Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster

Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster
 
 

I can remember when Final Fantasy X came out like it was yesterday. Having spent months repeatedly playing the demo that came packaged with the PS One release of Final Fantasy VI, I finally got my hands on the the real thing when it came out a few days before my 13th birthday in 2002.

It’s been more than 10 years since that memorable day, but it took mere seconds from firing up Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster to bring that Final Fantasy-obsessed teenager right out of me, despite my alleged adulthood.
Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster, as the name implies, repackages Final Fantasy X and its underrated (in my opinion) direct sequel, Final Fantasy X-2 with a fancy coat of HD paint, rearranged soundtracks, and a raft of new features. While fans of the originals will enjoy the heavy dose of nostalgia, this new release is also a great way for new players to introduce themselves to this fantastic pair of games. They’ve aged surprisingly well and the improvements only make things better.

 
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Return to Spira: A Recap of Final Fantasy X and X-2

In a lot of ways, Final Fantasy X was a big departure from its predecessors. While all the previous titles in the series had used a European take on fantasy or science-fantasy, the world of Final Fantasy X - Spira - drew heavily on South East Asian architecture and motifs, with a dose of steampunk thrown in. Though the plot was largely your standard save-the-world Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) fare, the storytelling itself became more sophisticated - as the first Final Fantasy with voice acting, writers were able to achieve a new level of emotionality in the characters. The game also toyed with the idea of the “main” character serving largely as a narrator, with the plot focused on one of the supporting characters; a device that would later be expanded upon in Final Fantasy XII.

Mechanically, FFX also cut away from those before it. JRPG staples like an overworld with distinct towns and dungeons were thrown out in favour of a more seamless, if less grandiose, world. The Active Time Battle system - a turn based design in which time constantly flows, even while choosing actions - that had been a feature of Final Fantasy games for 10 years prior was abandoned, replaced with the simple, but tactically deep Conditional Turn Based system, in which time is no longer a factor, but turn order is determined by stats, buffs, and the delay from previous actions.

Final Fantasy X-2, the first direct sequel in the series’ history was itself a big shift away from its predecessor, in some ways venturing further from the franchise norms and in others returning to form. Following on from the events of FFX, the plot in FFX-2 took on a more politically-heavy theme, with a group of treasure hunters called the Gullwings caught in the midst of factional divides on the brink of war.
The game returned to the ATB system used in earlier games, albeit a more refined version, and it reintroduced the “job” system from Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy V, and Final Fantasy Tactics: a character’s appearance, stats, and skillset can be changed on the fly by altering their job (called Dress Spheres this time around.)

Spira Remastered

For the most part, the remastered versions of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 are identical to the original versions, and that is in no way a bad thing. Both games were really ahead of their time when they released, and have aged spectacularly. The stories and characters are as gripping as ever, combat was (and still is) nuanced and deep, and there is plenty of content to keep you entertained. I literally spent hundreds of hours between the two games back in the day, and I’m looking forward to doing so again.

The most obvious change is in the visual department, with character models and levels all getting new and improved textures. They aren’t quite as good as what we’ve come to know from some games in the Vita library, but these are assets that are more than 10 years old, and they look significantly improved. There is some inconsistency - for example, more attention seems to have been paid to main characters than minor ones, which can be jarring when both are on screen at once. But overall, the visual enhancements are impressive.

What stood out to me most though, is the music. The games, FFX in particular, had some lovely music as it is - but the rearranged versions here are absolutely gorgeous. As a general rule, I’m happy to play a game with the sound down and with background noise, but the music here is just so captivating that I can’t play without it.

Mechanically, the games are almost identical to the originals but with one very welcome change - an auto-healing menu option. While outside of battle, you can automatically heal your whole party with a few taps of the Vita’s touchscreen: open the menu, select either magic or items, and then the game will calculate the most efficient way to top everybody off. This is incredibly useful and I’d certainly like to see more party-based RPGs implement this in the future.

A few other improvements are noticeably missing though. Making cutscenes skippable this time around would have been welcome, especially for those who have already played the games, as would an auto-save or quick save function.

As far as content goes, both games are based on their “International” versions; Japanese re-releases that included all extra content from foreign versions of the game. For FFX, this doesn’t mean a whole lot for us in PAL territory, as the international content - a range of extra optional bosses known as Dark Aeons - were first added in the original PAL version of the game. This means that, for us, the only new content is the Eternal Calm epilogue video.

