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Impression - Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

SquiggyLeoSquiggyLeo RPGamer Staff
edited July 3 in Latest Updates
Sure, we reviewed it over a decade ago, but how does the HD remaster of Final Fantasy XII, available July 11, stack up? Here's what we think about it after playing through the first few hours.

[ Read the impression ]
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Comments

  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    I'll be curious to see if it holds up for you.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
    Twitter @FinalMacstorm
  • gutter2dgutter2d Full Members
    Like you, I hated the lack of control during battles. I fell asleep many times while in the middle of playing this game for that reason. This is still my least favorite Final Fantasy outside of the first 3 and XIII-3.
  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    I loved the fact that you didn't have to control all the little things in battle, but still had full control if you wanted it. Finally a Final Fantasy game where buffs and debuffs actually were useful. I loved that part.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
    Twitter @FinalMacstorm
  • SquiggyLeoSquiggyLeo RPGamer Staff
    Macstorm wrote: »
    I loved the fact that you didn't have to control all the little things in battle
    I don't mind doing that, but you are right. The minutiae is taken out of your hands - IF you have the right gambits and enough gambit slots to set them up, and then take time to create the gambits and put them in an order that works. Ten hours in and I'm just now able to target specific party members in gambits, for example. Not to mention you can't set up a gambit that meets two conditions simultaneously; for example, I can't set up a gambit to have my healer attack with cure only if the enemy is undead AND a boss.

    Macstorm wrote: »
    but still had full control if you wanted it.
    This I agree with less. Issuing commands manually usually costs me time in terms of losing whatever progress the character's action gauge has made; a new command means starting the gauge over. Worse, manually casting items, for example, causes commands to back up in a lengthy queue. Meanwhile, the enemy continues to wail away at my party. Finally - though this one might be down to my shoddy gambit management skills - I see characters engaging enemies, hit once or twice, then change targets to fresh enemies while the previous ones are still alive and kicking. If I step in and manually change their targets, it, again, resets their action gauge, and after another hit they may switch targets again. Grinding against low-level mobs is simpler, but in tough situations, I feel I have to battle against the gambits almost as much as I do against the enemy.
  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    That definitely sounds like something is messed up in the gambits if they are moving off before killing them. I do agree that I hate having to purchase gambits and wait until they are available to be able to use better ones, that is annoying.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
    Twitter @FinalMacstorm
  • ultranessultraness Member Full Members
    I like the sound of the gameplay improvements, as I already thought the battle system was solid (despite some bizarre issues). The ability to speed up the game will help reduce the excessive grinding, at least.

    But I don't have much positive to say about the story of the original game. Half the cast (Vaan, Penelo, Fran) is lousy, and the plot is kind of a mess. The mature world is cool, but I really think the game's story suffers from Matsuno bailing on the project halfway through, as it doesn't come close to matching Final Fantasy Tactics' high points.
  • Lord GolbezLord Golbez Member Full Members
    Macstorm wrote: »
    I loved the fact that you didn't have to control all the little things in battle, but still had full control if you wanted it. Finally a Final Fantasy game where buffs and debuffs actually were useful. I loved that part.

    They were useful to the point of being practically mandatory at the end, which pissed me off to no end when I got through the majority of the game without some of them and then died on the final boss because I didn't have some important ones. Wouldn't have been so bad if there weren't no save points in the final level. Ridiculous trashy way to end a trashy game.

