Title: Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age
Platform: PS4 (reviewed)
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Release date: Out now
tl;dr: The return to Ivalice has never looked so good.
Price: $40/£30
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

Balthier with Larsa and someone who has no input with the plot.

In 2007, Square Enix released Final Fantasy XII to critical acclaim, but due to the transition to the next console generation at the time and breaking the traditions of a Final Fantasy game, a lot of people didn’t play this timeless JRPG. But thanks to the outcry from fans we now have the exclusive international version from Japan on PS4.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is a remaster of the original PS2 release of Final Fantasy 12: The International Zodiac Job System, much like the Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts. The Zodiac Age has enhanced visuals in the form of better character models, textures, and lighting; the game also comes with a bunch of tools we in the western part of the world didn’t get to experience, such as an auto save, two-speed modes of 2x or 4x speed, a job system with the choice of two jobs for your character and a trial mode where you face various enemies from the game either standard enemies or bosses.

Final Fantasy XII is set in the world of Ivalice, the world that originally came from the Final Fantasy Tactics series. Ivalice is ruled over by the power of the Judges and their law; for example, in Tactics, there were certain battles that would restrict you from using magicks, and if your character did, they would be arrested. In Final Fantasy 12, you have to buy licenses to use weapons, armour, abilities and magicks using points on the license board, similar to Final Fantasy 10’s sphere grid.

By far the greatest feature in Zodiac Age is the speed up feature; the game at standard speed is painfully slow and makes traversing a long and painful journey, but two times speed fixes this issue, and four times speed is helpful for quick grinding sessions, either for experience points, license points, or if you’re just after a certain rare drop. I played the entire game in two times speed, and then during grinding sessions or post game content, I switched to four times speed. Although, this spoils other games for me, as they feel too slow now.

“Oh, hai! It’s Balthier and Basch!”

The gambit system is an incredible feature in Final Fantasy XII, a system that is common place in most games nowadays. The gambit system is used to set up your characters to perform different attacks and abilities, such as if any of your ally characters health falls beneath say 60%, the character with any curative spell will use the magick to… well, cure you, or if any enemy is weak to a certain element, you can set up a gambit to attack that weakness. This can be so helpful; you can literally enter any battle without having to worry about controlling the other characters and focus solely on yourself, or you can set the gambits to perform AFK grinding so you’re literally earning EXP whilst you sleep or eat.

As for new content for the Zodiac Age, at least for us Westerners, we now have trial mode, where you tackle a hundred floors of various enemies, including bosses and rare game. The trial mode is a challenging experience that tests your mettle; you really have to prepare yourself for each floor in advance, especially from floor 50 onwards. You’ll need to carefully set your gambits to fit each battle, as different bosses and enemies are tackled in different ways. For example, one secret boss requires you to use the magick Reverse to survive, and Reverse is a spell that literally reverses damage and healing on that character. Without that magick, the battle will be over in mere seconds.

“Buy the game, kid!”

Overall, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is a must-buy for any fan of the series or any JRPG fan; the game is just incredible and definitely improves on the original title. The speed up feature makes grinding less of a chore, and the trial mode is simply incredible and a worthwhile challenge plus it presents you with one of the hardest boss battles in the entire Final Fantasy series.

The Good

  • A beautiful representation of Ivalice.
  • The speed up feature helps the long grinds.
  • Trial mode is an incredible addition.

The Bad

  • Seitengrat breaks the games challenge.
  • The license board can look you out of acquiring ultimate weapons…
  • Seriously, the Seitengrat ruins the game.

Family Focus: Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age

Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age is rated T for Teen and PEGI 16. Themes of fantasy violence, war, death and the occasional ye olde curse word, little Timmy is best off playing World of Final Fantasy.

This review is based on a retail copy of the game purchased for the purpose of this review.