FFX-2 brings with it a bit more content though, that has previously not been seen outside Japan. As well as a range of new Dress Spheres, items, and abilities, you’ll have access to a new endgame dungeon with randomised levels, and a Pokemon-like monster hunting minigame, which lets you recruit monsters and NPCs to fight alongside your party. Long-time fans will be glad to finally have a chance to play this formerly Japan-exclusive content, and for new players, it just means that there is even more to see and do.

When it comes to HD remasters, they don’t get much better than this. Sure there are some minor issues, and it would have been nice if the game had Cross-buy support so that the PS3 and Vita versions didn’t have to be bought separately. But Final Fantasy X / X-2 is still a must-have for all but the most RPG-averse gamers. The original games are fantastic and have aged incredibly well, with improved visuals, brilliantly rearranged music, and a few new features that go towards making them even better. Whether you’re a Final Fantasy veteran, or someone who wasn’t even born yet when FFX first came out, you should waste no time in picking these up.


Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster
"Whether new to Final Fantasy or an old fan, you need this."
- Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster
9.5
Excellent
 
Follow Own it? Rating: M   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 15 Min


 

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Comments Comments (23)

 
DragonFury88 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by DragonFury88
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 11:31 AM
2
Definitely deserves the review rating
 
 
 
Sidawg2 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Sidawg2
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 1:22 PM
3
It's the first HD remake of a game where I've felt its actually been remade, rather than being on the receiving end of a slight tweak here and there.

The graphics in the CGI cutscenes (which I can't tell if they've been improved or not) shows just how ahead of the curve FFX was in 2002. If it weren't for the non existent lip syncing and horrendous voice acting you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a new PS3 game.
 
 
 
mchumdinghy NZGamer.com VIP VIP
Posted by mchumdinghy
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 3:33 PM
1
Am absolutely loving every minute of FFX. So nice having it on the vita as well lying in bed while running around Spira
 
 
 
kiwiatlarge NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by kiwiatlarge
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 3:35 PM
2
I agree... it was only yesterday while watching the mrs play the PS3 version I was astonished just how improved and rebuilt the visuals are.

I've only been playing the Vita version so far, I'll leave the PS3 for the sidequest stuff, like attempted Tidus and Lulu's damn Sigils... but I just cannot put this game down. I get home from work, and I literally have the Vita in my hand most of the night. I've barely even touched inFamous because even when there is nothing I really want to pay background attention to on TV, I can't turn the PS4 on, I'd rather keep the Vita in my hand than pick up the PS4 controller.

This is the game I bought the Vita for over two years ago, and by god has it been worth the wait... On top of that there is still FFX-2 to install...
 
 
 
reavers NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by reavers
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 4:14 PM
1
I loved this game to bits when I was young and played this. Am pretty keen to grab this on PS3!
 
 
 
Bank NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Bank
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 4:41 PM
2
Yes man yes nigg yes! This remaster is a beautiful thing.

My lady is the one playing it over at her house while I take and read her books. She's enjoying it, in a slow pace of course :D
Introduced it to her and the first game she's played - good feeling in me soul.

Can't wait for my turn again to revisit Spira... could be in a few months lol hehe
 
 
 
ALK3MiST NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by ALK3MiST
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 5:04 PM
1
wow nice review. i never got to finish the original, but have only heard good things about the remaster. going to go have a look for it tomorrow
 
 
 
grieving NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by grieving
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 5:34 PM
2
I remember absolutely hating FFX-2 as a child, 10 years later, time to give it another go.
 
 
 
Coddfish NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Coddfish
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 5:39 PM
1
31 March 2014, 05:34 PM Reply to grieving
I remember absolutely hating FFX-2 as a child, 10 years later, time to give it another go.
Lots of people did, but personally I really enjoyed it. Still do.

And now I can play it (and FFX) anywhere! <3 my Vita.
 
 
 
Locky NZGamer.com VIP VIP
Posted by Locky
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 7:47 PM
1
Keen to replay FF X.......X-2, not so much. Can anybody confirm whether the lip syncing during the engine based cut scenes have been fixed or even just slightly improved? I remember that being really annoying....
 
 
 
RKO_NZ NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by RKO_NZ
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 7:59 PM
2
31 March 2014, 01:22 PM Reply to Sidawg2
It's the first HD remake of a game where I've felt its actually been remade, rather than being on the receiving end of a slight tweak here and there.

