Final Fantasy XII : The Zodiac Age


#1

I figured I’d do a thread in order to discuss about the upcoming release of the remaster version!

Art by original FF12 art director Isamu Kamikokuryô

Here is a comprehensive list of the additions of this remaster but to make things short :

  • A job system is put in place, and you can now choose two jobs for each character
  • You can now control espers and they have been buffed in order to be more useful
  • Quickenings (Limit break equivalent) have their own gauge and doesn’t fully deplete MP now
  • You can speed up the game to double or quadruple speed in order to skip long walks or grinding
  • Voices aren’t compressed anymore and there is dual audio between English and Japanese
  • Brand new rearranged soundtrack with a live orchestra, making a huge change to its quality
  • You can finally invert the Y and X axis (the biggest change !)

Release date : July 11, 2017
Platform : PS4

Some gameplay of the beginning :


Some ramblings from me about what to expect from the game :

[details=What makes it beginner friendly]

  • Extensive tutorials are available as you play
  • Mechanics are progressively brought into the mix instead of dumping everything
  • You can use the flee button to escape every kind of fight, most enemies cannot keep up with you
  • Auto-save mechanic are effective at alleviating game overs
  • Cure spells are now party-wide, making it easier to survive in the wilderness and prevents generating too much enmity
  • Speed-up system allowing you to grind fast enough
  • Exploits are still there ! The zone-out glitch is still present to gain a lot of experience early but not recommended unless you really can’t get past the difficulty curve
  • The game is generally easier than the vanilla version because jobs makes it MUCH easier to access the best licences as the board is much smaller as a result
  • Chests are not as random as they used to be, no zodiac spear shenanigans
  • You cannot die as long as you have one character alive, even in the reserve !
  • The game allows you to pause when inputting menu actions if you want a more classic experience
  • Target lines are there[/details]

[details=Things that are less easy to grasp]

  • The world of Ivalice is big, it’s easy to get lost
  • Levels of enemies are not communicated unless equipped with a certain skill, only a color code tells you if the enemy in front of you is dangerous (red being much higher-leveled than you)
  • Dungeons are long ! They are often at least a 1 hour journey, auto-save makes it much easier but it is always good to stock up
  • Journeys are even longer, some treks can take as far as 3 hours to go through, it’s a huge game ! This is one of the big reason you should value mages in your setup, they are very crucial in this Final Fantasy
  • Enemies doesn’t give any money ! They give loot, and you have to sell them to a merchant. Even then, money is scarce.
  • This game will always bring a mechanic that will make things harder for you, it is set up so that you are always on your toes and not blindly relying on gambits.
  • If you are engrossed by the story, it’s very easy to spend hours doing side content and coming back to lose the thread, there are very few missable content in the game so staying on track is a valid option
  • The game will never push you to specialize your party setup so you can miss a lot on the depth of the game[/details]

[details=A bunch of tips]
The job system locks you into specific skills you have to unlock and only a handful of weapons you are allowed to wear. The game doesn’t tell you this, and you don’t exactly have to know this but your weapon is crucial. Every type of weapon has a different set of statistics and effects that can radically change the way you play.

The damage of a weapon is always calculated with a statistic of your character : most likely strength, but it can be magic or speed and you also have to take into account that they can have effects like bypassing the defense of an enemy. A weapon type can have a really bad attack value but bypassing defense makes it much stronger. The weapon also affects the speed of the ATB gauge, a dagger is much faster than a gun but deals less damage. There is also a combo rate, a weapon type can be more or less likely to deal combos, which can deal up to 8 hits in one attack !

Let’s see how it plays out :

  • A 1-handed sword is based on strength and has a medium charge time and combo rate
  • Guns are the slowest but are impossible to dodge or parry and bypasses defense entirely, meaning only the attack of your gun and your bullets (they can have different effects) are taken into account !
  • Bows are faster and also takes your speed into account but the accuracy is affected by weather
  • A hammer is based on strength and vitality favoring tanks but the damage range is high, meaning you can hit 30hp like you can hit 300hp.
  • Staves are inconsequential as a weapon but boosts elemental spells. A flame staff can add a boost to fire spells, and the weather can also boost it even further !

This means that if I make a character that is very fast, the use of a Ninja sword is my best bet as they are fast and take speed into account, they also have a good combo rate. If I have a time mage casting haste, the character is pretty much a gatling, but ninja swords are hard to come by and are largely ineffective against undeads as most of them are of dark elemental type, you also cannot use a shield as they are 2-handed weapons.

The vanilla version allowed everyone to miss all this and just use three swords and be done with it but being aware of the qualities and drawbacks of a weapon type can create a lot of strategies that can be very efficient with your setup. Also every animation of every weapon type for every character is different ! Some looks incredibly cool with a specific weapon type so make sure to try a lot of weapons, it is also a strategy to take into account, the animations can be faster for some and can influence your decision.

