Posted on December 21, 2007,

Gaming Today Reviews Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings

final-fantasy-1.jpgIn a similar fashion as to when Final Fantasy Tactics was first released, Revenant Wings is a new take on the Final Fantasy series. It’s not the standard turn-based JRPG that comprise most Final Fantasy games, nor is it a hardcore tactics game. Instead, what this is can be described as an RPG with simplistic real-time strategy combat.

Hardcore Final Fantasy fans might scream in protest, but the end result is actually a solid DS game. While the combat does feel a bit hollow, the game does an excellent job of trickling new skills and items into your hands to keep you motivated and moving forward.

Revenant Wings can be played with either the stylus or a combination of the stylus and the face buttons. It really does play out as a hybrid RPG/RTS, as you have your party members each with their own talents and abilities, each leveling up independently through battles. But, you’re able to move each character and any support troops, called espers, independently.

Your airship serves as a hub where you can talk to your various party members, manage your inventory, and all of the usual stuff you’d do while in an RPG town. From there, you can access missions where you’ll have a set goal to accomplish and certain parameters, such as at least one party member needing to survive the mission. You’ll fight various monsters across a small area and accomplish your goal, which is generally a simple task.

Combat is based around a rock-paper-scissors concept. There are three different types of units; flying, melee, and ranged. Each is vulnerable to one of the other two and efficient against the other. You’ll issue simple orders to your party members, instructing them to move to certain locations, gather resources, or attack enemy units. Combat is, for the most part, an automatic affair. Simply choose which targets for which troops, and then sit by and watch them fight. While it doesn’t sound particularly exciting – it’s certainly not as hands-on as combat is in your usual Final Fantasy – you do have control over characters’ skills.

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The large emphasis of combat is on strategy and making sure that you always have the proper type of units engaging the enemy. The game does a good job of slowly easing you into things, so you’ll be able to easily grasp what to do when enemy groups become more varied later on.

The entire affair with combat – which is what comprises the majority of the game – is more of a hands-off experience. This is far from a standard RTS where you’re dealing with building troops, bases and so on, but combat really comes down to making the right decision in that rock-paper-scissors formula.

Revenant Wings’ story picks up shortly after the events of FFXII and follows the adventures of Vaan and his pack of sky pirates. In the course of exploring, you meet up with an individual named Llyud and set off on a journey to save aegyl and the land of Lemures. It’s definitely got Final Fantasy written all over it, so on a story front, FF fans will definitely be pleased.

Cutscenes are the main method for the story to be advanced, and they look absolutely terrific. Much like Lunar Knights, these gorgeous CG cinematics take advantage of both screens at the same time, offering a unique way of showing two separate things at once. You’ll feel like you’re watching a cartoon right on your DS, as the cutscenes simply scream high quality.

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In-game action doesn’t look quite as hot. Rather, while things look good enough for a standard isometric strategy game, animations are repetitive and never change up. The only variation you’ll see is between the different enemies and between your various characters. But individually, they’re all rather boring to watch.

The music is terrific, and much like the cutscenes, you’ll be surprised with what you’re experiencing on the DS. But just as the in-game animations don’t live up to the quality of the cutscenes, sound effects are horrendously repetitious during combat. It’s a minor gripe, though, and you’re likely to not even notice it unless you pay specific attention.

Overall, this is an interesting new direction for Final Fantasy. While it isn’t as great a spin-off as Final Fantasy Tactics was, this RTS/RPG style of game certainly seems like a viable genre for Final Fantasy. Hopefully this won’t be the last time we see this genre cross paths with Final Fantasy.

Presentation: 8
It can be a bit difficult to know exactly where to go at times, but navigating menus is a breeze despite how much there is packed in.

Graphics: 7
The cutscenes look absolutely phenomenal; we never could have guessed that we’d be seeing this level of visuals on the DS. The action in-game action isn’t quite as good, though. You’re set to see the same attack animations a whole lot of times.

Sound: 8
While the sound effects are repetitive as well, the soundtrack is great and will definitely have you sucked into the game’s universe.

Replayability: 3
Realistically, this isn’t the type of game you’re likely to go back for a second playthrough as soon as you’ve completed it. Maybe down the line it’ll be worth it, but the experience is a fairly linear one with few choices to be made.

Overall: 8
This is a terrific direction for Final Fantasy. I had my doubts that an RPG/RTS would manage to remain fun in the long haul, but Revenant Wings certainly proved me wrong. Any Final Fantasy fan deserves to pick this one up, and even non-fans might want to consider giving it a try.

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