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The obligatory introductory post?  Hardly.  I’m not one to banter on about my personal life, I got Facebook for that.  So lets forget the filler and get to the heart of the posting, shall we?

Final Fantasy Twelve (FF12) is a masterpiece in game design that both captivates me endlessly as well as frustrates me to no end.  Its a paradigm of paradoxes.  A cornocopia of conundrums!  Ah whatever, its still fairly awesome.  But would a game by any other name be praised and lauded so much?  Doubtful.  I mean aside from chocobos, airships, and summons, very few games bother to even be recognized as a ‘Final Fantasy’ game anymore.  And it just seems funny to still call it ‘Final Fantasy’ despite 12+ games, plus about 4 different spinoffs (and a movie) from FF7, plus the 4 ‘side stories’ that FF13 will be split up into, and more.

I’m not really sure what everyone else thinks, but the sheer development costs of developing 4 games simultaneously (and all of them being FF games) will either mean we get watered-down BS or that we get 4 masterpieces.  How much money that it’ll be the former rather then the latter, hmm?  I for one am not too keen on SquareSoft (oh sorry, Squeenix or w/e the f- they call themselves now) trying to split the games up into trilogies or 4/5/6 part epics that we have to buy several games just to get a full story.

Used to be that you’d spend $50 or so on a brand new SNES cartridge.  Yes, a f-in cartridge.  And you’d have the masterpiece that is FF6 (aka FF3 in the US).  The one with Terra, the Opera House, and all the glorious gaming goodness that has yet to be met or surpassed in story by any video game except perhaps MAYBE Chrono Trigger.  You have any idea how long either of those games were?  And this was done back in the day of SNES cartridges.  So why, in the age of cheap CD and DVD production, do they feel the need to split up games into multiple parts?  To piss gamers off to the point where they’re rabid animals lining up to purchase (for example) the entire Halo Trilogy and STILL be unhappy with the ending?  Oh that was a real f-you-up-the-arse type deal that M$ did with the Halo ‘trilogy’.  First Halo 1 and the very blatent ‘to be continued’ type of ending.  Then after all the waiting there’s Halo 2 and MORE of the same, especially with the half-assed ending.  And finally? After $150 to complete ONE story arc (which didn’t really make much sense and wasn’t even all that good really compared to games like Half Life) the lowly X-Boxers got just what they wanted.  More questions then answers, and leaving the series open for sequels, spinoffs, or even more ‘side stories’.

I understand the need for money, but since when did this become commonplace?  Since when was it OK to give us half of a game story yet charge full price?  Since when?  Since console gamers did it with Halo and every single producer started licking their lips and imagining what they’d spend all that newfound wealth on.

You vote with your money whether a game is complete, whether its bug-free, whether its a decent game, whether it drops down to budget-price within a week (thus dooming similar games from such funding), or even whether the game has DRM.  Prior to the onslaught of DRM and StarForce (along with other spyware-like infestations), I took the liberty of amassing a very impressive PC collection of the best of the best old-school gaming (anything made prior to 2006 really).  Whatever I could buy, I bought.  Whatever wasn’t available for sale for a reasonable price I downloaded off of torrents rather then paying $500+ to some arsehole on ebay just so that I can be ‘legit’.  F-that.  The saddest thing I guess is that none of my money would ever go to any of the developers that actually made the games, as I really only bought the games rather then downloading them so that I could not only save time but have a bit of history with me (artwork can be quite awesome to look at even years later).

So, back to FF12?  Well FF12 seem to do everything to absorb us into its world and it is indeed a ‘complete’ story (thank god) but with the ‘International Zodiac Job Edition’ just kinda set things on its edge.  If the game was on PC, this type of ‘update’ would’ve been released for free as a ‘content patch’ despite not really containing much new content.  Instead we’re looking at $70+ for a game where the ‘normal’ version has the ‘Greatest Hits’ moniker and is selling for $20 or so brand-new-from-the-damn-store.  Sorry, paying $50+ for a ‘patch/update’ isn’t my cup of tea.

The ‘job’ system is just a formally organized way of doing the ‘class challenge’ faqs on GameFaqs, but brought to life.  There’s some new weapons/armor/items (yay?) but not too much else.  The rest of the stuff is more for convenience then anything.  After realizing the draconian artificial bullcrap that they pulled with insane droprates (takes about 50+ tries to steal an item from a rare monster without the Thief’s Cuffs which you get MUCH later in the game), I guess they thought that charging extra for the privilege would revive this aging game?  I’d say the most significant change is the ability to control ‘guest’ members (so they don’t rush to their death) as well as being able to pretty much use any of the ‘super’ attacks of the Espers at will and control them freely.  Everything else is just window-dressing, really.

