Publisher/Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Platform: PlayStation 4
Making a great game even better.
If you ever talk to me about video games, it wouldn’t take long for you to learn that Final Fantasy is one of my favorite series. And while Final Fantasy XII isn’t my favorite game in the series, it ranks pretty highly.
Originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2006, Final Fantasy XII takes place in Ivalice, the same world from 1997’s Final Fantasy Tactics, though it takes place roughly a millennium prior to the events of that game. It tells the tale of a rather disparate group trying to restore a kingdom taken over by an empire, as well as trying to prevent a war that would destroy said kingdom. It’s kind of like they took Game of Thrones, removed all the rape, incest, and nudity, and threw it into a blender with Star Wars.
This version of the game doesn’t change too much from the original. Basically a port of a version that was only released in Japan, they enhanced the graphics a bit to work in HD, and re-recorded the game’s music. Gameplay remains more or less the same, with the combination turn-based/action system that mostly reminds me of Parasite Eve. The gambit system-which allows players to set it up so characters take certain actions under certain conditions automatically-remains in place.
The most interesting part for me, however, are the changes that they made to the license system.
See, the original release of the game has something called a license board. Alongside XP, characters can also earn license points (LP) which can then be spent on the license board to unlock new abilities, spells, or equipment for that character. It was basically their version of the sphere grid from Final Fantasy X. And like it’s predecessor, it came with a bit of a problem: since it all uses the same board, everyone eventually ends up with the same skills. The International Zodiac Job System version of the game fixes this by setting up 12 different license boards, each corresponding to a different class that characters could have. The Zodiac Age takes this a bit further, and allows you to choose two different license boards per character.
Honestly, this is my favorite change to the game, since that was a major complaint I had about the original. I really think that it was something that should have been in the game in the first place.
Something else that The Zodiac Age adds is Trial Mode, a mode outside of the regular game that was also in the International Zodiac Job System version. This mode is a 100-level gauntlet of battles, increasing in difficulty as you near the end which allows you to save every 10 levels. I’ve found that it’s actually a very effective method of farming for LP, and you receive rewards (usually money and items) every 10 battles that you can then transfer to the main game.
Most importantly, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this, they also fixed the wonky-ass shading on the main character’s abs, so he looks more like a person and less like a cheese grater with limbs.
All in all, this version of the game is something I would definitely recommend, both for people who have never played the game before and those who have. It really is an excellent story, and there’s enough new content here to keep veterans interested.