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Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

Posted by GG Goblin On July - 28 - 2017

The forgotten Final Fantasy.

To say that Final Fantasy XII was forgotten may be a slight exaggeration – perhaps ignored would be the better way to describe it. When Final Fantasy XII was released back in 2007, I had played and enjoyed most of the previous Final Fantasy games. But the word on the street (or someone told me) was that this latest version of Final Fantasy was different and thus should be shunned. It also didn’t help that the launch of the shiny new PS3 was just around the corner. And so, Final Fantasy XII was never added to my library.


But despite the big changes that differentiated this Final Fantasy from previous games in the series, there were plenty of gamers out there that thoroughly enjoyed Final Fantasy XII. It introduced a lot of new concepts that fans of the game would rave about. It also had its fair share of problems that some gamers just couldn’t look past. Some of these problems were addressed in an expanded edition of the game, but sadly that version only got released in Japan.

But that brings us to Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age on PS4. This remastered version of the game not only has visual improvements for its current gen outing, it also includes a number of improvements including the International Zodiac Job System from the Japan only release. Essentially, this makes Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age the best version of the game to be released so far.


But it doesn’t mean that the game is any less difficult to get into if you have never played it before. The story, revolving around Vaan and Ashe, along with a cast of other (sometimes more interesting) characters, a fallen empire and saving the day, is not the most involving, although I am sure that fans of the game will disagree. There are long periods spent without a whole lot going on in the story, making it a little tricky to invest in, and it just doesn’t feel as “special” as many of the more popular Final Fantasy games.

The original Final Fantasy XII used a license board where the player could use experience points to unlock abilities for their characters. However, the fact that all characters used the same license board meant that all characters could end up the same. This was changed with the Japan only updated game to include a selection of different license boards that applied to different jobs, and this system has come over to The Zodiac Age. Now players have to choose a job to start with, giving them access to skills and abilities tailored for that job. Further, characters are able to choose a second job later in the game enabling even more specialized roles.

The Gambit system of combat was perhaps one of the most dividing aspects of the original game, and it returns in The Zodiac Age along with extra options. Basically, this is a method whereby the player can quite complex commands to their characters to automate combat. These commands come in an “if-then” style, meaning you can command a character to heal any ally whose health drops below a certain threshold, for example. The system can be quite complex, but it works well and is great for those who want a more hands off feel to the combat. However, as a large part of the game revolves around the combat encounters, this does mean almost automating a large part of the game.


The Zodiac Age drops in a Trial Mode that offers battle after battle for players who want a break from the battles in game, with some great rewards. There is also the option in the main game to speed up the action, which makes light work of some of the more tedious wandering and grinding. There are other additions to the original game, such as the Game+ mode, but they don’t really make much difference to the overall experience.

What does make a difference is how good the game looks. Final Fantasy XII already looked pretty nice at launch as it came out towards the end of the PS2’s life and was able to push the console to its limits. For the HD remaster in The Zodiac Age, textures have been redone and frame rates beefed up. It’s still a PS2 game at heart, but now it looks so much more. The soundtrack has been remastered and sounds great. The original soundtrack is also available, but I can’t imagine any reason for choosing it over the remastered version.


Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is a very well done port of a divisive game. There is nothing here in the remastered version that will convince the naysayers to try the game out.However, for the long time fans, there are plenty of additions and tweaks that will make it worth playing again, and for those who never tried the game, this is simply the best version to play. It takes a little work to get into, but those who invest the time and effort will be rewarded with many hours of JRPG entertainment.




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