I’ve written before that I was a huge fan of Final Fantasy X, which was my first contact with the series. It’s still my favorite, and I can’t help but view the other iterations of the game through my warped FFX lens.
In FFX, the game introduced us to the main character, and then used that character to introduce the world of Spira. It made us care about Tidus and his plight, and then used Tidus as the “man from Mars”. Throughout the game, other characters would teach him about this new world he’d been pulled into. By the end of the game most players would be able to tell you what all the major races and subcultures were, what those people looked like, where they lived, and even a bit about their culture. This is a lot to learn, but we absorb it because it’s all part of the main character’s journey. Each bit of information is built on something we learned previously.
But FFXII does this all backwards, and from a storytelling perspective the thing is a mess. The overlong opening cutscenes try to pour all of the details of the world into the viewer at an overwhelming pace. Then the cutscenes stop and we get a text and voiceover history lesson about the world, with an occasional peek at the map. Then more cutscenes. Then more history and geography lessons. Throughout this process, I was wondering how much of this stuff I needed to know and why I should care. It wasn’t until about the half-hour mark that I even met the main character.
I’m at the ten hour mark and I’m not really invested in any of the main characters. It’s hard to care about them because I don’t know anything about them. They have costumes and accents and attitudes, but they don’t seem to have any real lives going on. When I met Balthir and Fran, we were thrown together by circumstances. Fine, but then the story never gave us a reason to remain together. We just start working together because hey, we’re the main characters and that’s what we’re supposed to do.
To be fair, I am still playing, so the game hasn’t alienated me too much. It’s just that this game could have been so much more if they’d taken that first half hour of info and revealed via conversations spread out over a few hours of gameplay. They storytelling here is cheap and beneath the Final Fantasy name.
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73 thoughts on “Final Fantasy XII: First Impressions”
Your comments here are really interesting. When I reflect on the most successful Final Fantasy games, they all share that FFX element: The main character needs to be introduced to the world and you’re being introduced along with it.
FF7 is my personal favorite, and it definitely shares this aspect with FFX.
FF7 was awesome; FF10 was trash. Main differences were extremely annoying characters (complete with extremely annoying voices) and total lack of exploration and freedom.
FF12, FF8, FF7, FF9, and FF6 are the five greatest, IMO.
I have to admit, FFX is probably my least favorite of the entire series. I refused to even play FFX-2. I haven’t tried XII, yet, but I’ll get it eventually. I have to say, like you, my first introduction into the Final Fantasy franchise is still my favorite: FF2 (the U.S. #2, I can never remember what position that actually holds within the entire franchise — either way, the one where you go to the moon).
It’s one of a few select games that I’ve played more than once, and one of only 2 that I’ve played more than twice (the other being the original Pool of Radiance game made by SSI). Normally, I’m not the type of gamer to play something more than once. I like to do everything I possibly can the first time through, then move on to another game.
That’s pretty much exactly how I felt about the game, too, except I stopped playing it. I just couldn’t bring myself to be interested in the character or their plights, and I eventually began to wonder why the hell Vaan was even hanging around these people.
The license board is unique, but aside from the Mist Quickenings or whatever they’re called, all my characters ended up having, by and large, the same abilities.
One of my major gripes with this game is how, when the stores get new equipment, you only have enough money to buy like one upgrade for each party member, if that. If you want money, you have to grind MMORPG style for at least an hour.
Yeah, when you didn’t have enough money in other Final Fantasy games you had to do a little bit of grinding, too — but you only had to do a LITTLE BIT. You’d run out and fight some monsters for maybe 20 minutes to half an hour and you’d have enough cash to get new weapons and armour for just about everyone in the party.
Am I not supposed to upgrade as soon as the new equipment is available? If that’s the case, the likelihood of skipping an entire set of equipment is pretty high, because by the time I have what I assume is enough money to bother upgrading, I’ll be three or four more hours into the story.
Oh yeah, the super-strong monsters standing out in the open alongside regular monsters in random places under specific conditions kinda pissed me off, too. “OH HAY A T-REX, I BET IT HAS EXPENSIVE DROPS” *attacks t-rex* *t-rex one-shots main character, rest try to run away, but fail* [GAME OVER, LOL]
“I eventually began to wonder why the hell Vaan was even hanging around these people.”
Then you weren’t paying attention. He says it plenty of times how he wants to be a sky pirate, wants to see the world, etc.
“The license board is unique, but aside from the Mist Quickenings or whatever they're called, all my characters ended up having, by and large, the same abilities.”
But that of course is YOUR fault, yes? I mean, the game ALLOWS you to build them all up to have the same abilities; but you’re the one that actually chose to do so. And on top of that, you get to choose exactly how to USE each character, so yeah, don’t fault the game for how you chose to play it…
“One of my major gripes with this game is how, when the stores get new equipment, you only have enough money to buy like one upgrade for each party member, if that. If you want money, you have to grind MMORPG style for at least an hour.”
You’re playing it wrong then. I never had to do that unless I wanted every single item right away (and OF COURSE you shouldn’t be able to buy everything right away as that would be boring). And you don’t HAVE to buy everything, of course. Strategy, man, strategy.
“Am I not supposed to upgrade as soon as the new equipment is available? If that's the case, the likelihood of skipping an entire set of equipment is pretty high, because by the time I have what I assume is enough money to bother upgrading, I'll be three or four more hours into the story.”
That’s where EXPLORATION comes in ;) If you take your time and enjoy the massive world they provided you with, you’ll find that you have all the money you need and then some. But you can’t blame ANY RPG for not letting you get rich by just hopping from one mission to the next.
“Oh yeah, the super-strong monsters standing out in the open alongside regular monsters in random places under specific conditions kinda pissed me off, too. “OH HAY A T-REX, I BET IT HAS EXPENSIVE DROPS” *attacks t-rex* *t-rex one-shots main character, rest try to run away, but fail* [GAME OVER, LOL]”
That happened to me, except I had the sense to be cautious enough of a FRICKIN’ DINOSAUR, HELLO! to be READY to flee, so the T-Rex dropped one character at most, and I learned my lesson :)
I had that problem as well. I completed it, and enjoyed playing it, but the world was shallow compared to Spira. I never had to grind so much in any of the other games, and every so often I would encounter a monster that was really really out of place in terms of strength. I never had enough money, even when selling all my loot, my characters lagged behind in terms of equipment, all of them turned out identical except in terms of what weapon they used.
