GAME REVIEW: FINAL FANTASY XII: REVENANT WINGS FOR NINTENDO DS
HAPPY NEW YEAR! To celebrate, Figures and More Correspondent Nick Morano returns with his review of Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, a Real Time Strategy Game for the Nintendo DS. How does this entry in Square Enix’s legendary series fare on Nintendo’s handheld system? Read the first review of 2008 and find out.
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings Review
Reviewed by: Nick Morano
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings for the Nintendo DS is a new real time strategy game (from this point on known as RTS). RTS games are all about building a small army then using it to destroy the enemy’s army and base. One would think that the DS would be the perfect platform for RTS games what with the touch pad/stylus control scheme. However, they have yet to do one of these games right. Revenant Wings is the closest they have come to success though.
Revenant Wings begins with a few tutorial stages on how to play the game and the rock-paper-scissors style of gaining an advantage over your enemies in combat. Melee characters have an advantage over ranged characters, which have an advantage over flying characters, which have an advantage over melee characters. Now this game is a sequel to the Playstation 2 game, Final Fantasy XII. Even though it is a sequel, you do not need to know a single thing about the first game to understand this one. The only real tie in to the first game is that a good portion of the characters from the first game appear in this one. That’s it. Not much of a sequel.
The plot is extremely simplistic. As Vaan, the main character, who is SEVERELY feminine, your Sky Pirate ship is lost at the beginning of the game after the training missions. When he witnesses a kind of ship he’s never seen before land in the city, he decides to steal it and his fledgling sky pirate friends decide to find him on the ship when it suddenly flies into the sky to some unknown floating continent. Upon exiting the ship they find that this continent is under attack by other sky pirates, who are able to summon monsters (just like you are) to basically slaughter all of the people. Later on (like 12-18%) in the game, you come to find out that the bad guy is called the Judge of Wings and he is looking for this huge piece of Auracite which will basically allow him to challenge God, if I remember correctly. It just so happens the reason you can summon monsters is cause you have a smaller piece of the auracite crystal, as does your other friend Balthier, who you don’t see after the training levels (gasp! I wonder where he could be….).
Now, let’s move on to the flaws of the game. I’m sorry to any readers if it seems like I pick on a games flaws mostly. Unfortunately as is usually the case, flaws stand out more than unexpected perks. And I have yet to play a game where I was pleased by something that was never talked about being in the game, pretty much because they will always talk about whatever it is to hype the game.
First off, the DS controls fall flat on their dual screened ass. RTS games are fun and great to play because of the control you have. You can literally pick out each and every single one of your units and direct him to do something differently. In this you can not, it’s almost impossible to just pick the one character you want to select when they are all clumped together or in the middle of a fight. Square did try to work around this problem though. Part of the problem is that the screen is too small to be very accurate with the stylus. The other part is that there is no real way of breaking up the controls to a working point without complicating the interface. Squenix’s solution was basically to let you clump units together. Every main character you had was like a leader. They would get special skills that they could use on enemies. Example: Kyte, your ranged attacker, could learn (through leveling up) to use firaga, blizzaga, or bio magic. These would hit all enemies but obviously, you would have to play to their weakness to be truly effective with it. Let’s talk about your summoning chums now before I get too crazed.
Your piece of auracite lets you summon monsters onto the battlefield through special summoning gates. These gates do not appear on every level though, so most often whatever you start with is what you are stuck with. When you start a level, each leader type will have 2 monsters as his (for lack of a better term) lackeys. Whenever you click that leader’s character tab at the top of the screen, it selects the whole group so instead of moving one character you can move 3 or however many you have. This was actually a wise move on squenix’s part and I applaud them for the action. But at the same time it clogs the interface. The screen is small enough as is and it’s a pain to be confined to such a small face with a big enough interface interfering with it. Now as for the monsters, how you acquire news ones is different and unique. Basically, you have something like the license board from FF12. It’s a ring with 4 general sections of fire, earth, lightning, and water. Each corresponds to a different elemental magic. You spend spare auracite you find after some missions (usually story missions) to unlock a new monster on the wheel, unlocking 1 of each type of monster (melee, ranged, flying) in that section opens up the next LVL 2 branch of monsters to unlock. The cool thing is you get to unlock some serious classics like Ifrit and Shiva. The bad thing is that more often than not, your monsters weakness is the elemental type of the creature that’s weak to you. In other words, Ifrit is fire and Shiva is weak to fire, but Shiva is ice and Ifrit is weak to ice. It’s not very well balanced. You can actually set up a grouping of 5 monsters before and after each battle so you can try to play to the enemy’s weaknesses. With this, the problem is how the characters start off. You can configure your monster setup so that Vaan should be starting off with two lightning melee types but his starting lackeys will be just random. How are you supposed to use the STRATEGY in REAL TIME STRATEGY if you can’t even manage your troops accurately?
I have 2 other things to say about this game before I drop my score. 1) The missions. While there are a lot, they are broken up too much by pages and pages of text. I don’t know about you but if took a game like Devil May Cry and had Dante talk for about an hour in the middle of each fight I’d get pretty tired pretty fast. Not just that, but some of the missions are ridiculously out of place. One such mission appears early on, where instead of letting you amass a small army to take out the bad guys, YOU HAVE TO STEALTHILY SNEAK VAAN INTO THIS TEMPLE! And if he gets noticed, you have to start over because he can’t kill any of these guys. While there is no place for a mission like that in an RTS, it would even be manageable. Except once you’re in a spot where you think you can’t be seen, and the computer still sees you. There are chests to get on the level but its damn near impossible cause you have to rush to the end of the level if you want to live. 2) The customizing. Now early on you are told that you get to make stronger items out of random things you find in battle or after each mission like bones, leather, etc. While that’s true, it’s not until somewhere around 4 hours into the game that you are allowed to do so. This is about 20% into the game (if your doing all of the optional missions as well). That should have been available from the start considering how a large part of the success of battle depends on what items your character has equipped.
All in all, this is a pretty decent game. The game attempts to do a lot of things right to push the genre forward on the DS but still falls short. However if you are looking for a great RTS experience on the DS, this is the closest your going to get. The question is would you really care if this game wasn’t called Final Fantasy? Probably not.
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings gets a 3 out of 5