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E3 2017: ‘Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age’ Improves A Fatal Flaw In The Original

Monday 19th June 2017 by Josh Jackson

Final Fantasy XII seems to be a polarizing game among fans, with the crowd split between thinking it’s one of the best games in the franchise to calling it one of the worst. I fell in the latter group, because despite its streamlined gameplay, more intimate story that focused on individual conflicts over a world altering calamity, and bringing MMO inspired combat to mainstream RPGs in a way that set the foundation for titles like Xenoblade Chronicles, the level up system was atrocious. After a good 15-20 hours in, the open ended License Board, which consisted of upgrades that you couldn’t see until your position on the board was adjacent to them, led me to unlocking so many useless stats and abilities that nearly my entire party was unusable at key points in the story. Picture Final Fantasy X‘s Sphere Grid, but instead of being on a set path until you could unlock special items to infiltrate other boards, every grid was open, connected, and you couldn’t see what each stat boost did until you were pretty much on it.

I couldn’t have been the only person with this complaint, since the international version of FFXII added the Zodiac Job System. This revamped format essentially revived the Job System, asking you to assign each new party member a specific job, each of which has a specific License Board to ensure that you’ll only unlock upgrades relevant to their role. Unfortunately, this version never saw the light of day outside of Japan until The Zodiac Age, the upcoming HD remaster of the last sixth generation Final Fantasy game.

On top of bringing over the improved leveling system, The Zodiac Age includes the ability to fast forward gameplay. Since most battles are fought in real time, with your AI party members acting on their own based on the instructions or “Gambits” you assign to them, level grinding could become an automated chore. Now that you can speed up your actions, simple to moderate encounters will be a breeze as they speed through. You might want to be careful using this against the higher ranked opponents however, since you’ll want to maintain your utmost attention when every move counts.

All in all, I’m excited to step back into Ivalice and give Ashe, Vahn, Balthier and Basch a second shot, especially since the original License Board was the only thing keeping me from enjoying the game the first time around. With that obstacle out of the way, I’m looking forward to experiencing what can be another top notch RPG experience, only this time with the benefit of the PS4’s power. What were your feelings about the original License Board, and where does Final Fantasy XII fall on your list of the best games in the series? Be heard in the comments below!