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Revisiting an old friend: Hands-on with Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age By Wassim Mokhtar on July 3, 2016 at 8:19 PM

After years of pestering and pleading, Square Enix finally announced a remastered release for the oft underrated Final Fantasy XII, due out for PlayStation 4 some time next year. I was filled to the brim with excitement; watching the announcement trailer and reading all the noteworthy improvements for the game had me on the edge of my seat – it was finally FFXII‘s time to shine.

This revamped version is based off Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System and includes higher resolution character models, cut-scenes and backgrounds plus higher-quality audio from the original PlayStation 2 version. Fans can also expect both English and Japanese voice acting options, the option to switch between the original and remastered music tracks, shorter loading times, auto-saving and a turbo mode among other updates.

For those new to Final Fantasy XII, the game celebrates its 10 year anniversary this year. Having released Westward on the cusp of the PlayStation 3 launch, it was a game that sort of fell by the wayside a bit – its art and voice direction, battle system and game design considered a bit of a risk compared to past installments. Although Final Fantasy XII received critical acclaim, many Final Fantasy fans just didn’t give the game its due. With time gone past, many are now clinging to a vision they once brushed aside – is this a chance for redemption? From what I played it’s almost guaranteed.

During E3 this year, I had the opportunity to get my hands on Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age for a short demo. Set part way through the game, I found myself in the Lhusu Mines of Bhujerba with Vaan, Balthier and Basch tasked to find the captured Penelo. Along the way they meet the mysterious Lamont, who comes in quite handy as a guest character.

From the dark caves to the bright market streets and the diverse cast of NPCs populating the world, details that were once too difficult to make out in the original PlayStation 2 version are now crisp and clear thanks to the resolution and image quality boost afforded by the PS4. These improvements are most notable on the Judge armors, for example, with their designs and engravings coming into full focus for the first time. While the game doesn’t stand on par visually with a typical current generation title such as Final Fantasy XV, its art style keeps it alive and well in the age of higher polygon count and photo-realism.

The sound quality has also been improved for The Zodiac Age. Square Enix has ponied up for a revision of the game’s soundtrack, with both the new and original available depending on your preference. The remastered version was featured in the demo and although similar features notable changes such as live performances.

Unfortunately for the moment the same can’t be said for the game’s voice quality. It’s hard to say without listening to a direct comparison, but it felt like the audio compression problems that plagued the original release have yet to be fixed here. For now we’ll just have to wait and see.

Final-Fantasy-XII-The-Zodiac-Age_2016_06-06-16_002

On gameplay, not much has changed compared to the original; you can still control and assign a multitude of commands to party members using the Gambit System in active time. Everything felt as fluid and consistent as I remembered – from manual to automatic control schemes to attacks, spells and flashy Quickening abilities, my time with the demo felt as good as the first time I picked up and played the original a decade ago.

One of the major additions to The Zodiac Age is the ability to toggle a turbo mode of sorts on and off during gameplay. Similar to some of the recent Final Fantasy ports to PC and PS4, you’re able to hold down a couple buttons and speed up the game to mitigate the slow grind through battles and locations. It’s a feature that came stock with the original International Zodiac Job System release and something that could come in handy if you’re planning to run back through.

From my brief time with the in-development demo of the game, it’s clear The Zodiac Age has the potential to be the definitive version of Final Fantasy XII in nearly every way. Despite it being available in Japan for years I do find myself curious about the International version and its mountain of additional features. Hopefully it’s a satisfying package until we’re closer to the next big thing in Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age will be hitting store shelves worldwide in early 2017 for PlayStation 4.

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  • Jesus Christ

    I remember playing this game on a box tv.

    Old old old times.

  • •december

    Still hyped for FFXV sorry.
    But I will definitely buy this in time…
    …Final Fantasy XV has my complete attention at the moment

  • HizaguiC .

    tried playing this on an emulator a couple of times, low framerate and sound desync made me turn away from it, eventually it’ll get a pc port and I’ll try it then,

  • Krijn van Alten

    You can relax, this release is still half a year away, so by that time it’s very likely that you finished XV.