In all of the other games, there was a sense that your characters strength progressed at about the same rate as the difficulty. That seems….lacking here.
I would say, though, that it is still a fantastic game, but it pales in comparison to other FF games.
Considering all three complaints together (had to grind, not enough money, and the world was “shallow”), I don’t think you actually SAW the world in FF12. If you take the time to explore wherever you can whenever you can, you don’t HAVE to grind for either experience points or money, and you certainly don’t end your exploration thinking the world was “shallow”!
Same situation. I completely lost interest in 12 pretty quick. I think they spent time working too much on new game mechanics, and not enough of the plot and storyline.
Favorite title: FF VI. By a longshot. Playing through FF III on the DS now, it’s pretty nice, but VI is amazing. I’ll have to go get the handheld version now that it’s out, because I can play that game over and over again.
I’m shocked that you’re fond of 6 but not 12, as 12 is just a more modern version of 6 if you think about it. You get an ensemble cast (none of which are the main character of the actual story), you get pulled along by the gravity of the events going on elsewhere, you get lots of freedom to explore a massive world and enhance your characters’ skills as you see fit, etc. They’re both great, and I don’t see how anyone who enjoyed 6 wouldn’t enjoy 12.
I think the problem with FFXII’s story is it’s trying too hard to be a Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I can’t honestly believe that this girly-looking amateur thief is going to overthrow an empire…
…But I’m still playing, because I enjoy the play mechanics. I like the random encounters being replaced with monsters that you can see and choose whether to attack or run around. The biggest annoyance in the game has to be the elementals that wander around and fry you if you use magic while they’re floating nearby.
Shamus, if you keep playing you will get to learn more about the characters. But this game seems to want to focus a lot more on the world and its politics than the people you’re controlling.
“I think the problem with FFXII's story is it's trying too hard to be a Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I can't honestly believe that this girly-looking amateur thief is going to overthrow an empire…”
That first line needs elaboration. But since when are the stories in Final Fantasy games BELIEVABLE? Does the word “fantasy” not mean anything to you?
Vaan isn’t going to overthrow an empire. Vaan, a couple of sky pirates, a knight and a couple others are. That’s about as believable as one can ever expect, from Final Fantasy.
“The biggest annoyance in the game has to be the elementals that wander around and fry you if you use magic while they're floating nearby.”
Agreed, you have to be vigilant, but it’s still irritating!
“Shamus, if you keep playing you will get to learn more about the characters. But this game seems to want to focus a lot more on the world and its politics than the people you're controlling.”
Indeed it does. It’s what they call a plot-driven story, in which the emphasis is on the events in the world – the gravity of the situation, if you will. But some people have never heard of that in what they refer to as “Storytelling 101”, it seems…
Would you say that the Baldur’s Gate(and by extension the Neverwinter Nights)series circumvent this(the recycling of the protagonist) by letting you make the character?
FFVIII was my first and still my favorite.I loved the way you increase power by stealing it from the monsters you fight. Keeps you from having to worry so much about buying new items.
I’ve played but never finished 7 and 10. 7 ’cause the jem mechanic just bugged me and 10 I just lost interest near the end (at least I think it was near the end) ’cause I’d think I had just completed the last battle only to be presented with another in a seemingly never ending procession.
Honestly I haven’t played any of them in a long time so I could be getting them all mixed up.
I had looked forward to playing 12 but now I’m not so sure.
8 and 12 are both great games, but they are also both unpopular among the majority of FF fans, IME. You’ve shown that you have different tastes than a lot of FF critics just by liking 8; you might as well give 12 a try. Only real differences are that FF8 is a character-centered love story whereas 12 is neither, and FF8 of course uses the old battle system that warps you into another screen for every battle whereas 12 streamlines battling and such.
Hm. Interesting that I just picked this up at the same time Shamus did. I’m even at about the exact same spot, but my take has been completely different. I’m loving this game, and almost for precisely the reasons Shamus DISLIKES it.
The biggest thing I like about this game is that I feel small. I -don’t- feel like a super badass hero. I feel like the little guy, just trying t eke out a meager existence, and yet somehow getting caught up in something way bigger than me. And it -feels- way bigger than me. I feel like I’m surrounded by a huge world I cannot possibly fully explore (unlike all the other FF games, which felt small despite supposedly taking place over a huge world), being oppressed by the massive weight of an entire empire’s forces which I -cannot- fight alone (unlike almost every other RPG ever made, where the feeling is “why don’t I just take my band of superheroes and slaughter the bad guy right now? Nothing can possibly stop me!” Not to speak of Cliche #26 http://project-apollo.net/text/rpg.html which doesn’t exist in this game)…
And yet, although the empire is oppressing me, I can help but doubt whether they’re really all that evil. The tyrant ruler replacing the king seems competent, efficient, worthy of respect, and reasonably intelligent.
All the preamble and history lessons and such were needed to build this weight. I feel like the forces of HISTORY itself are against me, like Asimov’s “Foundation” series and the concept of psychohistory. There’s no chance of success– not for a ragtag team of heroes, because the enemy is too large, we’re too small, and despite our badass powers (which are still pretty badass) we’re not big movers and shakers despite it all.
No, I don’t feel like I’m getting to know the characters on a deep and personal level like, say, FFX (which I also enjoyed immensely, but for different reasons– and it’s not my favorite story either). What I feel like is that each of the characters represents part of the world, part of the history and culture of the world. Very literary in that respect. And each one of the characters represents a group that has zero chance of victory. And as the game goes on, victory looks no closer.
That’s awesome. The payoff for how events will be shaped will be that much greater knowing that no Deus Ex Machina exists in this world. You’re the little guy. The big guys pound on you, but you survive anyway, and you survive not by becoming big guys, but by utilizing the meager resources you have. Using your small stature as it was meant to be used.
The politics seem so real to me. And I feel -involved-. And I feel like it matters. That being a leader and controlling armies is important, unlike in all the other FF games, which seems to attempt to hammer in the lesson that armies are nothing in the face of “THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP” (mixed in with godlike cosmic superhero strength).
And I love it. It’s a breath of fresh air to me. Absolutely love it all.
