Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2007-12-19 Nintendo DS Strategy E10 (Everyone 10+) Square Enix

Square Enix recently has been taking their famous franchises and trying to introduce new styles of gameplay in them, the latest being strategy. After Heroes of Mana and the more tactical Front Mission, Final Fantasy XII gets an RTS makeover.

Revenant Wings takes place one year after the events in Final Fantasy XII, where we find Vaan as a very happy sky pirate, hijacking a ship and embarking on new adventures.

The airship leads them to Lemur??s, a new continent hidden beneath the clouds, where they rescue an aegyl (a winged race) who then joins them. Vaan, Penelo and the new crew discover that something has gone amiss, since this continent is supposed to be hidden from everyone. It turns out that a group of evil sky pirates have destroyed that magic barrier and taken over the continent.

The story is fairly simple and stars familiar characters, which is something that will appeal to fans of FFXII. And if you haven't played it, it doesn't matter, since Revenant Wings doesn't rely too much on past events, aside from a few jokes between characters.

The game is separated into a series of missions (80 or so) where you first pick your leaders - your generals - and your Espers - the summoned units. There are three main types of units: melee, air and ranged. Each is more effective against a particular one, so that's where your strategy element comes in: flying is better against melee, melee against ranged, and ranged against flying.

You can assign groups of Espers to a leader, so you will have a little group of each kind of unit following the respective group leader. Selecting a group is as simple as tapping the leader and pressing Y.

Everything is controlled by tapping and dragging the stylus, so menus are fairly simple to navigate and selecting your troops or a particular leader isn't too bad unless they're all clumped together.

Missions are cleared when you clear all enemy units or when you reach the goal. The map appears on the top screen and shows the location of your units in blue, enemy units in purple, recovery items in red and materials or treasure in gold. Only your group leaders can harvest materials or open treasure chests, Espers won't be able to.

There are certain stages where you must protect your Soul Crystal and destroy the enemy's. The Soul Crystal revives your leaders (or your enemy's leaders) while it is "alive". There are also summoning platforms, and if they belong to the enemy, you must pray by them for a while to "convert" them to your own use.

To enlist a new Esper, you must unlock it in the Ring of Pacts by using Auracite. The Ring of Pacts - reminiscent of a Dress Sphere - lets you access stronger and different types of Espers to enlist, but you only have five slots per set, and you must place the Espers according to the ranks on the slots.

Another feature of the combat is the leaders' Gambit, and they're not exactly like in previous games.

Each of your main characters has a set of skills or spells (and gain more as they level up), and one of them can be tied to the Gambit ability, which is pretty much use that particularly skill all the time, as soon as the timer on it refreshes. Unfortunately, you can only have one skill on Gambit at any given time.

You also gain boosts from your leaders' equipment and weapons, and they will affect the entire group they are commanding.

Leaders also have special moves called Quickenings. To perform a Quickening you must fill the Mist Charge gauge first, which is done by dealing and taking damage. Once it's full, you can unleash this powerful attack and do some serious damage.

Now, what really impressed me shortly after I turned the game on were the cutscenes? I mean, wow, I didn't know the DS could make something look that good. Square Enix really went all out to make these, they are absolutely gorgeous and span across the two screens nicely, especially with airship sequences. Outside the cutscenes, the game has an isometric view, cute little sprites and lots of detail in the environments. However, you can't rotate the camera and there are some occasions where archways will partly block your view and hide enemies (or allies) behind them. And with the nice visuals comes the fantastic music we are accustomed to in Final Fantasy games.

It seems to me Square Enix has learned something from their experience making Heroes of Mana. We ended up with a much better RTS with very simple controls, fairly intelligent AI (in other words, no weird pathing) and outstanding presentation. Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings was much, much better than I expected.

Special thanks to Sonia Im and Sqaure Enix for providing a copy of this title.