I would first like to say that I have never before written any sort of review for a game before, so naturally I'm no expert. I still thought it would be nice to share my thoughts, however. And if anyone finds this at least a little bit helpful, then that's all that matters.
Also, while I have rated the story, I have no spoilers about it. If you are someone who is looking to possibly play this game in the future, then you can read through this without the worry of getting spoiled. The only thing you'll find here are my thoughts of the game, as well as some detail about how the game plays.
In this section, I'll go over the details of the gameplay, and then my opinion of it.
For those of you who may not know, Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings is something of a RPG/RTS hybrid. Like in most RPGs, you have a party of playable characters in which you use to battle your enemies. The characters will level up, learn abilities, and have equipment that can be upgraded throughout the game. Unlike FFXII, each character in your party has their own set of equipment and abilities, and you cannot change them. For example, Vaan only uses one-handed swords, and has various "Steal" abilities. And Penelo only uses Staves and has abilities like Curaga and Esunaga. There are 10 playable characters in all.
The gameplay is mission based. There are a total of 81 missions in the game, with 45 of them being story missions. In each mission you will be placed on a battlefield, and to complete the mission you will need to satisfy the winning conditions. The winning conditions vary; sometimes it may be to defeat a certain tough unit, or to simply get a particular item located at a certain point on the map. Usually, you are allowed to use 5 of your party members per battle (although certain battles may only use 2 or 3 members).
Alongside your party are your espers, and are divided into ranks: I, II, and III. Espers can be obtained via the Ring of Pacts, where you can use Auracite obtained from battles to unlock espers (amount of Auracite to unlock a particular esper is the same as it's rank; so a level II esper would require 2 pieces of Auracite). It works similar to the License Board in a way, as once you unlock a certain esper, you will then have access to any adjacent espers. Any espers you have unlocked my be assigned to an Esper Troupe, which are the espers that you will be using in battle. In an Esper Troupe, there are 5 slots. Two of the slots are marked "I", two others are marked "II", and the last is marked "III, corresponding with the three esper ranks.
-Rank I espers can be put in any slot.
-Rank II espers can be put in rank II or the rank III slot.
-Rank III espers can only be put in the rank III slot.
Also, rank III espers can only be summoned during battle from a summoning gate, which is how you can summon more espers into a battle if any are defeated. However, espers can only be summoned from a gate if it is occupied by your party (blue). If it is occupied by the enemy (red), you must have your party take over it first before using it.
Also, you will have a certain amount of "Affinity" for summoning more espers into battle. Each time you summon a new esper, you will use some Affinity. If you don't have the amount of Affinity required for a certain esper, you will not be able to summon it unless you dismiss other espers first or if an esper dies (both will give you Affinity back).
One final thing about espers; over time in battle, you will obtain AP which can be used to increase the level of your espers (only lasts for the battle).
Each character and esper in your party (and enemies, too) are of a certain unit type: Melee, Ranged, and Flying. Each type has an advantage over a certain type, but is weak to another.
-Melee units are strong against Ranged units, but are weak to Flying units.
-Ranged units are strong against Flying units, but are weak to Melee units.
-Flying units are strong against Melee units, but are weak to Ranged units.
As you can see, it works in a sort of "triangle." This plays the biggest role in battles. Matching the right unit type to another is usually the difference between winning and losing. It's not a good idea to send in your ranged attacker against a melee unit, because in a matter of seconds they will probably be on the ground, motionless.
Not unlike other FF games (or RPG games in general), the game also incorporates elements. This time around we have: Fire, Lightning, Water, Earth, and Healing (more or less the Holy element). Certain weapons have elements on them, as well as almost all espers. While elemental match-up isn't as important as the unit type match-up, it's still pretty important. And of course, it's not really a good idea to, say, cast Stonega on an enemy with earth elemental resistance.
Combining the elemental weakness with unit type weakness can yield some very nice results. For example, send in a flying unit of the water type to attack a melee unit weak to water. They'll go down quick...usually.
Gambits make a return from FFXII, but in a much more simple way. This time, you can only select one ability for each character that you want to trigger automatically. Let's say you set Penelo's gambit to Curaga. She will then cast the spell every time the wait gauge for Curaga is done filling, provided that your allies need healing. Although it may seem not as useful compared to FFXII's gambits, since you can't set a condition for the ability to be used, you will still most likely find yourself depending on gambits quite often.