In regards to bow and staves, there is indeed a weather system that is only told through your environmental awareness. Rain and sandstorms are pretty easy to spot, but a windy weather is harder to figure out even though they dramatically boost fire spells. So you have to ask yourself if the balcony of this airship is windy : yes it is. It is also shown by the way the clothes of your character moves.

It is not a bad idea to inform yourself if you want to know the extent of the customization you can do with your characters. It can dramatically unlock your awareness of how far you can push the game and it does a poor job at conveying it in-game.[/details]

[details=FF12’s cinematography]As I think more and more about what I thought interesting and what people should definitely look forward, there is something I’d like to get the spotlight on and it is something that we all have a better awareness of it in games : the cinematography.

There are terrific games that gets even better when it manages to convey how masterful the directing is. Naughty Dog games are known for that, they clearly spend a lot of time and I see a lot more studios who are definitely putting a lot more effort to increase the quality of their directing because it’s simply something that we all like to see and that people notice more and more. It’s something I haven’t noticed at all 10 years ago, but FF12 is incredible when it comes to cutscenes and it’s no wonder that they were crafted by the same man who worked on Vagrant Story’s events : Jun Akiyama. He was in charge of everything related to cutscene : camera work, lighting, spacing, body and facial animation as well as voice acting were all directed and handled directly by him and it shows.

Keep in mind, it’s a PS2 game and they were coming out of FF10 that was still struggling with conveying 3D effectively so it’s a huge step up, and one I feel has never been replicated since in later installments, though FF15 was a definite step up in select scenes. He never worked on any FF in that same position even though he definitely should come back.

It’s only a number of select gifs with captions that does not give any context but it can be spoiler-y if you don’t want to know anything

Click here

Here’s a small part of what I consider a phenomenal scene : watch how the lighting gives a softer feel to the scene, how the camera is carefully laid out and the way his face conveys the situation even without sound. Nothing is left out, and it conveys so many things about the themes at play without words.

Spoilers for what I think about it : The space gives a glimpse of the grandeur of the Archadian Empire but the soft sundown lighting illuminating it betrays the discord in Gabranth’s heart. The importance of the sunset increases in the scene as Gabranth is tasked with a moral dilemma in order to punish his insubordination. It shows how much Gabranth represents melancholy in the play. The scene manages to convey the public and personal space of the character as it goes on further than the gif, I find it so thoughtful.
https://gfycat.com/KnobbyBeautifulDiscus

Even in scenes that are less important, the framing remains top-notch. The game doesn’t shy away at depicting the whole cast even when they’re not active and doesn’t abuse cuts when a well-framed wide shot does the work. I love how they fill the screen harmoniously and you see them listening, Larsa in the middle progressively takes up more space as he speaks and Balthier’s head directs our gaze to him.
https://gfycat.com/IllustriousCompleteHorse

Here’s another with sound this time, I love the way they interact with each other and how good the voice-acting is. The localization makes it as if the game was created for a western audience in mind.
https://streamable.com/zx6p6 [/details]


A comparison of the PS2 and the newly rearranged Zodiac Age soundtrack :

Articles by Waypoint :


#2

Huh, I hope this means “balanced” instead of buffed. Espers and Quickenings were completely overpowered mid-game (when you first get them), but don’t scale, so they sort of fade to irrelevance by the time you get to the final boss. I remember basically every serious fight from hour 25 to about hour 50 being spamming espers and quickenings.


#3

If I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game, is this a good first? There are so many options at this point as someone new to the series.


#4

What do you want from final fantasy? Kotaku’s Splitscreen podcast spent a lot of time on yesterday’s pod about this game, about how different it is from many JRPGs/Final Fantasys. I loved this game, the characters, story, and battle, and Jason was raving about this remaster on Splitscreen


#5

The ability to control them and to use corresponding spells means they have much more relevance than ever. I cannot tell you if they scale but their usefulness goes way further than in the vanilla version, especially since you don’t need to be under specific conditions to unleash the special attack of the esper anymore. It’s not going to be less overpowered at first, but they’re not going to be irrelevant for a long time.

[quote=“Lykos, post:3, topic:5169, full:true”]
If I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game, is this a good first? There are so many options at this point as someone new to the series.[/quote]

Absolutely ! Keep in mind it’s a different breed of Final Fantasy that doesn’t really compare with other games in the franchise : it has some extreme western sensibilities in regards to the fantasy setting, a storyline filled with political intrigue and a stellar voice and cutscene direction still unmatched in the saga.

It’s great because you’re not going to be phased by the change of direction as a newcomer, but you will play an outlier in terms of presentation that isn’t representative of the franchise as a whole except for the original Final Fantasy Tactics set in the same universe.

