So, confession time: while I there are games in the Final Fantasy series that I enjoy and have a good time with, Final Fantasy XII was not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got an interesting setting, I like most of the cast, and the combat can be pretty fun at times. It just the game never really hooked me like previous games of the series did, and to this day I still don’t know why. While the San Diego Comic Con demo didn’t change my opinion of the game one way or another, I can tell there are quite a few refinements to the original that I can tell fans will get a kick out of.
The demo started off at the city of Bhujerba, where the party meets up with a young man by the name of Lamont. The party is tasked with escorting Lamont to the nearby Lhusu Mines. After exploring the city for a bit, I found my way to the mines, and with a party of Vaan, Basch, Balthier, and the aforementioned Lamont. I asked a Square Enix representative if I could change my party, but I was told that for the demo my party couldn’t be changed, which was a bummer, since I didn’t like Vaan, who was the character I controlled by default. I was thankfully able to switch who I controlled, and once I figured out how to play as my man Basch, I never switched back.
The first thing I noticed was how beautiful the game was. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is going to have remastered graphics (such as improved lighting and higher resolution textures), as well as support for 7.1 ch surrounded stereo mode. But don’t write it off as just a simple HD port of an older game, as the Zodiac Age will also bring a lot of refinements to the original game (many of which were only in the International Zodiac Job System version of the game), such as an auto save feature, a new Zodiac Job system, and even a Turbo Speed Button which lets players speed up the action. While I didn’t get a chance to try out the job system, I did get a chance to try out the speed up feature; it certainly made the game and combat move much faster, though I’d be lying if I didn’t say it looked a little silly at times. Thankfully, it could be turned on and off at any time just by pushing a button, so how fast the game plays is completely up to you.
There really weren’t any other major changes I could find in the game. The game still had the same mixture of real time combat and lack of random battles, so if you weren’t a fan of that in the original, you’ll most likely not enjoy it here. The demo ended with the party leading Lamont to the darkest parts of the mine, discovering that the magicite there may or may not be fake, and Balthier questioning who he really is. Overall, while the demo didn’t do anything to persuade me to get the game when it comes out next year exclusively for the PlayStation 4, I will concede that fans of the original will surely get a kick out of this one, as it adds just enough new to it to make the game stand out, while at the same time maintains the charm of the original.