Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age! (FFXII Remastered)
During a recent discussion with a friend, I found out that Square Enix will be doing a remaster on Final Fantasy XII, A game that in my opinion is one of the most underrated instalments of the Final Fantasy series.
Final Fantasy XII was released for the PlayStation 2 in March 2006, just one month before the PlayStation 3’s launch in Europe! Although the game was given generally good reviews overall, it was very quickly forgotten about amidst the excitement from the release of Sony‘s new console.
Brief Story Intro
The game is set in the fictional world of Ivalice between the nations of Nabradia, Dalmasca and Arcadia. Starting in Rabanastre, the capital city of Dalmasca. Princess Ashe of Dalmasca and Prince Rasler of Nabradia have just wed to join their two nations.
Later, amidst an invasion from the Arcadian Empire, Prince Rasler is killed in battle and the Nabradian capital city of Nabudis is destroyed. The King of Dalmasca decides that he is willing to surrender to the Arcadian empire but is assassinated upon signing the treaty. A man by the name of Marquis Ondore IV announces that the King was killed by a respectable captain in the Dalmascan army, Captain Basch, and that Princess Ashe has committed suicide in the grief of losing her father and her husband.
You are Vaan, a street urchin living in Rabanastre who dreams of one day escaping and becoming a sky pirate. Vaan despises the empire that has invaded his homeland and therefore seeks to rebel against them in any way possible no matter how small an effect it may have; one example of this would be thieving items from the city guards. Amidst a festival to welcome the Emperor’s son, Vayne Solidor to Dalmasca, Vaan plots to steal from the city’s palace to take back “what truly belongs to Dalmasca”, and from there the story unfolds…
What does this remaster include?
Much like the remaster of Final Fantasy X/X-2 released back in March 2014, the main modification will be the graphics being remastered in high definition, however there will also be other additions such as:
- New Zodiac levelling/job system – 12 boards that allow you to customise each character’s job class e.g. Samurai, Black Mage, White Mage, Knight, Archer etc.
- Trial mode feature allowing the player to take on large amounts of monsters and enemies in consecutive battles.
- Speed mode – A feature allowing the player to speed up battles to make grinding less tedious.
- 7.1 surround sound & newly recorded background music to suit the current generation of sound production.
- PlayStation 4 trophy support, auto-save function & shortened loading times.
- Guest characters and summoned beings known as Espers will also be available to control as long as they are in your party.
Was the PlayStation 2 version a good game And will the remaster be worth purchasing?
Personally, I really enjoyed the game when originally released on the PlayStation 2; I liked that Square Enix clearly wanted to try a new style of gameplay for this instalment of the Final Fantasy series. In the game, a new combat system called the Gambit system was introduced, the story was well crafted, you were sucked in whenever things got heated, and the world it was set in felt large and beautiful. Ivalice offered many locations for your characters to explore and many secrets to uncover such as side quests, hidden Espers, weapons and equipment.
Battles and the Gambit system
All battles in Final Fantasy XII are active time based, which means the characters don’t act on a turn ratio of 1:1, but instead as determined by their own respective charge times. An ATB gauge fills up over time and once filled, that unit may act by either attacking or casting spells; taking one of these actions then causes the gauge to empty and the cycle repeats itself until the battle ends.
During a battle, enemies and monsters have their own ATB gauges which cannot be seen by the player but fills and empty in the same way as the player’s gauge. This gives the game a much more “in the moment” feel as enemies are constantly fighting to defeat you in a timely manner as opposed to in a turn-based system where the characters and enemies each get a turn to attack, or cast spells which gives the game much more of a static, board game feel.
The Gambit system was introduced in relation to this type of battle system, and allows you to set various commands for each of the characters in the player’s party. The character will then perform these commands upon a prerequisite game state occuring.
For example:- A Gambit has been set for Penelo that when an ally character’s health is below 70%, Penelo will cast the spell Cure on that character, and will continue to cast cure on any ally character upon their health falling below 70% as long as this gambit is switched on.
This system made fighting with multiple characters simple as you could set a rotation of commands for each character in your party depending on the state of the battle; while your attacks and commands were controlled by the Gambit system, the battles were in real time which meant that you could move your characters around the battleground as they fought.
You are also saved from repeatedly pressing the ‘X’ button to give your characters commands however, if needed, You can still input singular commands to manually override the gambit that is set at the time. Also, if at some point you feel the battle is slipping out of victory’s reach, you can simply hold ‘R2’ to make your party flee.
The reason I have spoken in some detail about this combat system is that it was one of the main things that people who played the game split into two camps over whether the game was actually good or not.
Those who thought the system was bad described the Gambit system as making the game “play itself” and say that the game may as well have been made into a film as a lot of the time you could just watch your characters fight and the decisions are made automatically.
In my opinion, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age will absolutely be worth purchasing; the game was very good when it was originally released on the PlayStation 2 and after Square Enix’s great success with release of the Final Fantasy X/ X-2 Remaster, I think that its new release onto the PlayStation 4 platform will give this game a second shot at standing out to many keen RPG players that missed out the first time around. I think that the stigma surrounding the Gambit/combat system represent an argument that can only be solved by your own opinion, as each individual will have their own thoughts on the matter.
One last thing, towards the start of the game in the Dalmasca Estersands, you will go on a hunt for the infamous Rogue Tomato! During this daring quest, you will most likely come across a large, friendly T-Rex-like creature and you may even get the urge to test your skills in battle against this foe! Go for it! You can totally do it! I believe in you!
Thanks for reading! and I hope you have enjoyed the article! Are you looking forward to this game/did you play its previous version on the PlayStation 2?
If so, then I would love to hear your reasons and what it is that you are looking forward to in the comments section below!