For all you peasants who are just now being able experience one of the FF games that is in my top 3 for the series, you're Welcome. I would like to highlight some of this game's strongest improvements for the series that often gets overlooked. I will also give some of my tips on making your playthrough as effective as possible.
I Award this Game for....
- Best voiced localization in the series, handidly outdoing the ones before AND after it. It truly makes those attempts look pitiful. Must be something to do with the fact it was actually localized by two americans instead of a team of non native english speaking japanese who have a tendency to overthing the nuance of their language. Anyone who has played FFXII can see it is definitely not lacking in nuance. Great JOB!!!
- Best cohesive Art style throughout the game. FF games have a tendancy to lose their art direction half way through. FFVII for instance has amazing industrial feel while in Midgar but then loses that touch the second you leave that city. XII has no jarring shifts such as this.
- NOT BEING LED BY A ROMANCE!!! Yea that's right children, this was a very mature game and made no time for sappy love stories. What elements of romance the game does have it is subtle and very much secondary to this game's Socio-Political Plotting.
- Best Usage of Magic/Armor/Weapon combo strategy. I seriously have never had as much fun in any other FF title experimenting with equipment tethered to certain jobs to elevate them.
- Literal worst form of Summons in the Series. Yea......like they are useless in battle. They unfortunately are locked at whatever HP/MP they are when you unlock them which usually means under leveled by the time you would ever want to effectively use them. Very saddening because FFX had the best method of summoning and this was a piggy back from that but just broken. There should have been a way to more progressively level them so they don't die in seconds after summoning. These creatures are efficient when it comes to unlocking key components for certain job classes tho so be very careful about who gets what Esper.
First lets appreciate the versatility of Final Fantasy XII, being the one entry in the series that allows you to create a drastically different play style just by changing a few key Settings. The game was hailed/lawded for being the first "Action Oriented" FF entry. Yet that is only true if you want it to be.
Do you want a more Action Oriented Battle System like FFXV?
Simply crank up the ATB bar speed and turn on "Active" mode. This is something available in many final fantasies but only in this game does it give the feel of an actual action RPG due to the key ability to move your character's freely. Having smartly done Gambit AIs is very important for this method. Because manual imputs for every character is way too much to handle like this. I personally found it a bit overwhelming at later points in the game. Yet so many nay sayers of the game way back when wrote it off for being too automated and easy. For those I challenge them to play it this way.
Do you want more Traditional Turn Based?
Simply leave the ATB bar at it's normal speed(or crank up as it will have less effect without Active mode) and leave it on Wait. For added effect of not feeling too "Automated" just don't used gambits. You will then have to do every manual input yourself like the much more traditional FF titles. I play turnbased with Gambits on because I felt it offered plenty challenge this way.
I am radiating with rage that the Xbox One and Switch versions of this game come with the coveted capability to respec character jobs at some point.....but I won't dwindle on that. You will still want to make your Job class placements as Effective as possible. Certain combinations of Char/Job/Sub/Esper work very effectively. Not following my regiment will not cripple you entirely.....but you will have to live with the fact you are not using your characters at maximum potential.
Note: I gave myself the obstacle of only using each Job Class once and tried to Maximize them with best pairings.
So take notes Churle!
Jobs: Shikari/Time Mage
Why?: So Vaan is actually the perfect Jack of all Trades. He is reasonably high in all stats. If he isn't the literal best he is usually in the top end. So why not other job classes? Simple, storywise he is meant to be a thief and a Ninja like Buff Master fits well into that archtype. That and he has the highest speed stat in the game which aids in his ability to bust out Hastes and well timed attacks effectively. The combination of Shikari and Time Mage is complementary. It works as a Dodge based Tank or a Status Effect Shredder. The fact you can use Daggers and shields is useful because Daggers often have debuffing effects that you can expedite with the Haste Spell.
Bushi/Black Mage, Bushi/Red Mage
Why? Ashe has second highest natural Magic Stat in the game, but on principal I refused to allow all my female characters to be restricted to Mage archetypes. So I figured what would actually be most effective with her.....DARK KNIGHT!!! Which is effectively created by merging a Bushi(Samurai) and Black/Red Mage. These two jobs are complementary because Bushi damage actually feeds off of higher magic stat combined with attack. This is probably the best damage dealing job combination in the game by far.
White Mage/Archer, Bushi/Black Mage
Why? Because obvi, she has highest magic stat in the game, she needs to be a mage. In typical fashion a Mage like herself should be outfitted with a main ranged weapon to keep her out of harms way.
