I decided to drop Final Fantasy XII and to play part VII again, which I played last when it came out as PC version in Germany. So yeah, that is now 15 years ago -- quite some time.
So why did I drop XII? Maybe some of you know this 'effect' for books. You get some book, recommended by a friend, which you then start reading. But after the first 50 pages you don't really get what should be so great about it -- it just doesn't spark your interest. You mention this to your friend, and he reassures you that the book takes some time to develop things, etc. and that I should just keep at it. So you do, but even after reaching the middle of the book, this special feeling, the urge to keep on to find out how the stories unfold, this feeling just doesn't come. However you are now at the point where it would be a waste of time to drop it, you tell yourself. So you struggle yourself through the pages, frantically trying to find at least something you can appreciate. Most of the times I then reach I point where I say to myself: "Maybe I should just put it away for a week or some. Maybe I'm just not in the right mood for this kind of thing." I put it away, and do something else.
So I gave XII more than a month time... the urge to come back to it however never came. I don't even remember clearly where I was in the game. I think I just entered the Pharos at Ridorana area. The one thing I do remember, and also in a positive way, is the battle system which I found very interesting. Indeed I focused more on mark hunting than anything else. The system can be used in a pretty sophisticated way, making it possible to even beat overpowered opponents. It was some fun exploring this system, but eventually you get fed up with it and want to return what the FF series is all about, a grand epic story. And that's where I quit.
I think the biggest problem I had was that the story feels like a political drama, with the fantasy component just "surface mounted". You don't need nethecite, magic, etc. for the story to work. Also I couldn't relate to any of the characters. Vann wants to be a sky pirate, so what? Ashe wants revenge / back her political power... ok... The only character that I found remotely interesting was Fran and her conflict with the home that she has forsaken. However also this part feels very underdeveloped. I always felt like that they cut things short just when it got interesting.
The visuals itself are impressive (for PS2 standards), with lots of large areas with many details. Even though I sometimes had the impression that areas were lifeless and sterile.
For me this is a perfect example why graphics are heavily overrated. Well, at least in RPGs. Even though the graphics of the much older VII is severely constrained by the technical limitations of the PS1, the game still pulled me into the story in virtually no time. And yes, I'm currently playing the original PS1 UK version of the game on an emulator with no graphics enhancements -- this is a vanilla experience so to speak, raw and unbiased...