FINAL FANTASY XII: THE ZODIAC AGE

Final Fantasy XII was a game that had the bad luck to leave at a time when the Square Enix franchise was not going through its best season. Although the tenth installment was among the fans and is considered, almost unanimously, as the last great fantasy final of the saga, which came later was watched with a magnifying glass by the fans. Not only because Final Fantasy X-2 was seen from a distance as a desperate marketing attempt to exploit the hen’s golden egg (and this is not the place to question its quality, it is simply as it points), but at that time Final Fantasy XI appeared to shake the ground of the MMO and covered the gap of a numbered delivery to those who expected a new epic story for a player. Then came the merger with Enix, and you know all that that entailed.

However, Final Fantasy XII was a product made with the right mimbres, in the legendary tradition of vision that Sakaguchi and that small team of people conceived in 1987 as the base of what would end up being one of the best licenses in the history of Video games at a qualitative level, sales and media relevance. But as in any creative process, there were things that altered what was going to be in the beginning, dramatically affecting the work launched in 2006 in Japan and the US, and that until early 2007 would not reach Spanish stores.

One of its directors, Yasumi Matsuno, fell ill in the middle of the production process and had to be replaced. This was a serious blow not only for the team but for Sakaguchi himself, who admitted his disappointment and said he would not play the title beyond the first few bars. Hiroyuki Ito, director of Final Fantasy IX, was the second name associated with the achievement credit and was joined by Hiroshi Minagawa, art director for much of the Ivalice Alliance titles, which included Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy Tactics. That is to say, that was in the hands of two people enough able to carry out the game despite noting, at a certain point in the title, the change of perspective.

Final Fantasy XII was a great success, selling more than five million units, but the publicized Matsuno low was used as a throwing weapon to attack certain elements of the title and over the years it seems that its position in the history of the franchise has fallen with The passage of time, one that has served to claim the questioned in his time Final Fantasy IX or to boost FFX to the popular ranking of the series. Maybe that’s why Square Enix decided he had to do something and in Japan launched a revision of the title that replaced the usual International Version that had FFVII or FFX, among others. It was called International Zodiac Job System and Hiroyuki Ito assumed full responsibility for the title. That version, the most complex and balanced to date of FF12, finally reaches Spain after more than ten years.

The Zodiac Age
Under this name we finally receive the final version Final Fantasy XII, an exemplary remastering of the classic PlayStation 2 which is a perfect opportunity for all fans to experience the final version designed by Hiroyuki Ito, with much more emphasis on strategy and development Of the characters. Of course, this International Zodiac Job System delved into the changes at playable and structural level, not so in history, so those who play FFXII at the time will not find great changes in the plot led by Vaan, Ashe and The rest of the sextet of protagonists of the title. Thus, we see a plot that makes more sense now than before, if at all, at a time when medieval fiction as Game of Thrones is established in the mainstream and here is reinforced, as a finishing touch to a narrative style Inherited from the rest of the work of Yasumi Matsuno.

It is true, in a personal capacity, that the characters are much more three-dimensional now than I used to be. Not because there are changes, but maybe because the evolution of the franchise in its latest numbered deliveries helps to get back to those classic avatars, and at the same time so atypical of the average JRPG, have more integrity. Also because its plot is more complex and deep than it seems and age is always a degree, but it is a personal value and that it would not count as such in an attempt of objective analysis. That said, what can be said is that it holds good, that mixture of adventure larger than life of unreachable dreams, with characters removed from space opera as Star Wars with all its iconography adapted to a fantastic medieval context, with futuristic elements near the Steampunk

It is clear that the narrative framework remains intact in The Zodiac Age, it would be welcome to talk about what the news is and why it would be advisable to rejoin it to understand how the partially truncated project deserved a second chance. The Zodiac Job System referred to by the Japanese name of the second Japanese version referred to the complete change of the system of jobs, jobs or classes, of the characters. Now there were twelve, one for each zodiacal sign, and after choosing the desired one closed the option to grow our hero. This forced to think in compatible equipment, in how to fill holes to be able to advance in the game. Thus, a team with a white wizard, a red wizard and a monk would have few options against an enemy tank, with a lot of life and defense, to set an example at random.

This specialization stays in The Zodiac Age, and blessed be. Combat has been redefined in polishing enemy AI, everything is more organic and balanced, gambits, which for those who did not play the original allow to automate actions of our characters, are more specific and detailed. How do they work? Imagine that we have a white magician with magic healing, and we want every time a character in the group has less than 10% of life, he heals: so, very basic orders, but they become very complex When we have multiple options with which to play. This was very criticized once, coming to use the argument that Final Fantasy XII was such an easy game that could be programmed to play by itself. Well, this is not so at all. The strategy first, the execution comes later.

It has also been added (already based on the 2007 International Japanese version, that yes) the challenge mode, in which it will play to face multiple enemies while we get rewards. And of course there are more changes and improvements, which refer not only to battles and their pace as to the ease of handling the title: a turbo mode that extends x2 or x4 mobility by the scenarios and cities, the option to overlap The map with L3 to have a wider control of where we are going, something important when the stages are considerably broad, improvements and arrangements in its excellent soundtrack and the dubbing in Japanese and English (with that option of choosing the original arrangement , For purists), and what about the visual section.

Final Fantasy XII was one of the games that took more advantage of PlayStation 2, and it could be said in fact that objectively form together with Metal Gear Solid 3 or Shadow of the Colossus the trio of games more spectacular, robust and technically advanced of the system. That without being free of problems, like popping exaggerated in the cities and other kind of goodwill that at that time seemed to be in the background to enjoy the truly important. The point is that all this no longer exists: loading times have been drastically reduced (they still exist between zone changes, yes) and moving the character through the cities, full of characters, is a real luxury. Everything runs at 30fps, yes. Anyone who plays for the first time the title can not come to believe, at all, that this was so on a PS2.

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