I’m back in my game. I got Final Fantasy XII for my birthday, and it’s been absorbing my life.
I really like FFXII because it has the gameplay style much like an MMORPG: fast-paced battle right in the field, challenging bosses, huge maps, and freedom to explore and side-quest. It stirs some Final Fantasy XI nostalgia in me (that game was my life when I was a freshman in college). Missing from FFXII is the monthly fees and dealing with racist and sexist and heterosexist players.
I’ve been taking a bit of a mental vacation by gaming lately, but that doesn’t mean I’m looking at the game entirely uncritically. I can’t help but notice every main character is blond, and the only memorable person of color I’ve encountered was a horny old pan-Eastern man with one hand in the black-market and the other on his hookah. I know this game is coming out of Japan, so the race portrayals confuse me more-so than they do in mainstream American narratives.
Although the male characters are statistically better fighters, for the most part the license system lets you take whatever characters you want down any job path. When you’re outside of towns, you can also swap out the requisite whiny teenage protagonist, Vaan, and lead with any character you’d like. I usually play Ashe, the sword wielding princess, as my party leader.
I like playing Ashe well enough. It’s nice seeing the princess as a leader with a lust for revenge. But I also find her kind of boring, along with most the cast. Maybe I’m just getting old and cynical.
Personality-wise, Fran (left) is my favorite character, but I have a hard time taking her seriously when the camera pans across her bare butt. Yeah, Vaan’s outfit is skimpy, too, but he doesn’t have a strip of narrowing fabric pointing to his genitals. Vaan isn’t sexualized. His abs show off his fitness.
The international politic stuff was interesting for a while, but now I can’t really keep the names and places straight. I think the story needs a little something else to keep me interested, but I love the gameplay so much I’m willing to sit through the cut-scenes.