  • Krijn van Alten

    And that for someone who died 2000 years ago?

  • Krijn van Alten

    Only if it performs well enough on consoles. In every interview they have when they speak about porting/remaking something, it becomes very clear that they don’t want to take to many risks these days. Maybe because projects like XV and now the VII are very expansive.

  • Jesus Christ

    LOL

  • ITALOpkg

    Anybody know if in this versions of the game we will be forced to use only to use a certain type of weapon, armor and etc?

    For example: If we choose to be a mage we will only use rods and etc..

    I heard this version is not like the FF XII original version 🙁

  • nancyjspence

    <<u.
    ✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:::::::!bk1003er:….,….

  • Josh Asher

    I(‘m totally bogged down in Final Fantasy man. World of FF soon, FF Type-0 unfinished, restarting XIV soon, XV soon, X-2 HD still untouched, FF Explorers, then this. Criminey it’s a lot

  • It’s summer time. This and winter holidays the best time to play long games.

  • I did decent with 12 near the end but struggled at the start and middle.
    Can yall let me know if this is a good set up team wise for this playthru. Hoping with the job system things will be more fun.

    Vaan as Uhlan (dark magic, melee w/range)
    Panelo as White Mage (healer)
    Ashe as Red Mage (jane of all trades at magic)
    Balthier as Machinist (range, time and green magic)
    Basch as Knight (defense, power)
    Fran as Archer (items, healer, range)

  • Yuntu

    Yes your Job determines what you can wear. Thankfully.

  • Yuntu

    I would recommend Ashe as a Samurai. She is insane in that job. And can also use some magic if I remember it right.

  • Yuntu

    then your emulator had problems and not the game itself :p

  • I hear Samurai can only do technicks and gets telekinesis late.

  • Randy Marsh

    It doesn’t matter too much. but you might want to change it up. Vaan is better at Shikari (fastest speed), Penelo as Black Mage (high magic power), Ashe should either be a Knight or White Mage (she has better magic stats for healing and decent attack power), Balthier should be Monk or Samurai, Basch as a Breaker or Uhlan (strong attack power), and Fran is w/e, since she meh in stats. However, they are making changes to the job system in the HD version, so hold up on this class list thing until you get more info if we can switch jobs in HD or something.

  • Daniel Masterson

    I’m so insanely excited for this! The next couple years are going to be just fantastic for FF fans. We got FF XV, World of FF, Maybe FF VII remake, FF XII just so many great games!

  • I agree with your set up here. But I wanted Balthier and Fran to be machinist and archer since in all their character air they already show their signature weapons. Plus Archers are good with healing and items, the only one with both traits. And machinist and use 3 types of spells rather than me having to switch a character to each of those jobs.

    Vaan I’m on the fence about. Yeah I wanna give him ninja swords and have him attack often but they are good at much else. They only learn 2 defensive white mage spells. When isn’t bad but unless he has telekiness or atk items he’s useless against flying foes.

    Basch and Ashe I likely will go with what you’re saying. I see Ashe as a paladin anyway and Basch as a dark knight.

    SMH so many choices and it’s better to stick with one and master it instead of jumping around like I did the first time. Of course rumor is no switching this time in the International version.

  • ITALOpkg

    But we can’t change if we choose one of them? 🙁

  • Yuntu

    Exactly.

  • Marybjones4

    <<os.
    ✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:✸✸✸✸✸:::::::!blr236es:….,…

  • ITALOpkg

    Ivalice is one of the most amazing worlds that Final Fantasy have to offer.

    It’s the most richest world in terms of culture in the FF franchise. <3

  • Daniel

    Love FF XII, one of my all-time favorites. Man, those were good times, playing the game in my ps2 for the first time in 2007. I can’t thank Square enough for bringing the International version in glorious HD for ps4, I’ve waited for so long and now it’s finally happening!

  • FF XII revenant wings are welcome on game package like uncharted drake collection xD

    can make use of touch pad as a second screen tap

  • FF Overdose we needed for years XD

  • SomniaGAF

    Really looking forward to this, it’s the only mainline Final Fantasy I have yet to play.