I spent about an hour looking around for ways I could make or download some type of patch to stick on my PS2’s hard drive (gotten before Sony dumped a turd on their fans and abandoned it, along with the EyeToy) that would alter the game, somewhat like a ‘cheat’ patch would do.  Only after reading around did I realize that FF12 had specific ‘anti-cheat’ code embedded into it (say what?) and that even the ‘official’ cheat devices like GameShark and such had to have very special master codes and use checksum-bypassing just in order to get their codes to work right.

I mean really and truely, one thing I would absolutely love and adore?  100% steal rate from non-rare mobs.  Really, please….please….it would be SOOOOO helpful.  But nah, I get to sit there and fail 7x in a row at stealing from a level 3 wolf because the devs didn’t give a damn.  I get to waste time running around opening jars and finding they only contain anywhere from 1 gil to 10 gil, or maybe a potion.

If it were up to me, I’d only change a few things:

-Droprates & Loot. I’d have every chest in the game always spawn and always give out something decent (replacing all potions with hi-potions for instance) worth at least 100+ gil when sold (or just giving gil instead) plus increasing all droprates for all items in the game to be a minimum of 20%, and anything higher then a 20% droprate would have its droprate doubled instead. So the infamous ‘Zodiac Spear’ chest would always spawn AND you’d have a 20% shot at getting it. Sure as hell beats RNG’ing it, hmm? There are ways around it via glitching that might be considered ‘cheating’ in the eyes of many.

-Replay Value. The thing is THIS IS NOT F-IN WORLD OF WARCRAFT (WoW). AND THERE IS NO NEED FOR ARBITRARY BS TO FORCE US TO REPLAY THE GAME. FFS. Stuff like having 4 chests that are ‘linked’ to a chest containing one of the best damn weapons in the game, and if you didn’t have a strategy guide or read a walkthrough on the internet then you’d be SoL and have to either start over when you’re halfway through or you’d just suck it up or you’d ‘glitch’ your way to a Zodiac Spear. Despite the respect I have for the work they accomplished with FF12, I seriously feel like punching the face of whoever thought up that idea with the chests and the Zodiac Spear. 😛

-HiPotions. I’d allow the Clan Provisioner to CONTINUE to sell HiPotions as well as regular Potions even after you’ve defeated 4 or more marks. The fact that you’re ‘cut off’ from purchasing them after GAINING rank seems quite an odd choice, and possibly a bug. Its similar to a bug where you can gain access to an item with a certain rank, even have it one rank later, but then it disappears for a rank and you dont’ get it back until you gain max rank. Didja catch all that? 😛

EDIT: There is a way to continue to purchase Hi-Potions repeatedly throughout the game but it involves farming the ‘Nekhbet’ rare monster by afflicting it with status affects (but not poison) and just stealing from it over and over about ~100x in a row until you get a ‘Rainbow Egg’ which you can sell in the bazaar for a ‘Hi-Potion Pack’. These end up being about HALF the price that the Clan Provisioner would sell them for, so it may be worth the effort to stock up on about 10 of these and then just sell one whenever you need a bunch of potions. Just know you can only buy one bazaar package of these potions at a time so adjust accordingly.

-Buffs. If the buffs in WoW ran out as often as the ones in this game do, players would be having hissy fits all over the place. I remember in pre-TBC they had paladin buffs that only lasted 5 mins at the most and the paladin’s job was to keep on buffing and rebuffing everyone in the raid constantly, in addition to healing them. In this game you’re lucky if Protect/Shell last longer then a minute, maybe two. Its absurdity, and its insanity. There’s no reason for it, just absolutely no damn reason. Rather then forcing us to recast it, they could have it just tick away extra mana every minute if they wanted to impose a mana penalty. Though then they’d have to let us be able to remove it easily also. As it is, my poor party members are rebuffing about every minute with Protect and Shell. Eventually I just gave up on it and just did without either since it was too much of a damn pain to use them, they sucked away needed mana that I could use for healing, they don’t seem to last more then a minute, and even if I cast them just a few seconds before a boss fight, there’s a damn high chance my buffs will run out before the boss battle is done.

-Speed. Too much mindless running back and forth for no apparent reason. Am I playing WoW again here or what? 😛 Its a single-player game, not multiplayer, and not an online game. Ugh….it seems they wanted to put in as many of WoW’s annoyances as they could (even turning us into ‘farmers’ just so we can have enough LP/gil to buy what we need).

All in all I’d say that FF12 is worth about $10 if you find it used or $20 if you buy it new from the store (since it is now a ‘Greatest Hits’), otherwise pass it up. It is a decently good game, at least, but the ‘International Zodiac Job Edition’ isn’t worth the incredibly hefty premium (plus its in Japanese only, an odd choice). And maybe its just me, but it seems the majority of the effort went into making as many pretty graphics as they could, and they just shoved gameplay into a tiny little budget corner.

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One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Minutae and Musings on FF12 | Console Gaming on 07 Sep 2009 at 11:43 am

    […] post by Seasonal Madness […]

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