In town, characters you can talk to have little happy faces above their heads. Though most do, some don't; they're just there to add to the atmosphere, apparently. The city of Rabanastre, once you gain control of the main hero Vaan, is full of people to talk to and shops to explore, just as you'd expect from a capital city in a Final Fantasy game. The camera is assigned to the right stick, unlike previous FF games (though it's rather typical for RPGs) which gives you a good view in and out of town.
As you explore, an extremely helpful mini-map shows not only the layout of anywhere you might be, but any shops, exits, enemies and people you might be able to interact with. In fact, you can use it to avoid enemies in the sprawling, open outdoor environments of the game. Though we've only had a chance to explore a few of them so far, it seems that FFXII favors a wide-open vibe over the constricted paths of Final Fantasy X. That's not to say it's any freer than previous games, at least at the outset - it's just more wide-open and exploratory once you're on the right track, as far as the script is concerned.