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Tastes great, not filling

Final Fantasy XII: Balthier
(Original image source: Square Enix.)

I’m not sure how close I am to the end of Final Fantasy XII. Vague story cues suggest I’m perhaps three bosses away from the finale.

The experience has been a mixed bag so far. That I’m enjoying the game is unquestionable — I look forward to every session — but the experience rings hollow somehow.

Presentation-wise, the game is great. Bear in mind I haven’t played many PS2 games and the console’s quirks and limitations haven’t really sunk in yet.

(That said … my god, the jaggies. I don’t see why a weapon would be necessary when I can simply bump into foes and cut them to pieces with the jagged outlines of the character models.)

But FF12’s gameplay graphics are good, the cutscenes are drop-your-jaw gorgeous, the sound nice, the music enjoyable. It’s a visual and aural treat is what it is. I often find myself simply stopping to eyeball the surroundings even when there’s a pressing quest to complete and there are fist-pumping moments when the Boss theme plays.

The problem with FF12 is it’s anaemic in terms of storyline and characterisation. After putting a few dozen hours into the game, I can still only describe the main characters as optimistic youth, cool pirate, determined princess, noble knight, spiritual native and nice girl. They don’t get deeper than that. The voice actors do their best with what little they have to work with (with Gideon Emery’s Balthier standing out thanks to the actor’s suave delivery) but I’m hard-pressed to find something memorable to quote. The translation is top-notch and the verbiage may be classy but there aren’t any lines that stick. The writing is like the game as a whole — slick but lacking in substance.

This is candy. Colourfully-wrapped and like a party in your mouth when consumed but you’ll find yourself craving something more filling soon enough.

Posted in Games, PS2.