Final Fantasy XII - The Zodiac Age (HD Remaster Take All My Money)

You mean, best FF right after Tactics and IX (then four, then six) :)

So excited about this! This along with Persona 5 will definitely get me to pick up a PS4!!!

XII probably lifted that from Phantasy Star IV which allowed you to set combat macros.

Super excited about this, I’m in the no ps4 camp as well but this would definitely push me there!

Interesting b/c they’re including the Zodiac Job System from the International Version which actually cuts down the big all-skills-for-all-characters board and requires you to restrict characters to only having access to certain options on acquiring them. I’ve some friends who are really excited for this, but I’m not sure if I should be – is it more fun to force yourself to play within certain confines rather than opt to do so (as you could just, over time, buy all the skills for all your characters if you were truly OCD about it under the original system)? I’m still struggling to figure out what the job system ADDS (aside from an extra menu screen) that you couldn’t just choose to do as a challenge on your own.

The upgrade system in the original was one of the least interesting parts of the game so a change there doesn’t concern me at all.

I’m stoked this remaster is finally happening, but I am bummed no Vita version is announced. I really wanted to have every pre-HD single player FF on my Vita and XII is the only one missing.

Nostalgia got the better of me and I dropped about 25 hours into my old PS2 version while on vacation last week. The travel fast forward and Zodiac job systems should do wonders, travel time can be excruciating and the license board is a hot mess. Seriously, not losing anything in that respect.

I somehow missed this previously and while reviewing this thread again I put the links up and am listening to them now, and holy the fuck these are the amazing tracks. Wow, thanks for sharing!

Also, since this thread, I acquired a 3DS (again) for Christmas so I put Tactics A2 on my Amazon list to pick up and play again someday. Some day soon, I suspect, as watching some videos has really put me in the mood for it, and it’s been a decade since the only play through I gave it.

Tactics A2 is a great game. I’d still much prefer something besides the stupid Never-Ending Story tween plot, but mechanically it’s excellent.

I will so play through this again (this’ll be my third) on PS4 when it comes out. Still no word beyond “2017” though, it seems.

I tried DAO and thought the combat was awful, so I guess this wouldn’t be of interest.

My pleasure Scott! I actually own all 3 albums, and they are by Uematsu himself. He’s even done some touring as the band, which I think is pretty cool. I didn’t even link my favorite tracks, just ones from FF VI. My personal favorite is Vamo Alla Flaminco, which is a variation on a track from IX.

I’ve said it before in various threads, but I’m not one much for video game music. I find most uninspiring at best. There are exceptions, but I can pretty much count them on my hands. But those exceptions are so good. Uematsu is one of the few musicians in the industry whom I would rank as a great musician, not just good for a video game composer*.

*I will admit to a certain strand of musical… elitism? I’m pretty selective and critical, so take that for what you will.

Earlier this month my cousin was asking me about the Zodiac Age version, which I had to admit I didn’t know anything about other than what @MMDuran said about the job system changing, so I did some digging and that may have been a bit of a mistake, as I’m even more excited for this remastered edition. The Zodiac Age really seems amazing, I’ll be glad to finally experience it.

Here is what I wrote to him,
"I recently went digging to find out what exactly that means, and found out… it means a lot.

The first thing we need to talk about is the License Board, because this is by far the biggest change.

You may recall in the previous FF12 there was a huge tiled board every character started on and you spent points to unlock the licenses on the board.

Since it was a single, static board, every character shared the board and started next to abilities and unlocks that sort of catered to their character, like Vaan starting by skills such as Steal, Mug, and various dagger and sword licenses while Fraan started near staves, cloth armors, and Black Magic. So while any character could in theory do whatever they wanted, it first required a sub-optimal path around the board if you wanted Fraan to be a two-handed weapon, heavy armor bad-ass. So really characters were locked into place as a given role initially, unless you were willing to play sub-optimally. Furthermore, as the game progressed everyone eventually picked up the same stuff, like Life or Cura or Potions 5 to use the best items (because why wouldn’t you?). It made everyone kind of the same by the end of the game, really.

