There are a couple things to say about this game. One, it is a complete masterpiece, but only in respect to certain things, and one of those things is graphics, gameplay, and fantasy elements. The story, however, takes a deep plunge, and deviates from the general drift of the series' storylines. However, even with the story taking a rather political stance than a primarily hero-versus-villain stance, and amalgamates the two together.
The story's background takes root in Ivalice, which is a common land for some Final Fantasy games such as Final Fantasy Tactics. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and Vagrant Story. However, little is actually displayed saliently in the game that connects the games together. The graphics may be considered the best of the PS2, having stylized 3D renders and models of characters throughout the entire game. The FMVs are movie quality, no less expected, and the scenery is a constant reminder of futuristic and medieval themes of the game, hence the title "Fantasy."
The gameplay takes a whole world of menus, sitting still in place, and sitting quietly waiting for an ATB gauge, and does away with most of it. Or at least the sitting still part. In this game, there is no such thing as having a character sit still and wait for you to command it. The game allows you to control the leader of your party, and with other party members, their commands are governed by "Gambits, " a useful system which allows one to customize a character's actions to suit a condition met. For example, if your Ally is at 30% HP or lower, you can set a gambit so that "Ally: HP
The gameplay is similar also in a way to FFXI, in which your characters run on a 3D world and actually attack the enemies in this 3D world, which is the most noticeable and trademark feature of FFXII that sets it apart from other Final Fantasies. The way that characters are developed directs the player's attention towards the "License grid" which allows a player to purchase skills, the ability to wear different equipment, and in every way enhance your characters by the use of "LP" or License Points attained through killing monsters.
The story in this game could use a bit more luster, however. The game makes a bit of a fall in appeal due to the lack of character development except in one or two certain characters, that is, Balthier and Fran. Vaan lacks development still, until FFXII: Revenant Wings, and other characters are plainly blank, for example, Penelo. Penelo is, as the game describes, "Vaan's friend." And that is pretty much her role throughout the story. The storyline itself is standard, if not worse, and resembles a medieval power struggle story a bit too much. It could use a little flair, or even a different execution altogether.
All in all, it is definitely worth the purchase, despite its flaws.