Another returning feature from FFXII are Mist Quickenings, but this time each character is limited to just one. They are performed differently this time around; this time, each character has a Mist Gauge. When it fills up, a character can unleash their Quickening. How the gauge fills seems to depend on the character. For example, Vaan's gauge seems to fill as he attacks enemies, and Penelo's seems to fill as she heals allies.
Not all quickenings are the same; some are offensive in nature like in FFXII, but some characters have Quickenings with effects like healing the entire party, or making all espers level up, etc.
Some quickenings are obtained during the story, but not all of them; some will have to be obtained in certain side quests.
My thoughts: While the gameplay is very basic, I found it to be very enjoyable (and sometimes addictive). The game doesn't send you from mission to mission automatically, which I am quite happy with. Although the game may have you play several in a row, you are usually given the option to explore places on the world map. While you are not progressing through the story, you are free to roam around buy/synthesize equipment, talk to other characters aboard the airship, do side-quests, or play free battles to get gil, items, and gain levels. I was particularly pleased about that.
Also, another great feature is that all party members will gain experience points, even those in reserve (although they will gain a bit less compared to those you used in the battle). And on top of that; even if you lose a mission, you still gain a bit of experience, and then you are free to try the mission again (or go back to the world map if you would rather).
However, I do have a small complaint with the gameplay. Sometimes, if your group gets too cluttered on the battlefield, it can be difficult to select individual units. This can be bad if you are trying to heal someone, but cannot seem to select them because of all the cluttering. Units may also get trapped behind other ones if there isn't space to get around to the enemy. Naturally, this can prevent a unit from getting to it's enemy and attacking it. However, this only happened on occasion, and was not a constant problem.
I went into this game with somewhat low expectations for the story. I simply didn't expect it to be good, after playing a certain other FF sequel. Perhaps that isn't the right frame of mind, as sequel =/= bad story in all cases. After playing this game, however, I was pleasantly surprised. The story isn't magnificent, but it isn't bad at all, IMO.
The story starts out as you would expect; After the events of Final Fantasy XII, Vaan, Penelo, and his little sky pirate friends are out doing "sky pirate-y things". The first few chapters of the game are exactly that. However, things do pick up, and certain events drive more away from just Vaan and Friends doing random exploring on Lemures, and into something more serious (which I won't elaborate on, since I said no spoilers). Even then, things still seem to focus on Vaan. This time, he really is the main character.
To those that may have been disappointed due to the lack of character interaction in FFXII, you will be glad to know that FFXII:RW does seem to do rather well in that department. There are scenes that simply consist of the characters talking to each other.
Given that the story isn't all that long; it may feel a bit like a side story. It consists of 10 chapters with an average of 4 battles each chapter. I think the length is quite acceptable for a DS game.
I haven't played that many DS games, but the graphics for this game are really good for the DS. While the character sprite may seem a bit pixely at times, but they still look good. The battlefields look amazing, and there is a nice variety of environments; including a few locations from FFXII: Rabanastre, Dalmasca Estersand, Giza Plains, and Paramina Rift. I would've liked to see more places from Ivalice again, but it's fine.
The enemies aren't bad, but those who played Final Fantasy Tactics Advance with recognize most of the enemies here. I personally didn't mind it, but some might be disappointed to see the lack of originality. Well, the games are both Ivalice-related, so...
The game does include a few FMVs here and there, which is nice, considering FFIII only had one FMV for the opening. While nothing too special, they still look good too.
If you've played FFXII, then you've already heard most of the music in this game. If I had to guess, about 80% of the music is from FFXII (but not all tracks from FFXII make it into the game). So, if you loved FFXII's music, then I suppose you'll like it in this game; and if not then I guess you're out of luck.
The reason I give this a 9 is because the tracks still sound good on the DS. Before playing and hearing that RW was basically all FFXII music, and I wasn't sure how the DS would handle it. But my worries were put to rest when I started playing, because it still sounds great. And while the amount of new tracks is very few, I was quite fond of them.
I don't know that there's much more to explain. FFXII:RW was an overall enjoyable experience, and was better than I had expected. If you enjoyed FFXII and have a DS, then I recommend getting the game. If you have never played an RTS before like I hadn't before I played this, then it may take a while to get the feel of the game, but you will get the hang of it. Also, if you are looking for a challenge, then this may be for you. This game may be easy at times, but at others it can be unforgiving. Perhaps it was my inexperience with RTS games, but I still found some serious challenges even after getting used to the gameplay. I guess when they said the English version would be harder that the Japanese version, they meant it.
