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Development license

Final Fantasy XII battle
(Image source: SCEA.)

Final Fantasy XII gives the player complete freedom to develop party members as there aren’t any professions or jobs or character classes to limit you to specific skillsets. You can opt for skillsets common to RPG archetypes like warrior or caster but you can also create a spellcasting swordsman clad in heavy armour. There are no penalties in the game for casting a spell in armour and a spellcaster will wield a sword just as adroitly as a pure warrior.

Though the game manual suggests creating a balanced party of specialists (instead of a party of balanced and versatile characters), there doesn’t seem to be any impetus to go that traditional route.

FF12: the board game

This freedom comes via the License Board. Looking nothing so much as a checkers board as designed by Picasso, it provides an interesting way to develop characters.

Each square on the License Board represents a skill, ability or spell, the location of which is identical on every character’s License Board. Initially, a few of these squares are unlocked with rest unknown except for category type. Unlocking a square on the License Board will also provide a preview of adjacent squares.

Unlocking skills, spells and abilities on the License Board requires License Points (LP), the amount of which varies. A basic skill like Steal requires 15 LPs while a powerful Quickening special attack might require 50 LPs to unlock. LPs are gained along with XP whenever you kill a foe. You typically get one LP per kill but killing tougher foes might yield additional LPs. The neat thing is, unlike XP, every character is allocated LPs for kills regardless of whether he or she was an active party member or held in reserve.

Gil bill

To prevent players from quickly turning their characters into game-imbalancing superheroes, the developers placed two speedbumps to slow down the character development process. Some abilities (like improved magical potency or battle prowess) come into effect as soon as they are unlocked but technicks (special skills), spells and equipment need to be purchased separately before you can use them. Only the basic spells, skills and equipment are available in shops initially with better ones slowly introduced as the game progresses. The other speedbump is money. Spells, skills and equipment are pricey and I’m not finding money especially easy to come by at the moment.

If the License Board does have a flaw, it’s that spells aren’t adequately documented on it. For instance, upon previewing the White Magick 5 square on the License Board players will learn it unlocks the Curaga spell with no further details provided. That it’s a healing spell seems certain but of what sort? Does it heal the entire party or only a single target? How many Magick Points will the spell require for casting? The only way to know for certain is to purchase the spell.

With the right skill unlocks, you can turn characters into powerhouses without too much difficulty. The most powerful party member in my game at the moment also happens to be the most versatile. He has the highest HP and the largest pool of Magick Points for spellcasting. In battle, he’s capable of powerful melee attacks, blinding and immobilizing foes and mass healing allies. If all that wasn’t enough, he’s can also summon a powerful Esper to temporarily fight by his side. Doing this removes the rest of the party which means the summoner gets all the XP from kills for himself, accelerating his levelling. And so the strongest gets stronger.

Posted in Games, PS2.