Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age in the test - now the PC has arrived in the modern age
You could move both the heroes and the camera freely in the battles, but you still had to wait until the bar was filled up and the fighter could finally launch a dagger. It was a mix of tradition and modernity that not everyone liked.
Another generation of HD
Before we get to the graphic innovations, a brief introduction to the history of the game: It revolves around street boy Vaan and his girlfriend Penelo. Vaan has been orphaned by the war and is now rebelling against the occupation of his hometown by the great power Archadia. He would like to run away and leave his life as a thief behind.
One day he happens to meet the pirates Balthier and Fran and joins them. At the same time, he encounters a conspiracy to kill the king and finds himself a little later in the war between the two great empires. The story corresponds to the original, but it is visually much more stylish.
The most striking improvement is of course the heavily pretted graphics . The game still looks a bit old-fashioned at first glance, but in a direct comparison at the latest the revised textures and the higher resolution are noticeable. Everything looks sharper and a little more detailed.
However, there are still a few washed-out pixel wallpapers, especially the desert areas still yawn at us with bleak emptiness. In addition, pop-up effects occur especially in the busy cities when figures suddenly appear nearby.
Since it is also a remaster and not a complete remake, the developers used the original 3D models and only drilled them out slightly, so the heroes appear subtly angular. The figures now cast nicer shadows and the rendering videos, which were already considerable back then, were subsequently scaled and sharpened to Full HD resolution. This means that FF12 can really be seen on the PC after more than eleven years, but of course you shouldn't expect a graphics miracle.
A sound miracle, on the other hand, was the already impressive sound carpet by Hitoshi Sakimoto, which was recorded by an orchestra from scratch and even booms with 7.1 surround from the speakers. Of course, this benefits the atmosphere. By the way, you can switch between the old and the new soundtrack in the menu. If necessary, you can also activate the English or Japanese voice output here, but a German setting is missing.
Time for a new job
A gameplay enrichment is the new Zodiac job system. In the original version, all heroes shared a license board, on which you could unlock new abilities, spells and equipment with points earned in combat (LP). This inevitably led to sophisticated superheroes, because theoretically all characters could learn all skills. The fighting became very monotonous.
In Zodiac Age, however, you can only teach one character two professions . So you have to deal specifically with the individual license boards and set a focus for each party member.
Some players may find this a limitation, but the battles benefit immensely from the new job system, as you now have to weigh up your specific skills depending on the situation. For example, if you were attacked by flying enemies in the past, your favorite fighters could simply blow them up.
Now you may need to trade your favorite warrior for a hunter you rarely use. This reaction and variation makes the battles more varied and exciting, especially since you continue to have an incredible number of options with the well-known Gambit system (see box).
Comfortable adventure life
In addition to the improvements that are visible at first glance, the developers have given the remaster a number of convenience functions that make the adventure life more pleasant. The map can now be faded in transparently at all times. This greatly facilitates the quick orientation without slowing down the flow of the game.
Thanks to the automatic storage function, the potential for frustration is also reduced. If you bite the grass, you no longer have to fight your way through the entire area, but start at the zone transition. Of course, you can still manually back up the storage crystals.
Detail improvements and more replayability
The balancing was also screwed on. Getting started is a little easier, so you no longer have to suck on the healing potions as often. The boss opponents, on the other hand, require more tactics and are no longer easily impressed with stupid attacks because they are blocked more often.
Veterans are happy about the new exam mode , which you can control via the main menu. 100 battle challenges await you in which you compete with your hero group. It is imperative to master the gambit system, otherwise you won't get very far. A few newly added side quests and hunting assignments ensure even more replayability.
Furthermore, a few detail improvements were made. So you can now invert the camera perspective, you can actively control guest characters and of course you can collect all kinds of achievements. As a result, the pirate nest in the Zodiac Age remaster no longer exists, which simulated a successful system in the original PS2.
The bottom line is that the new edition offers all kinds of improvements that not only make the old PS2 original prettier, but also playfully more attractive. If you missed Final Fantasy 12 at the time and like JRPGs, you won't go wrong.
Innovations in PC version
Square Enix has expanded the PC version of Final Fantasy 12 with additional graphics settings. For example, we can now experience the adventure in 60 frames per second . However, if you select 30 frames and activated V-Sync at the same time, you will encounter an annoying bug. Among other things, it allows cutscenes to be played at twice the speed, while the sound continues at normal tempo.
In addition to this error, we did not notice any problems with the PC version. The control with mouse and keyboard is quick after a short familiarization phase. We can also reassign all buttons . The PC version also supports gamepad control.
In addition, "New Game +" (you start at level 90) and "New Game-" (you stay permanently at level 1) are now available from the start, in the console version you had to unlock them first. And if you are in a particular hurry, you can immediately maximize Gil and license points with a button in the menu.