When Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age was released on the PS2 back in 2006 it quickly became my absolute favorite game. It had everything from weird creatures, sexy girls with rabbit ears on hover-bikes, fireworks, weddings and of course political intrigue and betrayal. They packed so much into the game, that half the time nothing made sense, but that was perfectly fine.
For the Longest time Square-Enix milked the fans by releasing their sure win Final Fantasy games on every platform possible. These were lazy ports with the same ancient graphics, just on a different platform, like iPhone, Android tablet… But they finally started to do HD releases and this became exciting. Sadly they stuck with their “safe games”, Final Fantasy X and Rehashes of the “Lightning” games which honestly, I’m sick of Lightning and her depressive shitty self. All the while Square is announcing remasters of old Games, Fans baited for Final Fantasy VII, all the while I just wanted XII to be given some needed love.
So Square finally announced Final Fantasy XII was getting remaster love. But it wasn’t some mega media event announcement, just some posts that got picked up by journalists tired of writing about Final Fantasy VII and XIII.
Why The love for Final Fantasy XII?
Final Fantasy XII marked the time when the series finally grew up. Sure it still revolves around the old coming of age trope. The adventures of a 17 year old boy aspiring to be an airship pirate. The unrequited love of his teen female friend. The coming of age and friendship changing to love. But there was a whole side of solid adult maturity. In the opening scene you are a forgettable character who helps the prince fight his way to the throne room, only for him to kill the king. Then he kills you. As your eyes close for the last time he too is killed as the Traitor he is. This triple betrayal paves the way for a deep, intricate and complex story.
Yeah things swing wild from serious to “WTF did I just watch?”. But this was the height of Japanese culture before they fell into the whole “mass appeal” thing, only to learn their mass appeal was their unique cultural ways.
I could write all day on my love for Final Fantasy XII, but I’ll spare the details for later writings as I relive the old experience anew. Currently, due to day job, career learning courses… I’m only 3 hours hours into the game. From what I’ve seen it’s a mixed bag.
The cutscenes and music is absolutely amazing. It really draws you in. I haven’t even bothered to listen to the “original score” because, why bother?
Voices are a little lacking. It must be tough to remaster old voice recordings. However the “talking through a mask” detail is still great today. You can tell the animations were completely synced to the Japanese actors and the English timing goes way off the mark when watching in English. I really miss out on a lot by not learning Japanese.
The world was amazingly detailed in it’s PS2 days. This has only gotten better in the PS4 era. Though Square opted not to “improve” upon the game when remastering it, they kept the mechanics mostly untouched. The small segmented zones as part of the larger regions could have been redone though as it introduces excessive load times (20 seconds times 1,000 is 5 hours wasted). I feel Square could have merged the zones for each geographic region. GTA has been doing zoneless games since the PS2, so the possibility is there.
Other things I noticed, especially in the sewers (I hate sewers) is that the textures were excessively repatative. This was very apparent in the vast open areas. It’s a nitpick and doesn’t detract from the value of the overall game.
I haven’t relived much of the game as of yet. The Gambit and jobs system is still foreign for now. Though I do remember spending hours programming character behaviors for the perfect bland of healer and damage dealers. There’s also a few enemies I never got around to defeating that are on my kill list for this round.
I’m excited more for this game than I am for any other Final Fantasy remaster. Even the “untouchable” Final Fantasy VII. To me, this is their second best game ever. As my favorites are XV, XII, X and VIII. Mature, complex story lines and well defined character classes/jobs are what I enjoy most.
Last night I spent a good 30 minutes trying to figure out my character class choice. Carefully reading and going through each one until deciding on the “Samurai” class. Phenelope of course will be the white mage/healer. It’s tough choices like this, with no chance to change. It’s the maturity and rich complexity of the storyline. It is the scenes that make no sense, but are there to break things up a little. It’s all the little things that add up making Final Fantasy XII one of my absolute favorites.