    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • BudaiBudai Paladin Full Members
    I had already played both baldurs gate games and ice wind dale, and the battle system in 12 had a lot of similarities to it.
  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    The final level was a breeze if you were prepared and were taking advantage of everything the game gives you.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
    Twitter @FinalMacstorm
  • Lord GolbezLord Golbez Member Full Members
    edited July 5
    Don't care. I already explained why I died on the last boss. Claiming it's not a significant difficulty leap from just the previous area is blatantly wrong. You don't need all those buffs until that point. Not even close. And no other FF game gives you no save spot in the final level. It's inexcusable, period. Especially with the long and boring FMV that comes first. Going through that again is worse than redoing the level.
    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    Guess the game really doesn't play itself like so many claim.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
    Twitter @FinalMacstorm
  • Lord GolbezLord Golbez Member Full Members
    edited July 5
    No. Still plays itself. But you need to actually have the right spells or that doesn't matter. I'm not pretending it does everything for you, but the stuff it doesn't do is the boring part.
    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • SquiggyLeoSquiggyLeo RPGamer Staff
    I wouldn't say it plays itself. There's a difference between not having to intervene during mob battles and doing nothing at all. True, if you've done a good job setting up gambits, it does free you from selecting 'Attack' every 10 seconds. However, changing enemy types, not to mention the tougher enemies, require constant fine-tuning and toggling things off and on, creating new gambits, unlocking licenses, swapping gear, etc. That said, it's by far not the kind of agency I look for in an RPG either, but saying it plays itself seems like too much of a blanket statement, and not one I agree with.
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    No. Still plays itself. But you need to actually have the right spells or that doesn't matter. I'm not pretending it does everything for you, but the stuff it doesn't do is the boring part.

    Sorry, but it doesn't. You have to put together the AI scripts, and the number required to "make the game play itself" is more than the vast majority of players will get, and the setup also more complex than most will do. We can certainly have an argument about "the stuff it doesn't do" being boring or not, but if you have to put together essentially an AI script yourself, its not playing itself. Beyond sick of this lame argument. It's also, might I add, COMPLETELY optional. If you prefer total control you can do so, and playing in pause mode makes this quite easy. My personal preference is to use gambits for healing and status ailments so I can focus on other strategies during combat.
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  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    Indeed, the game doesn't play itself and certain can't carry you through unprepared. I agree the license board unlocking and such is not my favorite, as I'd love more available from the get-go. That said, some of the hunts and esper battles had me on the edge of my seat unlike anything in any other FF game has offered.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
    Twitter @FinalMacstorm
  • Lord GolbezLord Golbez Member Full Members
    edited July 5
    Yeah, it is. If you consider putting together an AI script "playing," that's fine. I don't and I don't have to conform to your definition just because you don't like the argument. Programming a game and playing a game are completely different things. If all I had to do in FF7 was setup materia in slots and the game took over from there in battle, I would make the same comment. If your argument is that you can die because you didn't setup your gambits properly, didn't make the right choices with the license board, or any of several other reasons, I'm not disputing that. I just don't consider basic setup the same as playing a game. At least not playing an RPG. More like playing an AI simulator.

    Yes, it's "optional" but as previously noted in this thread, opting out comes at a significant cost in terms of effectively losing turns. If "pause mode" counteracts that, I don't know, because I don't remember pause mode.
    SquiggyLeo wrote: »
    I wouldn't say it plays itself. There's a difference between not having to intervene during mob battles and doing nothing at all. True, if you've done a good job setting up gambits, it does free you from selecting 'Attack' every 10 seconds. However, changing enemy types, not to mention the tougher enemies, require constant fine-tuning and toggling things off and on, creating new gambits, unlocking licenses, swapping gear, etc. That said, it's by far not the kind of agency I look for in an RPG either, but saying it plays itself seems like too much of a blanket statement, and not one I agree with.

    This argument I buy more, because I did indeed have to change gambits frequently to meet the needs of the enemies I was facing. I found it more onerous than enjoyable though.
    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • NefarioCallNefarioCall Member Full Members
    edited July 5
    XII has always been at or near the top of my best Final Fantasy games (though it should be noted i only ever played the Zodiac version).
  • RalsuRalsu Member Full Members
    Really looking forward to the changes in this version.
  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    I've also heard from people who have played through the whole game without using gambits, so that adds more interactivity for those challenged by programming. And yes, Wait Mode helps things feel more turn-based so that you can dive in and take your time selecting those buffs and debuffs that help with the tougher bosses, especially some of the hunts and espers that are way more challenging than anything the main story bosses offer.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
    Twitter @FinalMacstorm
  • cpapadimitrioucpapadimitriou RPGamer Staff
    edited July 5
    Another word for 'putting together an AI Script' is strategic preparation. Many games forego that these days, but it's sort of like deck building in TCGs. Planning is a great aspect of play. It's not just 'writing a script' but which specialized script to write to maximize your chances of winning in any given boss fight and which generalized script to write to most quickly and efficiently handle the variety of common encounters.

