Final Fantasy XII is better than I expected. I got it yesterday afternoon thanks to an anonymous benefactor and my clock is already showing a worrying eight hours played. In typical Final Fantasy style, I was awestruck before I had even got to the point of entering my name (or the point where you would ordinarily enter your name—you don’t get to do that in this game so I have to play as Vaan instead of my more usual Poo).
The battle system is a huge change from the last game. There are no more random encounters. Monsters are visible on the world map, so can be approached or avoided. Characters control their own actions according to pre-set strategies but accept orders when you want to give them, so you can take as much or as little control as you want. I don’t exactly keep up with gaming news but I remember reading some objections to this system. I like it. Let’s face it, most of us just held down the circle button for the random battles in the other games so that “Attack” would be selected. This just automates that process, so you can focus on just the important actions.
One small thing that I really liked and which is just indicative of the overall polishedness of the game is the fact that several save points warn that the area you’re in will take a long time to get out of and suggests that you may want to save to a new file. This is brilliant. How many times did you save after what later turned out to be a point of no return? Never again.
I’ll avoid making overly-favoursome comparisons to VII for fear of being lynched, but this really is a very good game. Frankly the only reason I’m not playing it right now is that I can’t get access to the television. Otherwise I think I’d probably just play it through in one sitting and come back here with a comprehensive review in about 100 hours.