Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age – Bringing Jobs to America

It’s easy to be confused about the Final Fantasy series, particularly if you aren’t already a fan of it. Final Fantasy XV comes out last year, meanwhile a huge expansion for Final Fantasy XIV came out this year, but wait, isn’t there a remaster of Final Fantasy VII in the works? Also, I guess now Final Fantasy XII is hitting the shelves, but it’s also remaster, but not a remaster of just the original, it’s a remaster of a version of the original that came out in 2007, but only in Japan, and are you starting to see where people could get confused about this stuff? The point is: Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is coming out next week on July 11.

And despite my relative unfamiliarity with the Final Fantasy series (as should be evidenced by the above paragraph), I’m happy to say that I’m getting quite the kick out of it. Here are out biggest takeaways from the first three hours of play (all that we’re able to discuss, per the embargo).

Bringing back the jobs. American audiences are now getting their first taste of the job system that Final Fantasy XII added for its 2007 Japan release, and it makes a huge difference. No longer will your characters level up in what is essentially the same way. Now, twelve different “jobs” corresponding with 12 different License Boards increase the variety for each character.

ZodiacAgeJobs

The music might be the best part. The Zodiac Age features a fully redone and re-recorded soundtrack that even those who got the 2007 Japan release didn’t get, and it’s a tune for soar ears (did I just make up a phrase?). Even if you don’t buy the game, you should try to get your hands on this soundtrack somehow, because it will get you through many a boring work days.

You can still see its age. While the cutscenes for Final Fantasy XII have been fully remastered with The Zodiac Age, the environments in-game still look out-of-date. You can flatten out textures all you want, but that won’t magically make it fit for modern day, graphically speaking.

It does have several modern improvements, though. This includes the addition of an overlayed map that you can press L3 to activate, 7.1 surround sound functionality, and auto-save. I did find myself just walking around with the map overlay on 100% of the time, and I’m not sure that’s what they imagined when implementing the feature (sort of like people who always walk around Batman Arkham games with detective mode on. Why wouldn’t you?

It’s probably more for fans. Sure, this is often the case with Remasters, but many manage to have a wider appeal, such as the recently released Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy that brought a lot of people to the series for the first time. As someone who isn’t the most avid Final Fantasy player, I can’t see this appealing to those who aren’t already into the series. As much as I’m enjoying it, I probably wouldn’t have even known it released if a code didn’t show up in my email. From what I’ve played, though, you can certainly do a whole lot worse – especially this dry, dry July.