These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Is Vayne a pro-active patriot doing what he needs to do to secure Archadia's future and free mankind from the control of Occuria, or is he a power-hungry autocrat out for world domination and willing to get rid of anyone or anything in his way? In the same stroke, did he kill Gramis just to seize power and have pretense to dissolve the Senate that would have opposed him, or stabilize Archadia's uneasy political climate in the face of impending war?
On the same note, carefully analyze the scene where Vayne and Gramis talk, the last we see of either of them not long before Gramis's death. One could take their interactions to imply Gramis knows Vayne will kill him and frame the Senate for it. Heck, we never see the end of the conversation — what if it was even his idea?
On the subject of the Occuria, are they Well-Intentioned Extremist Gods who wanted what was best for mankind or royally Jerkass Gods who wanted to abuse their power over mankind and continue to keep them on a tight leash?
Angst? What Angst?: Let's recap, Basch's mother died, his brother turned to the Arcadians and framed him for regicide so the world thinks he's a long-dead traitor, he's had two countries he tried to defend conquered, everyone he swore oaths to protect are dead or in hiding, and he's been locked up for two years in Nalbina as a potential political pawn while Gabranth visits him to taunt him about his failures. While he's certainly carrying the burdens of these events, you can count on one hand the times the guy actually visibly mopes about them.
Americans Hate Tingle: Oh yes they do hate Vaan. But in Japan, fan demand and outcry was so intense that the new rep for FFXII in Dissidia Duodecim is Vaan, no matter what Americans may think.
Broken Base: FFXII was released to rave reviews and hailed as the swansong of the PS2. However, the game doesn't have the 'crazy fans' or devoted loyalty that other installments attract and is downright hated by some die-hard series fans for going in such a different direction to anything before it, due to having a completely different MMO style battle system and a main character who has a limp connection to the plot, along with many saying they cannot relate to the main cast and there is little development of them. Fans of the game are keen to point out that the scope of the plot is to do with nations and intrigue on a large scale, with the main cast all of equal importance - similar to George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire - rather than a typical end of the world type plot. Vaan's introduction as main lead has been said to be due to meddling as Basch or Balthier were the original choices, and Vaan was just a viewpoint character for the player. Many have wondered in FFXII would have been more appreciated if it didn't have the Final Fantasy name, and all the cliches and conventions it brings.
Complete Monster: Judge Bergan decides, on a whim, to slaughter half the population of Mt. Bur-Omisace, a shrine of peaceful religious worshippers who were taking in refugees from the war, including their leader the Grand Kiltas. The people were entirely neutral and posed no threat, but he wiped them out anyway. He enjoys killing anyone who would stand between him and his goals, including his ally, Judge Drace. His ultimate goal is to dominate everything with sheer physical might, no matter what happens to anyone else.
Contested Sequel: More so than most, and to a greater degree among the fandom than the critics— primarily due to the battle system and the subtlety with which the story is presented (leading some to believe it has no story at all).
The Abysteels from the Henne Mines, the highest-level bats in the game. Seriously, those things will bite you in half. The good part is, they give so much XP that the sections they appear in are ideal to grind to level 99.
The Baknamies from Nabudis also get a mention. Their pysical attacks hit damn hard for their level, they can use Fangs for elemental attacks on par with level 2 spells, and parry too much for their own good. It doesn't help that you can get to their territory completely by accident while at 10-15 levels below what the area requires. They're still a worthwhile hunt, though, because they're a more dangerous Money Spider: alongside pieces of loot and the occasional equipment drop, you gain gil directly when you kill them.
Entites and Elementals. Most areas have one that appears and is entirely docile, it just floats around casting buffing spells on itself occasionally. But if you cast a magic spell in range of them, they go ballistic, casting Silencega and Sleepga to incapacitate your party, Fearga to drain MP completely, Dispelga to remove your buffs, and they spam Level 3 magic attacks like Firaga, Thundaga, Aeroga, Darkga, etc. And not only do they pack a lot of HP, but they're immune to all but one element, making a lot of your offense useless. Of course though, they usually drop rare items, often a specific item for each one, which you need to trade it to get the best weapons of the game as the Bazaar. Elementals are slightly less Demonic than Entites due to lower HP and weaker spells, but are still probably going to kill you if you provoke them unawares. Unless, of course, you are above level 60, which is very easy to achieve in this game - Elementals are locked at level 25, and Entites at level 48 -; by then, they're reduced to MP-draining Goddamned Bats that your physically weakest character can swat aside with a melee weapon.