Now in Zodiac what they did was created twelve distinct boards, one for each Zodiac sign (see what they did there?) and each board represents a Final Fantasy class and you select a class/board for each character the first time and then they are that class the rest of the game. But that means from the start they can be developed as you see fit! Fraan as a Monk? Vaan as a Knight? I love it. Here are the classes:

White mage, Dragoon, Machinist, Red Mage, Knight, Monk, Time Mage, Breaker, Archer, Black Mage, Samurai and Thief. Note, there are rumors that the new remastered edition will allow for a sub-class but this is just speculation.

Here (for example) is Black Mage:

A few other very welcome changes include guest characters and even summoned Espers are no longer AI controlled - once they join your party (or you summon them) you can set their “gambits” (the script you put together to do an action when a specific condition is met, like “if weak vs fire; cast Firea”) and set them as party leader and control them directly. Even the Espers! You could summon Odin and play as him. Man, that’s amazing. But it’s mostly going to mean no longer having a hard time timing when the Espers big power moves hit so you can deal as much damage as possible - you can literally manually trigger the ability when you see an opening now. Additionally, massive balance changes were done to the various licenses and many new ones were created themed to the class/board they fall on, as you can imagine.

L1 button speed boost - if you hold this down the world speed increases, meaning you can travel faster and even fight the small, easy fights at double speed. This is genius. It looks hilarious as well!

Speaking of Gambits, you no longer have to spend money buying new ones (oh, cool, the “if health <20%” gambit is being sold here finally!) or buying any of them, as soon as the gambit system is explained (early in the game), all gambits are unlocked, and there are even 20 or so new ones to further define the actions your characters can take when not being directly controlled. I freaking loved the Gambit system, it’s what made the combat work so well and made it feel like a strategy RPG, in many respects. Though of course, for the big fights you really want to be micro-managing your characters. Or I did, at any rate.

New items! Dozens of new items, from new types of motes (scrolls sort of, one shot uses of a spell) to new weapons and armors! And a re-balancing of items as well, many items now remove more than one affliction type, so for example Chronos Tears can remove both slow and stop. This should make the heavy status-inflicting enemies less of a PITA.

New enemies! And as you can imagine, balance tweaks to many of the existing enemies.

Balance tweaks and redesign on many of the games spells and magics, weapons and armor. Some examples are Masamune is now 117 Attack up from 93, and the Blood Sword can now also inflict Confusion sometimes on hit. Armors were similarly tweaked, as well as the accessories. Accessories offer up more protection from status effects now, often two or more immunities, once more working to reduce the frustration with the status effect part of the combat, I believe.

There are a bunch of other changes, too, like Quickenings (the sort of Limit Break abilities you could learn from the license board that were unique to each characters) have a fourth “tier” now, and there is a few variants of New Game+ mode to enjoy after you beat the game, plus there is a Trial mode now as well that sounds interesting and features some new fights and some rewards depending on how far you get through it’s 100 battles. Let’s see… treasure chests respawn a little more commonly now (not the major chests that can have very powerful items randomly in them - the ones you would reload for when you didn’t get the Genji Gloves, for example, but regular chests and their random loot respawn faster). Oh, here is a big one: the damage limit was removed. So no more 9999! One player said at level 99 in the Knight license board Vaan was doing 20,000+ damage equipped with the highest end weaponry. That’s kind of cool, actually.

I found some gameplay footage from ComicCom Gamespot posted, and you can see the HD menus and UI - everything looks really amazing.

As a compare, here is the same character menu from the original game. Note the Remastered version allows 16:9 aspect ration; wide screen.

Anywho, lots of changes, many more than I’d ever thought. The story itself is the same, though the game is quite different but (in my opinion) more interesting and in many ways more varied. I hope there is a PC release announced soon. Will it come to PC? One Reddit user said this, “…the recent PS2-to-PS4 engine code-refactoring work (converting Final Fantasy X, X-2, and XII over from PS2 to PS4) was achieved entirely on PC, which, scaling-wise, makes it very easy for Square-Enix to release PC-oriented ports of these games like they’ve already done with X and X-2.”

If X/X-2 can come out on PC and they used to the same system to convert the PS2 game to PS4 using PC, then it does indeed highly indicate a PC release for FF12. The question isn’t really even if, but when."

Now, most of that was for the ten year old Zodiac Edition. Some of the FF forums are talking about changes being made to the remastered edition as well, such as more content and an over all reduction in the game’s difficulty (especially the early game). Nothing is confirmed, and unfortunately (as @Adam_B indicated while I was madly trying to clean this mess up and post it) there is still no (damned) release date other than “2017”! So, fingers crossed it comes out soon, I’m about ready to fucking burst over here.

