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Final Fantasy XII
Information about Final Fantasy XIIFinal Fantasy XII (ファイナルファンタジーXII, Fainaru Fantajī Tuerubu) is a single-player console role-playing game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 2. Released in 2006 (7 years ago), 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 airships.
The game takes place in the fictional location 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 Archadia invades and occupies Dalmasca, 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.
Final Fantasy XII received universally high scores, and earned numerous "Game of the Year" awards in various categories from noted video game publications. Selling more than two million copies in Japan, it became the fourth best-selling PlayStation 2 game of 2006 (7 years ago) worldwide. As of Oct. 2007 (6 years ago), the game has sold 3.68 million copies worldwide. A sequel, Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, was released for the Nintendo DS in 2007 (6 years ago).
StoryFinal 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 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. 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 headhunter trying to catch Balthier. While rescuing Penelo, the party meets Lamont, a curious boy who is in truth Vayne's younger brother, Larsa. 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, revealed to be Princess Ashe. Ghis takes Vaan's magicite, a symbol of royal Dalmascan lineage, 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. The party later encounters Larsa, who wants to make a peace treaty between Dalmasca and the empire; Ashe initially objects, but Larsa convinces her to seek 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 with 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 deifacted Nethicite. While the whole party is able 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 her father in an attempt to force her 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 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, having no idea that they are embarking on another adventure.
GameplayThroughout the game, the player directly controls the on screen character from a third-person perspective to interact with people, objects, and enemies. Unlike previous games in the series, the player can also control the camera with the right analog stick, allowing for a 360° view of the surroundings. While in towns and cities, the player may only see from the perspective of Vaan, although any character may be controlled in battle. The world of Final Fantasy XII is rendered to scale relative to the characters in it; instead of a caricature of the character roaming around miniature terrain, as found in the earlier Final Fantasy games, every area is represented proportionally. The player navigates the world by foot, by Chocobo, or by airship. Players may save their game to a memory card using save crystals or gate crystals, and may use the latter to teleport to other gate crystals. An in-game bestiary provides incidental information about the world of Final Fantasy XII.
Final Fantasy XII restructures the system of earning gil, the currency of the Final Fantasy games. Instead of gil, most enemies drop "loot" which can be sold at shops. This ties into a new battle mechanic which rewards the player with improved loot for slaying a particular type of monster multiple times in a row. Selling different types of loot also unlocks a bazaar option in shops, which provides items at a lower cost, or items exclusive to the Bazaar.
CombatA standard battle; blue lines depict the player's targets and red lines depict those of the enemies.Unlike the previous 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. Combat unfolds 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, certain "guest" characters are controlled by the game's AI. 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 meant the traditional victory scene is also eliminated, though a very successful "Boss" battle does present the player with a "Congratulations" screen and the participating characters in their victory poses.
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 HP has 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. This rudimentary AI programming scheme allows the characters to act on their own, although player-inputted commands are always given top priority.
Espers, such as Mateus, pictured, aid in battle.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 BoardAs 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, thus improving their 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.
PlotFinal Fantasy XII is set within the land of Ivalice during an age when "magic was commonplace" and "airships plied the skies, crowding out the heavens". At this time, magicite, a magic-rich mineral, is commonly used in magic spells and in powering airships—a popular form of transportation in Ivalice. Ivalice is divided into three continents: Ordalia, Valendia, and Kerwon. Ordalia is located in the western part of Ivalice. The Rozarrian Empire makes its home in the vast inland plains of this continent as the eastern portion of it is largely desert or "jagd"—lawless lands so rich in Mist (the ethereal manifestation of magicite) that airships cannot fly over them. Valendia is the home of Imperial Archadia, where vast and lush plains dot the landscape. Central to the story is Dalmasca, a small kingdom between the two continents and Empires. Located in the middle of the Galtean Peninsula of Ordalia, Dalmasca is surrounded by an expanse of desert. The temperate climate of Dalmasca differs from the cold environs of Kerwon and the lush plains of Valendia and Ordalia. During this time, Ivalice is beset by the pending war between the forces of Rozarria and Archadia. Caught between the two powerful Empires, Dalmasca and a number of smaller nations have already been subjugated by Archadia two years before the game begins.
According to the game developers, design inspiration came from a mix of medieval Mediterranean countries as demonstrated by the architectural styles found throughout Ivalice along with many of the races populating the region. The art team visited Turkey, which influenced the game's Mediterranean-style setting. The developers also used styles and deco from other sources including areas in India and New York City. Of note is the use of Sanskrit in the city of Bhujerba. Phrases such as "svagatam" (welcome) and titles like "parijanah" (guide) are lifted directly from Sanskrit. Hideo Minaba, developer and co-art director with Isamu Kamikokuryō, mentions that the team tried to bring out Arabic culture in the design of the game. War is a prominent theme of the game and the developers confirmed that the cutscene battles are influenced by Ancient Rome. When asked to comment on the fan observation of a Star Wars influence, Minaba replied that although he was a fan of the Star Wars series, it was not necessarily an influence to the game's designs.
CharactersThe 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 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 over 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 and order 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, the man who once united Ivalice to create the Galtean Alliance.
Basch was initially meant to be the main character of the story, but the focus was eventually shifted to Vaan and Penelo when the two characters were created later in development. The development team explained that their previous game, Vagrant Story, which featured a "strong man in his prime" as the protagonist had been unsuccessful and unpopular; the change regarding Final Fantasy XII from a "big and tough" protagonist to a more effeminate one was thus decided after targeting demographics were considered. With the casting of dorama actor Kouhei Takeda for the voice acting and motion capture, Vaan became less feminine and more "active, upbeat bright and positive". Comments were made about the similarity between main character designer and background design supervisor Akihiko Yoshida's creations and those of Tetsuya Nomura, another Square Enix character designer. Yoshida feels this connection is sparked by the style of color used by both artists, which involves a color consistency between the characters and the environments. The designers stated that non-human characters and races feature a prominent role in the game, which was influenced by an interest in history among the developers.
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