Ending Fatigue: It just drags before the end. This is not helped by the Pharos being one of the longest obligatory dungeons in the series, and before that the trek to and through Giruvegan and the Great Crystal also being very long.
Executive Meddling: The character of Vaan was shoehorned in as main character over Basch or Balthier to appeal to the japanese audience. Not surprisingly, it was a shot in the foot everywhere else, as Vaan is widely derided as 'kid along for the ride' and having nothing to do with the plot.
Abusing a semi-exploit to spawn the rare monster Dustia repeatedly can bring your level to insane heights before you enter the Giza Plains. Most areas in FFXII are blocked off by Beef Gate, and the Dustia trick can allow you to increase your power even further with steals and rare drops from monsters you have no right to be able to fight. Among the crazy pieces of equipment you can get:
You can get the most powerful weapon in the game, the Zodiac Spear, as soon as you get the Dawn Shard. That's less than a quarter of the way through the game. It does take a lot of level grinding to survive the trip to its location (and even then you have to flee your way through the areas because attempting to fight the enemies would not go well at all), but once you have the spear, the rest of the game becomes ridiculously easy until near the end.
The Nihopalaoa, an accessory that when equipped causes all recovery items used by the character to have the opposite effect, can be this. Against several marks and bosses (an infamous example being Judge Bergan), throwing a remedy with it equipped will completely incapacitate the enemy by inflicting them with every single status effect they are vulnerable to, allowing you to hack and slash at them with no consequences. Against any mooks vulnerable to instant death, throwing a phoenix down will kill them instantly and has no chance of failing like an ordinary Death spell.
Quickenings (the game's equivalent of limit breaks/overdrives) can be this. You can easily get them early on and if you have atleast three people in your party they can be used to insta-kill most bosses for a large chunk of the game, made worse by the fact that you can use them the moment the boss shows up rather than having special trigger conditions like limit breaks in previous games. On top of that, If you get access to all 3 quickenings for a character, it TRIPLES their MP, allowing them to have a seemingly endless supply of spells.
Ashe + Masamune + Genji Gloves + Buffs = You pretty much made weapons obsolete.
Reverse. Having it on an auto-cast Gambit means that any enemy that isn't Ultima will hit you with Healing Shivs, and their attacks won't have any knockback. Combine it with Bubble, and even if a powerful enemy manages to sneak a hit in while Reverse's not running, the fighter can tank it easily and subsequent strikes will heal them back up to full anyway. After the spell becomes available, onle three or four battles require a change in strategy, and even then only against bosses; mooks stand no chance.
Genius Bonus: The Occuria speak in iambic tetrameter. The rebel of their number speaks in iambic pentameter. This may be a reference to Shakespeare's Macbeth, in which the Witches speak trochaic tetrameter (four feet, alternating stress, starting with a stressed syllable) to help illustrate their otherworldly nature.
Giruvegan has other examples, especially one at the very end of the map - the Way Stone which teleports you to the Occuria's realm is described as "Empyrean", which, either as either a noun or an adjective, refers to the sky or heavens. Any time after the storyline event, that same device becomes "Tellurian", which is an adjective meaning "of or relating to, or inhabiting the earth." Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you see where it takes you.
Goddamned Boss: The Trickster mark isn't particularly difficult, especially if you put it off until later in the game like any mark can be. The catch is getting it to hold still because it continually runs around the area leaving your party to run after it and get in a single hit as it turns and comes back.
A certain undead rare enemy that is in an area accessible very early in the game can be killed continuously with one Phoenix Down and made to respawn by leaving the area before the EXP numbers appear from the defeated enemy. This can be used to level up Vaan (who is the only character at this point in the game) very quickly, as well as make a lot of money from its item drops.
Using the Break spell on enemies in certain areas can cause them to respawn indefinitely, leading to power-leveling and making a lot of money.
Using Break also lets you avoid breaking your chain-level when a random enemy of the wrong type butts its head into your killing spree.
Magnificent Bastard: Vayne Solidor. His various coups are at the heart of the story, and even in death he managed to free mankind from the Occuria.
Memetic Mutation: "I'm Captain Basch fon Ronsenberg, of Dalmasca!" "Don't Believe Ondore's lies!"
