out of the 5 final fantasies that I've played so far (VII, IX, X, X-2, and this one), I would say this one is easily my favorite in terms of visual and audio (still trying to decide between this and FFVII for story, though. say what you want, but I liked FFVII's story). the graphics, voice acting, etc are all far superior to previous FFs that I've played (admittedly, graphics aren't much better than FFX, but the voice acting is much better...no whining Tidus this time). to paraphrase the GR reviewer: it may be nearing its sunset, but FFXII is as good a sendoff as the ol' PS2 can hope for
now, as much as I like it, there are some problems I have with it, hence the A instead of A+. number one (my biggest problem), the healing spells take waaayyy too long. when I'm near death fighting a big boss, I don't have time to wait for the cure spell to charge up and take its time in getting to my characters. It's nice that the items don't take any time to use, but unfortunately, it's such a waste of items if I decide not to wait for the cure spells. number two, the shopping is too mysterious. What I mean is, I can never see exactly what a piece of equipment does to my characters. for example, when I got the giant's helmet to replace my current steel masks, the shop showed how it raised my defense and magic resist, but didn't mention the fact that it slows the character down until after I bought the helmet and was trying to decide who to equip it on. As a result, I always save before I shop to avoid accidentally wasting money on a piece of equipment that isn't really as good as it looks. I would like it better if I could see EXACTLY what a weapon does before I buy it. That would save me a lot of grief in shopping. And third, on the license board, I don't particularly like how some quickenings are hidden behind some weapons or abilities that, chances are, I'm never gonna use. For example, to get Vaan and Basch their third-level quickenings (yes, I went for quickenings first. and I'm very glad I did), I had to get Basch the license for Rod of Faith. now, I'm most likely never gonna give any of my characters that rod, let alone Basch, so why do I need to drop 120 LP on something I'm never gonna use just to get to something I really want? Even more extreme, when I got Ashe's third-level quickening, I had to get her all the way out in the middle of a no-man's land of armor licenses just to get to her quickening. Now I'm sure I'll be getting some of that armor someday, but do I really need to plop down the extra 200-plus LP for something I'm not gonna use yet?
other than those little details, some of the game is really wonderful for me. The battle system, especially, is much freer than old FFs. Like Kingdom Hearts, there is no big break between exploring and battle, so you don't have to interrupt everything, wait your turn, then try to escape from that little wolf standing between you and the next area (I do miss Kingdom Heart's jumping and combos though). The quickenings, once you get them, are also pretty cool to look at and with some luck, they can do 30,000-plus damage per chain, even if you don't use level-three quickenings every time. And you can do up to four chains per battle (contrary to what the game says, you really don't need a full mist bar to do a quickening. More than once, I've gotten up to 14 hits on a chain with only one character with any MP). They're really helpful in bosses and hunts early on, when the enemies have around 80,000 health. Like that Rafflesia boss in the Feywood. I just got a bunch of quickenings going and leveled that guy in about 2 minutes, no problems at all, barely any scratches on my characters. Later I looked at the strategy guide and it said that fight was supposed to be a "status effects nightmare" without quickenings. The espers are also a welcome change from the standard Ifrit, Shiva, Bahamut, etc in every other final fantasy. the graphics are also excellent (though, oddly enough, I think some characters, like Balthier, look better in normal graphics than they do in CGI scenes), and the characters' movements are much more natural than in previous FF's.
overall, kudos to square for creating yet another great game