Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Review
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is a remaster of the International version of Final Fantasy XII that the United States never saw. Are the changes enough to warrant this remaster, or should this game have stayed a memory? Check out our Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Review and make your choice.
Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age Honest Game Review
The story of Final Fantasy XII is nothing new. Two nations are at war, and the tiny nation of Dalmasca is caught in the crossfire. Though you set out to protect the king as he signs a peace treaty between Dalmasca and Arcadia, he ends up dead when you arrive. You are lead to believe you were betrayed by one of the king’s loyal knights. The character you are playing as is killed, and you switch over to his younger brother Vaan. Living in the capital of Dalmasca, Rabanastre, this area has been taken over by Arcadia. This is where the game begins in earnest, as Vaan gets caught up in a fight between the Rebel army and the Arcadia Empire. Playtime will vary, but you can easily get more than 60 hours out of the game.
Final Fantasy XII’s combat is a little different when compared to other entries in the series. It wasn’t turn based, but more active, and all units are found on the map. This means you can fight a lot more units at once and grind much more quickly, which is important due to the license board for each character. It also meant you could cast buffs on yourself before a fight instead of having to do it in the heat of battle. The license board is how one grows a character. As you kill more enemies, you get LP, which is used to gain new skills, higher stats, and the chance to use new equipment. Each character earns LP for every kill they get, assuming they are not dead. This means that characters don’t get left behind, even if they are not used in combat. The board did change a bit in The Zodiac Age, along with a few other things.
The Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age brings a few new improvements from the base game of Final Fantasy XII. The graphics are noticeably better, but the sound track has been completely re-recorded as well and shines through. Two other huge changes are the fast forward button and the class system. The fast forward button lets you travel throughout the world at two to four times the speed, making the game go at a much quicker pace. The class system is the big change that old school fans will notice. Before you had a license board chosen for you, and you fill it out for each character. Now you pick a class for each character and they get the license board based on that class. This allows you to build up your party how you want, whether it be one of mages, warriors, or ranged attackers. As you progress, you unlock a second class for each character as well, allowing for some ridiculous combinations that could make your characters unbeatable.
Another thing added to this remaster is the Trial Mode. This is basically an endless fight that you can do for up to 50 waves. You bring in your characters from the base game and they earn LP and XP, as well as anything else you find during the trials. If you manage to beat 10 of these in a row and beat the boss on the last stage, you get bonus loot and gil to bring with you back to the real game. This and Hunts are the two main side activities. Hunts are just as they sound, which have you go out and hunt a beast. As you hunt more, you increase your Hunter rank and get more equipment as a result. These start off easy enough, but as you progress there are some extremely hard fights you will go through. Completionist are going to have a heck of a time getting through both of these.
The last thing I want to hit on is the Gambit system. The Gambit system in the original title is something that should be in any RPG, where you have multiple characters fighting at once. The Gambit system allows you to set up your characters to do what you want automatically without having to worry about selecting them. There are a ton of Gambits to choose from, and you can customize your teammates to almost anything you want. Heal at % of HP, buff at a certain time, use black magic on certain enemies, revive a teammate, and curing status ailments are just a few of the choices you have. This allows you to focus solely on your character, or no characters if you want to set your character up as well. You can literally just move and let the AI handle most of the fights with the Gambit system. I have no idea why this idea went away after Final Fantasy XII, but it really should be brought back.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age shows what remasters should be all about. The improved visuals and audio, along with the tweaks made to the gameplay, make the game much more enjoyable. Any fan of Final Fantasy or JRPGs in general can’t go wrong with this title.