Revew: Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age was one of the most obvious choices for Square Enix to remaster after they’d released Final Fantasy X on the Playstation 3 several years ago.
The game is arguably where the franchise’s fans started to divide into two different camps: those who will continue to love the series from XII on and those who long for the days of the older titles (IX and back).
While I have been one of the former fans, I initially didn’t like XII. I thought that it was too different from what I was used to. At the time, I was enamored by insanely deep narratives and extended cut scenes of Xenosaga III, Tales of the Abyss, and Kingdom 2.
XII had a story but it wasn’t a personal one. Instead, we were introduced to Vaan who was more of the anti-Final Fantasy hero versus an actual Final Fantasy hero. Unlike previous protagonists, he didn’t play the biggest role in the game. He didn’t get as much development.
He, like us, was along for the ride. Heck, he even says that in a line of dialogue midway through the game. On top of this, the game featured the most open world style game play I had experienced and I didn’t like that.
I hated that I went out into Ivalice and got my ass handed to be after I ran up to the T-Rex looking monster and died. Freedom on the scale felt weird.
Oh my have things changed.
Now in 2017, I sat down the play XII, and I have to say, after so many years away from it, I totally love it. It’s even become one of my faves!
So why the change of heart? I think it’s because XII was before it’s time. Now almost every successful RPG is trying to outdo one another on map scale. Open world has become the norm.
XV is a perfect example of how Square Enix has had to change with the times and it was a super success. Even Dragon Age: Inquisition was the success and saw the series embrace a much more open world style.
So sitting down to play XII just felt like popping in a slightly dated but still very relevant game.
I played as Ashe for the most part, and had so much fun with the new Zodiac System, which was only in the international release of the game many years back.
This forces players to choose their roles preemptively. Much like Gambit system, there’s a lot of premeditation needed to be successful in moving forward. I spent up to thirty minutes, trying to put together what I considered to be the best tiro of Gambits that would keep my party alive.
Of course, you don’t have to be a control freak like myself, and can forego the major prepping, but that’s sense of freedom is what I love. Especially since I am admittedly a bit of a control freak when it comes to party set up, dynamics, etc.
XII scratched that itch for me so well.
Being older and now exposed to multiple story telling styles in video games, I found myself embracing XII’s mature, and sparse storytelling. I give Final Fantasy XIV a lot of credit for prepping me for my return to Ivalice.
It’s obvious that XIV is the grandchild of XII and XI, with it’s stronger focus on politics, world building, and it’s fantasy-meets-sci fi-meets-traditional-adventure-narrative style approach. Slipping into the shoes of Vaan and the others was so easy.
By the end, when the credits rolled and the Penelo concluded the story by giving us updates on the characters and the situation in Ivalice, I was crying, heaving, and felt a strong desire to jump back in.
Hearing the ending track “Kiss Me Good-bye” ripped my heart in two and the story had a perfect blend of sad and the happy as some things changed for the better, but at great cost.
Suffice to say, I’m totally ready for another play through. Maybe this time I’ll make Ashe an U’lan.