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Misunderstood Gems: Final Fantasy XII

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The Final Fantasy series is one of the most beloved video game franchises to grace the JRPG genre. From titles like the emotionally character-driven Final Fantasy IV and steampunk-style Final Fantasy VI to the critically acclaimed Final Fantasy VII, a number of fans assume that it’s been an incredibly long time since Square has released a Final Fantasy game we’ve enjoyed from beginning to end. One of the most harshly overlooked games in the series has been the 2006 title, Final Fantasy XII. Some love it, some don’t mind it, but some seem to hate on it to a large extent. Why all the hate?

Since the long-awaited Final Fantasy XII remaster, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, is set for release on July 11th 2017, why not talk about the different reasons that make Final Fantasy XII such an underrated game in one of Square’s finest triumphs. Why do so many people, even die-hard fans of the series, consider this title to be the weakest of the Final Fantasy games? Could Final Fantasy XII be a misunderstood gem?

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  1. The MMORPG style gameplay is fresh and different

One of the many reasons people dislike this game is the fact that Final Fantasy XII along with Final Fantasy X-2 and Final Fantasy XI, the least popular titles in the series, branched out with a new storyline, gameplay mechanics, and a whole new revamped presentation of a Final Fantasy game. Final Fantasy XII has often been depicted as a single player offline MMORPG in terms of its gameplay style and the way in which the side quests and missions are presented.

Random encounters that you would traditionally face in a Final Fantasy game are no longer a problem in Final Fantasy XII as well as the turned-based battle system. In their place, the real-time Active Dimension Battle system gives the player the choice whether to combat against certain enemies they come across if they so wish. Battle commands are sorted into a range of different menus such as attack commands, gambit commands, and magick commands which allow players to give the characters combat options to use in battle. The gameplay and battle system is a surprising breath of fresh air from other games in the series, and gives Final Fantasy XII room to stand on its own.

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  1. The voice acting is top-notch!

A huge colourful cast of main characters appear in Final Fantasy XII, and with that, comes a huge colourful cast of talented voice actors. The six playable main characters in the game are all very well-written and well-constructed, and are overall very favourable among fans due to their voice actors.

The game’s “leading man”, Balthier, is played by British voice actor, Gideon Emery, of Wolfenstein and Mass Effect fame. The charisma and personality Emery brought to the role made Balthier one of the most loved and recognizable characters to enter the series. Uncharted voice star, Nolan North, lends his unique voice to the secondary character, Vossler, while Kingdom Hearts and Dissidia voice actor, Keith Ferguson, gives a compelling performance as Basch Fon Ronsenburg. The voice cast chosen for Final Fantasy XII is by far one of the best in any video game as each actor gave a personalized and well-executed approach to their characters, easily making the main characters of this game something to remember in years to come.

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  1. It pays homage to Star Wars

Those who have played this game consider it to be a direct rip-off of Star Wars but this isn’t necessarily true. Yes, many of the characters share a strikingly similar resemblance to the main characters and villains that appear in Star Wars. For example, Balthier and Fran have been speculated to resemble Han Solo and Chewbacca, Vaan resembling Luke Skywalker, Ashe being Princess Leia, Balthier’s Strahl airship mirroring the Millennium Falcon, and Gabranth being similar to Darth Vader.

Many see these parallels as being a direct retelling of Star Wars when in fact Square did this on purpose. They wanted the similarities between the characters to be easy to spot out as the ‘evil empire’ storyline is used in countless stories, and since Star Wars is probably the most popular of these stories, Square thought paying tribute to these movies would work well with fans of both Star Wars and Final Fantasy thus merging the two. So if you are a Star Wars fan, look no further than Final Fantasy XII.

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  1. Intelligent story and characters

If you are looking to sink your teeth into a game that revolves around a more serious and intense political storyline like Game Of Thrones, Final Fantasy XII is the game for you. The reason why so many people dislike XII is on count of the story and how the characters interacted with each other. It was just too serious and heavy. Many of the Final Fantasy games that came before it focused on lighter tones, teenage angst, and whiny main characters with daddy issues.

Final Fantasy XII is a strong serious in-depth look into war, loyalty to one’s country, and politics between nations, resistance movements, different cultures and societies, and so on. Basch, a disgraced knight, is framed for a murder he didn’t commit; Ashe is a strong-willed princess who risks everything to protect her kingdom, and Balthier, the dashing and hilarious sky pirate, must come to terms with his estranged father and past. Final Fantasy XII is a harrowing political story that balances both solemnity and levity perfectly topped off with phenomenal composition and strong intelligent character interactions.

So come July 11th, and you see Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age lying on the shelf at GameStop, go on and pick it up. It’s certainly a game worth your time.

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