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    Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

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    Philippe Gloaguen
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    Final Fantasy XII had a troubled development. A game that could soon be released on Sony's new flagship, the Playstation 3 and which instead was directed to come out on Playstation 2, forcing the development team to more than a few compromises. For those who knew and played this title at the time, it still remains a game with excellent potential and for many fans also an important chapter for the entire saga. After several years here is that Final Fantasy XII returns to Playstation 4 and PC, in a guise not only revised on the technical side of the title but also on the gameplay side. The Zodiac Age is a version previously released only in the Land of the Rising Sun and which introduced several changes to the entire learning system. But let's see the innovations introduced by this new version and what the word The Zodiac Ag refers to and (for those wondering, no, it does not refer to the most famous Knights of the Zodiac).



    Final Fantasy XII is a JRPG with MMORG elements set in the land of Ivalice (land dear also to the Tactics spin-off titles). The continent of Ivalice is torn apart by the war between the two empires which comprise the majority of its territories. We talk about the empire of Arcadia, with which we will be confronted throughout the game, in the north and the empire of Rozarria in the south. At the expense of this war are the small kingdoms in the middle such as that of Dalmasca and the republic of Bujerba to the east. Indeed, the thirst for power of the Arcadia empire and the Solidor family (family that leads the Empire), leads to the submission of Dalmasca and the death of its sovereign King Raminas. Our story starts two years after the annexation of Dalmasca to Arcadia and leads us along a path of search for a mystical and ancient power capable of facing the military power of the hated empire and finally freeing Dalmasca from the yoke of its oppressors.



    From a plot point of view, nothing has changed from what we have seen in the past. Of course this is far from being a bad thing, as Final Fantasy XII offers characters who still today know how to make themselves interesting thanks to their charisma and their personal stories. The villains we have learned to hate remain well characterized and interesting even with the passage of time. Of course, the plot imperfections that betrayed the development problems of which Final Fantasy XII had been a victim also remain, but the solutions to fix these problems still prove satisfactory and sufficient. It seems like a trivial thing to say, but many more modern titles than this have run into the same type of error, without being able to solve everything as elegantly (paid DLC for two years in a row after release is not quite what it is. would define an elegant solution)

    Unlike the previous chapters of Final Fantasy, the clashes are no longer random but the monsters are actually located on the map and can be faced or avoided depending on the player's will. During the fight we will see lines that connect our characters to the enemies, which if red indicate who the enemy is targeting and if they are blue at who our ally is targeting. The shift system introduced by the tenth chapter also disappears and the ATB system is reintroduced (appropriately modified) which allows us to perform an action only after a certain time has passed after its selection (also due to the speed of our character). In battle we will always have three characters who will join three reserves, who will be able to replace the active members who are not subject to any action, more than the occasional "guests" who will occasionally join as the fourth temporary member of the party.



    The Gambit system intervenes to simplify the management of the characters participating in the clashes. The Gambit has been specially designed for Final Fantasy XII and allows you to set an action that the character must perform, together with the condition that must be verified to implement this action. An example could be: “ally with HP <40%” - → Energy ”. This Gambit allows a character to cast the Energy spell on an ally with HP below 40%. Thanks to the enormous number of conditions (obtainable from some trunks or purchased in special shops) and executable actions (practically all those that can be selected manually) the system is very varied and allows a vast number of combinations to be tried according to the player's needs, facilitating many clashes.

    So far the two versions of Final Fantasy XII are the same, now the real changes arrive. The changes introduced to the learning system, known as the Zodiac Job System, greatly change what was the original progression structure. To allow our warriors to use a technique, a spell, equip a weapon or armor, we will not only have to buy it in the store, but we will also need to purchase the license for the character we want to use it (if it is a technique or a spell just buy it once and anyone with the license can use it) and to do so it is possible to use the appropriate license points obtained after each fight (in fact the experience and leveling up will only increase our statistics).

    One of the biggest changes in The Zodiac Age lies in the modernization of the licensing system. Although the general functioning is identical between the two versions, in the PlayStation 2 game all the characters had the same license tables, while in The Zodiac Age each character must be assigned a job (linked to one of the twelve zodiac signs and not editable once assigned) with its own license table, which is almost entirely different from that of the other jobs. The first job, after a certain point in the story, can also be combined with a second job with which it is possible to either specialize a character towards a certain role or balance his weaknesses.



