Final Fantasy XII's soundtrack has always stood out as a favorite from the series, and my only real sticking point with the original PlayStation 2 OST was that - as by far the most orchestral soundtrack in the series thus far - the completely sampled instrumentation could grow a bit repetitive over the course of four discs. Thus the fact that the PS4 remake Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age receives a remade soundtrack with live instrumentation is a pretty big deal - albeit with two caveats.
The first is that the live instrumentation applies to the woodwinds and strings, but not the brass. As you would expect then the brass-centric tracks, including the several excellent battle themes, sound about as they did in the original OST - sampled-orchestral great but not live-orchestral great. The second caveat is that the recording quality leaves something to be desired. You'll hear the much more nuanced performances of live instrumentation in The Zodiac Age, yet in some cases the original OST instruments sound clearer and nearer.
Lackluster recording quality aside, I find the standout woodwind-led tracks in FFXII - of which there are many - all sound better in The Zodiac Age, or at the very least enjoyably different. The greatest improvement, however, comes in the tracks featuring strings. Existing favorites like "The Skycity of Bhujerba", "Time of Rest", and "The Cerobi Steppe" are even better with the live strings in The Zodiac Age, and tracks like "Penelo's Theme", "On the Riverbank", and "Nalbina Fortress Town Area" that I used to skip in the PS2 OST have become new favorites.
It's hard not to be a bit disappointed that the redone Final Fantasy XII score doesn't have a full orchestral recording at the top of its class, as I could imagine such an album very easily being in the top ten orchestral game soundtracks of all time. At the same time though it's good to receive an even moderately improved version of a classic, and for those who love the original FFXII OST, or who have missed it up to this point, Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age OST is a need-to-hear album.