Square Enix smacked us all in the face with more Final Fantasy XII details today. A variety of sites are claiming to have TEH SKOOP on Final Fantasy XII news, but you all know there's no place else to read that shit than here (mostly because we just regurgitate while making fun, and the news is all from FF12.com anyway).
In any case, what we're looking at is essentially Ivalice again - the same universe that Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance were set in and Vagrant Story bore signification allusions to. Main character Ashe of the Final Fantasy XI-inspired Hume Race is, in a flashingly creative move, a princess in distress - her comfortable princess-like livelihood thwarted when the Arcadia Empire (rulers of Valentia, a name straight out of Vagrant Story) captures her land of Dalmasca (from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance), which lies between its territory and that of the Rosaria Empire (which controls Ordalia, from Final Fantasy Tactics). In true Final Fantasy IX's Garnet nature, she plans a rebellion and meets Dalmascan native "young boy" Vaan along the way, who is "bright and optimistic" and dreams of flying an airship. Um. Right.
Contrary to series traditions, it appears that Ashe is a bit of a badass, more comparable to FFIX's Beatrix or Final Fantasy X-2's Paine than the easily molested stereotypes of Final Fantasy yore (Aeris? Rinoa? Dagger? Yuna?).
As the game returns to a familiar universe that has proved highly successful in the past, Matsuno's earlier comments appear to come together: it certainly hasn't been Final Fantasy tradition to set the plot in a universe with rules and realities already defined by other games. If anything, Matsuno's apparent enjoyment of the world he helped shape means that our familiarity with the setting will help lift us over that first step and get us going with this particular story when we get to play it (in 2005, likely). Final Fantasy Tactics bore with it a complex plot full of intrigue and bad grammar; Vagrant Story bore with it a complex plot full of intrigue and Shakespearian writing, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance presented us with the possibility that not only could Square Enix make a kiddy game, they could steal a scenario from C.S. Lewis' Narnia and then make it suck.
Oh well. As more news trickles out, expect us to analyse it and present it here in order to seem intelligent. Until then, get speculating!
Update (2:45AM PST), Famitsu reveals more info: More influences from FFT have apparently made it into FFXII, with the prologue sporting something like this:
"A warrior bears a Sword and a Stone on the breast. He lays his most powerful memories into the Sword and his new skills into the Stone. The history of the Sword is told unto the Stone; now the time has come to re-tell that history.
Sounds like the Zodiac Braves are back? The Judges certainly are, as Final Fantasy XII's development team revealed that the logo is essentially a bit of a Lady Justice kind of thing: a Judge is depicted in such a way as to display its judgement powers, which are the greatest power in the world of Ivalice. The colours in the logo also signify the most important colours in the game: orange and blue, which apparently reflect the high temperatures in Dalmasca.
New information on the gameplay is also surfacing, with the designers confirming that all battles are set on the overworld map (like in Chrono Trigger or, more recently, boss battles in FFX). Whether or not this means random battles are completely gone is up in the air, however.
Oh, and chocobos are back as the primary transportation method - not too much of a change there, then.
Update (6:35AM PST), Conference details: The Final Fantasy XII key development team has been revealed:
- Yasumi Matsuno
- Producer (Vagrant Story & Final Fantasy Tactics)
- Akihiko Yoshida
- Character Design & 3D Map Director (Final Fantasy Tactics, Ogre Battle)
- Isamu Kamikokuryou
- Background Art (Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy VIII)
- Hideo Minaba
- Art Direction (Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy IX)
- Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy X, Chrono Trigger & Hitoshi Sakimoto (FF Tactics, Tactics Ogres)
Vaan and Ashe have been confirmed to be 17 and 19 years old, respectively, with more characters to come - including some of the Viera and Bangaa races found in FFTA. Vaan will be voiced by Kohei Takeda. Ashe's voice actress has not yet been announced.
Character models in FFXII will consist of less polygons than those in FFX, but (in order to) use improved textures and a better shading system. The lower poly count hasn't affected the character models negatively; in fact, their animations are smoother and they look altogether more detailed than Tidus and co. The in-game camera will be fully controllable, as opposed to FFX's over-the-shoulder view or fixed-perspective angles.
The battle system has reverted to the ATB system prevalent in all FFs up to FFX, but this time sports the ability to launch combo attacks like in FFX-2.
While Judges in FFTA were a neutral force, they are now confirmed as the "Terror Knight Order" in FFXII, and are the primary foes of Vaan and Ashe, although we're not sure how or why.
Besides the return of chocobos, moogles and Cid have been mentioned as being present in the game as well.
Final Fantasy XII will be released in Japan in "Summer 2004", and the official homepage will be updated again in December. The game is 70% complete according to Famitsu.1