It seems slightly peculiar that there are so many high-quality titles being released onto the PS2 at the moment, precisely at the same time Sony is trying to shift PS3 units. Frag Doll Kitt has already praised the beautiful Okami, Rogue Galaxy is kicking serious bootie in the States, and Final Fantasy is one of the biggest RPG series around. To celebrate its popularity, Square Enix is hosting a Final Fantasy XII launch event in HMV, London. The first one hundred copies sold (when coupled with a wristband) will receive a Moogle soft toy and a FFXII music CD. There's also a trip to Japan up for grabs.
Of course, it's not just about the chance to bag some freebies. Wherever there is Final Fantasy, there are cosplayers. Cosplayers (derived from "costume play") is Japan's answer to fancy dress, where people dress up as their favourite fictional character. Characters can range from anime characters to Japanese pop idols, and the results can be as fantastic as they are terrifying. I've cosplayed on a handful of occasions in my life and though it may seem strange, it can be an uplifting experience. Is it the satisfaction in creating a unique outfit, worshipping your virtual idol, or just the thrill of dressing up in public? Who knows. But it's always worth a gander. The event kicks off at 12pm on the 23rd from HMV's Oxford Street branch.
For everyone else, Final Fantasy XII is one of the most ambitious installments of the series yet. It's received almost unanimous praise across the gaming press. If you've never played a game from the series or never been hooked since FFVII, now is the best time to get back on the chocobo saddle and remember why the series has won the hearts and minds of gamers for almost twenty years. Go on, embrace the role player in you.