Final Fantasy XII: Emulating Legally
I was worried about how I was going to play Final Fantasy XII. Almost every Final Fantasy game has either been re-released, remastered, remade, or released on multiple systems. Final Fantasy XII is the only mainline game that hasn't been. It is available on PS2 and that's it. There's a rumor that it's going to get the HD remaster treatment the same way Final Fantasy X did, but a rumor doesn't do me any good right now.
I own a PS2 and a copy of Final Fantasy XII. They're sitting in my closet right now. The problem is I don't have any good spot to set up the console, I don't want to view the game in low resolution via composite cables, I don't want to be tethered via a hardwired controller, and I don't want to have to get to save spots to save my game. I've been spoiled by my iOS and Vita games. I need the ability to suspend or save anywhere. It helps games fit into my life so much better. The rest are just minor inconveniences but not having save anywhere or game suspend capabilities is huge for me.
That brings us to emulation. I usually hate emulating things. I like to pay creators for the work they've done and emulation is usually tied up with pirating. I will gladly buy a game multiple times if it is released on new systems. I re-purchased Final Fantasy VII through Final Fantasy X to be able to play them on my Vita. I appreciate that the creators made them available on a modern system, so I'll happily pay for it. That being said, it's not an option for Final Fantasy XII.
I did a little research and found out that, generally, it's ok to emulate if you own the game and rip your own .iso file of it. Well, I do own the game. I paid for it. So, I did exactly that. I ripped my own .iso file from the game I already owned. I mean, it was just sitting in the closet.
Next, I dug into pcsx2, which is a PS2 emulator. It's a fully featured emulator with tons of extra plugins and options. One of the things I love about it is that it doesn't supply you with the PS2 bios. You have to own a PS2 and retrieve your own bios out of it in order to play games. So, I did.
Basically I'm using my own PS2 bios and an .iso of my own copy of Final Fantasy XII in order to play the game on my PC. This is essentially as legal as emulation gets, which is why I wanted to share. The only thing I downloaded was the emulator itself. Everything else came from me.
Doing this emulation research has brought something very interesting to light. Final Fantasy XII was actually made with high resolution textures. You could never tell while playing it on PS2 because the native resolution is somewhere around 640 by 480. But, playing it on a computer monitor via an emulator I'm able to crank the resolution up.
This game looks so good! It's amazing that all this detail was hidden in the game the entire time. I feel like it would be comparatively easy to give this game an HD remaster. Most of the work is already done, it was just hiding! It actually lends some credence to that rumor of a remaster coming along soon.
If you want to see it in motion, here is a video that someone else put together. The settings and appearance of the game are very close to mine.
I played a little bit of Final Fantasy XII just to make sure my setup would work correctly. It seems to be pretty solid and un-buggy. For reference, I'm playing the game on a high end Windows gaming PC with a Xbox 360 controller. I need to play more before I get some real first impressions written up about the game itself.
Another item of note, Final Fantasy XII has two versions. I'm playing the original US version of the game, because it's the one I own. In most other parts of the world you can get the International Zodiac Job System version of the game. I won't be playing that. I've heard it changes the progression mechanics in an interesting way but I have no way to play it legally. So, I won't. I'll just play my US copy of the game.
I know this was a long post to essentially say, "Here's how I'm playing the game." but I went through a lot to figure it out, so I wanted to share it with you. Expect some real first impressions of the game soon.