I’m also a fan of the combat system, although I think the license grid could have used some work. It really does feel like my characters are looking alike. This could have been solved by more diverse abilities, and starting the different characters off in different locations, much like FFX did it. The sphere grid was a really good idea, I thought. Pity XII didn’t follow its footsteps. But oh well. The actual combat mechanics, and the gambit system in particular, is enough for me to enjoy along those lines.
It’s nice to hear that despite your dislike of how the game handles characterization, you’re still playing. Shamus, would you say that despite wanting more characterization, and wanting a more measured approach to learning about the world, that the world sucks you in anyway? That it feels rich and alive?
Well said! I would only suggest that, if you don’t want your characters having the same abilities… don’t TEACH them the same abilities! I didn’t care for the sphere grid in FF10, mostly because of the whole “backtracking” penalty. FF12 did freedom RIGHT at every turn.
Sorry for double posting, but I just had to add…
Exactly! That’s what’s so cool about it!
I am completely blown away that people find the plot of 12 to be weak, especially compared to 10.
Look at the openings: In 12, a large kingdom invades and conquers a small kingdom. A group of people join together to oppose the invaders.
In 10, a professional sports player is teleported from his home by a gigantic monster. He then spends some time in some waterlogged ruins, is kidnapped by treasure hunters, then ends up on an island where he joins a group of people escorting someone around the world.
12’s storytelling is a mess?
The big difference for me is the world itself. Someone called it shallow, but nothing could be further from the truth. In 10, you will explore the entire world, including all fix or six cities. Spira is sparsely populated to the extreme, and what population there is is tightly concentrated. There are other races, but they all keep to their own towns for the most part. Everything I know about the way the real world works screams out that this is wrong.
In 12, you do not explore the entire world. Your world map is really only showing two countries out of many. And even in this smaller section of the world, we see a realistic population. People live everywhere. There are a few distinct races, and as you would expect with peaceful coexistence, they mingle and spread out.
Compare the political situations: in 12, people act like you would expect them to act. Leaders attempt to advance their own nations. Selfish people act in their own interest. Selfless people act in others’ interests. Nations fight. The common people just survive. There are rebels and traitors and heroes and villans. It is a complex, realistic world.
In 10, everyone is united in peace. Any tensions are only shown in a professional sports tournament. However, the leaders (who are already in charge of everything) are conspiring and plotting. The closest we come to seeing a realistic conflict is with the Al-Bhed.
10, to its credit, focussed on the individual characters to a much greater extent. But the writing and voice acting was so inconsistent that the extra focus just revealed flaws. Shamus has pointed out Wakka’s unique accent before. In 12, characters are typically accent free–except for the different races, which speak consistently. The clothing in 10 was often ridiculous. Not only is Tidus’ clothing just plain stupid (what’s with his shorts?) it is completely impractical for someone who plays an underwater sport! (Wakka is no better.) How about Lulu? She lives on a tropical island and wears a fur-lined dress.
In 12, the character designs make sense. The characters from the desert city of Rabanstre wear lighter clothing. Balthier, from a northern city, wears warmer clothes. Fran, a character from a jungle, wears very skimpy clothing. None of the clothing would be impractical to wear on an everyday basis (with the possible exception of Ashe. The skirt is kind of ridiculous).
The differences between the two games are like this throughout. 10 takes place in a pretty picture: nice to look at, but no depth. 12 takes place in a real world.
Well said. I also enjoyed getting my FREEDOM back, in FF12. FF10 was unbearable for me. RPGs and linearity NEVER mix, IMHO.
…But why does Fran have rabbit ears?
Her ears enable her to “hear” the spirit of the Viera’s forest (“the wood” as she calls it). Now…
Why does Zidane from FF9 have a tail, is a much better question? :P
In my experience, more than any of the other games, FFXII gives you actual freedom to push into new territory, whether you’re ready for it or not. Conversely, FFX was on such rails, proceeding directly from point A (the start) to point B (Zanarkand), that by the time you were free to do anything but advance the storyline or play Pointless-Ball, it was utterly boring. I swear, Lulu’s finishing pose is about all that kept me going. I finished it, and it’s not the worst FF ever, but it’s certainly not at the top, in my not-so-humble opinion… :)
I prefer the “history synopsis” version of background, rather than the “what the heck is going on, did I just get eaten by this Sin thing” version. FFX’s “odd-man-out” syndrome and the other characters’ attitude toward Tidus (kinda condescending and annoyed that he didn’t know anything) made me feel like I was playing a “special-needs” character (and the clothes didn’t help).
My main gripe on FFXII is the license system; I can understand that they didn’t want to subscribe to the “locked-to-a-role” system of FFX, but the flow of licenses could have a lot more logic to it. Fumbling through, taking licenses in the hope that you’ll reveal something you can use past it, is too much like a crap shoot. It’d have been better if you could see what was on the grid (barring Quickenings and Espers), so that you could build toward stuff you wanted, rather than having random weapon and armor skills to get to what you wanted.
As to the “trying for an epic story with humble beginnings”, that’s what 95% of your RPGs are, be they console, PC, or pen-and-paper. A game where you spend hours killing goblins and wolves, working up to the local ogre, and then it’s over, would be as uninteresting as being handed godlike, your-farts-shape-foreign-policy characters and jumping straight to the heady decision of “which dark god do I slay today”. Neither engages you, neither makes you interested in the characters’ lives. At that point, you might as well be an elf, a dwarf, and a human bumbling along after some ring-carrying short person… ;)
Yeah, I couldn’t stand FF10. Way too linear in practically every way, characters were way too annoying, and I didn’t care for the story either.
“My main gripe on FFXII is the license system; I can understand that they didn't want to subscribe to the “locked-to-a-role” system of FFX, but the flow of licenses could have a lot more logic to it. Fumbling through, taking licenses in the hope that you'll reveal something you can use past it, is too much like a crap shoot.”
I disagree. All the licenses are categorized so finding the license for the latest shields, one-handed swords, two-handed swords, etc. is not very difficult at all.
But yeah, I suppose it could’ve been better, in the way you suggested.
And Fran has rabbit ears because elves are overdone.
Until someone is willing to insinuate that Final Fantasy NINE sucked because Zidane had a tail… I don’t feel we have to mock 12 for Fran’s ears (particularly given the whole “listen to the forest” concept introduced in the story itself).
