Final Fantasy XII or 12 for those not familiar with Roman Numerals was the first time I was disappointed in the series. The game originally came out in March 2006, and the fanboy in me couldn’t wait to play it. At first, I was receptive to the changes, a build-your-own character archetype model, that allowed you to take the different characters down whatever path you wanted.
If you wanted to see the main character wielding a hammer and casting white magic you could. The problem for me with it was I made every character the same, all of my characters used shields and swords learned just enough magic to get themselves out of any situation, and could all heal and revive someone if they went down. Every fight was just a slow burn and not fun. Despite liking a lot of the characters and even liking the much maligned Vaan main character, I couldn’t bring my self to finish it. I tried three times, and couldn’t get past the first 40 hours of the game.
Well fast forward ten years and we get the remastered version Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, this newer version brings some massive changes to the original game as well as updated and smoothed out graphics. In the states, we never saw the release of the Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System so this new update sees a version of that system in place here.
Besides what you would expect out of a remaster, better graphics, smoother load times, maybe a new game plus. Square decided to change the very core of the games job system; these changes are fundamental in the way you play the game, no longer is the license board open for you to take your characters wherever you want. Now you select one of 12 jobs, corresponding to the 12 zodiac symbols.
This seemed like a change made for me. I hated the original make-your-own adventure style characters. I like to have a thief, a knight, or a monk in my Final Fantasy games and now the Zodiac Age allows you to do it in a sense. You start with picking a job for each character, and after some time you get to select another one of them, so each of the characters has two jobs. You could double up and make your knight even stronger with a class that supports what they do well, but the consensus seems to be it’s better to augment their weaknesses so you can use them no matter the situation.
Along with these changes, Square seemed to get the little things right. You spend a lot of time running around these broad areas, so they had a button that allows you to move at what seems to me double the speed. When you are backtracking through one of the major hubs, Rabanastre for the millionth time it’s nice to be able to cruise right through. The remaster sees changes to some of Final Fantasy 12’s more infamous features as well. No longer is one of the games most powerful weapons locked away if you mistakenly open up one of four chests throughout the world. They have also added a trial, so you can truly test your characters abilities. One small complaint I still have is the gambit system. The games way of ordering an ability through what boils down to an order of operations. This system feels dated after playing Final Fantasy 13 last year and the changes to once you discover an enemy’s weakness, casters will automatically cast whatever spell they are weak to. It feels inadequate to not have a catch-all gambit thats just elemental weakness=cast corresponding spell.
This little complaint is nothing to how wonderful this remaster truly is, and has me wondering if now Final Fantasy 12 is one of the more underrated titles in the franchise. Now instead of not having any fun with the game’s combat because every character was the same, now I wonder if I selected the right job for each of them. I wanted to experience every job the game had to offer and now regretting some of the choices I made makes wanting to replay this game again an even more exciting experience.