Final Fantasy XII is in my own personal opinion one of the best of the series and the remaster does everything right with this, the remaster not only makes replaying this game a blast but it adds some nice touches, graphically and gameplay wise that really make this shine more than it did when it was released in 2006.
The graphics look great. This was a PS2 game and it didn't feel like I was looking at dated visuals at all. They added a really nice 'water color' aesthetic to the character models which really fits with the setting. The environments look great too and I found myself just looking at the scenery because it is breath taking. The art design was truly magnificent when it came out and it does stand the test of time. Everything has been updated to 1080p and while this probably could've been a PS3 game it does feel right at home on the PS4. The cutscenes are still as amazing as ever, and one thing I loved that I felt was missing from the newer Final Fantasy games was that every time you enter a new location, it shows the location as a cutscene and I felt it was a nice touch.
The gameplay isn't really changed that much. If you couldn't stand the semi automated combat of the original then the remaster won't win you back. It does a few nice things though for those who actually liked the combat system. It adds a new job system which is an improvement over the original license board and while yeah it would've been nice to have the original system included as well, the job system is designed in such a way you probably won't care.
The world of Final Fantasy XII is quite big and it is open for the most part. It's not an open world game though but has several zones. It feels like an FF game was brought down for 1:1 and it works well. You don't explore all of Ivalice but an area. It's not as large as roaming an entire planet but it gives it a slightly ground to earth feel than the other games.
There is also an added speed boost mode which really helps considering the game does require a bit of grinding. It's nothing too intense but keeping up with levels is important to get through the game. While you probably could beat it regardless it does make it more manageable. The best feature I think is the auto save. Some bosses are pretty tough and it's nice to be able to restart right before the fight instead of having to trek from the last save point and I think we've all done it, forgetting to save for awhile. It really modernizes this game.
The story is a good one that is different from the other games in the series. The other games were typically a broad 'epic' adventure about saving the world. FFXII is more of a political struggle with a taste of Disney's Aladdin, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars threw in. It has its obvious influences that help shape the story. The story is pretty interesting from start to finish though the middle act does drag a bit and becomes a bit of a large fetch quest but the over all tone of the story is well realized and it was refreshing in 2006 to play a different take and it is nice to revisit it and it still holds up today.
The characters are believable and while there is flack for the main character not really attributing too much and they're right about that but it's more of an ensemble cast after the first few hours. The first few hours are somewhat slow but once you get the cast and it happens within 3 hours or so it does pick up. The second act I stated does tend to drag a bit but the combat is very well realized so it wasn't really much of an issue with me.
The villain was also pretty memorable and while didn't destroy a planet or kill off a love interest, he ended up being a confident, well spoken intelligent villain. He's not the best in the series but he was far from the worst. He was a very suitable antagonist.
The story also has quite a bit of back story going on and for that reason, it might be a good idea to play it through twice. There is also a new game + mode but something has to be said, which I thought was a really dumb idea that made it to full release. After you beat the game, you have to start New Game + immediately after the credits. There is no option in the menu. Hopefully, Square Enix addresses this with a patch. It's not a big deal considering right before the final boss it autosaves but it still felt like a really bad idea to have to force someone beat the final boss again just because they're not ready to start New Game + right away. My only real complaint. There is also another new game + that keeps your levels at level 1.
The sound is pretty similar. It does have a slightly remixed soundtrack which does help make it feel more modernized. The voice acting is the same, even the compression issues that have voices sound a bit filtered and muffled but it's not too distracting because it does have a great voice cast.
The game is pretty average RPG length. The main story took me about 35 hours but there is tons of side content. Hunts and some side quests and hidden Espers. If you're a completionist this will keep you busy for months.
If you're a fan of Final Fantasy XII then pick this up. It's a little pricey for a 13-year-old game but it's a very good remaster. If you haven't played it, I'd recommend it. The combat is very MMO inspired so unless you hate that you'll probably have a blast.
If you're someone who hated the original this won't do anything to change your mind but for those who skipped it or couldn't get into it because of its grindy nature, I'd suggest checking it out. The speed feature does help with the grinding and repetition of some environments.
Hopefully, this starts a trend for the series because this was just so well done.