Well LusiMarks, the Summer of XII has ended and as always with these wonderful LCom playthroughs, I always feel a lack of closure when the month is up. For all of September, there was a place to share and discuss with other people playing the same title I was playing. There really is a great sense of camaraderie in the feature and I am really glad that we continue the tradition here. Therefore, when the feature just disappears I almost feel like we missed the farewell party. Well, screw it. Because guess what? I’m Ethan ‘Ethos’ Pipher, the General Editor and Co-Founder of this glorious corner of the internet. I am drunk with power and I will throw my own farewell party for Final Fantasy XII via an editorial if I bloody well want to!
This desire is enhanced by the fact that I finally got a chance to sit down with the game and put in another six hours. It blows my mind. I cannot believe that after 52 hours I have not half completed the bestiary, I am only 75% of the way through the story, and I am nowhere near sick of the game. It is a rare game that transforms a player into an adventurer.
I am at the part of the story when I am required to go through the Feywood. This section had a whole different meaning for me during this playthrough. This is because I already ventured into the Feywood before I was “supposed” to. I was underleveled and did not remember the area well from my previous playthroughs. This meant I was cautious – to say the least – on my first trek into the area. I had been there to explore and to try and farm some more valuable loot, but the fact that the smallest enemies could nearly kill me combined with the narrow passageways of the woods made me a little terrified. Add that to the eerie music, distorted map, and thick mist that caused ghostly reflections, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.
Therefore, it was immensely satisfying to return as a more powerful party. I felt as though my experiences had made me stronger. And although that was literally the case – they ARE called experience points – it did not feel like just numbers that gave me confidence. It was like I was returning to conquer my fears as a newly forged hero. I sliced through the enemies and strode with confidence through the area. The Feywood was not just another map, it was an emotional installation.
And that is why Final Fantasy XII succeeds so well in its vast world style. At almost all times, the player feels both totally in charge and completely wary. There are always much weaker enemies to easily slay and familiar areas to return to like a hometown. Yet there is also always the chance to run into insurmountable enemies, an ancient monster, and an unfamiliar area that houses such dangers.
Despite pages and pages of written lore, I would actually argue that Final Fantasy XII is ranked up with Shadow of the Colossus for the best example of showing and not telling. Ivalice is spread out for the player to discover and no lore or dialogue can compare to discovering areas and seeing which sort of creatures inhabit them. It speaks to the game’s ability to create believable areas that the Feywood, Golmore Jungle, and Salikawood are incredibly distinct despite all being densely wooded areas.
But in expressly non-Ethos style, I think I will say goodbye to Final Fantasy XII by going over the negative things, minor as they may be. Firstly, the attempt to add in the classic victory music is admirable, but ends up being awkward every time. Best not to pigeonhole something simply for the sake of nostalgia. Secondly, Considering the vastness of the world that I just praised, it is occasionally disappointing to see repetition of monster design. On one hand, it is cool to see different mutations of monster types, but other times it feels a little lazy. I am loathe to use the term “lazy” at all in relation to XII, and that is one of the rare cases when I think it is apt.
Also, the game never really figured out how to get the player to spend time in its cities other than Rabanastre. Collecting chops is pretty stupid and we all know the legacy that “I’m Captain Basch!” spawned. Perhaps ironically, the towns are the smallest draw of the game.
That is it! I must say goodbye to the game now. At least in terms of discussion on the site for the next few months. Any other parting thoughts, LusIvalicians?