Thursday, February 14, 2013

Final Fantasy XII for the First Time... 5 Years Late (Part 3)

Just a few moments ago, I completed the final hour of the saga. It was a triumphant moment but certainly a bittersweet one as well. And now that I have seen the end of the game, I want to comment on one of the things that I think the Final Fantasy franchise does better than most other JRPGs, including my beloved Dragon Quest series. I hold the opinion that Final Fantasy games tend to present a better fantasy story than almost any other games (I use the term "fantasy" loosely to refer to any story that has features well outside our reality, sci-fi included). Final Fantasy XII is certainly no exception. From the very beginning, I appreciated that the conflict was one of a morally ambiguous nature (as I find moral relativism to be fascinating). I didn't observe any characters that seemed overtly evil until late in the game... if at all.

Perhaps I could distill the narrative arc of the game down to a single point of conflict. This would be the power struggle between two kingdoms: Archadia and Dalmasca. Archadia seeks to increase it's power (perhaps the closest thing to actual malice in FFXII), eventually hoping to wrest the fate of man out of the hands of some controlling deities. Meanwhile, the much smaller kingdom of Dalmasca fights only to remain free.

This tension between the kingdoms of Ivalice is complex enough that I still don't quite understand the political strife between the nations, and I think I like it better that way. These lands and their varied races and customs imply a larger mythos, a deeper history that makes the world itself seem authentic... even if Vaan, the theif-turned-hero, does not ring quite as true.

Of course, as I've stated before, this interesting setting and scenario would mean nothing if the game itself were garbage. The mechanics of FFXII keep the minute-to-minute aspects of game from ever being bogged down—or perhaps overshadowed—by its narrative.

Read my earlier reflections of the game: part one and part two.

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