Like many of the later Final Fantasy titles, Final Fantasy XII allowed players to customize their characters. Of course, the limit of customization is job class, but characters could have job class players wanted. Even still, we have many options in what to equip on the License Board:
The system consists of different tiled boards for each job with hundreds of squares, each square representing an ability, spell, equipment piece or augment. By defeating enemies in battle, characters earn License Points, abbreviated LP. Characters must spend their LP to activate squares on the License Board, granting them access to new abilities and allowing them to equip stronger weapons and armor.
The License Board is like the Sphere Grid, in that it’s
“roughly circular grid of interconnected nodes arranged in smaller circular clusters, containing all the abilities and special skills the player characters can learn”.
However, the License Board isn’t nearly as linear and allows for a wide variety of combinations.
But there’s one problem, you need a license for everything. Consider what you need a license for in this game:
- Light Armor
- Light Armor
- Mystic Armor
- Heavy Armor
- White Magicks
- Black Magicks
- First Aid
Now contrast this to Final Fantasy IV, where five year old mage twins could wield staffs. It makes sense to aqcuire a license to hold a sword, but do you need one for “Essentials”? Are the Judges so cruel that they won’t allow their citizens “Essentials”?
Perhaps, maybe they are. But the ultimate point isn’t about what you have, but to illustrate how one acquires freedom. There’s an ultimate price for freedom. A board with no restriction is perfect freedom. You can choose to do anything. But besides making the game simple, where would you start? In order to take the first step, you need a restriction. Only License Points unlock abilities. With this, you have the freedom to choose what you want to unlock.
Of course, you also have a choice when it comes to characters. Each character is equal, except for their base stats. Some jobs work better than others for certain characters. Still, we can choose what we want based on our preferences.
What do you want to purchase? A Mist Quicking, new skills, abilities, Espers, techniks, magicks, augments, weapons, armor, accessories? You have the freedom to choose, so long as you have a restriction: the License Points.
Within true freedom is a choice. If you choose to do nothing, you trap yourself.
Final Fantasy XII has a narrative reason behind choosing a job class.
Balthier achieved his rank as a Sky Pirate, even though he was a former Judge. Yet he found freedom in the skies. Vaan wishes to be more than just a Street Urchin; he wants to be a Sky Pirate and leave Rabanastre behind. And we’re all familiar that Penelo wants to be a dancer. A lot of freedom exists within a dance.
Our characters are slaves to the Occuria. The judges are overseers. Vayne misguidedly leads the rebellion to put the freedom in man’s hands. Yet only our characters have the freedom to make the right choices.
Final Fantasy XII deals with the dilemma of freedom. And it shows that like everything, there’s a price.