FFXII- Perpetual Fantasy Fulfillment

28 Sep

Author: Mbuso Radebe
Final Fantasy XII Review

I have chosen to make a critical analysis on Square Enix’s blockbuster role-playing game (RPG) Final Fantasy XII on the PlayStation 2. The game has garnered both critical acclaim and commercial success as a benchmark title for video games, let alone its genre.

The question though, is what makes playing as a group of mismatched vagrants in a completely foreign planet so compelling to people. A predominant reason would be societies need for fantasy fulfillment. So the world of Ivalice acts as the backdrop to the myriad of possibilities that you as the player is allowed to explore along your quest. The game has a hybrid setting that blends futuristic and medieval themes which serve to transport the player away from the tawdry world that oppresses them and into an intentionally unique one where they are allowed to remove themselves from their problems.

Although the world is unique, the game utilises a lot of symbolism that is discernable to the player and allows you to establish a form of familiarity. The varied Star Wars-esque creatures can symbolise people of different cultures and belief that we are not well acquainted with. The Archadian Empire that is campaigning to subjugate the small kingdom of Dalmasca can represent the increasing anxiety towards external forces (be it terrorism or illegal immigration) which could change the spectrum of your current “world”. This allows for you to be removed enough to anticipate the journey before you, with the recognisable elements that allow you to understand the basis of the world.

As games are a potentially superior means of escape (in comparison to movies, music or books) because they are participatory, Final Fantasy XII takes full advantage of this by allowing you to take control of not one, but multiple characters at a given time. Since the player drives the game and controls in a way that is not possible in the previously mentioned passive fantasy mediums, the player is allowed to fulfill their fantasy in a manner unique to them. This aspect is greatly enhanced once you are quickly introduced to the cast and it needs to be mentioned that this approach is still relatively new for the typically slow progressing RPG genre.

So with characters like; Vaan ‘a boy who sees freedom in the skies’ who plays out as a metaphor for our ambition, Ashe ‘a princess who has lost everything’ who symbolises forgotten success, Basch ‘a loyal knight branded as a traitor’ who acts as a misrepresentation of our actions, Penelo ‘Vaan’s friend’ who is the analogy for the persistent hope that lives in us all, Balthier ‘a dashing sky pirate’ who is an emblem for our spirit of adventure that holds little regard for authority, and lastly Fran ‘a master of weapons’ who is the personification of our somewhat divine ability to master a skill.

Now with the colourful palette used for the characters, we are able to explore and discover the many complexities  that exist within the characters which also inadvertently reside within us the players as well. Since the ordinary world of a player, usually consists of a routine that is governed by a series of restrained and controlled experiences, the game allows you to experiment with an entire gamut of responses and actions. So with you playing as these characters that you learn and develop according to your tastes, you establish a personal attachment to them allowing you to be motivated to journey with them in this new world.

With the backdrop of an impending war looming over a land that once knew peace; you are placed at the threshold of a change that could affect the entire world of Ivalice as you know it. But you are given the unique opportunity and ability to stand up against the power hungry Archadian Empire and fight to restore order in the land. So previously, if you the player were an ordinary member of society confined to a world of paper, asphalt and plastic with not much influence within your society. You are transported to a time and place where the balance of the world order as you know it depends on the action you take to restore it.

Gaining experience points, learning new magic attacks, upgrading your inventory and traveling on airships. All these aspects of the game allow you to simulate a level of progression and advancement that you may never achieve or experience in your ordinary world, but through the portal of the game you can feel the sensation that would come along with overcoming insurmountable odds. And the referencing off all these foreign objects and concepts also further allows you to accept and enjoy the system provided, without the danger of personal introspection into to the habits and trends of your very own day-to-day life.

If one is to consider the success of Disneyland, which is considered as the benchmark that all amusement or theme parks are judged. We notice that these terms may be misleading since the success of Disneyland can not be attributed to its amusements and diversion alone, as other parks are very good at conveying the same feeling. Disneyland’s core can be traced to their perpetual idea of fantasy. It creates and supports an aura of fantasy that is carried on throughout all the activities you encounter in the park. And within moments of entering the park, one already feels as if they have been transported into another world.

This recipe for success has been satisfyingly realised in Final Fantasy XII and the fantasy component of human play is elegantly catered for. So when next you decide to engage in a form of escapism for the purpose of fantasy fulfillment, consider Final Fantasy XII as it lives up to its title of being a definitive form fantasy, which continues to see new iterations and lets us know that with us human “the fantasy is anything but final”.

One Response to “FFXII- Perpetual Fantasy Fulfillment”

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