The Final Fantasy series has always been an iconic franchise – it has also been about reinvention and it is today a long-running RPG franchise that fans love to the core. Square Enix released Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, as a high-definition remaster of the Japanese-only International Zodiac Job System for the PlayStation 4.

Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System itself was released in Japan, way back on August 9, 2007. The game includes twelve license boards (instead of the original game’s one), each corresponding to a different Zodiac sign and job. The player can control guest characters and summons, and hold L1 to double the game’s running speed.

There is also a “New Game+” option, a “New Game- (minus)” option (in which characters do not gain experience), and a “Trial Mode” in which the player hunts monsters in 100 different maps to gain items and money. The game also included the western version’s English voices and widescreen 16:9 support, and a bonus DVD.

Coming back to The Zodiac Age, this one adds trophy support, a remastered soundtrack with a few new tracks, and improved technical performance. Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age puts its best foot forward with a wealth of improvements and changes, delivering a fresh experience even if you’ve memorised the path from The Phon Coast to The Tomb of Raithwall.

When it comes to the plot, the characters, and the battle system, the majority remains unchanged in The Zodiac Age. The storyline is full of sky pirates, princesses in exile, disgraced knights and warring empires – all that grabbed my imagination on the game’s initial release. The game has also quite well.

The Zodiac Age still mostly involves you controlling a party of three characters as you roam fantasy terrain and fight monsters. It’s a third-person game – similar to most Final Fantasy iterations. However, you can also see every enemy on screen before fighting it.

While the remaster did not add anything else significant, for the first time, Western gamers will also be able to control summons and guest characters. You can also take advantage of New Game+ and New Game- options, and play the monster-hunting Trial Mode.

The combat system used system used in Final Fantasy XII is one of best we have seen in a Japanese role-playing game. And it’s also interesting to see how ahead of the time the game was in terms of offering an open, relatively non-linear, world in which to experience it.

Final Fantasy XII has also been elevated by its soundtrack. Composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto and re-recorded for the PS4 remaster, the tunes of FFXII are more sweeping and orchestral than Nobuo Uematsu’s melody-heavy soundtracks in previous Final Fantasy games. Even when you hit the fast-forward button, you hear the incredible music at normal speed. Highlights include tracks in Rabanastre and the Giza Plains.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age has definitely surprised me. This remastered version offers visual polish and a convenient fast-forward button. The quality of the game is quite mind-blowing. Go ahead and buy – I guarantee you will have a good time with it.

Price: AED 185 approx.

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