Reviews// Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

It's an incredibly detailed aspect of the game.

Posted 23 Feb 2007 16:13 by
In FFXII the camera is in control of the player. One analog stick controls the movement of the player, and the other controls the camera, so that when you are standing still, you can rotate the camera around your character in order to better see different areas of the playfield. This works well, but if you rotate the camera around your player while you are moving, the action also turns your player.

So, if you are crossing a bridge, or walking by a monster, and you rotate the camera position, you have to compensate with the other stick to keep on your intended path. After some 30 hours of playing, I still couldn't get used to this, and I am sure it's going to bug me for many hours to come. It really seems a fundamental error, the stick that controls the camera should have NO effect on the player's direction.

The other new feature that battles bring into focus is ?Gambits?. In previous FF games, in order to make one of your party attack an enemy, or perform magic; or heal one of your party, you had to issue a command to them. Then, once their turn timer was full they would perform the action you had told them to do. Final Fantasy XII turns this on its head and introduces a feature that is as central to the game as it is revolutionary.

Gambits have been described by some as character AI, but there is no AI involved. What you really have is a logical, conditional scripting system for battle actions. Sounds complicated - and it can be - but like everything else in Final Fantasy the tutorials are good, and the learning curve is manageable.

You'll need Gambits fairly early on in the game, but you won't need very complex ones. Later, you'll need more complex ones, if you are to rely on Gambits to help you win battles, but by then you'll have had plenty of experience of using them; and you can always fall back to manual commands, whether gambits are activated or not.

How Gambits work, basically, is something like this: you set your player to look for members of the party who have low energy; if there are any, (s)he gives them a potion.

If there are no players with low energy, the Gambit system will move onto the second slot for example, if the party leader is attacking an enemy, the character will attack them too. This is a good, basic first gambit and it will ensure that when you enter a melee - all your party attacks the same enemy you are attacking. Alternatively, you can set the second line so that each member of your party attacks the enemy nearest them. This spreads your attacks against the entire enemy party.

Each player begins the game with two Gambit slots, and more can be activated by purchasing licences as the game progresses. As the game progresses you can also acquire more gambits, enabling you to build bigger and more complex "scripts" - so that you can, for instance, attack the weakest member of the enemy party, or perform specific magic under certain circumstances. The result is that, with the correct gambits in place, you can often fight battles without having to issue a single command manually. Equally though, with a single slot out of sequence, a gambit strategy can fall to pieces. It's an incredibly detailed aspect of the game.
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