Final Fantasy XII Has Finally Come to a Close

I started my second playthrough of Final Fantasy XII in early December 2016.  Nearly a year later, I have finally completed it (it took so long because I took a lot of breaks, particularly to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild).  I am proud to say that I got far closer to 100% completion than last time, though there are still two things that remain incomplete, the Yiazmat hunt and the Bestiary, the former of which was brutal and just not worth my time.  As far as the latter task goes…once I couldn’t defeat Yiazmat, I lost the motivation to bother with the Bestiary.

Nevertheless, I have plenty of accomplishments I can cite.  I defeated every Esper, including Ultima and Zodiark.  I defeated Marks 1-44.  I even leveled up Vaan to level 99, Balthier to very nearly that high, and everyone else to about 90, making the final boss absurdly easy.  One goal I had made when starting out was to complete this game using strategies more complex than my old “brute force method”, and I more or less did.  At the very least, I used the Gambit system far more, and I used some basic strategies, one of which I will detail below.

In addition to the victories listed above, I was also able to defeat Omega, to whom I had created a map which proved quite helpful, as navigating the massive crystal inside Giruvegan is quite perplexing indeed.  Omega was defeated with ease thanks to a simple strategy I learned online, though I figured out my own way to enact it.  I chose Vaan, my strongest character, along with Ashe and Penelo, who had the most magic.  One would be responsible for casting Reverse on Vaan, while the other would cast Decoy.  Omega’s attacks do about 6000 each, so even with the Bubble Belt equipped (which doubles your HP), you can still die in two hits.

So Omega will only attack Vaan due to Decoy, and Reverse will allow Vaan to heal when he takes damage.  Vaan would then use Hastega from time to time to ensure that everyone can cast their respective spells without delay, after which he attacks.  It was actually helpful that Omega’s laser can sometimes inflict Berserk on you, as this allowed Vaan to do more damage more quickly.  Ha, joke’s on you, Omega!

Now that I have returned to Final Fantasy XII a good decade after my first playthrough (and the game’s release), I have come to appreciate it far more, even though I still have to concur with everyone else that the game is very sparse on story, and it is easy to go many dozens of hours without anything plot-related happening.  And I will never be able to enjoy politics-centered stories.  Ever.  Even so, it was the massive open world and the vast amount of things to do that made the game a lot of fun, along with what has become my favorite battle system in a Final Fantasy game yet.  I can now appreciate the Gambit system, which allows your characters to act on their own.  Rather than make the fights boring because your input is less important, this really just made it easier for me to focus on strategy and the like, since I didn’t have to worry about my characters restoring their health or healing status ailments because those were things the Gambits took care of.  And I love that this game employs real-time battles rather than turn-based.  It’s also pretty awesome that you can change weapons, armor, characters, etc. in the middle of battle.

Since I’ve already been writing a great deal about this game over the past many months, I won’t be writing a true review, though this might be a good time to list a few issues I had, as well.  First of all, money is incredibly scarce in this game.  I thought you normally obtained money from battles in other FF games, but in this one, you must seek out pots scattered throughout your environment.  In most RPGs, I eventually end up with way more money than I know what to do with.  In this game, I’d often have to sell much of my old weapons and armor in order to afford anything new.  This was all the more bothersome when you needed to buy magic rather than learn it through leveling up.

I also find the Licenses to be a rather odd concept.  In this game, you earn License Points, or LP, in addition to EXP, after each battle.  You use these points on the License Board, where you have to unlock magic, weapons, armor, etc. before you can use them.  I just find it rather silly that my character can’t wear a hat or use a sword without a license.  This was not an issue once I had accumulated thousands of License Points, but at first, it would take a very long time to gain enough points for a spell I needed or a better weapon.

Last of all, certain abilities proved rather useless for me.  I could chain a large number of Quickenings together, only to find that the attack had done no damage whatsoever.  Espers were also an issue because, if I was fighting a tough enemy, I couldn’t last more than a minute or so with only one character, and once that character perished, the Esper would disappear without having done much damage at all.  And it doesn’t help that both of the above methods of attack can use a lot of MP.  Lastly…Reflect is useless in this game.  You’d think it would, I don’t know, reflect back enemy spells.  Like it does in other Final Fantasy games.  Rather, it will prevent your allies from healing you, while enemy spells will still damage you just the same.  That doesn’t seem quite fair….

Aside from a few issues, I did enjoy my time with this game very much, and it didn’t end up mattering that the story wasn’t super interesting to me or that I felt pretty indifferent towards the characters.  As I grow older, good characters and stories have become more and more important to me.  But sometimes, as is the case of Final Fantasy XII, the biggest highlight is simply exploring a huge world and defeating a whole bunch of tough monsters.  That alone was enough to keep me happy.  Now that I have given this game another go, I feel it’s going to make it all the more difficult to return to RPGs with more rigid structures, like turn-based battles and the inability to change your equipment or party at any time.  Final Fantasy XII was all about freedom, both in your environment and in the gameplay, and that was all I needed to enjoy the game.

For anyone else who has played Final Fantasy XII, what did you feel was the game’s greatest strength and/or its greatest weakness?  Were you able to enjoy the game despite its sparse story, or was that enough to hurt your experience with the game?  As always, don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

I Resent That the Decoy Symbol is a Duck…

Image from Flickr User: Hallion

Blog post originally published on Virtual Bastion on 11/21/17.