It’s too bad you don’t much care for the game so far. In my opinion ngthagg has hit the nail on the head, FF12 takes place in a real world. I don’t know how much to say without giving away quite a bit of the plot but suffice to say everyone is in the party for a damn good reason and just because you’re seeing the story from Vaan’s viewpoint it doesn’t mean he’s the main charecter, he’s not even the leading man. You’ll understand that last comment around the end of the game.
‘Look at the openings: In 12, a large kingdom invades and conquers a small kingdom. A group of people join together to oppose the invaders.
In 10, a professional sports player is teleported from his home by a gigantic monster. He then spends some time in some waterlogged ruins, is kidnapped by treasure hunters, then ends up on an island where he joins a group of people escorting someone around the world.’
Well that’s confusing ‘epic’ with ‘well told’. The story of X may not make much sense in terms of this world, but it is intimately rooted in the mythology of its own world, it moves at its own pace, it isn’t cliched in any way and it involves the protagonists.
XII on the other hand, is just a cliched story of resistance against yet another generic evil empire. I mean, look at the antagonists. Seymour is honestly doing what he thinks is right. He’s a loon, but his motivation and personality is very understandable. Vayne? I AM EVIL, HEAR ME ROAR!!!!!
FF10’s story doesn’t make sense in ANY world. But to be fair, that’s Final Fantasy in general for you.
“Seymour is honestly doing what he thinks is right. He's a loon, but his motivation and personality is very understandable. Vayne? I AM EVIL, HEAR ME ROAR!!!!!”
I like Vayne as a bad guy because he is not like that. As someone above pointed out, he seems like a decent guy when he gives his speech in Rabanastre. He is ruthless, certainly, but he is not evil for evil’s sake. I haven’t finished the game yet, so I don’t know who the final boss is in twelve, but I’m hoping it’s a character I’ve met already. I’m sick of having to fight some super evil surprise bad guy, like Yu Yevon or Sorceress Ultimecia or Zeromus or whatever 9’s boss was. I prefer to fight someone who has been there all along, like Kefka and Sephiroth.
Incidentally, I disagree with the “well-told” comment. Whenever one of my roommates watches me playing 12, I can give them a quick plot summary. With 10, I couldn’t (and still can’t) do that, even after playing the game twice. If it is well-told, then why is it so confusing?
The bunny ears of the Viera don’t bug me, anymore than the lizard faces of the Bangaa or the pig faces of the Seeq do. What does bug me is the complete lack of males in their society. If I remember right from the Tactics Advance manual (where they were first introduced), they are actually described as a race of females. If there aren’t males, what makes them female? If there is no sexual differentiation among the Viera, why are they describe in sexual terms?
I guess it’s just an opinion thing. Part of the problem with Vayne is that after you first see him he doesn’t really turn up again until the end.
I would call X’s story complicated rather than confusing. The story is perfectly understandable.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore XII, but like most gamers I’m difficult to please and will always attack the flaws of games I like. As for the Viera, I didn’t really mind them either. I made Fran into my black mage, and she was of great help (status effects are amazing in this game). I always assumed that ‘female’ was a term given to them by non-Viera to make describing them more easy.
I thought X was the absolute worst piece of storytelling imaginable, and a terrible game as well. Not only did I not care about most of the characters, I was much less interested in the big plots (Tidus/Yuna, Sin, etc.) than I was in the “minor” sideplots like Lulu and Wakka’s history or Auron’s character. Plus, the whole thing seemed waaaaay too heavy on the religious overtones for my taste.
Shamus, if you want a real FF story game, you have to play FF4 (FF2 in America), FF6 (FF3 in America), or Final Fantasy Tactics. The games themselves are excellent, but the storytelling is where they really shine. FF4 has a fairly traditional redemption plot, FF6 takes some crazy innovative steps and has a HUGE cast, and no actual “main” character, and FF Tactics is just…insane. And tragic. And awesome.
Agree on all points. Especially want to second the FF6 suggestion; that one was a masterpiece.
I’d be willing to bet that people who like FF6 and FFT probably like FF12. On the other hand, people who like FF8 and FF9 probably like FF10.
Couldn’t be more wrong in my case. I LOVED FF8 and FF9, couldn’t STAND 10. The linearity and annoying characters alone turned me off of that one. I was happy to get a break from both when 12 came out.
The Viera bother me because any race that has rabbit ears needs to be killed to sustain the other races sanity.Oh, and why does V(h?)aan have to be an orphan?are there no heroes left, that that they are starting to fall back on the age-old ‘orphan’ genus of Hero(in)e.
Oh, and Fran’s name is dangerously close to ‘flan’, so whatever.
Vaan is not the hero; he is an avatar. And they put bunny ears on Fran for the same reason they put a tail on Zidane (FF9)… because they can! If you want everyone to look alike, you’re playing the wrong video game series.
And I enjoy the concept of the hero being a professional sports player, instead of being a friggin’ thief.
The only things that really bothered me about XII were
1 – The characterization wasn’t very good; we never really learned a lot about anyone’s background, and none of the heroes really changed much (other than becoming vastly more powerful) over the game. The plot and worldbuilding were pretty well done, if somewhat standard fantasy fare.
2 – The game was a lot harder than most FF games if you stayed on rails and avoided mindless leveling; I ended up taking a long detour to complete sidequests just before the endgame, gaining about ten levels and going from ‘some random encounters are tough’ to ‘the main boss of the game — not all that hard’ in the process.
Having said that, I still liked XII better than X (though I liked X).
The point of Vayne is that he isn’t evil per se, he’s just doing what’s best for the world no matter the cost. The ends justify the means and all that. Bassicly the same shtick as Seymour but without his Crazy-Stupid allignment.
Well I’m glad I’m not the only one that liked XII more then X. I would definitely rank it at 4th in the series, 6,7,and tactics being before it. I think it all comes down to just what kind of story you are really looking for. The big political plot is for me at least refreshing compared to the main character becoming the only hope for the entire world by the end of the game. I’m not too sure about the needing to grind way too much to get money or a high enough level. I usually didn’t have that problem even though I probably did die in this one more then any other FF. The ability to run into uber monsters in easier areas was never too much of a problem. I guess maybe I’m just good at running away from things. But yeah they are just two different kinds of stories for two different kinds of preferences.
