Square Enix 2017 Preview – Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix & FF XII: Zodiac Age Dazzle

Mixed Reactions to Upcoming Square Enix Line-up

Last week COGconnected had a chance to preview four of Square Enix’s upcoming PS4 games: Dragon Quest Heroes II, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix, Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age, and Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus. As hot, medium, and mild fans of these franchises, COG’s Stephan, Paul, James, and Rory are here to give you their impressions. In part one of our two-part preview, we take a look at Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix and Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age.

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix Screen

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix

Stephan: Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix is a perfect blend of the two PS3 Kingdom Hearts collections. There’s no new content, but all four games run at a constantly smooth 60fps. I tested Kingdom Hearts, Birth By Sleep, and Re:coded, and they all looked absolutely gorgeous. If you’ve never played Kingdom Hearts before, it’s my favorite PS2 game, and if you’ve only played the main entries, Birth By Sleep (originally released for the PSP) is arguably the best game in the franchise. If you’ve got the 1.5 and 2.5 collections for the PS3, the only new point of interest is the perfect frame rate.

Rory: All the Kingdom Hearts stuff looked really great running on the PS4. Character models and such are still low poly compared to today’s stuff but they look crisp and clean with barely a rough edge in sight. I was especially impressed by Birth By Sleep. If you didn’t know already, you’d ever guess that was originally a PSP release. As far as how these versions play, I, unfortunately, don’t have an opinion on that. I watched Stephan play for a bit and then when I went to play for myself, I found I was stuck watching insanely long opening cut-scenes before the action started and ran out of time (laughs). I will say it looks like an awesome package for the die-hard Kingdom Hearts fans out there and if you’ve never played a Kingdom Hearts game, this will be a fantastic place to jump in.

Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age

Stephan: To be honest, Final Fantasy XII is my least favorite game of the main franchise but Zodiac Age fixes one of my largest issues with the game; I felt like the characters were too interchangeable, combat-wise. The battle system is very MMO inspired, and instead of the character specific combat abilities that began with Final Fantasy IV, we got two tanks, two ranged fighters and two spellcasters. Zodiac Age is essentially the HD remake of the Japanese only “Job System Version”, which allows the player to give each character their own jobs, which affect their abilities and stat growth, similar to Final Fantasies I, III, and V. Also, it looked great. It was very weird to see these HD remasters of PS2 games looking like they easily could have been PS3 games.

Paul: Getting back into the more measured, tactical, and thought based combat of Final Fantasy XII could be tough after the frantic button mashing of Final Fantasy XV. The demo we played dropped us into the world late in the game, with most of the Gambits and battle options unlocked. After a brief adjustment, it looked like the combat holds up pretty well actually. We only played for a few minutes really, but I could see myself getting interested in the world of Sky Pirates again once the full game drops.

The remaster runs at a solid 30, and while the textures are still pretty muddy The Zodiac Age is far from an eyesore. We didn’t go eyes on with any cutscenes or anything, so a lot of the technical upgrades still remain to be seen. The music is all reorchestrated too, so things sound pretty slick too.

James: The graphics look amazing in comparison to the original. The screenshots really don’t do it justice. Everything is clean and smooth and super hot. I never had access to the license boards ( the major new feature from the International version) but I was able to put the speed-up function through its paces. Oh my god, it makes such a huge difference. The base models are still PS2-era but if you compare the two side by side it’s still a drastic improvement. 12 had some pacing problems to be sure, but that high-speed button will make grinding a breeze. The in-game scenes looked better, too. Even something so simple as a different text font can change things up.

Rory: This was my least favorite of the games we played during the Square Enix event but that’s not really a knock on the game itself. I had never played Final Fantasy XII and in general, I’m not the biggest JRPG fan. There are exceptions, of course, I really enjoyed Final Fantasy VII and X back in the day and FFXV is fantastic but being dropped into the middle of a save file in Final Fantasy XII left me completely lost and I was fumbling around just trying to manage the party. It all just felt really dated to me as a more casual player. Like the Kingdom Hearts package we played, Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age is definitely looking to entice old fans into a re-purchase with nostalgia. It may be a fantastic game, but it wasn’t for me.