23 thoughts on “Final Fantasy XII Has Finally Come to a Close

  1. Congratulations on beating the game a second time, Duck! (As well as almost one hundred percenting it.) I haven’t played the game myself, so I unfortunately can’t answer your questions. Still, it was fun to read through how you felt about the game after finishing it!

    Also, yeah. After 2017, I don’t think a n y o n e will be able to enjoy a story about politics.


    1. Thanks much! It was a lot of fun playing the game again, especially since there was a ten-year gap between my playthroughs, so it was almost like a brand new game again. And I’m rather proud of myself for doing so much better this time.

      Ugh, politics. One of my least favorite topics.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on finishing! So they still have the License system? I think they updated it, but it seems as though it still has problems. It’s been so long since I’ve played the original that I can’t really call all the game’s foibles. I know one of the biggest complaints players had was the gambit system and how it felt like they weren’t really fighting/doing anything, but that never bothered me. I enjoyed the side quests, settings, and aesthetic. I plan on getting to it this year since I received Zodiac Age for Christmas. Any idea what you plan to play next?


    1. I played the original FFXII on the PS2, so I’m not sure how it differs from Zodiac Age, but yeah…that License System was so silly. I need to get a license to wear a hat? Why?! I originally felt the same way as others about the Gambit system, too, but I ended up not minding it during my second playthrough. I just left the Gambits off for my main character (usually Vaan, until he reached level 99, then I controlled someone else), and then the other characters all acted based off the Gambits I had set. That way I didn’t feel like the game was playing itself because I always had one character I had full control over.

      Next off, I’m thinking of returning to Final Fantasy VIII. During my first playthrough, I never managed to beat the final boss, so I hope to have better luck this time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah okay! Well I think they updated quite a bit in Zodiac Age, but I’ll have to tell you after I play it hehe. My biggest issue was how Vaan was the main character, but…wasn’t the main character. I wish the story had focused more on Fran and Balthier instead of filtering it through Vaan. I think they were probably going for something similar to Star Wars with Vaan in the Luke role, but whereas Luke actually DOES stuff, Vaan is just kind of there.

        Once I figured out the Junction system for FFVIII I enjoyed that game so much. It also has my favorite mini/card game in the entire series!


      2. I agree with you about Vaan. There was no real point to him or Penelo, as I don’t recall them ever doing anything important. The game would have definitely been more interesting focusing more on Fran and Balthier, considering they were the most interesting characters. Overall, though, I didn’t care much for the story or characters in FFXII. I just really enjoyed the side quests and exploring.

        I recently started FFVIII (I’m only an hour in so far). I’m taking it really slow because I don’t want to risk missing anything that will help with the final boss. This game is so difficult for me because you can’t just level up tons in order to beat tough bosses, which is my usual method for completing RPGs.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. FFVIII has such a different leveling system, and the last time Squeenix went that direction, they were still Squaresoft and it was with FFII. I like what they did with FFVIII a lot better though. The key thing to do is draw a LOT of magic. I know I spent about an hour or so getting 100 of each useful spell like Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder for sure and Cure and a few others. Then when I get to monsters that have the next level of magic like Fire et al, I draw a 100 of that, too. I rarely relied on the draw points, and if you have someone with a high enough Magic stat, you should be able to pull 9 from each monster draw. I can be a little tedious, but it totally pays off. Once you get that down and you Junction stuff to the right place, you’ll be cutting through damn near everything!


      4. Oh my yes! So you can mod cards into things when you get that junction ability. Some of the are rare items you either can’t get anywhere else or are difficult to obtain. Like I know the Seifer card mods into 10 Hero Elixirs which grant you invincibility, but I usually don’t since it’s a rare one and also a really strong playing card.


      5. That’s very cool. I’m definitely going to start putting more effort into the card game for this playthrough. Thus far, I have lost every time but one, but I just quit the game without saving and come back when that happens so I don’t lose any cards. Right now, I’m trying to get the Card ability with Quetzalcoatl, and once I have some better cards, I’ll see if I can win a few more games. I have been looking at guides online to tell me where all the good cards are, so I know who to challenge.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yup! That’s what I do, too. I save before hand and then reset or save again depending. Also make sure you don’t spread any bad rules like Random *shudder* It’s the worst along with Closed. I actually like Same, Plus, and Wall, because I’m math geek hehe.


      7. I look forward to returning to the card game soon. Right now, I got stuck going on that first mission in Dollet, but once I’m through, I’m going to work on building my card collection again. It’s a lot more fun than I expected.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I don’t think I’ve reached that quite yet. Probably tomorrow…if I don’t play more Crash Bandicoot. I recently got the N. Sane Trilogy on the PS4, and it’s been really addicting.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. A lot of times, I plan to play both games equally, and then one game gets ignored. I’ve more or less managed to play FF8 and Crash Bandicoot in equal measures, though. They’ve both been pretty fun.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. I can’t even fault you for that. The card game has gotten me to play and replay VIII sometimes more than the game itself, and I like the game quite a lot. Squeenix did such a good job with that card game. I like how it’s part of the game’s inner culture and everyone in the world plays it. What’s the best card you have right now?


      11. I didn’t expect to enjoy Triple Triad so much, but alas! Collecting better and better cards is quite fun. I think my best card at the moment is Diablos. What’s the best card you’ve ever gotten?

        Liked by 1 person

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