Yeah, the complaint about grinding is totally made up. My guess, since most of the people claiming you have to grind also happen to be huge fans of FF10, is that these people expected to just be able to go forward non-stop, without doing any leveling up whatsoever. But what they don’t realize is that “grinding” is somewhat of a FF staple. FF10 is the oddball, not 12. Exploration is the key.
I didn’t read all of the previous comments so forgive me if I double anything said before.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of the series. I have in my possession FF1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,10-2 and 12. Not to mention both movies, and Tactics and 1 and 2 again for the GBA. Still, I can’t help but comment on this thread.
[POSSIBLE SPOILER HERE]
What I hated most about FFXII so far is that the plot is so thick you could cut it with a butter knife. The first time you see the princess, everyone is like.. ‘wow! Amazone rebel chick! COOL!’ Now.. I’m sitting behind my TV, my best friend besides me, and I just blurt out “are they f****** retarded? That’s the princess!” and he went like, “I guess she is.” Anyway, later in the game, guess what, you find out she’s actually the princess. And when everyone in my party was feigning shock, I was slapping myself in the face for still playing on.
Regardless of previous point, I did like the hunts you can go on and that you play in the world of (and meet the same characters as you do in) Final Fantasy Tactics on GBA. I guess that is what I liked about it.
In short, I’d give this game a 6/10, because I didn’t really get hooked onto the plot the way I did get hooked into it in 7,8,9 and 10. Anyway, it’s 2:29 AM, I should probably be in bed rather than typing all this.
PS. I’m not trying to crack down Final Fantasy because I absolutely ADORE Final Fantasy, it’s just that this one doesn’t really do it for me. If it does that for you, this post was in no way meant to offend you.
Actually, if you get a good look at most of the female NPCs, they could pass for the princess or at least a relative if they only changed their wardrobe. That’s not to mention the fact that most of them probably hadn’t seen her UP CLOSE (they didn’t have her on a big screen while she was standing up there on the balcony, you know).
I also tried this game, got about 10 hours in, and gave up on it.
My biggest gripe was the combat system. I just don’t like it. It feels like an action RPG where I should be hammering on my attack button, but instead if it’s just a random fight, I select attack, and then walk around close to the enemy until I attack. It’s just not the combat I want out of an RPG.
So I stopped. Normally story gets me beyond gameplay I dislike, but when I realized that the plot was Star Wars, I stopped.
Yes, at the part of the game I was on the plot was Star Wars.
My young blonde brash youth that sometimes whines had hooked up with a loveable rogue sky pirate and his non-human companion, as well as a grizzled old soldier from a previous war who takes the youth under his wing. Then we found ourselves in this heavily technological ship, trying to rescue the princess from an “evil” general of the Empire in a very impressive suit of armor. Throw in two droids and a garbage compactor, and I think we’d have Lucas’s finest.
Maybe it gets better after that, I don’t know. I would actually like Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Maybe when I get bored of all the games I have I’ll get back to it. But it really disappointed me. Every game I’ve played from Square-Enix since they merged has disappointed me terribly. I still really want to play Kingdom Hearts II and hope it will renew my faith, but FFXII, Dragonquest 8 and others have really disappointed.
“My biggest gripe was the combat system. I just don't like it. It feels like an action RPG where I should be hammering on my attack button, but instead if it's just a random fight, I select attack, and then walk around close to the enemy until I attack. It's just not the combat I want out of an RPG.”
It’s the exact same turn-based stuff as other RPGs, except you have the option (OPTION) to move around while you’re waiting for your gauge to fill. And if you want it even MORE like the older FFs, you can always turn some or all of the gambits for some or all of your characters off and then voila, you can pound away at the X button just like old times (if for some odd reason you want to).
I haven’t played Final Fantasy XII, but the characteristic Shamus is getting at (IMO) is how FFX tells its story and develops its characters (Fish out of water, travelogue) rather than any specific point requiring suspension of disbelief (Giant monster, character as a sports star, travelling to what seems like an alternate universe, etc). In that, FFX does a really admirable job.
From what I know of FFXII, it’s a pretty “political” game. That’s not a bad thing, but it does require you to know more about the game world than a story like FFX did. It’s quite possible they could start you out to kind of wander about and soak up information, but that’s also more game content they’d have to make. Bottom line hits, it’s cheaper to make an expository cutscene than a few hours of gameplay.
As for getting killed when you wander off the course of the story — Being able to at all is good. The fact that you get outclassed by monsters is something I consider pretty much part-and-parcel of games which have steep power curves (most RPGs). I kind of like the idea of foregoing levelling up and rewarding player skill, but, heck, people complained about having to hit R1 to activate Squall’s gunsword on hit. It’d never fly.
I haven’t played XII yet, though I think the bunny girl race is inherited from Tactics where there are races rarely/never seen in the main FF series. Anyway, the world just needs more bunnygirls. Catgirls are good too.
I happen to really like FFs 6, 7 and 10, and to a lesser degree 4, 5 and 8. I played most of 9 but it didn’t really grip me. I would adore 8 if it wasn’t for the botched enemy levelling idea, which IMHO is even worse than Oblivion’s levelled content.
7 has to be my favorite, for having a good system with a good story and world. 10 is second-favorite for having great gameplay (in spite of the bad implementation of an otherwise good sphere grid idea – an automatic advancement option would have been splendid) and well presented story. It takes the good aspects of cinema and applying them to cutscenes and even some battles liberally.
And I still don’t really know why I don’t like 9. I guess it’s just not as deep or complicated as the others, and all over it just feels like something targetted at younger players, right down to the ugly character designs. Even with the stone-age graphics of FF7 characters seemed serious and fitting for their roles. I generally pretend Cait Sith never featured in FF7 and is only a bad dream.
I most certainly will try FFXII just in case I’ll like it too. The chances aren’t so bad.
I spent roughly 80 hours on this game, and consider them well spent. For me, it was the story that did it. I found the portrayal of the characters and progression of the narrative to be far more mature than the fare I’m used to from the other FFs. In particular, I found the villain to be very remarkable. He’s not some sort of monolithic evil force, or insane nihilist out to destroy everything. He’s a man, a man with a lot of power and responsibility on his back, along with clear views on what the world needs and the conviction to see his plans through. The party’s opposition to him isn’t really over his goals per se, but rather due to the methods he uses to achieve them.
