free counters
EC | News | Articles | Rom Lists
SEARCH: Game Article News
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings - Review

By , From IGN | 2007-12-15

Previous Next
The New York Times crosswords on your DS - Review Mario Party DS - Review
If you're a fan of Square Enix, DS is your system. With an overwhelming rush of support in the last two years, the Japan-based company continues to pour title after title onto Nintendo's touch handheld, oftentimes pushing the limits of the system or trailblazing genres that no other publisher - Nintendo included - has entered yet. We saw it with Heroes of Mana, as the company made the first true RTS experience on the system, and we're seeing it again with Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings. This may not be the first time we've seen action/real-time strategy on the system, but it's certainly the best of the bunch, and yet another must-have title from the best RPG makers in the business.

Square Enix seems to work within a certain release pattern, and it's one we've grown quite accustomed to over the last few years. There's always at least one true AAA title in the works, one A title, and one that's somewhat filler (though oftentimes pretty decent as well). Consider Final Fantasy XII to be that "A" title, as it's obvious that the big guns - Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2, and Crystal Chronicles - still wait in the cue. That being said, Revenant Wings is in no way a slighted effort, as it still delivers some of the best action on DS, and is a must-have for anyone familiar with the Final Fantasy XII universe.
Beautiful overworld.

We'll stay spoiler-free in this review, as FFXII is a "relatively" large game, and we're sure people are still pushing through it. Essentially Revenant Wings takes place right after the final significant events of XII on PS2, and follows Vaan, Penelo, Balthier, and Fran in a new adventure. We'd say the experience is stand-alone, in the sense that you don't really need to know the events of FFXII to enjoy it, but in reality the game is littered with nods to its predecessor, as you'll face may of the same enemies, interact with the same people, walk down the same streets of Rabanastre, and hear beautifully composed music inspired directly from the PS2 soundtrack. Rather than feeling like a franchise double-dip, Revenant Wings gives off the opposite vibe altogether, as it instantly pulled us back into one of the best Square Enix worlds since Final Fantasy VII.

Like Heroes of Mana, Final Fantasy XII is a mission-based RTS game, though it takes the form of squad-based gameplay further, and holds less to the roots of true real-time strategy. Most of the time you'll be wandering through corridors or moving your entire squad over a pretty linear map, and rather than having the emphasis on unit creation, economy, and fortification, it begins to feel more like the core FFXII experience. You'll still get the chance to build new units and strategize, and as the game progresses you'll find more team vs. team missions, but for the most part it's less about base control, and more about managing your units as they rip through missions in a sort of Fire Emblem/Heroes of Mana mash-up similar to DS's Lost Magic.

For the most part, the experience is great. Each leader in your party can level up, change equipment, set up a specific move as a gambit, and eventually use mist charges and quickenings much like FFXII did. Control is done entirely with the stylus as well, so you'll either tap a unit, drag a square box to control multiple units, or tap on a leader to control him and all his units. Any actual spawning is done via summoning gates, which allow you to use Vaan's newfound treasure the "Ring of Pacts" to call espers into battle. Simply click the gate, select which leader you want the monsters to travel with, and click one of five available monsters for that mission. Any and all characters on the screen can be controlled individually, but it's a better strategy overall to create groups based on the leaders, and move them as a team. Each esper also has their own special abilities, strengths and weaknesses to certain magic types, and fits into either melee, flying, or ranged class.

If you've played Heroes of Mana already, Revenant Wings will feel like the same basic control set in a different world. The gameplay is still a bit slow (this time there's no game speed slider, however), and the stylus control is still used in an action-by-action setup, so you'll constantly be selecting units and delivering one key command, with that unit deselecting after each action. As a bit of an annoyance this time around, however, there's no way to rotate the screen as in Heroes, so there will be times when huge masses of enemies are fighting behind buildings or under bridges, cutting off your visual from the battle. As another inherently touchy aspect of the game, characters end up bunching up all the time, making it very difficult to select a unit individually. The squad commands were included for just this reason, but when trying to order a unit to specifically heal another it can become a big annoyance. You're better off setting up your gambits, keeping like units together in groups, and working around micromanagement as much as possible.

Pure chaos.

With that said, Revenant Wings brings far more to the presentation side of things than any recent Square Enix title on DS. The cinema work (which is used a ton during the front end of the game, but keeps up throughout the adventure) is easily the best we've seen on DS, with actual dual-screen shots making the experience much more enjoyable. The scene is constantly morphing between independent single-screen video and full two-screen spanning video, and the entire experience is nothing short of amazing. Once in the actual game, character sprite work is mixed with a 3D world that makes use of a fully-active camera, so while the characters themselves are in 2D, the world still moves like a fully 3D experience. Each character actually has multiple sprites as well depending on the situation, so the experience always looks clean despite constantly changing the scale of the world. The overall visual presentation is impressive, and the audio - as we mentioned before - is virtually unrivaled on DS.

Closing Comments
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings isn・t some blockbuster epic of a game that・ll rocket the DS RPG genre into legendary status. If you・re looking for the traditional FF experience, you・ll find that with XII on PS2. What Revenant Wings offers, however, is the next step in the story, complete with some inspiring music, beautiful visuals, impressive CGI, and some innovative RTS-like gameplay. We・ve got a few gripes with the design, as units will often bunch together, enemy AI still isn・t too bright, and the linear feel makes it easy to stock up on units and then run your blob of fighters from beginning to end with little challenge V at least during the first half of the game V but as an overall product Revenant Wings is nothing short of impressive. There are tons of side quests and hunts in the game, a huge amount of RPG depth in items, equipment, and skills, and an overwhelming amount of fan service for those that V like us - can・t get enough from the FFXII world.

No Related!