Fi­nal Fan­tasy XII: The Zo­diac Age

PC, PS4 | $50 | WWW.FINALFANTASYXII.COM The smartest game in the series has fi­nally made it to PC.

APC Australia - - Downtown Games -

Dal­masca has been in­vaded by the forces of Ar­cha­dia and it’s up to a cou­ple of street urchins, a re­sis­tance leader, a knight, a sky pi­rate and a rab­bit lady to save the realm. There’s an air­ship and Cho­co­bos — so far, so Fi­nal Fan­tasy — but look past the iconog­ra­phy and you’ll find the bold­est, most in­ven­tive game of the series, pow­ered by a weighty squad-based RPG sys­tem and re­mas­tered to run at high res­o­lu­tions on PC.

Af­ter a brief scene-set­ting pro­logue, you start the game in con­trol of Vaan, a charm­less teen from the streets of Dal­masca. He’s hit­ting rats in a sewer alone and seems de­ter­mined to give you the worst pos­si­ble in­tro­duc­tion to FFXII’s world and sys­tems. As you guide him around town and into the sur­round­ing deserts to hunt mon­sters, you pick up com­pan­ions like his street­wise pal, Penelo, and the fan­tas­tic sky pi­rate Balth­ier. Once you have a full squad, the com­bat sys­tem slowly re­veals it­self, and the fun can truly be­gin. Fight­ing hap­pens seam­lessly as you wan­der around open ar­eas — no sep­a­rate bat­tle scenes here. When an en­emy at­tacks, ev­ery­one draws their weapons, then you’re free to give com­mands to any party mem­ber, which they ex­e­cute as soon as their cooldown timer has ex­pired.

FFXII isn’t re­ally a game about mi­cro­manag­ing in­di­vid­ual ac­tions, but rather a de­sign chal­lenge in which you tai­lor the party’s AI to turn it into a self­sus­tain­ing death ball that rinses dun­geons with deadly ef­fi­ciency. You edit each in­di­vid­ual’s be­hav­iour be­tween bat­tles with the Gam­bit sys­tem. This looks like a list of com­mands which you can cus­tomise and then drag around to cre­ate an or­der of pri­or­ity. You can buy new com­mands from shops, too. The Li­cense Board sys­tem adds to the ap­peal, al­low­ing you to cast any char­ac­ter in any bat­tle­field role. To­gether, this makes de­vel­op­ing a party a sat­is­fy­ing ex­er­cise. Even though Balth­ier turns up with a gun and Vaan has a knife, you’re free to throw out the game’s idea for each fighter en­tirely.

XII’s great­est prob­lem is that it takes so long to get good. The re­mas­ter coun­ters this with a fast-for­ward mode that lets you dou­ble or quadru­ple the speed of the ac­tion. This brute force gets you through the duller in­tro dun­geons quickly, and clips hours of grind­ing. If you ap­proach XII as a ve­hi­cle for party ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, it’s easy to fast-for­ward to the qual­ity ex­tracur­ric­u­lar stuff, like the hunt­ing lodge that lets you fight through a series of in­tense mon­ster bat­tles.

If you like the­o­rycraft­ing, clever lev­el­ling sys­tems and lav­ish worlds, this could eas­ily be your new favourite Fi­nal Fan­tasy.

Tom Se­nior

Fear the might of the leather- strapped BDSM owl!

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