Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Preview – Returning to Ivalice in HD

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Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is a return to one of the most interesting entries in the Final Fantasy series, but reinvigorated on the PlayStation 4. If you’re a long-time fan of Square Enix’s ongoing franchise, chances are you’ve played the original release of Final Fantasy XII back on the PlayStation 2. Though divisive in some circles of role-playing game fans, the game marked a changing point in the franchise’s history, mixing up a lot of the traditional aspects and staples of the series. Much like the release of Final Fantasy X HD Remaster, this remaster of Final Fantasy XII comes with polished visuals and a remastered soundtrack, along with a few additions everyone may appreciate.

The visuals of Final Fantasy XII were something to marvel at back on the PlayStation 2, but they’ve aged pretty well over the years and look great on PlayStation 4. The environments are great to look at while getting lost in their detailed structures and populated areas. Character models look better with the jump in brighter colors and smoothed out textures, allowing for some intricate details on their outfits and unique features to pop out even more. The cutscenes that play still look as good as you remember, only now they’ve been given a full HD overhaul with improved lighting and camera effects.

Fans of the original game will remember the large areas you can explore, which could drag on, but thanks to a new transparent map you can bring up with the L3 button, moving around won’t take as long as before. This is made even better by the ability to speed up the pace of movement and battle with the shoulder buttons. It took some time getting from place to place on the world map in the original game, but the new map feature and increased speed helps keep everything moving at a better pace. For some, this will be a godsend for the game’s more tedious tasks and difficult sidequests.

The biggest change comes in the form of the Zodiac Job System, an improvement on the leveling of characters and skills that can be obtained. With the zodiac system, there are twelve license boards that you can assign to your characters to gain new abilities. Each character can hold onto two different jobs and gain the attached skills from them, unlike in the original game where everyone had the same path when leveling up and gaining new skills. If you had issues leveling up your characters in the original game, this change will greatly impact your experience this time around.

Alongside all of these new additions to Final Fantasy XII, the Zodiac Age also features a new Trial Mode and additional tweaks to loading and saving. Trial Mode gives a whole new challenge with a 100 stage gauntlet for those who are daring enough to play through it. A new auto-save will help keep the time you spend with Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age archived constantly, along with faster loading times to get back into the action quicker.

All of the changes being done in Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age are looking to greatly improve the experience of the original. A lot of effort is going into making this another solid remastering of a beloved, or disliked, Square Enix classic. If you never dived into the original game on PlayStation 2, now might be the best time to experience Final Fantasy XII in a newly polished way. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age will be released for PlayStation 4 on July 11th, 2017 and has a Collector’s Edition with a bunch of extras that fans will want to check out.

Did you enjoy our preview of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age? Got a favorite moment from the game you can’t wait to experience again? Leave us a comment down below and let your voice be heard!

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Jakejames Lugo Senior Editor
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