A friend of mine is one of many to have a modded PS2, and so he naturally jumped on the chance to play Final Fantasy XII a month before it came out. At least he's already paid for it in full with a preorder. So, I've taken a look at him playing the game, and give you my impressions from it, along with some pictures and videos. These pictures are taken the second day into play, so there won't be many pictures accompanying the earlier part of the post. Hopefully you'll all enjoy these screens. The gameplay really is to die for, and so is the story. The cinematics for the game, at least from the opening, are wonderful. The voice acting seems to be an all European cast, with noticable accents that are British, Scottish, and all other forms of European accents that speak English. Also, the lip synching is a lot better than it was in FFX. At first, you're introduced to a manly male character, and I got excited. Then he died 5 minutes later. Ah well, I can always wish for a manly main lead. One of the voice actors I really can't take seriously, because he sounds like a bad Bill Cosby impersenation, and I just can't wait until he offers me some pudding to eat. So once we get into the gameplay in the city, the texturing looks really nice. It's nowhere near as blocky as it was in the past, and everything really looks pretty. It really is a visual feast to behold. The setting for the gameplay is Ivalice, the world of Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. The story takes place in a different part of the world, so all that you're importing is the races and the general setting for the world. Here's a look at what its like in the city: For a change, you cannot talk to every NPC in the game. The ones that you can talk to though, have a smiley emoticon over their head. Yep, a smiley emoticon. I don't think its a horrible decision, since it cuts back on a lot of useless dialogue stored in the game, and allows for more useful stuff to be put into the game. When there are things you can interact with, you get an exclamation point icon over your head. The combat system does away with random encounters. HOORAY! I have been sick of taking eight steps, only to have to fight another battle right away. Now, you can target the monster, or it may target you if it is especially aggressive, and then engage it in combat, either real time or turn based. I like the look of the fighting, because even in turn based, you can still move around. It won't do too much, but its a nice change. Also, if you're standing half the combat field away from an enemy, your attack will be ready, but until you move within range, it's not gonna do much. So, if you're smart, you can ready an attack or steal, and then run right in and get a first strike on them. As I've been told, the combat really isn't much like Final Fantasy XI, as its only real similarity is that all the monsters are out on the field, where you can avoid them if you wish. When you move around, the minimap in the corner creates a trail of where you've moved, so its harder to get lost while backtracking. Also, you regenerate MP automatically as you walk, which I think is a nice touch. Here's some quick videos of combat: As for learning new abilities in the game, you've got a nice cross between the sphere grid of Final Fantasy X and the Job system of Final Fantasy Tactics. You earn job points, and then you go and spend it on the job grid. Once you buy an ability or get a "license" for a weapon through other methods, the grid will then expand, allowing you to buy more abilities and equip more items. It's irritating that you can only equip more items after you buy a license for it. Here's some screens of that and some of the other menus: From the Bestiary: The teleport and save crystals, respectively: Finally, riding a chocobo: I can't wait to get my hands on my own copy of FFXII! Also, from what I've heard, in order to complete the game, it'll take something like 75 if you just go straight through. 200 if you want to reach 100% completetion.