The Zodiac Age is also very beginner friendly, it has been apparently set to be easier and the various changes makes it harder to lose any kind of progression with the use of auto-save.


#6

I’m following one guy who’s hype for this remaster is off the god damn chain, it’s infectious. I’m kinda super hyped for it too now.

It looks like the original Xenoblade Chronicles if it wasn’t held back by Wii hardware, which is to say absolutely gorgeous and 100% my Jam. Hopefully it can come close to the best Final Fantasy game: Chrono Trigger.

Just japin’ yall. It’s XIII.


#7

I am so pumped for this. I was actually part way through my first playthrough since childhood when this was announced so I put it down in favour of other games to savour the remaster. I actually stopped just as the story was entering high gear (i.e. when the true hero was heeding the call - to put it in “The Hero’s Journey” terms) and the game was really opening up. In some ways, I picked the most excruciatingly tantalizing point to stop that playthrough. On the other hand, it will propell me through the somewhat lacklustre beginning this time.

Also, I’m psyched for most of their changes (especially faster movement speed, quickening and Esper improvements, and auto-saves). Still, I wish it had an ‘original-only playthrough’ with the license board system, if only because the Japanese International Zodiac Job System (which they’ve used for this) making every character in your party more distinct (though you do choose which jobs they take) does create a very different feel to the game than the original’s ‘everyone can learn everything at all times’ philosophy.

With Zelda, Nier Automata, Persona 5 and now this… how am I going to cope with my paralysing indecision?!


#8

I think it’s the best Final Fantasy, which means if you start here it can only go downhill. My first one was 7, then 1 and 2, followed by 12 all within a year and a half time span. That probably contributed to why I like 12 so much; the ability to use simple if/then/else logic to automate large swathes of the combat. As you can imagine, I had been tired of playing menu hero by that point, and while you still have to do some menu based combat here, it’s really only when your automation faces a situation you hadn’t planned for. Though there is a good 8 hours before the automation system gets introduced, so you can learn the combat systems beforehand.


#9

Super excited for this. I only gave it a couple hours when it first came out so I basically know nothing about this one and it’s one of the only holes in my VII and after FF play history. This one reminds me of IX in that it only seems to be more appreciated as time goes on.

I also never get those Steelbook editions of games but wow how could I say no to this dope Yoshida boxart


#10

Why is Fran power farting on Basch on that cover?


#11

Asserting her dominance?


#12

It’s an importent part of Viera culture


#13

Knowing that the series has shifted through so many different styles of gameplay, there’s really not a “wrong” place to start. Something like 7 or 9 might give you a more holistic view of what “Final Fantasy” means, but if 12 is a game that you want to play, then I think that’s a good enough reason for it to be the one you start with.

And it’s cheap, too, so there’s that.


#14

Since there are people who are starting it for the first time or are on the fence, I figured I might do a list of

What makes it beginner friendly :

  • Extensive tutorials are available as you play
  • Mechanics are progressively brought into the mix instead of dumping everything
  • You can use the flee button to escape every kind of fight, most enemies cannot keep up with you
  • Auto-save mechanic are effective at alleviating game overs
  • Cure spells are now party-wide, making it easier to survive in the wilderness and prevents generating too much enmity
  • Speed-up system allowing you to grind fast enough
  • Exploits are still there ! The zone-out glitch is still present to gain a lot of experience early but not recommended unless you really can’t get past the difficulty curve
  • The game is generally easier than the vanilla version because jobs makes it MUCH easier to access the best licences as the board is much smaller as a result
  • Chests are not as random as they used to be, no zodiac spear shenanigans
  • You cannot die as long as you have one character alive, even in the reserve !
  • The game allows you to pause when inputting menu actions if you want a more classic experience
  • Target lines are there

Things that are less easy to grasp :

  • The world of Ivalice is big, it’s easy to get lost
  • Levels of enemies are not communicated unless equipped with a certain skill, only a color code tells you if the enemy in front of you is dangerous (red being much higher-leveled than you)
  • Dungeons are long ! They are often at least a 1 hour journey, auto-save makes it much easier but it is always good to stock up
  • Journeys are even longer, some treks can take as far as 3 hours to go through, it’s a huge game ! This is one of the big reason you should value mages in your setup, they are very crucial in this Final Fantasy
  • Enemies doesn’t give any money ! They give loot, and you have to sell them to a merchant. Even then, money is scarce.
  • This game will always bring a mechanic that will make things harder for you, it is set up so that you are always on your toes and not blindly relying on gambits.
  • If you are engrossed by the story, it’s very easy to spend hours doing side content and coming back to lose the thread, there are very few missable content in the game so staying on track is a valid option
  • The game will never push you to specialize your party setup so you can miss a lot on the depth of the game

Some tips :

The job system locks you into specific skills you have to unlock and only a handful of weapons you are allowed to wear. The game doesn’t tell you this, and you don’t exactly have to know this but your weapon is crucial. Every type of weapon has a different set of statistics and effects that can radically change the way you play.

