Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age review for PS4

Platform: PS4
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: N/A

The latest in a long line of HD remasters, Square Enix has finally decided to release Final Fantasy XII on the PlayStation 4. If you’re like me and somehow didn’t play this game when it came out on the PS2, then you’re in for a real treat. If you’re not like me and did play the original release, then you probably already know this game is worth your time.

I don’t really know why I missed out on Final Fantasy XII back in the day, but I’ve owned a copy for years. At one point, I went to play it and couldn’t change the horizontal camera controls. Whatever games I was playing at the time must have really screwed me up because I couldn’t adjust to the camera in FFXII and had to set it aside. That’s no longer a concern, as the remaster includes the option to change both the horizontal and vertical axis.

As it turns out, enough time has passed that I no longer needed to make any camera adjustments, but it’s totally possible now. Anyone who had this issue can now fully enjoy Final Fantasy XII with nothing holding them back!

Now that we’ve covered my brief history with the original game, let’s see what Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age has to offer besides more customization in the game’s settings.

The most obvious change is to the visuals. This is a total HD remaster, and the work has paid off. One example is that I remember being kind of repulsed by Vaan’s torso texture back on the PS2, but it’s been redesigned here. He no longer looks like he took an acid bath, and these refinements are present throughout the entire game. The team who worked on this took full advantage of the opportunity to give the entire game a visual facelift.

As for the audio, it’s kind of a mixed bag. I say this because while the music has been kept in tact, so has the game’s voiceover work. The first time you hear anyone talk, you’ll be wondering if Square Enix used a time machine to go back to 2006 and just get the voice work straight from its compressed DVD source. It’s a shame that more couldn’t be done for the voices in this game, since the sound effects and score shine so much.

There were a good amount of times where I’d be playing the game, enjoying how pristine its graphics and sound are, and then a character has something to say which just sounds awful in contrast. I got used to this over time, but there’s not much you can do about it. Well, maybe you could play the original game and all the audio would be of the same quality, but who wants to do that? Just look at how pretty it is on the PS4!

The game even defaults its music to a great updated orchestral version of its original score, although it offers the original tracks for those who want the experience to be more like it was back in the day. I liked both versions, and really enjoy the discrete transition between them when changing over. A part of me wished there was an option to change the visuals between their original appearance and the remaster (as seen in the Halo Anniversary remake), but that’s not too important to worry about.

The game plays just as it always has, with the infamous gambit system and real-time targeting. I found myself using a speed multiplier to move more quickly through dungeons, and this can be toggled on and off with the L1 button. This was offered in the International version of Final Fantasy XII, and I like that a things can be sped up to get through any dull parts, then slowed down to enjoy the pace as it was meant to be.

The other major inclusion is the Zodiac Job System from the International version, which has twelve license boards for you to level up your party with. This adds a nice level of depth to what the original game provided. You can also control guest characters, those who are present at parts of the story, but may not be permanent additions. These must have really satisfied those who played the International version, because I found them to feel like natural parts of the game in The Zodiac Age. Maybe I just like having more ability to interact more with my party.

My only other complaint with the game is that while there are a variety of technical improvements, the process of creating save files seem to take an eternity. There were many times where I would become impatient waiting for the game to present me with more dialog about where I would like to create a save, then find myself accidentally saying “No” and having to wait for more menus to load. This takes place on the PlayStation 4 interface, but I feel like other games get you through this process much quicker. The Zodiac Age instead is just dragging its feet. This is a really minor complaint, but it may bother some people like it did with me.

Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age gets its reputation from Final Fantasy XII being such a smash hit, along with incorporating the revisions in the International version. Add to that the updated graphics and orchestrated score, and you have what could safely be considered the definitive Final Fantasy XII experience. While not much can be done for the compressed voice work that was carried over, it’s a tradeoff for having an updated version that offers a lot more than is worth getting hung up on part of the game’s audio quality. I’d recommend this version any day of the week.

Grade: A