Final Fantasy XII the Zodiac Age is a remaster of the original released on the PlayStation 2 in 1996. A remastered and reworked Final Fantasy for the PC gives players who have never played some of the older Final Fantasy games a decent starting point with FFXII, due to the intuitive and semi-automatic battle mechanics compared to previous games, or for seasoned veterans, it is a perfect excuse to replay the game in its enhanced glory.

A Fallen Empire

The game begins with a war between the Empires of Dalmasca and Arcadia, and Dalmasca’s ultimate defeat. The game fast-forwards two years and the player takes control of the main character known as Vaan, an orphaned Dalmascan, who winds up with a ragtag group of adventurers traveling all over the world, while constantly crossing paths with the Arcadian Empire. When Final Fantasy XII was initially released, the main protagonist, Vaan, was not very well received due to a lack of charm when compared to the rest of the playable characters in the game. Vaan and his main sidekick, Panelo, who players will meet very early in the game, feel out of place in a world of sky pirates and political intrigue. Fortunately for players, the remaining cast of characters fit the bill for the setting and storyline.

Combat

The battle mechanics of Final Fantasy XII are some of the best in the series. Players no longer have random encounters; instead, enemies are always visible which, depending on how the player is progressing, can actively engage in combat when necessary for gaining experience, or avoid enemies when they want to be more active with the main story and various side quests. When players do initiate combat with enemies a colored target line (colors vary on the action being taken) indicates which character is targeting which enemy in accordance with their attack or which party member they are interacting with.

A new mechanic added to Final Fantasy XII is the gambit system, that allows players to set up automatic commands to be performed by the characters, depending on specified conditions during encounters. Three settings need to be set for gambits to work; a target specifies what enemy or party member is to be acted upon. The action then needs to be set, specifying what action should be taken, such as the character healing themselves after their health falls below a certain percentage. Finally, the priority needs to be set as the player is permitted to set multiple gambits to each character in the party, if multiple gambit specifications concur then the game needs to know which gambit to initiate first.

Espers are Final Fantasy XII’s version of summons; players will need to find, initiate combat with and defeat the esper before they are able to summon them during battle. Similar to Final Fantasy X, espers remain in combat, however, unlike previous games, summons are not directly controlled by the player but operate on an internal gambit system. However, the summoner will remain in combat to assist with offensive and defensive attacks and spells. The esper will remain in combat until it, the summoner, or the time limit for the summon expire.

Each character of Final Fantasy XII can use a special ability called a quickening, which is equivalent to limit breaks from previous games. By navigating the license board, which is how characters gain abilities and actions from learning magic to equipping weapons, armor, and accessories. Players can use the license board to unlock up to three quickening’s, unique to each character, which can be strung together during combat to create an epic chain attack.

Level Up

The license board has been overhauled for the Zodiac Age. Players will choose a specific class for each character as opposed to just selecting nodes on a broad character board. As players engage in combat, they gain experience points, which increase base stats, and license points which are used to unlock nodes on the new class-specific license board. This allows players to more easily fit the character of their choice into the specific class they would prefer.

The soundtrack for Final Fantasy XII is superb, primarily composed by master game composer Hitoshi Sakimoto, with a handful of tracks composed by Hayato Matsuo, Masaharu Iwata and Final Fantasy musical icon Nobuo Uematsu. Sakimoto-san was able to capture the essence of each location in the world by creating music that accurately complements the art style of each map. The game has a rescored soundtrack that sounds extraordinary, but players can switch back to the original music score for the sake of nostalgia.

PC Enhancements

Final Fantasy XII on the PC has quite a few unique enhancements over the console version of the game. For starters Final Fantasy XII supports ultra-wide 21:9 resolutions and 16:9 up to 1080p. If players are inclined and have higher resolution monitors, the game does not officially support but will render at 1440p and 4K. Other PC options that can be tweaked include ambient occlusion, anti-aliasing, anisotropic filtering, post-processing, shadows and a limited amount of other options. However, being a port of a PS2 game, the differences when modifying graphical options is negligible, excluding a single option that will have PC players erupting with extreme joy, a framerate limit with a 60FPS option.

Playing Final Fantasy XII at 60FPS is incredible, though not a fast-paced action game, the twelfth iteration of the series benefits greatly from silky smooth framerate as combat progresses much faster when compared to older Final Fantasy titles. MSAA is the main form of anti-aliasing used in the game, which is extreme overkill using a lot of GPU power which will impact framerates. Most players will want to turn MSAA off, even with higher end graphics cards, since most gamers will be running 1080p or greater resolution, anti-aliasing isn’t needed for Final Fantasy XII. Players who are running lower end hardware can activate SMAA via a post-processing option that will be easier on their graphics cards while maintaining a more stable framerate.

The controls for the PC are practical; mouse or arrow keys move the camera, the keys WASD move the character, left click and space bar are used to interact with characters and confirm selections. A major benefit for keyboard users are fully rebind able keys to the players liking. Though a major fault is Final Fantasy XII only utilizes the mouse wheel and the keyboard when browsing menus in the game, which can make navigating the menus somewhat clunky. Players can use a controller as they are fully supported though playing Final Fantasy XII with keyboard and mouse feels natural.

Conclusion

Overall, Final Fantasy XII for the PC is a fantastic remake of the original PlayStation 2 game. The characters, other than the main protagonist, are well written and fit the atmosphere perfectly and the story with its political underlining. The combat mechanics hold up quite well for a twelve-year-old game, though the graphics are somewhat dated looking despite the enhancements made. The updated soundtrack, support for ultrawide monitors, and decent, if a bit, clunky keyboard and mouse controls give fans of the original and gamers who have never played a Final Fantasy no excuse not to give it a chance. Final Fantasy XII the Zodiac Age for PC is the best way to traverse the world and explore the best Final Fantasy to date.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Review
The Good
  • 60 FPS
  • The Enhanced Soundtrack
  • Gameplay Controls
The Bad
  • Menu Controls
  • Graphical Options
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About The Author

Christopher T
Staff Writer

I'm an old timer that started in 1988 with Tempest at the Disney arcade; in 1989 I was given an NES with Contra and Super Contra, thus sealing my fate forever. I moved onto the Genesis, followed by the original PlayStation, PC (mainly just for DOOM) and the N64. I got a launch day PS2 settling for the PlayStation family of consoles until 2015 when I renewed my interest in the PC world. Outside of gaming, custom PC water cooling and car parts are life.