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Final Fantasy XII back to reviews
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story review
FFXII's story at potential, but it falls flat on execution. The beginning is veyr fast paced, and does well in getting your party together, but soon after you've assembled your party the plot falls apart and you spend the rest of the game tracking through endless dungeons fighting plot-irrelavent monsters while the plot happens elsewhere. It's only very near the end that the plot starts moving again, and it leads to several plot threads either left hanging or being tied up unsatisfactorily. Many of the more interesting characters are either dropped off near the beginning (Ondore, Vossler) or only picked up at the end (Reddas, Cid, Gabranth). And the six members of your party don't make up for that.

The viewpoint character, Vaan, had potential just because of his relationship with Basch, but that's dropped and he's relegated to comic relief. Basch seems like an interesting character but that is soon squandered by the 'Evil Twin did it' reveal and his past with Gabranth is only barely explored. Ashe, the main character, is annoying as hell and never develops as a character, despite the plot revolving around her. Balthier is the best character just by virtue of his permantently snarky attitude, but his character arc only turns up near the end and, although it contains some of the best cutscenes of the game, is wasted. His partner, Fran, is a decent character but by virtue of her character arc often seems tacked on. And Penelo? She might as well not have been in the game by how much effect she had on the plot. She literally had more lines in her epilouge voiceover than in the actual game.

FFXII's plot is about events, not characters. You spend most of the game trying to find shards of 'Nethicite' to fight the empire. This might have worked in early Final Fantasies, but it doesn't now. Most of the areas in Ivalice are beautiful but irrelevant, and the plot isn't nearly long or complex enough to hold a game of this length, so it is padded out by endless fighting.

The plot is by no means bad. It has a lot of potential, regarding the war and the Occuria, but the war only comes up at the end (you don't even go to Rozzaria) and the main 'twist' is only mentioned near the end and not expanded on. All in all, good concept, terrible execution.
Penelo >> Ashe and Fran. There, I said it.

However, I otherwise agree that the plot really squandered it's potential.
comment #8348 ManwiththePlan 29th Jun 11 (edited by: ManwiththePlan)
I felt that the Basch Gabranth had potential. Noah hates Basch because even after all he's lost, basch never broke in spirit and always remained strong, whereas Noah was reduced to being the attack dog for the same government that decimated his homeland. His hatred of his brother thereby comes from his own self loathing. Ashe lets go of her desire for revenge, and it could be said that Vaan may well have helped her (they both lost loved ones to literally the same assassin, but Vaan was able to move on even though he lost more than she did)
comment #21117 DARTHYAN 13th Sep 13
I think gamers would do well to learn about plot-driven vs. character-driven stories. Those who read a lot or understand the finer points of film understand that plot-driven stories are not centered on the characters and are pushed forward by events only, and they understand that THAT'S OK! Gamers need to catch up in understanding the craft of writing before offering their criticism along these lines.

That being said, let's dig deeper.

"The viewpoint character, Vaan, had potential just because of his relationship with Basch, but that's dropped and he's relegated to comic relief."

Calling Vaan "the viewpoint character" implies that you understand that he is supposed to be an avatar and nothing more. Yet, your criticism of how he his story is "dropped" suggests otherwise. Further, nothing was dropped at all! It wasn't "his relationship with Basch" that made Vaan's story; it was the death of his brother and subsequent anger/want for revenge. When he finally comes to realize Basch was not to blame, he shifts his attention to the Empire that WAS to blame. And there's a climactic moment later in the game that serves as the resolution for both his and Ashe's anger over losing their loved ones. These subplots are carried on throughout the game, aka not "dropped".

"Basch seems like an interesting character but that is soon squandered by the 'Evil Twin did it' reveal and his past with Gabranth is only barely explored."

Basch is neither the main character nor a character in a character-centered story. He's given the depth supporting characters typically DO get.

"Ashe, the main character, is annoying as hell and never develops as a character, despite the plot revolving around her."

