If there is one Final Fantasy title that has divided its fanbase, then it’s Final Fantasy XII. Originally released for the good ol’ PlayStation 2 in 2006, the game squeezed out the true capabilities of the aforementioned console’s graphical power, but split players due to its unique battle system and political storyline.
It was a Final Fantasy of a different flavour than previous instalments, that was for sure. But there is no denying that the game has its fair share of fans who regard it as one of the best JRPGs in existence. To such people, the upcoming HD remaster, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, will no doubt be a good excuse to crack out the gambits and Espers once again.
But to those who didn’t have a chance to experience it the first time around? Playing The Zodiac Age is a pastime you likely won’t regret. Thus, without further ado, let us count down the key reasons why you should be playing this in July when the game finally hits the shelves.
1) The Stunning In-game Universe
FFXII is set within the fictional world of Ivalice, which is where previous Square Enix titles such as the Final Fantasy Tactics games and Vagrant Story were set. In a similar way that Vagrant Story used the full power of the PS1, this game’s original release did the same with the PS2. Here, however, the visuals will be given a current-gen revamp, with the nooks and crannies of Ivalice looking sweeter than ever before. You will immerse yourself in a diverse and unique setting, from the Arabian-esque kingdom of Rabanastre to the wet and horrible Giza Plains to the relatively high-tech kingdom of Archadia. A world filled with anthropomorphic lizardfolk, rabbit-eared humanoids and high-tech airships (but public toilets haven’t been invented here yet, sorry!), your visit to Ivalice will unlikely to be one you forget in a hurry.
2) The Amount of Content
Final Fantasy XII has a stunning amount of content and will have you hooked well outside the bounds of its main storyline. No better is this demonstrated than with the game’s ‘Hunts’. These missions have you join up with a clan led by the lovable Moogle, Montblanc, where you will receive ‘hunts’ and are given a special ‘mark’ to kill. In return for killing these special monsters, you will be justly rewarded with spoils and also gradual increases in rank within your clan. Anyone who has played the original can vouch for how much time the Hunts – and other sidequests – take up. As the old saying goes, you’re getting a whole lot of bang for your buck here.
3) The Unique Battle System
FFXII really divided the fanbase with its battle system. Gone was the traditional turn-based mechanics of previous titles (well, except the MMO FFXI, of course) and in came a real-time experience. No separate battle screens here – enemies were dotted throughout the landscape and your team would draw their weapons upon contact. The interesting thing here though is the ‘Gambit’ mechanic which allows you to tinker with your team’s AI, controlling how they act in battle. Want Vaan to cast Cure on the team once they are all under 40% HP? You can do that. Want Ashe to use an antidote on allies who are poisoned? You can do that too, and much, much more. The Gambit system enables players to act strategically and make their party the way they want it to be. It adds a layer of depth and flexibility that is often absent in other JRPGs.
4) The Characters (Balthier)
If you ask a FFXII fan about their favourite characters from the game, Balthier is sure to pop up. The witty British-accented charmer is a Sky Pirate, the ‘Han Solo’ of the game’s story, if you will. Together, alongside his sparsely-worded Viera partner, Fran, they act as Vaan’s mentors early on in the game. But, where cutscenes are concerned, Balthier has some of the most memorable dialogue in FF history, often referring to himself as a ‘leading man’. While that claim is no doubt questionable, this charming sky pirate will be on your mind long after the game has ended. Yes, the other characters have their merits, from the ambitious teenager Vaan to the jaded, aging soldier, Basch, but Balthier will always be the leading man in the eyes of many players – even if the game denies him this honour.
5) A Remastered Soundtrack
Final Fantasy XII‘s soundtrack is truly underrated amongst the series’ long history of musical genius – and, much like the FFX re-release, it’s getting a remaster. Mostly composed by Final Fantasy Tactics composer, Hitoshi Sakimoto, the soundtrack manages to capture a unique atmosphere from the moments exploring the Dalmasca Estersunds to the epic Esper boss battles. Some favourite moments include the imperial majesty of the city of Rabanastre and the beautiful strings of the Ozmone Plains. If you thought that the original, synthesized music was underwhelming for a game of such high visual scope, then the new, fully orchestrated versions will more than make up for that. They will literally give Ivalice a whole new lease of life than ever before.
Will you be buying the remaster of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age? Let us know in the comments below!