I played through Final Fantasy XII many, many times back on the PS2. It’s one of my favourite Final Fantasy games, and I was so excited when I heard about the remaster by RPG giant Square Enix. Even more so to finally play it again with HD graphics and a new dedicated class system. So with my Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age review, I had high hopes for the update.
Which is the best Final Fantasy game is a hot debate between us fans. FFXII received mixed reviews and feelings when it came out originally, with many strongly disliking the hugely different combat system. Others not really feeling the story and some just plainly hating the lead character Vaan (#LeaveVaanAlone!).
Although my personal favourite is Final Fantasy X, FFXII probably comes in a close second. If FFX wasn’t my first Final Fantasy and if I didn’t connect to the characters so much, 12 would probably be my number one. And it’s totally NOT because I’m in love with Fran, honestly… Well, maybe.
I’ve been really looking forward to reviewing this game, so without further ado, I present to you my thoughts and feelings on Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age! But, as you read think on this for me… Which is YOUR favourite Final Fantasy? Let me below the article in the Disqus or Facebook Comments. And don’t forget to Share This with your gamer friends to spread the word!
Look and Feel – “I play the leading man, who else?”
Final Fantasy XII looks exactly how I remember it from the PS2 days. That is until I watch a comparison video and realised the depth of improvement. The faces in particular stand out The graphics have been upscaled to 1080p which brings out truly how beautiful and almost rustic the art style is. You can actually see the details and characters faces now in all their glory.
There are also some graphical changes from the original release, albeit minor ones. Gone are Vaan’s weird painted-on abs, and are replaced with more realistic looking abs more befitting a 17-year old.
The environments too also pop with newfound detail. Sure they’ve been upscaled and made to look better, but they do still really hold up. The magic is still there, and I found myself staring in awe all over again at the places I visited during the game.
The music has also been recreated for the remaster too, and it sounds just as beautiful as it did in the original. It sounds different enough that it feels new again, but still familiar enough that I was humming every song. You have the option to choose the original music of course, but I highly recommend setting the option to the re-orchestrated music. There is even the OST if you have the limited Steelbook edition, as that features this, along with some brand new extra tracks.
Story and Gameplay – “I’m Captain Basch fon Rosenburg of Dalmasca!”
The story is no different to the original, but for those who missed it, I’ll sum it up. Two countries, Rozarria and Archadia, are at war, and caught in the middle of this war is the small country of Dalmasca.
Things happen in the beginning which I’m not going to spoil for those who didn’t play it the first time, as they are a huge part of the overall plot. You play as a street urchin named Vaan in the city of Rabanastre in Dalmasa.
In the world, you can freely switch and run around as any character you prefer (*cough Fran cough* except in towns and cities, which you are forced to play as Vaan.
Now onto the biggest and most important change: The Zodiac Job System. In the original release, every character had the same license board. They all started in different areas of the board with different weapons, armour and skills unlocked. But as you progressed and filled out each characters board, they started to merge and become the same.Everyone could wield guns and staves, black and white magic, etc.
The Zodiac Job System changes that COMPLETELY, and instead of sharing the same license board, every character can now have their own dedicated class with their own dedicated board.
Once a character joins your party (as a proper member and not as a guest), you have the ability to choose whatever class you want them to be. You can’t change it after you’ve picked one though, so choose wisely.
Some party members have higher stats in certain things than others, and if you’re into maximizing and taking full advantage of numbers then there are lots of character/class combinations that people have posted to get full use out of them. Otherwise, the differences are minimal, and you can choose anything you want for anyone.
You can have multiple characters as the same class, but having them all different is part of the fun. Once you’ve reached a certain point in the story, you can assign a second class, meaning that it is possible to be using all 12 classes.
Nothing locks you out of other classes either, so if you want your white mage to also be a black mage, nothing is stopping you. When you’ve filled out a lot of everyone’s boards, they really do feel different. Some can wear armour that others can’t, and buying weapons isn’t a case of ‘buy six of the strongest one and give it to everyone’ anymore.
The Zodiac Age has also added a new ‘Trial Mode’, which pits you against monster after monster whose levels gradually increase and it gets harder. Not much else to say about this, other than it’s actually really fun and a good way to level up.
The Zodiac Age has not only made FFXII relevant once again, it’s made the gameplay feel fresh again. Now I actually have to swap in my white mage for heals instead of using whoever is in my party at the time.
It’s made playing the game exciting again, and probably more so than it was in the original. I’m so happy that more people will be able to experience this gem, and at its best and most beautiful.
I’ll probably be playing through this one countless times as well, as the Zodiac Job System has upped the replay value tremendously, and I’ll want to see what it’s like equipping characters differently.