Of all the FF villains he is, I think, most human. Which somehow makes foiling his schemes and eventually battling him a very satisfying experience.
The way the story was introduced in 10 (as a travelogue, as someone said above) works well to introduce a new world, but it got on my nerves in the end. I really wanted to smack Tidus across the face and tell him to smarten up. (Actually, that shouldn’t be in the past tense. I still want to smack Tidus.)
Now that I’ve had a bit of a chance to think it over, the introduction to 12 worked well for me because I already knew quite a bit about the game. I was excited about it long before it had come out, and I read everything I could find on the ‘net. So I didn’t need a carefully designed introduction to the world, because I already knew everything I needed to know. But I can understand that someone who didn’t read the stuff I read could be overwhelmed at the start.
Regarding the lack of money in the game: I made sure, early on, to steal and poach everything I could. For the people who were short on money, did you do this, or were you just killing stuff?
Likely they were trying to play it like 10, just go in a straight line from one mission to the next. But they don’t realize that all the FFs before it required you to explore and build up just like 12. I don’t know what they’re talking about, saying you have to grind for hours; I’ve played this game several times and never actually had to grind to get through the story.
May 12th, 2007 at 3:51 pm
I'd be willing to bet that people who like FF6 and FFT probably like FF12. On the other hand, people who like FF8 and FF9 probably like FF10.
I guess I’m the exception to that.
Liked: FF6, FFX, FF9
Disliked: FFX12, FF8
Also liked FF1, FF4, FFVII but those weren’t on your list.
I’m an exception to that too, but in a different way. I loved FF6, FF7, FF8, FF9 and FF12. Hated FF10. The linearity and annoying characters alone turned me off of that one so that I couldn’t even finish it.
I think the criticism of Tidus’ naivety unfair, because it’s actually integral to the plot. Being so completely out of place is the only way Tidus could apply the changes to the pilgrimage that made it worthwhile. Everyone was ready to follow the same path as their predecessors, but Tidus, not nearly as indoctrinated and desperate for an undefined chance of success, insisted on trying something different and it worked.
That’s a cool role to play, even if all of the hard work is done in cutscenes and you’re railroaded the whole way. It’s a nice departure from the typical RPG situation where the only reason you aren’t just attacking the enemy already is because they’re very far away (or in the case of FF6, because they always, always flee battle until the very end).
You have to suspend your disbelief though. If Rikku can mix together world-destroying potions that humiliate any other character, why don’t the Al Bhed just make potion cannons and vaporise Sin whenever applicable? They certainly don’t seem to have any shortage of resources. Sin is a sissy, it’s the monster arena they have to watch out for.
Maybe someone already telled u…but i havnt read all the comments ^^
My first impression of the game was too in this way…but now, as my playtime is around 40 hours, I feel much more comfortable in the word. You get to learn much things later on in the game.
For example at some point I asked myself “wtf ? Why is my main character in this” and about half an hour later, it was explained ^^
“Yes, at the part of the game I was on the plot was Star Wars.
My young blonde brash youth that sometimes whines had hooked up with a loveable rogue sky pirate and his non-human companion, as well as a grizzled old soldier from a previous war who takes the youth under his wing. Then we found ourselves in this heavily technological ship, trying to rescue the princess from an “evil” general of the Empire in a very impressive suit of armor. Throw in two droids and a garbage compactor, and I think we'd have Lucas's finest.”
You know, I felt early on that the setup of the game had a very familiar feel, and you friggin’ nailed it with this comment. It does, thankfully, deviate from George Lucas after escaping the ship with the princess.
Oh, and I just realized… could the two moogles that are in the ship as merchants be the two droids? I know they show up again later elsewhere, each time offering to sell you goods.
Thanks to a combination of the British release being about two months ago and my general busyness just now, I’ve been playing this of late and am about 15 hours in.
I like it. However, I don’t like it as a Final Fantasy, and I think it’s because of exactly what Shamus is saying, even though I’m enjoying the story.
I started on FFVII, played all but XI since then. As is common, VII remains my favourite – I notice that most of those who got into the series after the NES and SNES series list their first FF as their favourite.
I decided a long time ago that what I like about the series is the stories. The gameplay comes down to either moving people on to advance the story, or fighting. The fighting is okay for the most part, but it’s really the story that keeps me going. And this, I think, is why I dislike IX – the story didn’t work for me (and I’m still not sure why three of the eight characters actually joined the party, or another one stayed with it), at which point the fighting begins to annoy.
XII, though. The plot isn’t being told in the same way as in previous games, although I do like it. But I absolutely love this new combat system.
In short, I like most of the series as story first and a game second. This one I like as a game first and a story second.
It makes sense that you started with 7 and not 6, then. FF12 is just a more recent FF6. How the REAL old-school FFs used to be. An ensemble cast (none of which are actually the “main character” getting pulled in by the gravity of the events around them, a great deal of freedom and exploration, etc. FFs 7 through 9 were awesome too, IMO, but FF10 sucked. Way too linear and the characters were way too annoying.
“I've also had a couple of game over situations, which I found to be very annoying. Final Fantasy usually handles you with kid gloves at the start, but here the game is willing to punish you for straying too far from the rails. You're free to roam around, but if you wander into areas without being sent there by the plot, you may find yourself rapidly outclassed and looking at the “New Game / Load Game” menu. The game is just is much on rails as FFX, only now they make it look like you're not on rails and kill you when you deviate. Put me down as “not a fan” of this dynamic.”
This confuses me, Shamus. Last year (a long time ago, but you’ve referenced it a couple of times since so I’m assuming it’s still your opinion) you talked about self-balancing gameplay, where players were free to choose areas to play in that were suited to their abilities without having to pick a difficulty setting in advance.
“RPG's can avoid this issue altogether by simply giving the player lots of freedom to move around and play the game at their own pace. Getting bored slaughtering weak foes? Then hurry ahead in the game to where the challenge and the rewards are greater. Having trouble or feeling frustrated? Then just take things slower, and grow in power before moving forward.”