    Of course, in tougher fights you also had to work on execution, especially if something went wrong (some mistimed thing, or a bad roll of the dice, or taking on enemies that were tough for your levels). In those fights you had to constantly interrupt the AI and actively re-steer it and the battle in the right direction when it started to veer off track.

    So the battle system delivers both in terms of planning and in terms of execution, that is, if you don't over level.
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    It reminds me of arguments that certain decks "play themselves" in tcgs, and then I precede to see countless people playing said decks terribly. I'm sorry but unless you can basically press a button and the game just goes it simply does not play itself. There's no room for argument here. If you think programming ai behavior is lame fine, that doesn't make the game magically non-interactive. There's lots of room for argument and discussion about various elements of FFXII, but no such discussion can happen until we shelve this stupid meme.
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  • Lord GolbezLord Golbez Member Full Members
    I don't just consider it lame. I don't consider it a game, any more than I consider setting up the board in a board game to be a game. Deck building games, I would say, are different, because you're actually using turns of those games to build your deck.
    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    I don't just consider it lame. I don't consider it a game, any more than I consider setting up the board in a board game to be a game. Deck building games, I would say, are different, because you're actually using turns of those games to build your deck.

    That argument makes absolutely no sense
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  • BudaiBudai Paladin Full Members
    I hope this remaster has a nice set of trophies.
  • Lord GolbezLord Golbez Member Full Members
    Wheels wrote: »
    I don't just consider it lame. I don't consider it a game, any more than I consider setting up the board in a board game to be a game. Deck building games, I would say, are different, because you're actually using turns of those games to build your deck.

    That argument makes absolutely no sense

    It's certainly not a perfect analogy, but it's still just set up.
    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • cpapadimitrioucpapadimitriou RPGamer Staff
    edited July 6
    I don't just consider it lame. I don't consider it a game, any more than I consider setting up the board in a board game to be a game. Deck building games, I would say, are different, because you're actually using turns of those games to build your deck.

    You are not using turns of TCGs to build your deck. You build your deck ahead of time (or during draft phases) and then you play with it. From now on, let's just call deck building 'deck programming' instead, since that's what it is.

    You only draw from your pre-programmed deck during the game, and while there is healthy amount of player intervention in deciding how to play each card, a large number of actions are pre-defined by the deck you programmed and the deck you're facing. And a large part of the competition is having a well-programmed deck. So much so, that when good deck-programs are found, everyone copies them.

    Like in FF12, a well-programmed deck is necessary but not sufficient to take on challenging opponents and situations.
  • Fowl SorcerousFowl Sorcerous Dread News Editor RPGamer Staff
    Y'know, it oddly reassuring that this argument will never go away.
  • Lord GolbezLord Golbez Member Full Members
    edited July 6
    I don't know what TCGs is so I just substituted generic "deck building" game. I figured it was just a deck building game, like Dominion. Obviously the game you're talking about is different. It doesn't really matter. It was an aside and not the main point.
    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    Wheels wrote: »
    I don't just consider it lame. I don't consider it a game, any more than I consider setting up the board in a board game to be a game. Deck building games, I would say, are different, because you're actually using turns of those games to build your deck.

    That argument makes absolutely no sense

    It's certainly not a perfect analogy, but it's still just set up.

    The difference is deck building IS THE GAME, and here it's an OPTIONAL FEATURE
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  • Lord GolbezLord Golbez Member Full Members
    Fine, it's optional. Great. The game definitely pushes you in the direction of using it still and even without it, you still have awful MMO inspired combat.
    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
This discussion has been closed.