Square Enix Party 2005: Final Fantasy XII Play Report
07.30.05 - 12:45 PM

At today's Square Enix Party 2005 the company finally gave Japanese fans the first chance to play a demo version of what is arguably its most anticipated title in its entire line-up: Final Fantasy XII. Despite setting up 200 booths with a demo level of the frequently delayed PlayStation 2 RPG, it did not take long for a long queue to form in front of the area.

This newest demo focused on gameplay and while offering about 15 minutes of it, did not include any of the series' trademark CG scenes. At the beginning one can choose between Foon Coast and Miliam Ruins. Upon entering either area, players have to meet certain conditions before a boss battle ensues, and the demo ends.

The Foon Coast area features many regular enemies (such as Mandragoras) well known to series veterans and in particular those who frequent Final Fantasy XI's online world Vana'diel. For the boss of this area, a dragon called Rock Eater to appear, users have to kill three Sleipnir enemies. They can also exploit the fact that the latter does not get along with Mandragoras. If a Sleipnir and a Mandragora are fighting on the field map, the party can force its way into the battle and easily finish off the two foes, since their fight against each other has already depleted their health points. While this clearly works in favor of the party, players also have to be prepared for monsters suddenly rushing into an ongoing battle to come to the rescue of an ailing fellow.

Another new feature is the implementation of green magic in addition to standard black and white magic spells. Green magic rises various stats in order to aid fellow party members, for instance by rising a party member's defense.

After killing three Sleipnirs, the Rock Eater appears and the boss battle begins. Here one can make use of the summon command to call upon Hashmurim. If the player decides to summon Hashmurim or any other creature in Final Fantasy XII, the creature and the person who summoned it will remain in battle, while the other two characters disappear. After attacking the Rock Easter several times, a cut-in scene is shown and a powerful Summon Technique unleashed.

Final Fantasy XII will be available in Japan on March 16th 2006. A US version is likely to follow about six months after the Japanese release.

Chris Winkler