Metacritic : 87 (after 42 reviews)
OpenCritic: 88 (after 39 reviews)
While its enhancements do not translate into a brand new game for existing fans, The Zodiac Age is nonetheless invigorating. For an experience that can last over a hundred hours, the subtle tweaks therein go a long way in showcasing Final Fantasy 12's grand trek in a new light. Its epic, lore-abundant story and its time-tested Gambit System should also appeal to those who missed out on the mainline series' trip to Ivalice the first time around. And thanks in part to the new audio and speed options, The Zodiac Age is an ideal definitive edition: one that improves the game over its original version across the board.
Final Fantasy XII is an epic, sprawling tale that many gamers — myself included — missed the first time around because of when it was released. Don't make that mistake again. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is one of the best, if not the best, remaster of a Final Fantasy game in recently memory, and is objectively better now than it was a decade ago. For $49.99 on PlayStation 4, the game is a steal to fans new and old interested in an old(er)-school JRPG experience.
Western players are in for a treat with all of these adjustments and improvements made from the original release of Final Fantasy XII - many of which are old but never made their way West originally. The job system adds another level of interest to party coordination, elements like fast-forward and map overlays add a considerable amount of convenience, and the game looks and sounds great too. This remaster may not change the mind of everyone, but it is no doubt one of the most intriguing entries in the franchise and clearly the definitive version of a truly brilliant game.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is a remaster done right. The core content remains the same, but the changes in various systems add a new layer of discovery. This means old fans can still relive the journey, while new players (or those who had issues with old mechanics) don't feel trapped in an outdated adventure. Not every facet of the game has aged well, but the clever combat and fantastic cast earns this entry its status as classic RPG, and The Zodiac Age is the best way to play it.
Even after a decade, Final Fantasy XII remains one of the brightest beacons in the long-running franchise. It has its issues with Vaan being one of the most lackluster protagonists in Final Fantasy history, but the combat is fun, versatile and highly addicting. It helps that Square Enix has put in an on-the-fly button to enable the High Speed Mode, which cuts down on unnecessary grinding of items, license points and experience significantly. The game has also been masterfully remastered, with beautiful 1080p visuals and some added visual techniques such as bump mapping applied to the environments. Some of the new character lighting can darken things at times, but it's overall for the better. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is pure enjoyment and a reminder of why the series was at the top of the RPG ladder back in its heyday.
After missing out on Final Fantasy XII the first time, I feel like a lot of people are wondering if they should finally tackle the Final Fantasy that time forgot. As something of a former skeptic myself, I can definitely say, "Yes." It may never have the mass appeal of some of its peers, but it's time Final Fantasy XII received some of the love and attention it deserves.
Overall, Square Enix has essentially pulled off the best-case scenario for a remaster of a game: there's enough new for returning veterans, while offering plenty of accessibility for newcomers. So whether you memorized every map and took down every superboss of the original game, or you've yet to set foot in the most intricate version of Yasumi Matsuno's Ivalice ever rendered, there's more than enough incentive in Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age to jump in and get lost in its massive world.
Final Fantasy XII's relatable roleplaying adventure has aged remarkably well, and The Zodiac Age remaster improves it further in meaningful ways. The storytelling, visual design, and gameplay feel just as fresh and interesting as they did over a decade ago, and the various new enhancements and adjustments will give new players a chance to experience the magic for the first time and fans of the original something enticing to return for.
And I am going to keep doing things in The Zodiac Age. It's taken the game I already loved so much and given me more. The Zodiac Age doesn't add things for the sake of adding them. I can see myself putting 300 more hours into this version of Final Fantasy 12, trying different combinations of job classes and testing out new tactics on the optional bosses I could never quite conquer in the original game. The Zodiac Age takes a game I could play in my sleep and makes me wake up and appreciate it again
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, despite my misgivings, is a triumph that still holds up all these years later. Modern conveniences like upping the tempo of combat are far more valuable than the new coat of paint, and despite a slow-going narrative it's a blast to just roam the open countryside, mess around with Gambits, and go on hunts. Slowly but surely XII has wormed its way into my heart -- it only took 11 years.
The Zodiac Age is an anomaly in the Final Fantasy lineage, a game made with the kind of singular directorial vision only matched by the Sakaguchi games (and, arguably, Naoki Yoshida's more recent Final Fantasy 14). Quite how close the finished game comes to Matsuno's vision is a question we will likely never know the answer to - especially now he is again working with the company, and obligated to remain tactfully silent. What is clear is that this is the definitive version of Final Fantasy 12, a game that despite its developmental difficulties, still emerged as one of the most fascinating projects to take the series' name.
Regardless, if you shied away from the game before, this is the perfect opportunity to jump back in for another go at a well-crafted and beautiful single-player experience. I've always felt Final Fantasy XII was a game ahead of its time and The Zodiac Age proves in many ways it still is.