"I play the leading man, who else?"
"I know something of cages."
Moral Event Horizon: Judge Bergan's ruthless massacre on Mt Bur-Omisace - he kills civilians, refugees and even the Gran Kiltias Anastasias. Partly to assert his and Vayne's strength, and partly because he can. Though it's somewhat implied that he was being possessed by Venat (to strengthen Ashe's resolve against the Empire), so YMMV.
Most Annoying Sound: Although the voice acting is generally superb, 'Marquis' is regularly and consistently mispronounced by every character that utters it, and it gets to be pretty grating.
Though considering the quality of the script, how specific this "mistake" is, and that the pronunciation used in the game is an accepted way of pronouncing the title, it's more likely a stylistic choice than an actual error.
Zalera's Evil Laugh. Unless you're on the receiving end.
The iconic Victory Fanfare, which is reserved for major bosses this time around.
Nightmare Fuel: There is an Optional Demon Wall boss, which is much stronger and just difficult to beat altogether in case the last Demon Wall boss bored you, with very little time in store. If you haven't finished this Demon Wall before the time runs out, it'll give you a terrifying Game Over by crushing your party into the giant wall behind them. The way the game decides to show the player this scene is just plain freaky as well; the screen will cut to the other side of the wall, so you can't see what's happening on the side with your characters and the boss, and said wall shakes once the Demon Wall slams your party toward it, finishing off with a black fade.
A common criticism of the game. Not only does the middle act between Raithwall's Tomb and Archadia drag, but the developers dragged it out longer than it needed to be. First you cross the Giza Plains to the Osmone Plains to reach the Jahara, only to find out the reason you went there is pointless. Fortunately you have a new plan that needs you to head to Mt. Bur-Omisace. So you backtrack over the Ozmone Plains, enter the Golmore Jungle, and find your path blocked, to clear the way head back to the Ozmone Plains and complete the Henne Mines dungeon. Traverse the jungle, traverse the Paramina Rift, and welcome to Mt. Bur-Omisace, where it turns out once again, your reason for coming is rendered pointless. You then get to get to head south through the Rift to the Stilshrine of Miriam dungeon, head back to Mt. Bur-Omisace, fight a boss, and finally get to head to Archadia. Your path to Archadia takes you through the Mosphoran Highway, Salikawood, Phon Coast, Tchita Uplands, and finally the Sochen Cave Palace to get into Archadia. But don't celebrate yet, because before you can get to your destination in the city, you need to do a tedious sidequest, and your destination is yet again another dungeon. And at the end of that dungeon, your target escapes, once again rendering your quest pointless. By this point one must look back at the last 10-15 hours of gameplay and wonder if they've actually accomplished anything.
AI party members hold still when charging spells, thus if you try to move through an area while gambits for your party members to cast spells are active, they'll get spread out behind you and have to run to catch up. Characters can move while charging spells, they only need to hold still once they actually cast the spell, but the AI still stays put.
No one likes the Chops sidequest in Archadia. Aside from the fact it takes half an hour running back and forth talking to people, even with a guide (without one, double that to an hour), it makes no sense in-universe why you need to do this.
"Curse" for normal enemies and some bosses. Inflicts Confuse, Poison, Sap and Disease on all characters at the same time. Many Game Over screens were seen when trying to get to the last of the Pharo's Subterranean Levels, where there's a chance that an enemy which has this ability will rise from the corpse of a recently slain foe.
Espers are usually tough battles, but manageable. But among those, there are four who go a step beyond:
Zeromus. Zeromus' element is Gravity. He is very fond of casting Gravity spells which make short work of your HP, and worst of all and what makes this a tough battle in the first place: Magicks are locked, so you're stuck with items for healing and reviving your characters, so god help you if you run out of Potions and Phoenix Downs. Combine with that the fact that you're also swarmed by Dark Lords who can pick you off at low HP and LOVE poisoning you, and you're in for an absolutely tough battle.
