E3 Coverage: Square Enix

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posted 5/21/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
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Final Fantasy XII


When you’ve sold millions of copies and satisfied millions of fans you can be forgiven for putting the word “Final” into the title and following it with a double-digit roman numeral. Without question the Final Fantasy franchise is one of the most beloved series of all-time and Square looks to continue the tradition with its twelvth iteration. From the looks of things this looks to be the most engulfing and polished title to date.

All of the trademarks are here so you diehard fans can breathe easy now. The E3 build featured chocobos, oddly costumed NPCs and a boyish little hero with spikey hair. Although the game takes place in the same world as the Final Fantasy Tactics franchise the designers were adamant to point out that the two had no relation to each other. So don’t expect to see any characters from Tactics in your ranks because you’ll be hugely disappointed.


Pre-rendered cutscenes like these will be less common in this installment.


Final Fantasy X really pushed the graphical capabilities of the PS2 so one might wonder where the game has to go in terms of visuals. Square examined the same dilemma and decided to commit themselves to developing the prettiest game that the PS2 has ever seen. To do this they decided to cut down on the pre-rendered cutscenes in order to focus on engine rendered scenes. Many of the scenes were shot with motion captured actors while the more intricate animations were hand drawn by some of the company’s most talented animators. It doesn’t seem like a big difference but we’ll tell you now, the changes are huge. You can see the emotion on the characters’ faces while watching them gesturing the feelings with their hands. It’s pretty amazing and is pretty much on the same level as a Metal Gear Solid 2.

Probably the largest change comes in the form of the combat system. The lead designer played copious amounts of Final XI and a number of other MMORPGs. As he spent time with the games he looked for flaws in the systems and found ways in which he could improve and build upon them; the end result is Final XII’s free roaming system. It’s still turn-based but it falls into the more traditional RPG mold as opposed to the console mold of before. Basically you give commands to your characters and move around freely on the battlefield, when it’s their turn to hit they attack. It’s your basic BioWare combat system but with a much quicker pace.

Square has the potential to turn the RPG on its head once again when it releases Final Fantasy XII on the PS2. Call us fanboys but we’re genuinely excited to see what these boys have up their sleeves.
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