Editorial: Farewell to Ivalice

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!

Ashe is awesome, it turns out.

Also, despite the outfits, some of the better female characters in gaming.

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?

9 Comments

  1. Mel
    Posted 2012.10.02 at 19:18 | Permalink

    “Lusivalicians.” Best one yet!

    About the towns: I felt like the other town locations never consisted of anything meaningful enough to warrant repeat visits. When Rabanastre has every shop type (I think) and usually the most current inventory on top of unique things you can’t get anywhere else like the Bazaar and Clan Centurio, not to mention its generally central location in the world map, it’s no wonder you don’t go back to some place like Bhujerba unless you have a specific need to do so. And yes, the little distractions they made up in those other towns are kinda dumb. I believe I’m right before the chops collecting bit, and I am dreading it. Maybe it’s not as bad as I seem to recall, but I’m sure it’s no one’s highlight of the game.

    That said… Before this playthrough began and after it has ended FF12 was and remains by favorite Final Fantasy.

  2. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.10.03 at 02:14 | Permalink

    @Mel: I really want to know why you declare things as facts that are actually complete misinformation.

    At the end of the game, the best spells and equipment are deliberately spread across many locations. Rabanastre does not have ‘the most current inventory’, nor even does it possess the most current inventory during the course of game. It is only updated a few times throughout the game, and at those times there are always better pieces of equipment to purchase elsewhere if you’re willing to go pick it up.

    This isn’t uncommon knowledge! Good luck trying to get accessories, spells, technics, and decent equipment in Rabanastre after the 10h mark! I hope you don’t intend to use things like, oh I don’t know, HASTEGA and GOLDEN AMULETS.

  3. Mel
    Posted 2012.10.03 at 08:15 | Permalink

    @Lusi: You can get the Golden Amulet in Rabanastre, and the shops there are updated more than any other location in the game, not just a few times. So far I haven’t had issues just shopping abroad when I happen to be there, and then mostly in Rabanastre the rest of the time.

    Anything else worth buying that (actually) can’t be bought in Rabanastre?

  4. Deimosion
    Posted 2012.10.03 at 08:28 | Permalink

    @Mel, Lusi Looking it up, it looks like Golden Amulets can indeed be bought in Rabanastre, but as Lusi said, a large number of spells are only available for purchase somewhere else, so yeah. There’s good stuff scattered all over Ivalice.

  5. Deimosion
    Posted 2012.10.03 at 08:34 | Permalink

    And to accidentally double post because I forgot to say this in my first comment (sorry!), I have to say that one of FFXII’s greatest strengths (besides the battles, and the size of the world, and the music…) is just how many areas there are to explore that have no point in the story but still have a lot in them. The Necrohol of Nabudis is an area that the player never even has to know exists, but has quite a bit to do in it. The basement floors of the Pharos are another example.

  6. Ethos
    Posted 2012.10.03 at 09:29 | Permalink

    Double posts are not against the rules here at Lusipurr.com!

    And I agree, Dan. Like Lusi said in the feature thread, so much of the game is OPTIONAL, and it pays off.

  7. Mel
    Posted 2012.10.03 at 09:44 | Permalink

    Without a doubt, this game fosters a desire in me to explore like few other games have.

    I also would like to point out all the nice little details, like the names of each map area, the interesting descriptions of most of the loot drops and even smaller things like the various names of the Traps you can walk over. It all lends itself so well to the theme of the game.

  8. The Legendary Zoltan
    Posted 2012.10.05 at 05:34 | Permalink

    Thanks for that great editorial, Ethos. I unfortunately missed the playthrough but reading this REALLY makes me want to play it again. I agree that the vast open world is the main draw of the game.

    I too have always loved the idea of there being a monster 20 levels higher than all the others in an area. It’s such a simple design choice but the enticement (for me, at least) is beyond compare. I kept on going back to the very first desert outside of Rabanastre to try and kill that T-Rex every chance I had.

    My favorite area in the game is the Sand Sea. Normally I don’t care for desert areas, but the main enemy in that area (the name of which I have forgotten) combined with all the metal bridge structures felt so unique and compelling to me. I spent over three hours crossing that thing and I freaking loved it!

  9. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.10.07 at 00:02 | Permalink

    Hey! It’s the Legendary Zoltan!