Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
I never played this when it first came out. To be honest, I was starting to move away from Square by the end of the PS1 era of their RPGs. And their new ones on the PS2 never really grabbed my attention. I grew up with and loved some of their classic games, like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, but as the years went on, Square seemed to move further and further away from the kind of game development that caused me to fall in love with them in the first place.
After seeing some pretty good reviews for Final Fantasy XII online and the reviews on here, I decided to give it a chance and see how it held up. Visually it is a beautiful game and Sqaure did a good job remastering the graphics of the game. For all intents and purposes, their OST for the game is fine too. It’s not going to blow anyone’s mind, but the music is “good enough”.
That’s about all the good stuff I have to say about this game, unfortunately.
The writing feels half hearted, it’s another basic story they have going on, that has been retold since they started doing RPGs in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Character behavior is weird, a lot of times someone will do something, without really ever being able to justify it.
Vaan, one of the main characters is basically an orphan and lives off the streets, stealing from people and working odd jobs for friends. At some point he gets it into his head to break into the royal palace, bypass a ton of security and steal “something” from the palace. He doesn’t even know what it is he’s looking for, he’s just looking for something, anything to steal. It makes no sense.
Speaking of characters, none of them are likeable in any capacity. For me, they were all just kind of there. All of them have about as much character and depth as a puddle of rain water and show about as much. They are just talking heads, there to drive the narrative forward, unfortunately they fail to grab my attention in any sort of meaningful way.
It’s nice that Sqaure introduced a system to play the game, without having to worry much about the actual mechnics, they have a normal, easy and hardmode you can start off with. And easy mode, (new game plus) starts you off with characters all at level 90. This would actually be more impressive if Final Fantasy XII were a game you could enjoy just for the narrative, but it’s not. Starting off in new game plus is just going to make the game that much more boring.
XII has a basic concept of a leveling system in place, which has been a standard since Final Fantasy 1. The issue is they keep fouling it up by trying to get fancy or “unique” with how it’s all handled. Their job system is like a poor mix of Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy X and it’s completely garbage. What’s the point of even having a job system if you are going to lock players into one or two roles?
The combat is just a mess. It’s like a mix of the classic Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy 10 and Final Fantasy Online. All the fights are bascially “live”, but still has a weird turned base feeling to it. Other party members will run around and do whatever based on their “gambit” system. You can also command each party member, but to be completely honest, the whole thing is such a mess, it’s so chaotic, it’s just easier and less frustrating to let the computer do what it wants to do.
I’m pushing to play the game right now, just so I can justify the money spent on this title, but there’s no way I could recommend it to anyone, especially at the current asking price.