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January 12, 2007
Final Fantasy XII - PS2 Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
22/2/2007UbisoftSquare-Enix1$99.95

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Check out the lush visuals.
For millions of gamers the world over Final Fantasy is an event, not just another game release. For millions Western gamers Final Fantasy is the series that introduced them to Role Playing Games (RPG's). Perhaps more importantly Square's release of Final Fantasy VII on PSOne made companies realise that Japanese-styled RPG's could sell in massive numbers outside Japan. It's a landmark series and one which continues strong. While PAL gamers missed out on Final Fantasy XI due to the games online nature and need for hard drive on PS2 (the PC version is available thankfully), Final Fantasy XII is offline and heading to our shores, eventually.

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FFXII looks stunning.
Once again the developers of this title are using an entirely new setting for the game, although it is loosly based on the world from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on Gameboy Advance. Final Fantasy XII is the story of a world called Ivalice. Our tale begins in the Royal City of Rabanastre, against a backdrop of impending war. Rabanastre is the heart and capital of Dalmasca, a kingdom recently conquered by the neighboring Archadian Empire. The appointment of a new imperial consul gives the main character Vaan the chance he's been waiting for, but an unexpected turn of events puts Vaan and his friend Penelo alongside the sky pirate Balthier and his partner, Fran. Meanwhile, Princess Ashe, the sole surviving heir to the Dalmascan throne, struggles to restore freedom to her people. Return to an age when magic was commonplace and airships plied the skies, crowding out the heavens. Return to Ivalice. It's not the most original of stories, but in typical Square-Enix style it will be the presentation of this story, and the depth of characters, that shines.

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One of the battle scenes.
In terms of changes to Final Fantasy XII the biggest is a quite different, and enhanced, battle system. Dubbed ADB for Active Dimension Battle this system is a progression from the Active Time Battle in previous titles. The new system allows gamers to select the characters going into battle as well as switching between the field and battle scene seamlessly without those annoying loads times seen in previous titles. Perhaps the most impressive aspect will be the ability to use the geography around the characters to their advantage. Use high ground to get an advantage while attacking or areas of low visibility to hide from enemies. The enemies aren't stupid however, and will also use these tactics where possible. Another big change is that it is now possible to see enemies on the map so rather then get stuck in a series of random battles it will be possible to skip battles.

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Selecting your licenses.
One of the main modes of transport in this title is the airship. These can be used to trade goods or wage wars. Perhaps Square-Enix have had a look at Sega's Skies of Arcadia, one of the most loved games from the Dreamcast's tragically short life. In terms of graphics we have to start with the CG. Square-Enix spare no expense in this area and Final Fantasy XII looks better then ever in that department. I would die to see some of this stuff on the big screen. In terms of in-game graphics the game is now full 3D with a rotatable camera. During the game it will also be possible to switch to a fist person perspective.

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More stunning graphics.
Audio has always played a strong part in the Final Fantasy titles and this game is no exception. Using Dolby Pro Logic II the game will include music composed by Nobuo Uematsu (who is doing the main theme) and Hitoshi Sakimoto who has worked on games such as Gradius V, Vagrant Story and Legaia: Duel Saga.

So it's another PS2 exclusive Final Fantasy title. We all know it's going to be great and we all know that it will sell millions of copies. The only question is how it compares to the other stunning titles in the series. In mid-2005 Square-Enix confirmed that the games executive producer Yasumi Matsuno had to step down due to health reasons however the company confirmed the game would be released in Japan on March 16th, 2006. At E3 2006 Square-Enix confirmed that the game would be released in American in October 2006, and with Ubisoft picking up duties in Australia we can now expect the game to hit the shelves on February 22.