The damage of a weapon is always calculated with a statistic of your character : most likely strength, but it can be magic or speed and you also have to take into account that they can have effects like bypassing the defense of an enemy. A weapon type can have a really bad attack value but bypassing defense makes it much stronger. The weapon also affects the speed of the ATB gauge, a dagger is much faster than a gun but deals less damage. There is also a combo rate, a weapon type can be more or less likely to deal combos, which can deal up to 8 hits in one attack !

Let’s see how it plays out :

  • A 1-handed sword is based on strength and has a medium charge time and combo rate
  • Guns are the slowest but are impossible to dodge or parry and bypasses defense entirely, meaning only the attack of your gun and your bullets (they can have different effects) are taken into account !
  • Bows are faster and also takes your speed into account but the accuracy is affected by weather
  • A hammer is based on strength and vitality favoring tanks but the damage range is high, meaning you can hit 30hp like you can hit 300hp.
  • Staves are inconsequential as a weapon but boosts elemental spells. A flame staff can add a boost to fire spells, and the weather can also boost it even further !

This means that if I make a character that is very fast, the use of a Ninja sword is my best bet as they are fast and take speed into account, they also have a good combo rate. If I have a time mage casting haste, the character is pretty much a gatling, but ninja swords are hard to come by and are largely ineffective against undeads as most of them are of dark elemental type, you also cannot use a shield as they are 2-handed weapons.

The vanilla version allowed everyone to miss all this and just use three swords and be done with it but being aware of the qualities and drawbacks of a weapon type can create a lot of strategies that can be very efficient with your setup. Also every animation of every weapon type for every character is different ! Some looks incredibly cool with a specific weapon type so make sure to try a lot of weapons, it is also a strategy to take into account, the animations can be faster for some and can influence your decision.

In regards to bow and staves, there is indeed a weather system that is only told through your environmental awareness. Rain and sandstorms are pretty easy to spot, but a windy weather is harder to figure out even though they dramatically boost fire spells. So you have to ask yourself if the balcony of this airship is windy : yes it is. It is also shown by the way the clothes of your character moves.

It is not a bad idea to inform yourself if you want to know the extent of the customization you can do with your characters. It can dramatically unlock your awareness of how far you can push the game and it does a poor job at conveying it in-game.


hmmmmmmm I didn’t mean to spend as much time on this lol, at least I hope it’s going to help some of you


#15

Nice! FF12 is actually one of my favorite FFs, and I never fully understood why it was so derided when it first released.

I last played it a bajillion years ago so I’m absolutely primed to go through it again, especially with so many subtle but important improvements.

The ability to speed up the game really is a huge deal. I’ve got a son now and my actual free time has plummeted, so having the option to quickly speed through the grind-ey portions of the game is much appreciated.


#16

I never got that far in this one as, if i remember correctly, it originally released in a transition period between console iterations and I didn’t fancy having two boxes plugged in at once. I do remember it’s the most interesting one to me in the way the combat systems play out, particularly the gambit system. The addition of pause while choosing stuff from a menu sounds welcome.


#17

I’m pretty hyped for this – I’ve never really been a Final Fantasy guy, but the gambit system always looked like a super cool way to handle RPG combat. And the reverence people have for the game has really piqued my interest over the years.


#18

In decisions that will enter the history books as ‘another one of those odd PR choices Square Enix has made with the Final Fantasy franchise’: The Fabula Nova Crystalis games were announced prior to XII being released outside of Japan. FFXIII, the PS3 game, was shown at the same 2006 E3 that they tried to sell the PS2 FFXII to the West (despite the fact that XIII took 3.5 years to come out). Meanwhile, Agito XIII took 5 years to come out under the name Type-0 (only outside Japan in 2015’s HD version)… Versus XIII went on to become Final Fantasy XV, coming out last year on PS4 after two sequels to XIII.

Square Enix overshadowed their own game, FFXII, with three games which took 3, 5 and 10 years (and two generations) to finally come out.


#19

I think I wrote this in another thread but I bought this game on day of release, played it a ton, and had to walk away when I got to the tomatoes. It is the only time I have given up a game because I just couldn’t beat a boss. I even looked up how to beat them online!

So. Hopefully this version is easier and I can finally play because I have never beat any game in the 11-15 lines. Also I’d like those damn tomatoes to no longer haunt my dreams.


#21

Do you mean the tomatoes that are one of the early hunts, or the group of 5 different nightshades that are along the path to Arcadia? Both are pretty tough when you reach them but at least the group of 5 is just after an area with some great enemies to grind against (the giant turtles and wyrms that you can face 1 at a time in Cernobi). The early hunt is really too early in the game for any enemies worth grinding on.