Sunday, July 23, 2017

Mother Gamer Plays Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age

I remember playing Final Fantasy XII on the Playstation 2 when it came out and while there were one or two frustrating moments for me, I liked it a lot because I liked the story and I liked the characters. My favorite of course was the sky pirate Balthier voiced by Gideon Emery.

I was pretty excited for Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age because it was the game remastered with some new things added in. So what is different? Those who played the original like myself will recall the game had an unbalanced difficulty spike. You could see the enemies on the map so it was a real time battle instance and that took some players by surprise and took some getting used to. The battle system has been overhauled. It's still real time battle, but the balance is a bit easier so you can do what you're meant to do which is enjoy the game.

There is a trial mode for those who want a hardcore challenge. It's best to wait until you have a full part, but once you do you can give it a try. The game will ask you which save you want to use and then you can go nuts in a series of 100 arena battles pitted against fixed opponents and optional ones. Be warned however, it is best to be fully prepared before you attempt trial mode. There are no shops or breaks, so it's best to make sure you have all the healing items you need and plan your strategy accordingly. If you survive trial mode the rewards are worth it. While you don't earn experience points from it, you do get license points which are needed for unlocking gear and skills as well as getting to keep any treasures you find.

There is a high speed mode in the game. With the push of a button you can move your characters faster. There are also better guides in the game so you don't get lost with the quests highlighted. There is also an autosave feature in the game which comes in handy for boss battles.

The job system has been updated. In the original game, there was a license board and they were basically all the same for each character so they ended up essentially being the same which was a bit boring. That has changed with the updated job system. Now each character has their own board depending on the job you choose for them. Jobs range from Machinist to Knight to Red Mage.

Those are all the new things and they work, making the game more enjoyable and user friendly to those who have never played the game before. It's a nice change and it modernizes Final Fantasy XII in a good way.

As for the game itself. I found myself smiling at the nostalgia of it as I started playing as the main character Vaan and exploring the world of Ivalice. The colors in the game seem brighter somehow and the remastered music is beautiful. I actually sat there for a few minutes just listening to the music because they did such an amazing job with it.

Vaan exploring the city of Rabanastre.

The story is still the same of course and being able to pull up the map with the push of a button so I could see where I was going was nice because in a big city like Rabanastre it's easy to get turned around. The map will also mark on the spot where to go for your main story quest which is quite helpful. Just exploring can be fun in itself because there's so many interesting things to see in each area.

Final Fantasy XII also has one of my favorite Final Fantasy things, Moogles. There are Moogles everywhere and the design for them in this game is adorable. There are Moogles who you can rent chocobos from and there are even Moogles who can teleport you to anywhere in the city and they call it Moogling. I know. It's so stinking cute. I loved it and I enjoyed the fact that no two Moogles were alike. They were all different in their styles, color of their poms, and personalities. 

A Moogle who rents chocobos.

Besides the main quests, there are side quests you can do. There are also special hunts you can do via a special board in a tavern. Once you accept the hunt, you can get information about it and then go look for the monster you're supposed to defeat. Your adventuring primer can give you clues on where to find your target. Once you have completed the hunt, you can return to the NPC who hired you and get your reward usually in the form of gil and useful items.

Successfully completing a hunt. 

There are elite hunts too which you can get from the Clan Hall in Rabanastre from an adorable Moogle named Montblanc. These are more challenging, but the rewards from them are pretty great. As you go up in rank from these elite hunts, the more you'll unlock. Definitely be prepared while doing these especially in regards to making sure your party is leveled enough to take on an elite hunt.

Getting an elite hunt from Montblanc.

The areas you explore for the main story quests are interesting although some of them are a little dark like the Rabanastre sewers. The battle system works really well considering the updated changes. You can only have four in a party, but you can have three members in reserve so if one gets KO'd you can swap a party member in. The gambit function which can be used to program the other characters in your party on how they attack or heal can be turned on or off depending on what you prefer. It does come in handy when you're level grinding or handling a boss battle. As you progress, you can unlock more gambit slots so that you can add more commands making your party as streamlined as you like to your tastes and fighting style.

The gambit function is pretty useful for me. 

There are a couple of things that I'm not so thrilled with in Final Fantasy XII and that is the license board and not being able to change jobs freely. In order to be able to use certain spells, gear, (yes gear) and items you have to earn license points and then unlock them via the license board. This can be a little tedious and frustrating. It's not a huge deal, but it detracts from the enjoyment of the game a bit. With the job system you can only change jobs twice; at the beginning of the story and then a third of the way through the game. For example if one character is a Knight, when you get to the second point of choosing another job you can switch to another job like Black Mage. Those are the only times you can do it so you need to plan and really think about which job you want for everyone and how you want your party set up to be. I do wish you could switch freely, but again it's not a big deal.

The license board unlocks gear, spells, and items.

The story itself is good although some of the lines are a bit corny. The characters are interesting and there are some interesting villains too. The game is beautiful, perhaps more so with the remaster. There's all kinds of things to see and do with the main quests, side quests, and hunts. Most importantly, the game is a lot of fun to play. Veteran players like myself will relish in the nostalgia and appreciate all the new things in it while newbies will enjoy exploring and discovering all the great things Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age has to offer.

Exploring all the things!

*Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age is playable on the following platforms: Playstation 4

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