This too can be explained by the nature of the story, but Ashe DOES develop as a character. That's twice you've shown us you either didn't pay attention to or for some reason cannot remember the events at the Pharos at Ridorana.
comment #23581 Vic2.0 27th Mar 14
So I am a person who reads a lot, which apparently gives me some sort of moral high ground in this discussion? In which case I can reliably inform you that a good test of whether an argument is rubbish or not is if it's being used to argue that FFXII had a good story.

FFXII had a crud story. This is pretty much an established fact, FFXII is one of the least loved games in the franchise and even when it is loved, it's for it's gameplay and not it's story. The closest it's story gets to prove is 'I like the idea of what they were going for'

We can quibble over why the story failed, but no amount of 'you're not sophisticated enough to be having this discussion' BS is going to make FFXII seem good.
comment #23583 TomWithNoNumbers 27th Mar 14
Okay I cooled off. I'm sorry for that, but I hope you can see why that's an absolutely awful thing and really condescending thing to say to anyone in a discussion?

I think if you say something like 'Just because it's a plot-focused story, doesn't make it bad' and go on from there, it's a much more helpful start to a discussion and might produce something more useful in return
comment #23584 TomWithNoNumbers 27th Mar 14
No. If someone critiques a plot-driven story on the basis of it not centering on the characters, that's deserving the level of "condescending" I brought.

And I don't recall saying FF 12 DID have a "good story". But what I have seen presented to argue otherwise is subjective if not way off base as just described. There are things I would've liked to see in this story, the lack of which doesn't make it bad. And I'll go so far as to tell you I enjoyed the stories in F Fs 6-9 far more than this one. That doesn't mean the story was bad either. No, I'm one of those who admit the REASON I liked the others more is that I tend to favor a character-centered story TOO. I just don't spout off nonsense about plot-driven stories automatically sucking.
comment #23587 Vic2.0 27th Mar 14
Dude, don't post anything else tonight, think about it a bit tomorrow and then reread what you wrote. You've got a lot of passion for these issues, but it really is important to realise that you really don't have the authority to be dishing out these judgments on other people's suitability to have opinions. You have good points to make, but I honestly don't believe there'll be many people who will listen to them because of the way you're starting the discussion.

If your argument is strong then it should stand by itself. You shouldn't need to make obviously baseless judgements about other people to make the point
comment #23591 Tomwithnonumbers 27th Mar 14
How is it a baseless judgment that someone isn't familiar with plot-driven stories when they criticize one for not focusing on the characters? If I posted a review on some horror movie and told people it sucked because it wasn't funny, what kind of responses do you think I would get?
comment #23593 Vic2.0 28th Mar 14
The best way to deal with that is 'Horror films don't have to be funny, I think this one was ... and that made it...' And then a useful discussion takes place.

Saying 'Man you don't understand basic concepts' doesn't actually achieve anything. It might make you feel better at their expense, but it doesn't create a useful conversation and it's not persuasive because when people are insulted by someone the natural response is to put up barriers, not listen to what they're saying. If you do want to contribute something and it isn't an ego boost for you, then it's always better to suppress those thoughts and just talk about the topic at hand.

It's not even good for convincing people watching the argument from the sidelines. As you can see in my case, it distracted me from the discussion and set me against you, purely because I don't consider it polite to so openly express negative opinions of a complete stranger that you have no real experience with
comment #23595 TomWithNoNumbers 28th Mar 14
I wasn't out to convince or persuade. I merely shared my opinion. You can take it for what it is or just fixate on what it isn't, that's entirely your decision.
comment #23604 Vic2.0 28th Mar 14
I'm happy with what people reading this conversation will see of what I said
comment #23605 TomWithNoNumbers 28th Mar 14
Same here, particularly the part about not criticizing a plot-driven story for its lack of focus on the characters :P
comment #23607 Vic2.0 29th Mar 14
In order to post comments, you need to Get Known
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