Square Enix’s 2006 Final Fantasy XII may have been one of the highest acclaimed video games in history but it still does not get enough credit. It was the last Final Fantasy game to have a plot created by Yasumi Matsuno, the visionary originally hired by series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. The game gave an opportunity for career designers to become directors in Hiroshi Minagawa and Hiroyuki Ito. It also possessed the inevitably flawless soundtrack, expected from and, composed by the immaculately talented Nobuo Uematsu. Final Fantasy XII (FFXII) originated the gambit gaming system which would become commonplace today. It would be irresponsible to not mention that ground-breaking graphics, seven hours plus of movie scenes, and one of the longest gameplay in modern gaming history. It also represented a landmark game for the series as it would prove to be the second last storyline in the Final Fantasy series.
The story of FFXII places two empires competing for territories while one pursues a form of ultimate weapon of destruction. Two small territories are caught in the midst of the marching empires and become the battleground for the rich and powerful. As the people of the territories seek a surrender that will preserve their cities, some speak of resistance. The plot is enhanced by tales of historic kings, religious sects, distant colonies, and an egregious arms race. You are placed in this context and throughout the game you utilize characters from both empires, every territory, and every resistance group. The game offers you no bad guys and no good guys, just competing interests and intersecting beliefs. There are no convenient answers, much like in politics, only a large healthy amount of soul-searching. There are camps of playable characters and enemies in every city or territory. There are people in each empire who crave war and there those who seek peace and wish to cooperate with you. There are resistance fighters fuelled by hatred and revenge; there are also some motivated by resisting oppression and demand simple rights such the right of movement in your own city. FFXII has no conclusive end of the conflict, one empire does not crush the other in their Cold War-like dance; instead there is only a turbulent peace with great thanks to the gamer.
Final Fantasy XII examines the political sacrifices for peace and the political cost of war. It denies the myth that in war there exists a boundary between the titles of winner and loser; the story undermines any propaganda the player meets from either side. The game wins our hearts and minds with the inalienable truth that in war and in politics boundaries are always blurry and muddy. Right and wrong are not distinct or mutually exclusive; instead there are aggressors who are victims, civilians who become soldiers, and wounded who join the scores of dead. At no point is the fighting limited to a few characters, the politics of the story are such that war involves everyone, fighting breaks communities and splits families. In the end, peace requires compromise, sacrifice, and a great deal of courage; the kind of courage needed to forgive and live.