassin. While skeptical at first, Vaan eventually believes him. With the help of Balthier and Fran, the party then travels to Bhujerba, where Penelo is kidnapped by Ba'Gamnan, a bounty hunter trying to catch Balthier. While rescuing Penelo, the party meets Lamont, a curious boy who is Vayne's younger brother, Larsa, in disguise. Basch is also able to confront the Marquis, who captures the party and detains them onboard the Archadian airship Leviathan, headed by Judge Ghis.
On the Leviathan, the party is reunited with Amalia, who is revealed to be Princess Ashe. Ghis takes Vaan's magicite, a royal Dalmascan artifact, and sends it to Archadia. The company escapes from the airship after defeating Ghis and returns to Bhujerba; however, lacking the magicite, Ashe has no proof of her identity and Ondore suggests that Ashe remain hidden in Bhujerba. Instead, Ashe escapes and attempts to collect the treasures of Dynast-King Raithwall, which would prove her royal blood. The party acquires the Dawn Shard, a piece of "deifacted Nethicite", from Raithwall's Tomb, but Ghis seizes it. The small piece of magicite destroys the Leviathan, Ghis, and his fleet, while Ashe and her party barely escape. The company later encounters Larsa, who seeks a peace treaty between Dalmasca and the empire; Ashe initially objects, but Larsa convinces her to pursue a treaty in order to protect Dalmasca. She goes to Mt. Bur-Omisace to seek Gran Kiltias Anastasis' approval of her as queen of Dalmasca.
The party learns in Mt. Bur-Omisace that many other influential people also hope to avert war. Larsa, who had been investigating Vayne's connection to the manufacted Nethicite, had made contact with Al-Cid Margrace, a member of the Rozarrian Empire ruling family, to convince the two Empires to cease their war. They plan to announce Ashe's status as Dalmascan Queen and to persuade the Archadian emperor Gramis not to go to war, but the plan is thwarted when the Emperor is killed, supposedly by Archadian Senate Chairman Gregoroth. With Anastasis' aid, Ashe retrieves the Sword of Kings, which can destroy Nethicite. While she obtains the sword, Anastasis is killed by Judge Bergan and Larsa is brought back to Archadia. After defeating Judge Bergan, Ashe's party travels to Archades and the Draklor Laboratory, Doctor Cid's base of operations. Cid escapes and leaves clues that lead them to Giruvegan, the supposed location of the Sun-cryst, the source of all deifacted Nethicite. While the whole party is able to enter Giruvegan, only Ashe encounters the makers of the Sun-cryst, the immortal Occuria, who pull the strings of history; they give her the Treaty Blade to cut pieces of her own.
In a cutscene, it is revealed that Doctor Cid's Nethicite research was augmented by knowledge from the Occurian heretic, Venat, who had allied with Cid and Vayne in order to put the "reins of History back in the hands of Man". Vayne aims to become the new Dynast-King by using manufacted Nethicite to conquer all of Ivalice. Cid, revealed to be Balthier's father, was obsessed with researching the Nethicite's power after his own visit to Giruvegan and initial encounter with Venat. Their expansion campaign—which led to the Dalmasca's occupation and the destruction of the city of Nabudis—was made to obtain and study deifacted Nethicite.
Ashe is faced with the choice to heed the Occuria and take pieces of the Sun-cryst for her revenge or to destroy it and end the Occurian control over history. Still undecided, Ashe and the party travel to the Pharos at Ridorana Cataract, where the Sun-cryst is located, accompanied by the pirate Reddas. At the top of the tower they face Gabranth, who admits to killing King Raminas in an attempt to force Ashe to give in to her hate. After they overpower him, Cid arrives and fights the party; they defeat him, but before he dies he uses Nethicite shards to harness the full power of the Sun-cryst. Reddas sacrifices himself to destroy it.
Ashe learns from Al-Cid that a war between Archadia and the Resistance group led by Marquis Ondore is about to take place in Rabanastre. The Sky Fortress Bahamut, an enormous, Nethicite-fueled airship armed with incredibly powerful weapons, had absorbed the incredible amount of Mist released by the destruction of the Sun-cryst and now hovers above Rabanastre. Infiltrating the sky fortress with the aid of the Resistance, Basch confronts Gabranth, who is impressed by Basch's loyalty. The party encounters Vayne and Larsa in the midst of an argument over Vayne's plot for power, to which Larsa objects strongly, Larsa and Gabranth ally with the party to destroy Vayne and Venat. After Vayne's defeat, Ashe announces the end of the war, and Larsa takes over the Imperial Army. The party escapes Bahamut, now out of fuel after the final battle, with Gabranth's body and Larsa. Balthier and Fran remain onboard the Bahamut, steering it away from Rabanastre to prevent a collision, though contact with them is lost.

In the following year, Ashe becomes Queen of Dalmasca, and Basch replaces Gabranth as Judge Magister, serving as guardian to Larsa, now Emperor of Archadia. Vaan acquires his own airship, which he operates with Penelo. Balthier and Fran escape from Bahamut and survive to recover the Strahl and go to Bervenia. The game ends with Vaan and Penelo setting out to visit them, embarking on another adventure.