Why?: As the leading man you have to know what works for this guy. He is naturally pointed at using guns as main mechanic. By default he will have his first gun unlocked on any Job Board. So I have the mindset that any Ranged weapon damage dealer should be a Mage because it perfectly keeps them out of harms way. Choose Red Mage as Balthier's FIRST JOB because he can always use that first gun, you don't gain the ability to use a Second Job class for quite a while, and it is important that you have another healer class. I chose Red Mage because (Slight Spoiler) At most points in the game certain party members join, leave, then rejoin your party. Having a character who can efficiently heal at all times is essential. Don't do what I did and restrict every job class to be used once and put your only White Mage on Penelo is in your party for a tiny stint before being banished to be the very LAST party member you get back 20+ hours in.
Monk/ Uhlan, Monk/Time Mage
Why?: Sexy Chewbaca. Even though she is one of my top five character designs and all around favorite character in the game.....she is unfortunately the Black Sheep of the pack Job wise. She is much like Vaan in the idea she is a Jack of All Trades......but in a bad way. She is literally the worst(or close to) at everything. So ultimately I tried to choose classes that complemented her aesthetic more than ones that she necessarily was best at. So what if we gave her weaponry that took advantage of her steller long reach and height? Yup, Polearms and Spears it is! So the thing about Poles is that they don't attack enemy Physical Defense, they check the Magic Defense. Poles have a high Combo Rating and make for some pretty good Damage Dealing. Bonus: The unusually high damage potential that these builds give Fran also makes her perfect to utilize equipment that Doubles damage but removes weapon (Melee Build). She looks glorious doing repeated hand to hand combos as she does in her Quickening attacks.
Knight/Foe Breaker, Knight/Monk
Why?: Chris Hemsworth here is my version of a Knight or Paladin build. As the good twin it just seemed fitting. Now this is a Job combo that needs a bit of help from accessorizing. In particular you want to deal with the fact Basch has the lowest MP in the game, which makes him a very in-efficient healer.....which hurts his ability to properly keep aggro as the go to Tank. My fix is a little trinket called....I can't remember but it allows you to use Gil instead of MP for magic. It is a god send to this build. The Gil cost is usually just whatever the MP cost was but with a Zero at the end and that is easy potatoes by late stage in the game. Foe Breaker techniques are all about that Debuff and enemies hate it when you do that. Or you want to be a pansy and break the rule of doubling up the same job I suppose you could use Knight/Monk which does a better job of complementing like Buff/Debuff spell casting, healing, and Damage Potential. Personally I think it undermines the ability to use Shields with Knight but to each his own.
- When enemy is charging up for a big powerful AOE attack, simply remove all but one party member to save as many people as possible from the damage.
- although you can only have 3 party members at once in battle, you can swap out downed party members while even in battle. A useful tactic for surviving tough mobs.
- When dodging magic mine traps utilize the one man party technique above to make it a bit easier.
- When in the Mines and being over run by undead use mass healing magic like Cura or Curaja to wipe out large numbers. You can keep a pretty stellar chain going by continuously wiping out zombies with this which means bigger/better drops.
- If you know the Negative Status Effect given by a telling Boss attack, go in the menu and change out armor/accessories to something that can defend against it. Then let the attack finish executing. Don't worry about utilizing armor strategy, you can swap it right back once the attack is finished. The armor swapping technique works for gaining instant elemental immunity when facing certain attacks too.
- Lure is a very useful skill to controlling and maintaining where the damage is being dealt. You could be dealing with up to 20 spawining enemies in certain battles. Use wisely.
- Bubble Spell is the only way to get your characters past the 9999 limit, but an added bonus effect is that Bubble makes you immune to Disease. Late stage enemies and bosses love to cast this and it is mighty annoying to deal with. Keep your characters Bubbled so you have a larger health pool to survive devestating attacks and this naughty status effect.
- Reverse is one of the most overpowered spells in the game. Allowing you to swap damage for healing for an amount of time. Basically this game's Invincibility spell with a twist. Luckily most of you aren't good enough to even get it so no worries there.
- Money is obtained by selling Loot. Loot is often dropped by enemies or from chests. You can increase loot drop rate by getting higher chains. The trick of chaining is to keep killing the same type of enemies consecutively. When farming for this sort of thing be sure to make Gambits "Attack Leader Target" only so you don't get into a situation where the AI chooses to kill a rando bunny when you are chaining Bats. Use the run/flee function to evade unwanted enemies. You can chain inbetween zones but whatever you do DO NOT TOUCH SAVE CRYSTALS WHILE CHAINING! it will reset.
- Gambit Strategy: So occasionally you will want to automate a certain tedious function like Steal, but you will quickly find that to Set a Gambit like "Enemy:Any>Steal" just means that your thief will continue till the end of time, well past the point of taking all the items. Or the idea that if you set "Basch:Any >Lure" which is a spell that only stays on while in battle you will continue to cast it repeatedly when not facing enemies. You can ease this by being a bit more creative. For instance try creating secondary parameters via another character or same to trigger the action. Like setting a health check works. Or maybe a Status Effect check
PSN:Forevercloud (looking for Soul Sacrifice Partners!!!)