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penrose orange



cat /var/log/stephen >/dev/eyes

ff, final fantasy
So, Final Fantasy XII, then.

The prelude and original theme tune are back. This pleases me.

I really like the aesthetic of the game. The architecture is FFIX writ large; the airships are a logical continiation of the designs seen in X-2. Anachronisms abound; skyscrapers that clearly require advanced industrial technology are patrolled by knights in mediaeval armour. The skies teem with airships that are beyond present-day engineering. Of course, all the technology is really magic (sorry, "magick"); where would an FF be without that? From the overall look and feel of the game, I think that the FFIX team must've been involved with this one.

There's no world map; the world consists of interconnected areas a la FFX. The areas are much bigger than FFX's, though, and have multiple connection points (e.g. the city of Rabanastre has exits to desert at the east and west, and plains to the south; the desert and plains are also connected to each other). This makes the game's world seem much more cohesive; in terms of data structures, it's a connected graph, contrasting with FFX's linked list.

The story's a bit confusing. I'm having trouble keeping track of all the political machinations, and all the names of the characters and places. This is a game that would really have benefitted from a menu-accessible glossary. The dialogue is a bit flowery in places, and you really have to listen carefully and/or read the subtitles because you can't control the pace of the cutscenes. Once a line has been uttered, that's it. No rewind; no "press X to continue".

Major locations have teleport crystals that can be used to warp around the world, at the cost of one "teleport stone" item. Teleport stones are in limited supply, but they're useful for a quick trip back to a town to resupply or build up some levels by fighting some easier monsters for a while.

The real-time battle system is a real culture shock. It's perfectly manageable when there are only one or two enemies; but against multiple foes, things move very quickly, and it can become difficult to keep up with what's happening. I actually found it fairly easy to start with, but it's become markedly harder over the past few hours; this is possibly a hint that I'm under-levelled or under-equipped. I think I'll cope with the system, though I'm generally unconvinced by the recent trend towards real-time RPGs. I'd have much preferred another outing for CTB, or even tired old ATB.

The gambit system, used for AI control of the player's party, appeals to me as a programmer. It's nothing more than an "if" cascade. (Speaking of which: I saw a horrendous "if" cascade in some Microsoft code at work today: a big chain of "if" statements, all comparing the same string variable against various values, and all with the exact same body. I replaced the lot with a single "if" and a regular expression match).

The equipment system is based on Final Fantasy Tactics's, and has the same strengths and annoyances: very flexible, but a pain to manage compared with the simplified systems of FFVII, VIII (an extreme example), and X. Characters can equip items in both hands, armour, headwear, and an accessory. Equipment affects all stats, including HP. Some weapons require the use of both hands, thus precluding the character from equipping a shield.

No bomb enemies yet. I wanna find a bomb or two. I love those little guys.