Fresh off the excitement of finishing Final Fantasy X for the first time, I preordered Final Fantasy XII the next day. At the time, I was ready for something – anything – new from Square-Enix. I was obsessed with Kingdom Hearts (oh man, that’s a whole different topic) and had seen nothing that looked remotely like it in a very long time. To say I was hyped might be an understatement.
So, I finally receive the collector’s edition and .. I turn on the game and there’s an old man reading me history of a world that I don’t care about. Or, at least, don’t care about yet. The game hadn’t yet earned that. Still, to this day, I wonder why they made that decision; to have a character from the story read to you, as if from a book. It’s the worst kind of exposition.
All of that to say, at first, the game made me very, very bored. I didn’t understand the complex concepts it was trying to play off of, not did I understand why the characters were making the choices they were. The gameplay was slow, the story was sandwiched in between these ridiculously long dungeons, and the bosses were way too difficult to defeat. That is, if you ask me.
If you’re asking yourself why I’m talking about the original, and not the remaster, there’s a good reason for that. There’s only a few changes from the original. The one you’ll notice first is the changed leveling system. Instead of wondering around the license board like a lost puppy, you are now given “jobs” that you can pick from, in turn making your experience earned more focused. These “jobs” are typical Final Fantasy affairs: Black Mage, White Mage, Knight, etc. There are a few that mix it up. My favorite is Foebreaker, the tank.
The second, and most necessary change, if I were asked, would be the addition of a fast forward button in the game. That is to say, apart from cutscenes, you can now do battle and explore dungeons at two or four times speed. This one implementation fixes the single biggest problem I had with the game.
Just like that, the game went from slow and boring to fast and interesting. That doesn’t mean don’t expect a forty hour game, of course.
While some would argue that these changes just made the game easier, I would argue that it’s been made more a complete package and less of a mess. Final Fantasy XV wasn’t the only Final Fantasy plagued with development setbacks, to say the least. I won’t get into details, but to say the problems showed would be kind.
The last detail about Final Fantasy XII, the Zodiac Age: it’s freaking beautiful. Those that were around during the PlayStation 2 era know that Final Fantasy XII pushed the hardware to its limits, and it was breathtaking back then. Well, now it’s even more so.
In short: The game is much more accessible now because there are options to make the huge dungeons take less time, the battle system is improved, and maybe now you’re old enough to grasp the story (or at least care about it). If you enjoyed Final Fantasy 10, or Final Fantasy Tactics, I would suggest giving it a shot.