Ok so I said VI (III here) is my favorite, and currently it still is... but my god. XII is catching up quick. I'm only about 8 hours into it and loving every second of it.
The story has already shown promise on the level of VI and VII. The battle system is incredible. It's the most significant change to the battle system since they introduced the Active Time Battle system in FFIV (II here). No more random battles. Gives it kind of an MMO feel.
If you're in a crowded area, battles can quickly spiral out of control with mobs running in to the aid of their companions, or just aggroing because they came into range. Recently I was exploring some mines, and aggro'd a couple skeletons. What started as 2 skeletons turned into a crazy battle as more and more skeletons started spawning in and the roaming bats would come into range. I think I stood in the same place for close to 10 minutes, and went through numerous skeletons (stopped counting after a while) and 5 or 6 bats. There were points where I had 6 skeletons on me at a time with more spawning down the mineshaft and coming into the fray. I'd kill off a few around me and almost instantly they'd be replaced.
Enter the Gambit system. Makes the crazy battles managable. Being able to automate tedious tasks such as healing party members, or curing status ailments is a godsend. And should you want to stick with the micro-management of previous FF's, just turn off your party members gambits, and they'll only do what you specifically instruct them to do. Personally I love the gambit system. Let's me concentrate more on controlling aggro by switching targets to get mobs off my mages, and figuring out if it's safe to stay in an area while we fight, or should we drag the mob(s) to another location to try and avoid more links.
And mobs aren't friendly towards each other, like in previous FF's where you'd have a mish-mash of mobs that would all attack you together at some points. The first time you're walking through the Estersand and you see the Wild Saurian (kind of a T-Rex thing) chasing and then devouring a wolf kind of drives that point home.
Great game. If you haven't already picked it up, I'd highly recommend it if you're a fan of these games. If things keep up the way they are, this could easily surpass VI as my favorite of the series.
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