If there's anything you would like me to elaborate on, just say so, and I'd be glad to. Something does still feel to be... missing, so I might've left something out.
If anyone else is currently playing this out there, then I'd be glad to know what you think about it as well.
lol Look at you. Very in depth look at the game. Almost makes me want to play. Awh, who the hell am I kidding? I do want to play, I just don't have the monies.
Elaborate on, you say? How much Balthier content in this game are we talkin?
That was a very in depth review. Very nice I too would like to play this.But I lack two things:Money and a DS
I wrote a review about RW few months back when I completed the game. And back then, my overall opinion on the game was pretty much similar to yours. But... I gave it lower ratings than yours.
Overall, my disappointment in the game was about the story. It isn't bad, but it didn't quite qualify as a sequel to me. More like one of Ivalice's many adventures, and just another side story, instead of a complete sequel. Somewhat like DoC in FFVII (but that was Vincent's story), but different because it does have its own party. Still, I was always more partial to the political intrigues in FFXII than the sky-pirating adventure, so maybe that's why I was disappointed. And when they mention about Judge of Wings, I seriously thought that there would be more Archadia involvement. Also, my biggest peeve was that they didn't quite resolve Ashe's character, and didn't provide us with a concrete pairing. I mean, we all kind of figured out who ends up with who in the end, but still... In some way, I don't want a love story, but I don't want speculations anymore either.
That'll help me decide whether to get a DS or PSP. The scales could be tipped at any moment, even by a feather. If I do get a DS though, Ill definitely get this game now.
@BG: Were you surprised I wrote this?
Well... like I said, there are 10 chapters. And you don't get him in your party until chapter 7. Yeah, it's a long wait, so it was a little disappointing. If you are looking for Balthier action, you won't get a whole lot here, unfortunately. He does have his parts in the story, but not a lot when compared to characters like Vaan and Penelo.
@Jamie: Thanks. I hope you are able to get both money and a DS soon.
@aorin: Ah, yes, I did read your review a while back; it was very well done. It is true that if you are looking to have those certain things resolved that you may be a bit disappointed. And you are right... although I didn't say it in my review, the game is not very political like FFXII. Thanks for pointing that out, as I think that's an important thing for people to know.
@steiner: If it does help, then that's cool (since you were the one that said "just do it" ).
Great review, Ethereal Blade. Thanks, I was hoping I'd get to read one from either you or rainbowbrat before Christmas. I think you gave great descriptions of all elements in the game, and I'm eager to check FFXII-RW out. I'm hoping I get that DS for Christmas. I've never played a RTS (or RTS/RPG hybrid) game either, so I'm sure this game will be quite a challenge for me. But that's a good thing, I haven't played a really tough game in a long time. Difficult games always really give you a sense of accomplishment when you complete them. Very in-depth and descriptive review. Thanks again!
I have to agree with you...ESPECIALLY However, I do have a small complaint with the gameplay. Sometimes, if your group gets too cluttered on the battlefield, it can be difficult to select individual units.
It is sooo irritating when they mob up like that....but it works out when the bad guys start approaching from all sides...LOL
I am loving the game so far!
^I'm glad that you agree with me.
But like you mentioned, if when enemies attack from both sides, it works great; Penelo's Curaga range will practically cover the whole group, and so you can usually keep your party healed. Your party will be like an indestructable blob, LOL
And I'm glad you are still enjoying the game!
@GRG2: I knew you were looking to read a review soon, so I'm glad you liked mine. You know... it's been a long time since I've played anything truly challenging, too. In RW, sometimes you will really have to think of a strategy to help you win, which is one of the reasons I think it is truly a good game.
@Anarloth: You are a great Balthier fan, so I can imagine hearing that would be disappointing. But, if/when you get the game, I still think you might enjoy it.
This game is geting good reviews in General.. NOW I NEED IT!
you really should josh....I like this game better than FFXII xD
^ WOW. Well I have to wait for PAl release...
PAL is getting Its a Wondeful World first tooo! ( If you know What I'm Talking about)
I think Febuary.
Can't be botherd importing either.
yes EB, I like it more than FFXII because I was just not happy about the FFXII game...so I may be on my own with that opinion
But yeah...I am definantley enjoying this one better than the game...
If you enjoyed the game, then I do not think you would enjoy this more..
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