GregoPeck gives this an astounding "Must Play" on the Ghost Scale
This achieves something special, and it would be a shame to miss it.
GregoPeck gives this a "Must Play" on the Ghost Scale
This achieves something special, and it would be a shame to miss it.
Wow, I can’t believe how long it’s been since FF12 was released and it was on the PS2! Luckily, Square-Enix has decided to remaster some of those now “old” FF games, including FF12. This remaster is called Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. It’s a bit obvious, but I think the main part of this remaster is the visual upgrade. I was really disappointed with the original, in that it didn’t look so great, so I believe it most definitely needed this upgrade. It looks better now. Take a look at a comparison video and you’ll see how much better it is.

Be aware though, there are other ways in which this version differs from the original, though I didn’t look to see what they all are. However, I noticed in my Internet searches that some things or ways to get things have been changed or removed. So, if you’re playing and you’re looking for info about something, take notice that what you’re looking at applies to this version and not only the original. One example of this that I ran into was how to obtain Ribbons. Ribbons are an accessory, which makes the wearer “immune to status ailments” according to the wiki. These are rare and highly sought after. I wanted to get some, but it looked like they made some changes, so I wasn’t sure exactly which of the original ways to get them had been removed or changed. Ultimately, because of this, I decided not to spend too much time on it and I just skipped over that, even though it would have been beneficial in some side quests. I think I did see that you can use Cheat Engine (a good cheating program I’ve used in other games), but I didn’t bother with that.

In FF12, the combat system is not quite like other FF games before it. Instead of issuing commands for each character once an ATB fills up, characters will act on their own when they’re ready to act. Although, you can still switch between characters and chose an action for them to do, quite simply. This “Gambit” system allows you to select certain commands to occur on certain conditions. For instance, you could set one up that’s “Foe: lowest HP” and then set up the action to “Attack.” You could also use one that’s “Ally: Status KO” and set up the action to use “Phoenix Down” or you could set up another for the same, but have the action as “Rise” or “Arise.” The list of Gambits has a top-priority, so the lines closer to the top get executed first, as long as the condition applies, if not then the line below it is active, continuing until it finds a condition that applies. So, you’ll probably want all of your healing gambits at the top and your attack at the bottom, so you prioritize healing over attacking (it’s not good trying to attack if you’re KO’d). This may take some learning and getting used to, but once you accomplish that then it’s really not a bad system, it kind of “takes your hands off the steering wheel,” giving your characters some autonomy, even if you pre-selected actions. One thing that confused me at first was that there are different tabs where you can set up different gambits for different battles. Your characters will follow whatever page of gambits you leave it on, they don’t follow each tab, only one tab at a time, so you can create different custom gambit lists.

I love Ivalice! There are some major races, many of which are humanoid, but also like an animal. Humes are humans, as you could easily guess. I’ve never seen a male Viera, but according to the wiki, they do exist. Viera are kind of tall and skinny with very tall ears on top of their heads, which look like rabbit ears. I really love the Viera, one of the main characters in the game, Fran, is a Viera and I really love her. Nu mou have an interesting and canine-like description on the wiki. They are smaller than humes, but live three times as long. I didn’t see many of them, in fact I think the ones I did see were part of a side quest. You’ll see a lot more Bangaa, though. They have a lizard-like appearance. There are also Seeq, which look like pigs. They’re a bit shorter and stouter than humes. There are other races in the game, but these are the main ones. Oh and I can’t forget the Moogles! If you don’t know what Moogles are, you haven’t paid attention to Final Fantasy. They are still little, but now skinnier and they have rabbit-like ears, similar to the Viera, but smaller. They have a “red pom-pom” on top of their heads connected by a wire. Often in FF games, this is actually attached as a tail. They don’t talk much and you won’t see many of them there. They seem to be mostly engineers.

The “jobs” or “class” system is back. Some of these you can choose from are typical FF ones like White Mage, Black Mage, Red Battlemage, Time Mage, Archer, and Knight, but there are more. Each “job” is actually called a “license board.” You earn “license points” (LP) after a battle and you use these to activate a tile on a license board, which is called a “license.” These will give you an ability or a stat increase. This is how you become able to wear different armors, accessories, and use different weapons, magics, and skills. Each “job” uses a different weapon, there is one for Ninja Swords and another for Crossbows, just to name a couple. Each character can have two active license boards (or you can think of this as a dual-job). When you fill one up, you can activate a tile that will let you use another board, but you won’t lose the tiles you activated on the previous board. However, if you go talk to Montblanc, he can let you switch boards, but it will refund you all the LP you used and wipe everything clean. After doing, so you can select another board, fill it up, and select the second to fill up. So, you could actually have a character that’s a White and Black Mage. I changed my characters sometimes. I ended up with making everyone a White Mage first, because White Magic is the best (Arise, Esuna, Shell, Protect, etc.) and then something else. It’s really not a complicated thing and eventually you’ll have more LP than you can use. There are other skills you can learn called “Technicks.” Some of these skills include “Gil Toss” and “Steal.” Some of them are limited to certain “jobs”, so one Technick might only be available to a few different “jobs.” There are plenty of these, though I didn’t use many of them.

