Everything We Know: Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
Dive head-first into Square-Enix's biggest -- and riskiest -- RPG of 2005!
By Benjamin Turner | Sept. 1, 2004
The name "Final Fantasy" conjures up different images for different people. For some, it might call to mind the Dark Knight Cecil, rebelling against the corrupt kingdom of Baron. For others, a quartet of pixelated adventurers chasing after the rat's tail and hanging out in Corneria. Yet others will remember the blowing of the Mako Reactor in Midgar, or a grand Blitzball tournament in Zanarkand. Really, the Final Fantasy series is very much defined by just how different each subsequent entry is from the last.
It wasn't always planned that way. In fact, back in 1987 Square didn't have much of a plan at all past releasing Final Fantasy and hoping that it sold. But sell it did, riding on the winds of the RPG phenomenon started by Enix's Dragon Quest a year before. Square was saved, a sequel was begun, and Final Fantasy failed to live up to its name. This fantasy was just beginning.
After three chapters on the Famicom (NES), the series made the leap to 16-bit with the Super Famicom's Final Fantasy IV (SNES's Final Fantasy II). More than just a technical upgrade, FFIV changed the rules of RPG storytelling. Tiny sprites were imbued with rich characterizations and complex motivations -- complex, at least, compared to what had come before. The plot roiled with twists, surprises and betrayals, all scored to the most dramatic and beautiful video game music ever heard. FFIV was like an epic opera playing out on a SNES, and it would serve as the model for most future console RPGs.
Two more 16-bit sequels followed to refine that formula, and then the series was reinvented again on the PlayStation. The long-awaited Final Fantasy VII combined pre-rendered CGI with 3D polygons for an amazing increase in production values. Pre-rendered backgrounds segued smoothly into CGI movies, enveloping players in a dark world of technology gone awry. In the States, Sony put a huge marketing budget behind the launch of FFVII, and many people bought it for the pretty graphics, without even really understanding the concept of an "RPG." They soon did, though, and would soon form the backbone of a greatly expanded North American fanbase.
Things just got glitzier from there. FFVIII featured yet more realistic CGI, while FFIX employed the technology in a strange attempt to return to the series' original, super-deformed look. With another trilogy completed, Final Fantasy's creators looked to the future once more. The future they saw was on the PlayStation 2.