    This change goes to solve what was one of the problems of the original title. In the first FF XII it was in fact possible to get to the endgame with all the license tables completed, thus allowing each character to fill any role and carry out any action, in spite of his statistics and his aptitudes (in fact, specialize a character according to his characteristics was almost a finesse for experienced players).

    The substantial change in the character development system has also brought about another, in my opinion due: a substantial distortion of the points in which certain equipment or spells can be found, anticipating them all, so as not to disadvantage any class if chosen to the beginning of the adventure. Also noteworthy is a considerable change in the loot in the chests with a substantial increase in the important treasures that can be found for the map, making the exploration much more satisfying than in the past.

    All this series of changes manages to give new life to the gameplay of Final Fantasy XII which, although with some flaws, was very solid in itself. Assigning jobs to your characters for the first time is by no means a simple decision, even for the most experienced players, as the combinations are numerous and their synergy with the statistics of each character introduces an additional level of not uninteresting tactical challenge. , but once that task is done, the difficulty level suffers a certain decline. Several times during the story it will happen to find yourself in points that, if before they were difficult despite the party being leveled properly, now they are much simpler. This is also due to that change in loot and merchandise in stores that makes tools available previously obtainable only as the plot progresses (I personally found accessories to double the experience in one of the first areas of the game, while in the version original was only available towards the end of the adventure).

    Even if these changes, as mentioned previously, are due to balancing reasons, it would have been appropriate to adjust with them the difficulty of certain opponents of the story to equate them with the new system, not leaving the most difficult challenges only for the end.

    The gameplay wasn't the only one to undergo changes. The audio and graphics sectors have also been retouched making the title better from a technical point of view. Certainly no miracles have been worked, but a fairly successful cleaning of textures and models is visible. The arrangements of the original songs are also pleasant, offering a soundtrack that fully respects the excellent source material without promoting any new sounds.

     

    USEFUL INFO

    Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age not only offers a restoration of the technical sector of the title, but an entire new progression system, called the Zodiac Job System, the first exclusive prerogative of a second version of Final Fantasy XII, also called The Zodiac Age , released only in Japan. This remaster is out for PS4 and PC. The tested version is the one for standard Playstation 4.

    Duration
    • The overall duration of the title is between 40 and 45 hours, without considering all the optional bosses offered by the hunting missions and the bosses of the summons, which are not few and are not easy to deal with.
    Structure
    • In addition to the main story, there is also a new challenge mode where you can use your campaign party to face challenges of increasing difficulty.
    Collectibles and Extras
    • In terms of collectibles, the game is rather meager, but the challenge of finding all the strongest equipment for each job is certainly one that takes a lot of time and energy.
    Game Card
    • Game Name: Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
    • Release date: February 1 2018
    • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
    • Dubbing language: English, Japanese
    • Texts language: Italian

    In conclusion Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is a great remaster of a title that still has a lot to say. Although the changes to the licensing system were necessary to give that extra touch that was missing from the gameplay of the original title, it would have been appropriate to better manage the overall degree of difficulty of the title, now much lower than the original throughout the duration of the main campaign. The technical sector is also good, now much more fluid to look at and listen to. Also thanks to a story and characters, who deserve much more than the means they were originally given to tell about themselves, it is recommended both for lovers of the original version and for those who are approaching the title for the first time.

    Videogamingallday.com review
    Graphics

    Although the graphics have not changed much from that of the original title, there is still some cleaning work on the textures and models that makes the graphic sector as a whole more appreciable.

    75
    SOUNDTRACK AND DOUBLE ROOM

    A great job of rearranging the soundtrack has been done. Total respect for the sounds of the original songs, even if you could have dared more. However, the new songs have nothing to envy to their older versions. The dubbing even with the passage of time remains one of the best I've ever heard in a Final Fantasy and with a cleaner and less compressed audio the work done is also more appreciable.

    85
    GAMEPLAY

    The new twist offered by the Zodiac Job System implemented in this remaster is interesting, which gives the game a new layer of complexity in the gameplay and pushes the player to experiment and develop their party in a more tactical way than in the past. Unfortunately, some side choices that accompany this novelty have lowered the general difficulty level of the title.

    80
    Total Rating scale
    82
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