The second installment of the popular Final Fantasy XII is here, and it's quite different from other Final Fantasies. It reminds me of conquering games you get on the PC, except there are less variables and goods (gold etc). But of course, it's a bit more RPG-like...if that makes sense? I'll explain!
Vaan (who looks even more child-like) and Penelo are back from the War after FFXII, and this time they stumble upon a new adventure when they meet Balthier and Fran in a chamber. The treasure they gather from here is called the 'galbados' (or seomthing like that). I dont know the details, but basically this stone allows your party to summon Espers from Summoning gates.
When they return to Rabanastre (their hometown), an unknown airship crashlands on the outskirts of the city. Of course Vaan, along with his friends Kytes and Filo, go and investigate. They find out that the Galbados stone reacts to the airship, and they can operate it! From here, they investigate the sky continent of 'Lemures', because its shield is down for the first time in a while...and it's your job to find out who or what is causing this crap.
When you reach Lemures, you learn that the inhabitants here all have wings. You save one of these so called 'aegyl', and befriend him into your party, then the plot unravels as you progress (it does get more interesting)!
The gameplay is different from all other Final Fantasies. It's mostly controlled by the stylus, you tap your desired character, then you tap on the desired action. EG if you want Vaan to attack an enemy, tap Vaan, then tap the enemy! Pretty simple yes? You can also tap other things such as some land to go to, treasure to dig up, summoning gates, health berries, and a few others. So there are many actions to do in the game! also, much like a computer mouse, you can hold down the stylus, and slide it to select multiple characters at once within the lines (which is what I usually do).
For very few missons you have just your party, but for the majority you have the aid of Espers. Espers are...monsters I guess, and there are many different types to choose from when you unlock them from your 'Ring of Pacts' (I'll come to that later). In the game there are 4 main types of characters - Melee, Ranged, Flying, and Nature. Apart from Nature (fancy word for healing) the other 3 types each have a strength and a weakness, exactly like a game of Rock, paper, scissors. Before you start a mission, you must select the Espers you wish to use. It's fun to be strategic about this, because you see the enemies you will face when choosing. When you have to think about character type, and elements (fire, water, stone, lightning) as well, it makes you feel really clever when you pull it off! So a lot of strategy is the focus in this game.
As you progress, you can level your characters. Your characters level themselves normally by gathering EXP from completing missions. You can also gather new espers using 'auracite' you gather from missions. Depending on the level of the Esper, you can use a number of auracite stones to unlock new Espers in what they call the "Ring of Pacts". This Ring of Pacts is basically a circular momument where you point and click to unlock your desired new Espers!
FFXII: Revenant Wings is actually a bit more linear than other RPG's. The story is sorted out into missions, and to successfully complete a mission, you must reach an objective such as killing all the enemies, or killing a certain one enemy, or gather a certain treasure etc etc. It can get a tad stale when you wish to just wonder around much like an RPG should be like, which is the danger in this game because it isn't a proper RPG game you would expect. sure you can get side missions such as killing rare monsters, finding rare treasures etc, but it's still executed in mission form - so exploration is at a low level in this game.
You can also customize weapons from materials you gather from these missions. You choose the very materials you wish to smack into your shiny new sword, and it's quite a money saver! The problem is, with this feature, you dont really spend an awful lot of gil that you acquire. In fact, I've only purchased one or two objects from the shop, because I only use it to sell stuff! I have actually tallied up a million gil because of this...and it's sad to say that I can actually have TOO much money in this game!
Like every FF game you get many status alignments, magic, time elements etc - it still has its final fantasy-esque gameplay attached to it, just executed in a different way! Another thing that's still in the game that is well known to the original FFXII game are Gambits. They aren't as elaborate as they were in the original game, but they're still existent. Gambits are now just actions your character does automatically, which is a shame because I liked it in the original when you could assign Gambits to a certain situation (such as use the spell aero when a flying enemy arrives). Quickenings are also still in this game, and happy to say they are pretty much exactly the same, except you only get one coin, and you can only use one character's quickening at a time! However, they are lifesavers when you are in an absolute pickle.
There is a problem however, when there are many parties, lots of Espers, lots of treasure to collect, many enemies to kill - it can get very overwhelming. I find it confusing at times, and it's quite sad. Because I think the producers created this game so that you can tap one person for one task, whilst you tap another to another task. But since there can be too much going on, you lose the ability to do this and end up getting everyone doing the same task - and it can get quite stale.
Man my head hurts, never thought I'd get through all the stuff in the game, I've probably missed some stuff out too. I'd say if you love strategy games, and you like to level your characters in an RPG style, then this game is much for you. However, I cant warn you enough - dont expect a typical exploration RPG game, because it isn't one. It's got all the levelling aspects and the epic story though, and that is a big plus. So if you're interested, fly to your nearest game store and get a copy of FFXII: Revenant Wings!