Nick Pino – Senior Editor, Home Tech
Personal Gaming Pick: Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
There’s something about years that end in a ‘7’. 1997 brought us 007 GoldenEye, Mario Kart 64 and Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation; 2007 had Halo 3, Portal, BioShock and Super Mario Galaxy; and 2017 had both a new Mario and a Legend of Zelda game from Nintendo, Sony had Horizon Zero Dawn and Microsoft gave us the most powerful console in history with the Xbox One X. It’s a long way from now, but if they’re going to beat this year, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft had best start preparing for 2027 right now.
And while I could wax poetic about any of the above games, one game that really hit home for me was Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. Curmudgeons will say what they will about remakes being cheap cash grabs on old software, but to me, they’re opportunities to go back in time and play something that you might’ve missed years ago – or, in my case, revisit a world that I was too quick to write off when it came out in 2006.
When I played Final Fantasy XII on PS2 in 2006, I was just two years from graduating high school. I was obsessed with World of Warcraft at the time, and every open-world RPG just felt small compared to the yet-untarnished world of Azeroth. The story in Final Fantasy XII was too obfuscated for me to enjoy back then, too nuanced in its subtleties. The freedom of escaping a class system was liberating and confusing in equal measure, and the real-time combat – where you can move around enemies for one of the first times in a Final Fantasy game – just felt too wild and uncontrollable.
I had a set preconception of what Final Fantasy should be. And because of it, I missed out on one of the best games of that year, World of Warcraft be damned.
This year, the Zodiac Age gave me another shot at exploring Ivalice through the eyes of a tired – but more mature – adult. All the issues I had at 16 vanished, and what was left was this shining gem of a game that ripped traditional RPG elements to shreds and became the prototype for the next decade of the franchise. If you haven’t had the chance to play it or, perhaps worse, are like me and wrote the game off a decade ago, you ought to give The Zodiac Age a shot before you make the same mistake twice.