By Chris Melchin / September 5th, 2016
Final Fantasy XII is a game I never had the chance to play, aside from about an hour or so. I never owned a PS2, and because it weirdly never came out on any other platform it kind of flew under my radar. It also struck me as the kind of game I’d enjoy, especially considering how much I love Xenoblade Chronicles, since Final Fantasy XII seemed similar to it in several ways. In any case, the announcement of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age was exciting for me, since I’d finally have the chance to play it for myself. Finally, during PAX West, I was able to sit down with a short demo to see how it’s looking.
The demo covers the first part of the Lhusu Mines dungeon, after Penelo gets captured near the start of the game. Something worth noting is that the demo did not include the Zodiac Job System, the biggest new-ish feature in The Zodiac Age, and might as well have been just another version of Final Fantasy XII except with slightly updated graphics. As for said visuals, the most I can say about them is that they look as you’d expect from a remastered version of a PS2 game. Not exactly on par with new games on the platform, but definitely better than the original. The music definitely sounds shiny and new, but the voices sound weirdly compressed and low-quality, giving me the impression that, even if they were remastered somehow, they weren’t re-recorded, and are based on the original recordings from the PS2 version. However, it’s likely that the quality would have been less obvious if I were not playing the game with headphones.
Combat is the same as it ever was; completely taking place in the overworld, without any transition from exploration. The player can pause and issue commands to party members, but otherwise they act on their own, including movement, meaning that for a lot of random battles it’s perfectly viable to just sit back and let the game do the work for you. Otherwise the menu system is simple enough to use, and along with auto-attacking when in range it makes combat quite straightforward. I can see how there is obviously more depth to it for harder fights, but the demo didn’t include any. There’s also a togglable fast-forward mode; I don’t know if it’s new for The Zodiac Age, but I can see it making exploration somewhat less tedious.
It was somewhat hard to get a fair read on the quality of the game based on the demo; it was short, taking under 30 minutes to play in its entirety, and seemed to just be some randomly-chosen segment from partway through the game. It doesn’t give a good feel for the nuances of the combat system, since there were no boss or miniboss fights, which is where any RPG combat system shines the most by forcing the player to learn it in more detail and how to strategize properly. The most I can say is that it’s definitely Final Fantasy XII, and if that is something that appeals to you, then it’ll probably be worth your time when it releases sometime next year.
Final FantasyFinal Fantasy XIIFinal Fantasy XII: The Zodiac AgeHD remasterImpressionsPAXPAX WestSquare Enix