“The game doesn't need to self-balance by making enemies weaker when the player is defeated. It doesn't need to force the player to choose how good they think they are before they start playing. It doesn't need to increase the strength of the monsters when it sees the player is highly optimized. It just needs to provide a series of areas with steadily increasing challenge level, and allow the player to spend as much time in any given area as they like.”
Maybe I’m way off base here, but it seems as if FFXII is giving you exactly what you asked for.
Talitha: Close, but the player should ALWAYS be making a decision to enter a more challenging area, not wandering into one for a random instant death. In FF12, I’m not talking about going from an area where the monsters jump from level 6 to level 8, I’m talking about places where you’ll be fighting level 6 monsters, and then go around a corner and get murdered by some level 20 beast. For self-balancing to work, the player needs some way to see what they are getting into.
But other than this, the system does indeed work very well. I’m actually really enjoying the combat / leveling aspect of the game now.
My first console game was FFX. Gods, did that game suck me into the genre! [since then, my PS2 has been joined by a PS1, PSP, Xbox, Xbox360 and GBA].
IMO the most beautiful game ever is -still- FFX. I’ve played it multiple times pit’s sort of a comfort game].
But FFVII is my favorite FF game, just because of the story. I have worn out 2 copies of the game through play [and bought a 3rd copy]. I would maim someone to get FFVII on PSP – and if it were remade/reissued for PS3 it would be the only reason I’d buy that game console.
As for XII, I have the game, but got side-tracked into playing ‘Jade Empire’ first. [wow – another kicking game!]
I own and have played/Beat this game. Only because of ONE and ony one reason: I Got the accompanying cheat/walkthru guide that came with it.
It has a fantastic who’s who’s inthe front of the book, and in a big fold out section, so you can you know, actually kinda figure out who the heck is who and what their motivations are. The rest of the book I didn’t use, I just read through the political sections of it to figure out what the heck was going on when they did this or that, beucase even I could keep up… whew.. But its such a wonderfull beat of a game. The graphics on it make me happy.
I know the area you’re talking about, and that was definitely annoying (damn dinosaur got me once). Oddly enough, I think that’s an anomaly.
Later in the game you’ll occasionally run into a “special hunt” or a monster that’s much stronger than a regular one, but usually it’s their HP and defense that scare you off. I don’t remember dying to any solo random monsters after that dinosaur.
Heh, on the subject of randomly powerful solo monsters, I absolutely *loved* the entites. More than once I had an “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck” moment, running the hell away because one of my characters gambitted a buff too close to an entite and drew aggro. I never got *killed* by one, but it was close a couple of times.
That tiny little detail really drew me into the game. The fact that there are stupendously powerful arcane monsters *everywhere*, well, that just seems right. They shouldn’t all be confined to wherever the hell the later parts of the story end up. Plus, there’s something… satisfying about switching off your gambits and just walking up to one of the humongous beasts. I think I might have been channeling Shadow of the Colussus, which I was playing at the same time.
That’s a good point. It IS more realistic that at least a FEW extremely powerful monsters would be among the weaker ones. Man, they did almost EVERYTHING right with 12! :)
In regards to your “random superpowered monster” comments, I’d have to say that I always found it pretty obvious when something outclassed me.
I got about 20 hours in, and all along the way, I knew that the elementals or giant dinosaurs were apt to slay me if I strayed too close. They were HUGE, after all, and rare, and unnatural.
Even without that, though? Libra. Libra libra libra. It’s slightly annoying that you have to cast a spell to see when something’s able to absolutely wreck you, but the info is there, and obvious when Libra’s cast/equipped.
As for the story, it’s MUCH more subtle and understated than FFX was, and I liked it much more for that. The world is far more sensible, as has been pointed out, and the characters are built up not by their actions but by their connections.
Unfortunately, the copy of the game I was playing wasn’t mine, and was thus left behind when I moved three months ago. I keep meaning to pick it back up…
I am quickely losing interest in Final Fantasy 12 I just can’t bring muyself to finish it. I absolutely love the Final Fantasy games. 12 is different from them though. It’s true the story line sucks, and the characters aren’t all that great. It lacks a romantic story line that the rest of the other final fantasy series have. I mean in 8 it was squall and riona. In 9 it was zidane and dagger. in 10 it was tidus and yuna. and now in 12 theres no romance
Actually, most of the older ones didn’t really have a love story. No one hooks up in FF6, which was also a plot-driven story with an ensemble cast, in which none of them are actually the “main character”. Every FF is different. I don’t see how it makes the story “sucky”, just because it’s different.
Well, as I just finished FFXII today, I htought I’d give my opinions…
The story just really didn’t work for me. I’m not saying there wasn’t development, but what development did exist did not seem important. With the exception of Ashe-Balthier, there are no radical changes in the alignments of characters. There is no real dynamic between them – the tension between Vaan and Basch is resolved within five minutes of playing with him, the reasons behind the Balthier-Fran relationship are never looked into (there’s no sense of their history, either), and Vaan doesn’t really learn all that much.
That’s not my only gripe. There aren’t clear changes in attitudes. Though some balk when people claim that there is no character development in FFXII, I think they should note that a strong story development shouldn’t need exposition by devoted fans. Ashe’s priorities change, yes, but it’s somehow difficult to care. It doesn’t help that Square have made levelling so much slower- the time I spent grinding meant that by the time I reached one cut-scene I had forgotten the precise details of the story.
Still, maybe in time I’ll relent. At least I liked Vayne- well intentioned, selfless in certain respects (see his last bit of dialogue with Venat), and nothing like the clichéd, “oh-you-poor-deluded-mortals” spouting dullard, Sephiroth.
“The story just really didn't work for me. I'm not saying there wasn't development, but what development did exist did not seem important. With the exception of Ashe-Balthier, there are no radical changes in the alignments of characters. There is no real dynamic between them ““ the tension between Vaan and Basch is resolved within five minutes of playing with him, the reasons behind the Balthier-Fran relationship are never looked into (there's no sense of their history, either), and Vaan doesn't really learn all that much.”
FF12 is clearly a plot-driven story, in which the emphasis is on the events going on in the world. The characters are simply pulled in by the gravity of the situation which I found a welcome change after sooooo many protagonists in previous games having to struggle to make rather obvious realizations about life or love. Not every FF character has to be immature in this way! I thought they gave enough backstory to ensure you the characters were actual people, but it just isn’t the goal in these types of stories, to fixate on the smaller issues of who’s hooking up with who or whatever.