The graphics in the CGI cutscenes (which I can't tell if they've been improved or not) shows just how ahead of the curve FFX was in 2002. If it weren't for the non existent lip syncing and horrendous voice acting you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a new PS3 game.
Like Sidawg2 said, I've played a lot of HD "Remakes/Remasters" From Hitman to Resident Evil to Metal Gear, Final Fantasy seems to be the only game where I noticed substantial difference, mostly on character textures and weapon textures and slight improvements to surrounding level areas. The cut scenes dont look that much different, maybe a bit more refined and high res, but the characters look great, Tidus is very young, and in the oldschool FFX he looked young in his early-mid 20s but with his new HD retexture, he now really fits that 17 year old look.

My only critique would be that I don't like some of the newer updated versions of BGM's. For instance I loved the Besaid Island subtle, calm and cool feel that the BGM had, and with the addition of overpowering Violins kills the orginial tone of the music, Its nice that the devs added in extra music, but from what I've heard so far not a fan of some of it.

Time to Take the Blitzball Trophy home!
FOR WAKKA!
 
 
 
strawpeople NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by strawpeople
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 9:35 PM
1
Your comment about the music is interesting - I really really love the original soundtrack and I'm totally not digging these reworked tracks, they stood out to me in a bad way :(

Doesn't detract from the quality of the game, obviously! Plus I'm sure the music will grow on me / I'll hardly notice the difference after a while.
 
 
 
Coddfish NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Coddfish
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 9:51 PM
1
31 March 2014, 09:35 PM Reply to strawpeople
Your comment about the music is interesting - I really really love the original soundtrack and I'm totally not digging these reworked tracks, they stood out to me in a bad way :(

Doesn't detract from the quality of the game, obviously! Plus I'm sure the music will grow on me / I'll hardly notice the difference after a while.
Yeah - music is definitely one of the more subjective things about this game (and review, heh.)

I love the original soundtrack so much, but I feel like the new arrangements just take what was great and add even more depth to them. There are some exceptions, of course, but for the most part I think they're an improvement on something that was already fantastic to begin with.
 
 
 
RKO_NZ NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by RKO_NZ
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 10:09 PM
1
31 March 2014, 09:35 PM Reply to strawpeople
Your comment about the music is interesting - I really really love the original soundtrack and I'm totally not digging these reworked tracks, they stood out to me in a bad way :(

Doesn't detract from the quality of the game, obviously! Plus I'm sure the music will grow on me / I'll hardly notice the difference after a while.
It brang back so many gaming memories watching the scene of where Wakka pushes Tidus into the river and the song begins to play, then I hear the Violins fade in and it just killed the music for me, I'm not too far into the game and have only heard a small portion of the reworked songs. I applaud the effort to add it in so there is something actually new in the game, but for a game like FF, i think they should of stuck with the original BGM and edited something else maybe like add extra music for the battle scenes. as thats something that could use a bit of tweaking.
 
 
 
Bappernz NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Bappernz
On Monday 31 Mar 2014 11:41 PM
1
can't wait to play through these games all over again
 
 
 
Littlelah NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Littlelah
On Tuesday 1 Apr 2014 8:38 AM
1
Why can't this just come to ps4
 
 
 
drunk_monk NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by drunk_monk
On Tuesday 1 Apr 2014 9:40 AM
1
Couldn't agree more with the review.

Great game made better.
 
 
 
SpawnSeekSlay NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Tuesday 1 Apr 2014 10:54 AM
2
My favorite FF.
Once im done with Dark Souls 2, Ill be all over this.
 
 
 
Kegz NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by Kegz
On Tuesday 1 Apr 2014 1:51 PM
1
First game I ever got on the PS2 and I'd love to play it again. Every time I go to buy it I think of all the hours I'd have to put in though. It seems like it'd be great to have on the Vita, but I don't have a Vita or the hours that I use to.
It hurts my brain deciding.
 
 
 
SolomonLaw NZGamer.com VIP VIP
Posted by SolomonLaw
On Wednesday 2 Apr 2014 11:49 AM
-
Ps4 version please
 
 
 
boybomber12
Posted by boybomber12
On Saturday 5 Apr 2014 12:13 PM
-
I have to get this!
 
 
 
Goonertron NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
Posted by Goonertron
On Saturday 12 Apr 2014 7:16 PM
-
The last FF I really got into, didn't have a clue about X-2 watched some gameplay and all I can say is WTF?!?
 
 
 
darkap NZGamer.com VIP VIP
Posted by darkap
On Saturday 19 Jul 2014 11:22 PM
-
one of my favourite games, review is spot on, I just platted it on my vita :)