Final Fantasy XII is the PS2's last Final Fantasy game. The first true Final Fantasy since Final Fantasy X in 2001, it pushes the PS2 to its limits in every way and is easily one of the greatest games of all time in terms of scope, depth, character development, graphics, and music.
FF XII has no strong connection to prior games, though fans familiar with the series will recognize music, items, and enemies. I don't wish to give away too much of the story, but it involves an ensemble cast trying to stop two warring nations from fighting, one of which is led by an "evil" force. Each of the player's six party members has their own past and agenda, each of which is fully explored as the game progresses.
The graphics are superb and the PS2 has seen none finer. The characters move fluidly at all times, and battles are fluid except in a few places. Although the series main composer, Nobuo Uematsu was not very involved in this game, he did help with a few tracks, most notably the title music. Hitoshi Sakimoto (Final Fantasy Tactics, Ikaruga, Radiant Silvergun, Gradius V) composed most of the music, and it's very distinctly his.
The most radical thing about this game compared to prior ones is that it implements a new fighting system which is similar to MMORPGs. No longer is there a break and a separate screen for fighting. As you walk across the landscape you can encounter and engage enemies direcly without having to "enter" into a battle. If you don't want to fight the enemy, just walk a different direction. Characters can be scripted to do things like automatically use a potion when their health gets low, and this can make it easier to do battle when you're only controlling one character.
Items are plentiful and the skill system, while a bit awkward at first, ends up working out just fine. There are plenty of side quests to get rare items or explore characters storylines. Just the main story of the game will take probably 50 hours, and if you want to do everything in the game it will take 100 hours at the very minimum, even for experienced RPG players.
The only downside is that going from area to area has a bit too long loading time. While this is not a big issue in fields and plains, having a town cut into a dozen areas that need loading before you enter them is a bit annoying. They should have taken a page from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and preloaded as you got near new areas. All the characters can gain the same skills, so you can basiccally make them all copies of each other, so one character is not better than the other in magic or certain types of weapons. Also, some of the final optional bosses are ridiculously hard and can take literally hours to defeat. The game designers intended this, because if you leave the fight and come back later, their health will not have regenerated, but I'm not sure why they thought anyone would want to spend hours upon hours fighting one boss.
Overall though, FFXII is arguably the greatest game in the series. The lack of any main character actually adds to the charm, as you explore the motivations and backstory for each character. You really feel attached to the characters and that makes for a great game. Definitely a must own & must beat game for anyone, not just RPG fans.