This weekend’s Thing Of Love: Final Fantasy XII
I’ve not played a “mainline” Final Fantasy game since FF7 on the PC, many years ago; I got horribly sucked into FF:Tactics Advance on the GBA, and enjoyed a thrash through Crystal Chronicles on the GameCube, but I never owned a PlayStation and never really paid much attention to games on the PS2 other than stuff by Nippon Ichi, shooters and music games, so up until now I’ve never really played another one of the main series. But just recently I reflashed my PSP with a custom firmware that lets it play PlayStation 1 games, and got sucked right back into FF7 all over again – so I decided to order FFXII and see if it was any good.
And yes. Yes, it is.
It’s set in the same universe as FF:TA, which makes me happy (Montblanc even makes a reappearance as the head of your clan), although there’s no real connection between the locations featured. The plot – well, there’s an invading army and they’ve taken over your city and people aren’t happy and you’re a girly-looking loudmouthed 17-year old boy who likes to cause trouble who by a series of astonishing coincidences find himselves connected to and embroiled in the whole thing and eventually saves the world – the usual sort of thing, you know. It’s (and this might be heresy) not actually all that important.
The combat mechanic is completely revised – battles actually take place “in game”, rather than switching to a separate battle view. Because you can only fight enemies that you can actually see, this has the wonderful side-effect of allowing you to avoid the random battles that plagued the earlier entries in the series. It’s still a sort of hybrid real-time/turn-based thing, but you can now put together “gambits” – effectively macros that you can use to, say, automatically heal characters that are low on health, or use particular spells against enemies with particular weaknesses. Also, attacks are now automatically repeated, meaning that you’ll continue to attack until the enemies (or you!) are dead, or you perform another action.
A few people have complained that this makes the combat too easy; I disagree – you still have to know what sort of strategy will work against the enemy you’re fighting; the gambits just relieve some of the tedium of pressing the same sequence of buttons over and over to keep the battle going. It allows you to concentrate on the tactics of the fight rather than the minutiae of the details. I like it.
Graphically, obviously, it’s utterly stunning – there’s a sort of Persian/Morrocan feel to the whole game, and the FMV in the cutscenes is better than any you’ll have seen in any game. The production values are extremely high throughout.
So, yes. I love it, and have invested far too much time in it already this weekend.
This weekend’s Thing Of Hate: Websites That Tell Me To Upgrade My Browser
Two things: if you wrote your website properly, it would degrade happily onto any browser; in fact, if it doesn’t, you’re probably falling foul of some disability/accessibility laws somewhere because if you can only view the page on the latest and greatest browser, it certainly won’t work in browsers designed for the blind or partially sighted. Also, I’m using Opera, so it almost certainly bloody well will render your page properly, but you’re just too lazy to (a) check it does and (b) write your browser-checking code to include Opera as well as IE and Firefox.
Even worse are the wanky, snivelling idiotic Open Source weenie sites that refuse to display the page unless you’re using Firefox. You know what? If you’re going to be that pathetic, I don’t actually want to see your webpage. Idiots.