developer: Square-Enix / Eidos
publisher: Square-Enix / Eidos
Game mode: single player
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age for PC and PS4 is a remastered edition of the twelfth installment in the most popular series of jRPGs in the world. As usual, the game was created by Square Enix. The original Final Fantasy XII debuted in 2006 on PlayStation 2. However, the re-edition was created on the basis of Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System – an extended, enhanced edition of the original release, that came out in 2007 and was never published in the West.
The project of Final Fantasy XII was born in 2000. Initially, the gamemakers were supervised by Yasumi Matsuno (behind the Final Fantasy Tactics series) and Hiroyuki Ito, who had worked on Final Fantasy IX. Because of health-related issues, Matsuno had to resign however, but it was him who is behind the game's general setting nonetheless – it is the world of Ivalice, where the gamemaker's previous games were set, namely Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions and Vagrant Story. It was already in the concept stage of the project, when the creators decided to introduce tremendous changes to the classic jRPG formula, as well as to both the combat and character development systems. As a result, Final Fantasy XII remains one of the most unique representatives of the genre.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is set in the world of Ivalice, long before the events depicted in the original Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, in the epoch, when skies were being explored by majestic airships and magic was commonplace. Rozzaria, which is at war with Archadia, are the dominant political powers in Ivalice – these are two powerful empires located on opposite continents. Between the empires, there is a small kingdom of Dalmasca, which gets taken over forcefully by the Archadian army. A seventeen-year-old Vaan is the protagonist – an orphan and an urban thief who has dreamed of a sky-pirate career. He lives in Rabanastre, that is, the capital city of the occupied Dalmasca. As a result of a coincidence, the protagonist meets the princess Asha, who is the leader of the local resistance. Also, Vaan meets a couple of pirates who intend to rob the administrator the Archadians have chosen for this town. Accompanied by his close friend by the name of Penelo, as well as the pirates, Vaan sets out for a journey. What is at stake here, is the fate of the entire world.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age for PC and PS4 introduces completely new elements to the franchise. The game is played from a third-person view; controlling the character chosen, the player explores large 3D locations (open structure oftentimes). The player's team comprises up to 6 figures, but only three reside on the map simultaneously. The game does not utilize the systems of random encounters and fights taking place on separate arenas, for what Final Fantasy has been popular. In this game, the player attacks enemies that reside directly on the world map. Combat is real-time here, but the game brings active pausing, which makes it possible to choose (pop-up menu) and give orders to the character without having to hurry.
What is unique about the game, is the system of gambits – those are items one uses to program the AI of characters; gambits stand behind the characters' behaviours in particular kinds of situations. The manner in which the character's skills are developed is equally interesting. Each character has a chessboard-like chart for licenses - those can be bought for the experience gained. Licenses allow to use particular abilities and spells, but also parts of equipment, such as weapons, armors, items, etc. As a result, the player can shape both the combat style and the character's role in battle to their liking. Characters can buy abilities from one of 12 license boards available. Each of these boards contains abilities representing classic Final Fantasy character classes, such as white or black mage, monk or samurai.
Apart from a standard campaign, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age for PC and PS4 offers additional modes. In New Game Plus, the player starts over, retaining their experience and equipment. In New Game Minus on the other hand, the player does not gain any experience. The Challenge mode gives an opportunity to hunt creatures on over a hundred different maps.
The original Final Fantasy XII is one of the best-looking games for PlayStation 2, but also one of the more interesting Final Fantasy games in terms of design. The game world designers were inspired by art and architecture of Mediterranean countries, offering an interesting mixture of influences from different cultures and historical periods. The character models, extensive locations and animations are of the highest-quality here. The creators refreshed the visuals, improving 3D models, but they also improved the quality of text, as part of high resolution settings. Loadings were shortened and minor drawbacks were eliminated, as well as were the problems which had resulted from hardware-related limitations.
The creators of this remastered edition recorded the entire soundtrack from scratch, as created by Hitoshi Sakimoto (behind music in games such as Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy Tactics, Odin Sphere, Dragon's Crown or the Valkyria Chronicles series). The soundtrack present here uses 7.1 surround sound.
PC / Windows
Recommended: Intel Core i5-4460 3.2 GHz, 8 GB RAM, graphic card 4 GB GeForce GTX 980 or better, 50 GB HDD, Windows 7/8/10 64-bit
Minimum: Intel Pentium G3260 3.0 GHz, 4 GB RAM, graphic card 2 GB GeForce GTX 660 or better, 50 GB HDD, Windows 7 64-bit