Chaos. High damaging physical attacks, a special attack that hits your whole party for confusion, no reliable way to exploit his weakness as he's Wind-elemental and weak to Earth, which is the only element in the game to not have spells. And if you thought you could use your Earth-elemental weapons (Which are hard to come by, as the two melee weapons that are Earth elemental are obsolete at this point and Mud Shot and Artemis Arrows are obtained by Bazaar only and through hard to find materials) to damage him with attacks? Too bad, attacks are sealed here. So your only shot at damaging him are Techniks, which are pretty unreliable as a primary source of damage, Knot of Rusts, which won't be that helpful unless you have Dark Matters and/or Shemhazai, and Non-Elemental Magicks such as Scourge and Scathe, a strategy tough to pull off because of the Chaosjets that love inflicting Silence on you.
Ultima. As if getting to her wasn't hard in the first place because the path leading to her is filled with Demonic Spiders, Ultima herself doesn't let up. Her normal attack has a chance to inflict the Sap status, her Holyja has a chance of inflicting the Reverse status and she ALWAYS follows that up with Renew to bring the party to 1 HP so you're boned even if you have Holy-nullifying equipment. And that's before she hits 70% HP, when Interface Screw kicks in it's a cycle of Attacks, Magicks, Items and Techniks being sealed and your weapons being slowed down, her Holyja becomes more frequent and she starts a Reflectga+Curaja combo to replenish her HP. And then she Turns Red.
Zodiark. Geomancer Yugelu and The bestiary make a mention that the gods sealed it deep within the Henne Mines out of fear from its immense power at present childhood. And that's NOT exaggeration. Zodiark opens the battle with That One Attack, Darkja, which inflicts massive Dark damage and has a chance to Blind. Dark-absorbing equipment? Nope, Darkja has an Instant Kill chance. Exploiting it's Holy weakness? Zodiark loves putting up Pailings and Magick barriers...and using Shift to change it's Elemental weakness, which can't be known unless you've got some gambits for each elemental weakness set up, pratically forcing the usage of Non-Elemental weapons. And like Ultima, it only gets worse when it Turns Red. And that's not even getting into its other attacks like Banish Ray and Scathe. Pretty much all you can do is keep Shell on the party at all times and pray to God that Darkja doesn't result in a Total Party Kill.
Giruvegan and the Great Crystal. The former is a long Magical Mystery Doors puzzle full of powerful enemies leading up to a boss. The latter is also a Magical Mystery Doors puzzle full of powerful enemies leading up to a boss, except this time the area is larger, has a very confusing layout and no map, and the Mystery Doors have time limits.
Pharos, which isn't the final dungeon but might as well be. It's a hundred-floor tall tower with several bosses along its length, a lot of puzzles and gimmick-based areas to get through, and naturally is full of the most powerful enemies in the game up to that point.
The Shadowseer mark, which requires you to venture into the Subterra optional dungeon. The area is a three-floor Blackout Basement level where you not only need to navigate darkened rooms that all look the same, but it has lots of strong enemies. To proceed to the lower floors you need to collect special "black orbs" that only appear in this dungeon and place them in altars. These orbs are randomly dropped by enemies, and thus you need to patrol each floor fighting and hoping the enemies drop more orbs until you have enough to continue. When you finally get to the bottom you of course have to fight Shadowseer, who fortunately is not one of those bosses that could be considered That One Boss, but he's still an irritating boss to fight due to an abuse of status-attacks and Fearga which pretty much saps your MP to 0. As a saving grace, after completing each level of the Subterra you can go back up and save.
The second round with Gilgamesh. He has a lot of HP, just shy of 475,000 to be precise, powerful cinematic attacks, buffs himself each time he pulls out a new weapon, will erect a paling when weak to become immune to damage for a period of time, and he and Enkidu hit hard with their normal attacks, doing well over 1000 damage, possibly over 2000. However, what really makes him this trope is that he comes with Lv 2 Sleep, Lv 3 Disable, and Lv 4 Break, the first two incapacitating your entire party if their levels are a multiple of 2 or 3, respectively. If their levels are a multiple of 2 or 3, and if you lack accessories to block Sleep and Disable, god help you. This is also not taking into account the player going out of their way to stall and steal the last two pieces of Genji Equipment, which you want to do because they are Lost Forever if you don't get them.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Naturally, the game being a Final Fantasy title is going to attract people hating it for any changes it brought. Final Fantasy XII introduced a more streamlined battle system where enemies spawn on the map and engage you in real time rather than the game loading another screen to have the battle in. The gambit system also gathered hate from people who felt that the game "played itself" and took control away from the player, even though it's extremely rare that you can be in a situation where you don't have to do anything (outside of level grinding and fighting low leveled enemies). People also hated how the story barely contributed to Character Development and focused more on the story's central themes rather than the characters behind the scenes.