I can’t imagine why you would need to spend a lot of time grinding just to get through the story. I didn’t.
“In FFX, the game introduced us to the main character, and then used that character to introduce the world of Spira. It made us care about Tidus and his plight, and then used Tidus as the “man from Mars”. Throughout the game, other characters would teach him about this new world he'd been pulled into.”
That Final Fantasy game was a character-driven story; FF12 was a plot-driven story. They are different.
“By the end of the game most players would be able to tell you what all the major races and subcultures were, what those people looked like, where they lived, and even a bit about their culture. This is a lot to learn, but we absorb it because it's all part of the main character's journey.”
I actually remember a lot more about 12, and found the whole game more interesting.
“But FFXII does this all backwards, and from a storytelling perspective the thing is a mess. The overlong opening cutscenes try to pour all of the details of the world into the viewer at an overwhelming pace. Then the cutscenes stop and we get a text and voiceover history lesson about the world, with an occasional peek at the map. Then more cutscenes. Then more history and geography lessons. Throughout this process, I was wondering how much of this stuff I needed to know and why I should care. It wasn't until about the half-hour mark that I even met the main character.”
If you mean Vaan, he’s not the main character of the story. Ashe is, and it introduces you to her almost immediately in the opening cutscenes. In FF12, they merely made Vaan the player’s avatar. He represents the player in that he has so much to learn about the world of Ivalice and the story. He is meant to be along for the ride. Not the hero. Not the leader. Not the main character. It’s different, that’s for sure. But I wouldn’t call it bad.
“This is a screwed up way to introduce the world, and it breaks a lot of the rules they will teach you in Storytelling 101: You should show, not tell. Those opening lessons in politics, geography, and history were too much, too soon.”
I would like to know exactly which rules you feel they broke. But in general, no, I don’t agree that it gives you too much information too soon.
“I'm at the ten hour mark and I'm not really invested in any of the main characters. It's hard to care about them because I don't know anything about them. They have costumes and accents and attitudes, but they don't seem to have any real lives going on. When I met Balthir and Fran, we were thrown together by circumstances. Fine, but then the story never gave us a reason to remain together. We just start working together because hey, we're the main characters and that's what we're supposed to do.”
“Ten hours in” doesn’t tell us anything. Without knowing where you were in the story, it’s hard to comment. I will say, however, that FF6 did a very similar thing. It had an ensemble cast of people simply working toward a common goal, but for different reasons. At the end of the game, before fighting Kefka one last time, the characters actually give their individual reasons. They do this again in FF8, if memory serves.
“I've also had a couple of game over situations, which I found to be very annoying. Final Fantasy usually handles you with kid gloves at the start, but here the game is willing to punish you for straying too far from the rails. You're free to roam around, but if you wander into areas without being sent there by the plot, you may find yourself rapidly outclassed and looking at the “New Game / Load Game” menu. The game is just is much on rails as FFX, only now they make it look like you're not on rails and kill you when you deviate. Put me down as “not a fan” of this dynamic.”
Then you won’t like any FFs beyond 10 and 13, because linearity is the new dynamic in this series, not open world exploration. OF COURSE you can find yourself “easily” outclassed if you try to explore an area you’re not ready for – whether we’re talking about your stats or your skill! This risk is half the excitement in sticking your nose in an area you’re not familiar with, and it’s what made all previous FFs (before 10) great in the first place.
Finally, I considered FF10 an awful game, especially compared to other FFs. The linearity alone (both in exploration and character development terms) broke the game for me. Add to that the unbearably annoying characters and I just couldn’t suffer through it more than once.
What can I say, I can’t relate to any of this. They don’t give you all THAT much information in the opening cutscenes. The older FFs were much “worse”. FF6 gives you quite a history lesson before you get anywhere close to being able to play; didn’t stop THAT one from being amazing.
But it makes sense, why you would complain about it in any case. Judging from your pointing out that they teach you a lot more about the war and everything than the “main characters”, I’m guessing you didn’t realize this was a PLOT-DRIVEN STORY (which, if you check your Storytelling 101 notes again, you will find is a perfectly legitimate and widely accepted style of writing). What this means, is that the emphasis will be on the events in the world and not the main characters; they will pulled along by the gravity of the situation which, IMO, makes the entire story more epic.
“but they don't seem to have any real lives going on.”
Such as whining and pining over some girl/guy they have a crush on? Look man, you said it yourself: Final Fantasy likes to change it up from game to game, and that’s what makes it (with the exception of a few games – cough, Final Fantasy 10, cough) one of the greatest video game franchises of all time.
“but then the story never gave us a reason to remain together. We just start working together because hey, we're the main characters and that's what we're supposed to do.”
That’s not true. Each and every one of the characters has their own motive and interest. They do all tie together by chance, meaning they don’t stick together because “Hey! We’re a family!” or some other cheesy cliche, but that doesn’t mean the game doesn’t give you A reason – just not the sort of reason you’re used to.
“I've also had a couple of game over situations, which I found to be very annoying.”
That’s pretty much true of all games…
“Final Fantasy usually handles you with kid gloves at the start, but here the game is willing to punish you for straying too far from the rails. You're free to roam around, but if you wander into areas without being sent there by the plot, you may find yourself rapidly outclassed and looking at the “New Game / Load Game” menu.”
This is a really silly thing to criticize any game for. Final Fantasy (before 10) was KNOWN for giving the player that sort of freedom. Having options is never a bad thing! That you criticize a game for NOT handling you with kid gloves (word for word, even) is unspeakably odd.
“The game is just is much on rails as FFX, only now they make it look like you're not on rails and kill you when you deviate.”
That’s altogether untrue. If you put in the effort to level up, strategize your way to the best spots on the license board, hunt down the best weapons and equipment, etc., it can be very rewarding indeed to “stray” (aka “explore”).
FF12 is a GREAT game. Not only do you get tons of freedom and a massive world to explore, you even get freedom in terms of how you build up, equip, and use each character. Plus it’s nice playing as a group of people who are already prepared to become heroes, that don’t need to make some fairly obvious realization about life or love before they stop whining and grab a weapon (a serious weapon, not a dodgeball)…
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