Characters

The six main playable characters in Final Fantasy XII are Vaan, an energetic orphan of Rabanastre who dreams of becoming a sky pirate; Ashe, a determined princess of Dalmasca who lost her father and husband in the Archadian invasion; Basch, a disgraced knight of Dalmasca charged with treason for slaying the king; Balthier, a gentlemanly sky pirate who pilots his airship, the Strahl; Fran, Balthier's partner and a Viera exile whose knowledge extends to legends and myths; and Penelo, Vaan's childhood friend who accompanies him on journeys to "keep an eye on him".
The Archadian Empire is ruled by House Solidor, headed by Emperor Gramis. The family also consists of two siblings, Vayne and Larsa, the former a military genius and the latter a charismatic seeker of peace. Judge Magisters, upholders of Archadian law, protect House Solidor and execute every command issued by the ruling family. The technological marvels of airships and synthetic nethicite—a form of magicite that absorbs Mist—are thanks to Doctor Cid, a prominent researcher from Archadia. The Resistance against Archadia includes Dalmascan knight Vossler, an ally of Basch; Marquis Halim Ondore IV, the game's narrator and ruler of the skycity Bhujerba; Reddas, a sky pirate based in the port at Balfonheim; and the Rozarrian Empire, of which Al-Cid Margrace is a prince of the ruling family. The mythos of Final Fantasy XII revolves around a character known as Dynast-King Raithwall, a man who once united Ivalice to create the Galtean Alliance in ages past.

Battle system

Unlike the previous single player Final Fantasy games which used a turn-based system, battles in Final Fantasy XII occur in the open field; however, menus are still used to issue commands to the characters. Battles unfold in real time, using a new system called "Active Dimension Battle" (ADB), which allows the player to battle in the overworld instead of in a separate battle screen. The player may issue commands to any of the three characters in the battle party at will; however, guest characters are controlled by the game's artificial intelligence. Battle commands include Attack, Magicks & Technicks, Mist, Gambits, and Items. Using these abilities, the player must destroy enemies before being defeated.
"Random encounters" have been eliminated in Final Fantasy XII; the transition to a separate battle screen like in other Final Fantasy titles is absent; instead, enemies are visible in the overworld before an engagement and the player may choose to fight or avoid them in open combat. A battle begins when the party comes within range of an aggressive enemy (or vice versa), if the party attacks a non-aggressive enemy, or if a story event initiates a confrontation. When a character or enemy begins to perform an action, target lines connect characters to other party members or enemies; different colors represent the type of action. The player may switch any active character with an inactive character at any time, unless the active character is targeted by an attack or ability. Characters who are knocked out may also be substituted. The absence of a transition to a battle screen means the traditional victory scene is also eliminated, though a successful "boss" battle does present the player with a "Congratulations" screen featuring the participating characters' victory poses and a variation on the well-known battle victory music theme used in most previous games in the series.
Another new feature in Final Fantasy XII is the "gambit" system, which allows the player to program each character to perform certain commands in battle in response to specified conditions. Using gambits, the player may set reactions to different stimuli for each character. Each gambit consists of three parts: a target, an action, and a priority. The target specifies which ally or foe to act on and the condition for applying the action. For example, the target "Ally: HP < 70%" causes the character to target any ally whose hit points have fallen below 70%. The action is the command to be performed on the target. The priority determines which gambit to perform when multiple gambits are triggered. These heuristics guide the characters when acting autonomously, though player-directed commands are always given top priority.
In Final Fantasy XII, a mysterious phenomenon known as "Mist" is the key energy which allows the player to cast summoning magic and perform "Quickenings". After defeating one in combat, the player will be able to summon an "Esper" to the battlefield. Similar to Final Fantasy X, the summoned creatures become active participants in battle, as opposed to the cinematic attacks seen in previous games in the series. Unlike Final Fantasy X, however, Espers follow hidden gambits, rather than the player's direct command. The summoner remains an active member in the fight, able to attack and cast support magic, instead of leaving the party or standing idle while the summoned creature fights. An Esper will leave the battle if either the summoner or itself is knocked out, its time limit expires, or it executes its special attack. Some Espers have origins in Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and others are derived from the final bosses of previous Final Fantasy games such as Chaos, the final boss of the first Final Fantasy, and Zeromus, the final boss of Final Fantasy IV.
Final Fantasy XII introduces "Quickenings", a new Limit Break system unique compared to those in previous games in the series. Characters learn Quickenings by progressing to specific panels on the License Board. Each character can learn three Quickenings, which are unique to that character. Characters may string together Quickenings into large combo attacks, called Mist Chains, via timed button presses. If a Mist Chain reaches a certain length, a final strike will be initiated at the end of the Quickening cycle, called a Concurrence.

License Board

As in many role-playing games, characters "level up" each time they earn a set number of experience points from defeating enemies; each level gained increases the character's statistics and consequently, improves performance in battle. Statistics include hit points, the amount of damage a character can receive; strength, the power of the character's physical attacks; and magic, the potency of the character's magical spells.
In addition to leveling up, players may improve their characters via the License Board. The License Board is an array of panels that contain "licenses"—permits which allow a character to perform certain actions. The board is split into two parts; the upper part contains Magick, Technick, Accessory, and Augment (stat increases and other permanent buffs) licenses, and the bottom part is filled mostly with Weapon and Armor licenses. To use a Magick, Technick, or piece of equipment, the character must obtain its corresponding license by spending the required amount of LP (License Points) to permit its use. LP are earned in battle along with the experience points. Like the Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X, all characters may obtain all licenses on the board; however, each Quickening and Esper license may only be activated by a single character.






1 comment:

  1. A very rewarding experience, and a majestic soundtrack. Although the previous Final Fantasy games were fairly linear Final Fantasy II. We can go visit the big open world due to this Fantastic "Board of License" Again, the system will bring a new depth to level up, blowing up the Final Fantasy.
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