Uncanny Valley: Especially when compared to X, the facial expressions and body movements of the cast are quite fluid and realistic. However their faces look like they haven't slept in a couple days, or else they really need to wash their faces, and their eyes don't always look very natural.
The worst is the penultimate boss. Vayne Novus falls right into the Uncanny Valley, not only having a freakish looking face but also skin that looks like it's decaying right in front of the player. There were a couple players thinking "Kill it! Kill the demon!" at that almost Nightmare Fuel looking boss.
There's nothing wrong with the main characters' eyes. What do I mean? Zoom in on an NPC's face and you'll see that they didn't bother to let NPCs blink. Now's that unsettling.
Vaan's torso was rendered rather weirdly. Due to how Vaan's abs and chest were shaded, he looks like he is anorexic rather than being in shape.
Plus, his abs look more like they're drawn on him than anything else.
Amusingly, the mark Orthros, which won't come out if you have any male characters in your party, ignores Larsa as if he wasn't male (due to the event flags ignoring guest members). Presumably this happens with other guests too, but still...
Vanilla Protagonist: Vaan's role is a Enforced Trope. Basch was originally going to be the viewpoint character but this changed in favor of a more Audience Surrogate approach. Thus, he has a minimal impact on the plot once the player leaves Nalbina Dungeon. Between Ashe's quest to retake her throne, Basch aiding her to atone for his failure to defend Dalmasca, and Balthier discovering the secrets of Cid's experiments and coming to terms with his past, Vaan is just along for the ride. It's Played for Laughs when he accuses Gabranth of murdering his brother Reks, and no one (including Gabranth) seems to even hear him because they're more concerned with Gabranth's murder of Ashe's father and why he's there now.
A rare one in game. Marilith, known by many as one of Final Fantasy's trademark four fiends, is mentioned in the bestiary as a flame spirit in besitaries of yore, but modern bestiaries generally refer to it as a snake with a nasty bite.
Vindicated by History: When the game came out, it suffered from the Broken Base from those who didn't like the widespread change. In recent years, thanks to the mature story that has been likened to Game of Thrones, people have grown to tolerate it more, similar to what has occurred to appreciation of FFVIII . It helps that Final Fantasy XIII took it's place as the most controversial entry.
Visual Effects of Awesome: To this day FFXII's aesthetics, which run on the now outdated PS2's graphics hardware, still hold up today as visually awesome thanks to a meticulous art direction.
The Woobie: Oh Larsa, you poor, poor thing. First, he gives a pretty trinket to a girl he seems to have a crush on, which turns out to be nethicite, which could have possessed or killed her. Then, his brother kills his father, and becomes a bloodthirsty dictator in search of power. This means Larsa to help kill his own brother for the greater good. Near the end of the story, while the other character are looking towards the sky in hopeful poses, Larsa is inside in the dark crying over Gabranth's nearly-dead body.
Whether or not Larsa remembers it is debatable, but Vayne also killed their two brothers as well.
Woolseyism: Thanks to the modern champion of the trope, Alexander O. Smith. The English script, as to be expected of the Ivalice spin-offs, is spectacular, with a distinctive cultural flare via the use of Old English sentence structure and words. The voice cast of the game also reflects the various cultures of the world, the different regions having particular accents, Archadians for example being British. The only complaint most people seem to have about the scripting and voice acting is the quality of the sound itself due to the compression done to fit it on the disc.
This trope serves to provide some clever Foreshadowing, that Balthier has a British accent...
If you're pretty enough, skin cancer doesn't dare to mar your beauty. Or something.
The world has a messed up environment so perhaps their deserts are not the same as Real Life deserts. Or something. Or maybe it's just the world's ready access to healing magic.
The manga adaptation provides examples of:
Crowning Moment of Awesome: Since the game showed us the events of the opening sequence from Reks' point of view, we now find out the game had an Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Basch didn't just run into the room and get captured while Gabranth walked in to pose as him. Basch tried to get the king to safety and had a duel with Gabranth in front of him. Even though the battle is a Foregone Conclusion, it is awesome.
Squick: The backlash of Ashe summoning Belias causes her right arm to rot off from the elbow down. We get to see it happen.