So, you need to active the “license” on a license board to be able to use a piece of armor, accessory, weapon, magic, technick, etc. But, you also have to find that armor, accessory, weapon, magic, technick, etc. to use. So, if you have a good sword you want to use, you’ll have to unlock it on the license board and it won’t be available to every job (Mages don’t wield swords, though you could have a White Mage/Knight combo to do so). Everything is scattered throughout the game and many of them are hidden.

I mentioned Montblanc, so I should mention clans. You get put in one automatically. Clans don’t necessarily matter, it’s what you can do in a clan. Basically, there are monsters that people want hunted, so they’ll post something on a board in a bar, for instance. You can see the posts, with limited information about the hunt. Once you’ve accepted it, you have to go speak with the person who posted it to get more details. The game will show you (on a map) where that person is, then where the monster is once the person gives you the info. These monsters are usually tougher than regular monsters. You may need to exercise some caution as some of them may be too difficult to deal with at first. After completion, you’ll have to return to the poster and get your reward. Doing these hunts will increase your clan rank. Each time you reach a new rank, Montblanc will give you a reward. You can also get rewards for defeating certain monsters or achieving other conditions. The higher your clan rank, the better things you can buy in the bazaar. I completed most of these, but not all of them.

There are a lot of things to do. As it goes with FF games, this one is also full of side quests. I don’t recall how many or which ones I completed when I first played this game all those years ago when it was released (I pre-ordered it and was even able to buy a FF12 shirt from a GameStop employee). In this play through, I made it to a point that I thought was a bit more difficult that I’d like, so I took some time away from the story to do some side quests. Eventually, I reached a point where I had to continue the story so that certain things were available. Once I returned to (and finished) the story, I found it much easier. Not long after, I reached the point of no return, which is pretty much exactly where you want to stop to do all of your side quests. The game will tell you when you’ve reached this point. So, the difficulty is like most other FF games where you just have to find better gear (including armor, weapons, magics, and abilities) and level up for things to get easier. You do earn experience points and thus levels, but I read something that said gear is more important than levels.

Oh, you might be familiar with “espers,” which is a term used in some other FF games that refers to large beings you can summon. In most games some forms of these are Bahamut and Shiva, however the only ways in which you’ll see many of those familiar summons is as an airship. However, there are others like them with similar abilities. You can summon them and they’ll fight along side the character that summoned them, the rest of your party isn’t there anymore. The esper will use it’s own abilities and you can use yours. However, your esper can get killed. If that happens, or you get killed in the fight, your esper will be “dismissed.” You’ll have some bars under your name, which shows how much power (not sure what it’s called) you have. If it’s full, you can summon an esper or use a “quickening,” if it’s empty, you have to wait. I think Ethers will restore this energy. Quickenings are pretty much what are usually called “limit breaks.” These are special large abilities characters use to attack a foe. Once one character starts using one, you’ll have a brief period of time to press a button next to a different character’s name, if successfully done, another character will do their quickening and you can try to select another character, until you miss or all the quickening/summoning bars are depleted.

I’ve now only played through FF12 twice, the first time with the original and this time. Getting back into it reminded me the two FF: Tactics games (the second was A2). Both are great games and I miss them very much, I wish they’d bring those to Steam (and consoles, I guess).

Oh and there are other, non-visual, enhancements. One of them allows you to increase the speed of the game. This could make traveling around, fighting monsters, or running away from them easier. I should also mention that random encounters aren't so random. You can see each enemy in your view on the screen or the mini-map. So, you can chose to attack or avoid whichever you want. There's no cut between starting a battle and being in it, it all happens in real-time, which is unlike some other FF games. If you defeat all the monsters in an area, usually you can get out of the zone and get back into it for them to respawn.

That might cover all the major things to talk about. Overall, I think if you like FF games, you’ll probably like this one. While it isn’t my favorite, it’s still pretty good. It does have it’s moments of “eh,” but I think overall it’s good. I definitely recommend checking this out, especially if you’re into FF games.

Let me know what you think about FF12 and this remaster. I wasn’t overly excited about it. I even hesitated to buy it for a while, but I found it at a good discount recently and got it. I didn’t think I’d enjoy playing it (again) as much as I did. Feel free to check out the embedded video for another positive review.

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