I’m not sure you quite understood my Dragon Age comment - I would look up some footage on YouTube, it’s not very similar to DA:O combat except you can set up IF/THEN conditions for the characters you aren’t actively controlling (like cast Fire on enemies weak to fire, or cast Regen if Regen isn’t currently active on a given target). The perspective is different, and unlike DA:O you aren’t required or even expected to micro-manage most of the fights, maybe just the big ones (or the ones that took you buy surprise - like, DO NOT CAST SPELLS WHEN AN ELEMENTAL IS NEARBY!!)

This is releasing in exactly a year, right?

We really don’t know, we just know it’s 2017. It was playable last October, so I’d be surprised if it’s December 2017. I know Amazon has that listed, by the way, but that’s just a place holder because we don’t have any idea.

Yeah, when I played the original version on PS2 the gambits were pretty rudimentary setups for me. Some basic housekeeping stuff. Basically auto set heal conditions, status effects and such. The big things (espers, spells) I wanted to manually control. And for gods sake DO NOT USE ITEMS!

Ok, so I might have control issues. But, for what it was, I liked it. This typically meant I played as Ashe, since microing the spells was important to me. Letting Fran or Vaan autocombat was ok usually. Give Vaan a special gambit to steal things at the start of combat, and let him do his thing.

That said I like the idea of the Zodiac, but probably not enough to replay. If I had more time, maybe, but if I go back and replay one, it’ll be 6 or Tactics.

Fair enough, but here’s the thing:

On the surface, that sort of system sounds really cool. Wow, I can tweak how the AI plays to suit my style. But, at least with DAO it meant that the AI was incredibly stupid. I know what you said was just an example, but why should I have to tell an AI character to exploit an obvious weakness? Or why should I have to program it to help me when I’m getting my butt kicked? I’d rather just play a turn-based game, personally. That’s not some slam on FF XII, just my playstyle preference. I’ll probably still go look up footage though, as you suggested.

But while we are on the subject, which FF games in the main series were turn-based? I’ve never actually played any of the main series. Are they changing the older ones to be real-time as they remake them?

For your first point, that’s fair - I think if the AI was making all the choices for me I would actually very much not like that. In fact, that sounds like what FFXV is doing, and no thanks. The Gambit system let’s you set up and “program” the AI for the needs of the moment, and you only have so many gambit slots you can actually assign and use (more as you level up). Here is an example screenshot:

You can really set up some satisfying systems here, and it can all get very complex, so leaving it all to the AI wouldn’t really be much fun nor very satisfying, I suspect. Note that you can always just have Foe:Nearest = Attack set up as well, so at the base your AI controlled characters just auto-attack. Usually that’s the last (lowest) gambit you set up, as they process from the top down.

As for your second question, iirc FFX and X-2 and any entry before that were all turn-based. I really liked IX and X, the X and X-2 Remastered editions (also on PC) are probably the best place to go for you, unless you have just a huge hankerin to play hundreds of hours of classic FF games, since it’s the most recent and modern effort.

The Active Time Battle system was a feature for most of the ‘classic’ Final Fantasy games. Which is to say that most aren’t truly turn based, but they kind of are.

The basic idea of ATB was that there were discrete turns, but the time between turns was variable. So a faster character could, potentially, get two turns to a monsters one. Certain conditions or spells could alter turn length for character(s), so manipulating that could be beneficial on bosses.

But, from a practical matter, they play like turn based up until 11 I think. The PS1 games leaned more on the real time aspect, but set it to pause when a turn comes up and it still, fundamentally, was turn based. 12 is the first ‘mainline’ game that really broke from that, I believe. It is possible, however, that I am misremembering, or just flat out wrong. I did not play 8&9.

I’ve always heard great things about VII and VIII.

This is correct. I initially ran screaming from 12 for this reason, but I learned to love it as I watched Japan play the game for a few months before it’s US release. One thing that’s cool about the switch to real time is it’s actually still ATB (a meter fills up before the requested action is taken, the only difference is combatants move around on the battle field which makes it look cooler), and also the fights go by a little faster, the easy one especially, so the “random battles” is a lot less of slog.