Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Final Fantasy XII-2, Or FFXII Log, Supplemental

Alright, so I didn't beat this game in the short amount of time I estimated it would take.

Reason being, I forgot that it's terrifyingly addictive.

Final Fantasy XII in powder form

I've been at the point where I could rush in and fight the final boss for over a week now, but I keep going back to try and accomplish all the other hundred things there are to do which are completely inconsequential as far as the story is concerned. I made the ultimate weapon. I beat the giant monsters. I even took part in a minimally rewarding foot race, simply because it was there. I have no doubt that if this game included a sub-quest wherein you grow and manage a farm in real time I would be writing to update you on the progress of my delicate yet promising tomato patch.

Oh wait, I DID play that game.

As of the time of this writing, I am currently attempting to obtain the last two trophies available in the game's "Sky Pirate's Den," an achievements-style feature the game has. The two are tied together; one requires me to beat the game's hardest monster, Yiazmat, the other requires me to beat every monster. I'm going through right now killing everything except the strangely-named dragon (named for, I'm told, FFXII's director Yasumi Matsuno, nicknamed "Yazz" by his colleagues, and "maker of the best damned games anywhere" by others).

The only thing he doesn't know how to do is fail

The problem for me is that Final Fantasy XII's Ivalice is so alive. The actions you take actually have meaning; the horde of NPCs occupying the sprawling land change what they say based on world events usually caused by you. Sometimes this follows the main plot, other times it is entirely up to you whether or not you will perform the actions necessary to enact a change. The refuge of Mt. Bur-Omisace, for example, left in ruins after an Imperial attack, will begin to turn around if a wandering Viera decides to lend her help to the wounded - but she will only be inspired to do so if you choose to hunt down a monster in an entirely optional portion of the story's narrative. There is another character, also a Viera, whose ultimate fate is determined based on whether or not you decide to have regular conversations with her. The people in Ivalice react to the things you do, the game is not in a bubble. They live in a world where information flows freely, and when something happens they talk about it.

It's the vast, interconnected nature of the world which inspires me to keep traversing every inch of it, searching for each new change in response to my adventures. This is just like another Matsuno game you might be familiar with; a little piece of work called Final Fantasy Tactics.

Our most important accomplishment since the invention of breathing.

In Tactics, as you progressed in the game, you might want to quench the main character Ramza's thirst for distilled spirits instead of distilled justice. A trip to the bar would yield the option of hearing rumors flying about regarding not just your exploits, but the goings-on within the powerful Church, amongst the royal family, and in other battles you had no hand in. So yes, you were important, and people would certainly discuss your exploits, but you were living in a large and complicated world, and more than one important thing happens at once in the world. Quests you had performed earlier, optional quests, keep in mind, would have ramifications you would find out about in the form of other quests along the same line, sometimes in different towns as the repercussions traveled outwards. This compelling system was mirrored in Final Fantasy XII, and only good came as a result.

Talking to NPCs, of course, is hardly the sole motivator to keep playing. I made a pledge to myself that I would eschew attempting to obtain all of the improbably rare equipment in the game. Some of the requirements for obtaining certain weapons and armor in the game are a little absurd; certainly not worth the time it would take to get them, especially since I already have most of the best stuff.

But . . .

You knew this was coming.

The fact that they're there, and people have gotten them, and I can't browse GameFAQs wtihout reading about how people got them makes me want to try. I get in the mindset of "well hey, maybe I'll be that lucky guy who gets it on the first try." Which turns into "okay, the second try is almost as lucky." That quickly evolves into "Well, if I get it in the first hour, that's not too much time wasted," and eventually "screw it, I've put so much time into it now I can't just give up."

3D Realms operates under the same philosophy.

On the plus side though, I'm up to the point where I'm running out of anything to do except beat the game. There are 9 more enemies I have to kill (including Yiazmat) to get those last 2 trophies. Only two, maybe three rare items remain for me to obtain. I've advanced the story to the point where confronting the final boss is something I can do at any point now. And I do want to beat it, I really do, but I just can't let myself leave these last few goals unachieved, not now as I am on the brink of complete triumph. When I beat this game, it's going to know it's been beaten.

So I anticipate that when next you hear from me, I shall include perhaps a brief blurb regarding my victory, and then finally moving on to more of my ever-expanding PS2 library. Next on my list shall be a run of either the Devil May Cry series or Ratchet & Clank. I suppose which one I choose will depend on whether I am in the mood for ruthless slaughter or adorable hijinx.

So adorable.

Nevertheless, with Final Fantasy XII now rivaling Persona 3 for sheer amount of time I spent playing and attempting to master, I can finally say I got my money's worth out of this (I mentioned it was a gift, right?), which is, after all, the point of The Backlog.

Until next time, keep playing.


Ayn said...

Truthfully, I'm afraid to tackle this game again. I got wrapped up in trying to create a Tournesol, did all the farming to get about halfway there, then at some point realized I was playing FF11, only offline.

Upon said realization, I went back to the Aery.

David Pratt said...

Just as a follow up, I finally beat this last night. Ending is completely worth it, and I was also happy to see who the final boss turned out to be.