Reviews

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster

Barring Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, I’ve been pretty disappointed with Square Enix’s output in terms of Final Fantasy games over the last few years, but Square Enix has managed to give classics like Final Fantasy V and VI visual overhauls and touch controls for iOS and Android. I have every Final Fantasy port on iOS and most of them are great versions of classic games. Aside from the barrage of fans asking for a Final Fantasy VII remake, the one game that was rumoured to be getting an HD facelift was Final Fantasy X. In fact, if you own a Vita, until Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster released a few weeks ago, you could own and play the first nine Final Fantasy games on one device. Take a moment to think about that. These are nine classic RPGs from home consoles on one portable device. Now, you can own all of them and Final Fantasy X and X-2 HD on that same device.

If you’re completely new to the Final Fantasy X and X-2 worlds, FFX was the first mainline FF game to hit the PS2, and it brought full voice acting to the series for the first time. The navigation throughout also feels a lot more linear compared to previous instalments, with the removal of the world map having different areas usually connected linearly until much later in the game. The other big change FFX brought was the sphere grid level system, giving the player nearly full control over how different characters level up. The combat in FFX is turn-based and there’s a HUD on the right that shows you the order in which players can attack along with the enemy order. This system gives you enough time to strategise your next move.
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Visually, it is now full widescreen, and the updated character models and nicely detailed environments look pretty spectacular.

FFX-2 released three years after and follows some characters from FFX on their next journey. X-2 features a return to the classic combat, and the level system, while not as flexible, still offers a degree of augmentation for your characters. It is called the garment grid in FFX-2. In FFX, you follow Tidus, a Blitzball (underwater sport) veteran in his adventure as a huge monster attacks his hometown. He eventually joins Yuna, a summoner, and her companions as they journey to rid the world of evil. FFX-2 follows Yuna a few years after the events of FFX.

FFX and X-2 were perfect candidates for a remaster because, barring the first-generation PS3 hardware, playing PS2 games legally meant actually owning a PS2. This HD Remaster package contains FFX and X-2 along with the international content unavailable in North America, which includes ‘The Eternal Calm’ from FFX and ‘The Final Mission’ from FFX-2, which help bridge the gap between the two games.

With this HD remaster, both games have received huge visual overhauls to bring them, or try to bring them, to PS3 and Vita properly. The soundtracks have also been remastered and in the case of some parts, redone with orchestrations. While I was sceptical of this because of how classic and memorable the original soundtrack for FFX was, the remastered soundtrack grows on you with just a few hours of gameplay. Visually, it is now full widescreen, and the updated character models and nicely detailed environments look pretty spectacular. Summons look great too although there are some frame drops when they are done in certain areas.

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Battles were a lot of fun and didn’t feel repetitive, with each area containing monsters from a different pool of enemies.

Combat scenes are really great and for a game that involves so many random battles, the remaster does an amazing job. Battles were a lot of fun and didn’t feel repetitive, with each area containing monsters from a different pool of enemies. The overdrive system is X’s version of limit break that FFVII fans know. It lets you unleash a much more powerful attack once your overdrive gauge has filled up. You end up having to either press buttons in a certain way to get a “great” rating for the overdrive, but it is a little annoying when it asks you to move your right analog stick quickly.

While earlier FF games had saving only on the world map and at certain other locations, FFX relies on a save sphere system. These spheres are scattered throughout and are mostly present at the end and start of each area. The game also prompts you to save after certain story elements are completed. Saving at these spheres will also restore every party member’s HP and MP completely. Mini-games are not new to the series and Blitzball looks great in HD. You can play Blitzball at any save sphere in the game after a certain point and it is a lot of fun. In X-2, these spheres let you return to the Airship to save your game.

final-fantasy-x-x2-hd-004Note: The version of the game sold in India will have an all-English HUD

The remaster doesn’t fix all issues though. Movement feels clunky, lip syncing for voiceovers is off, and the NPCs look like something out of the PSOne era.

The remaster package doesn’t fix all of the PS2-specific issues though. Movement feels a little clunky, lip syncing for English voiceovers is off, and the NPCs look like something out of the PSOne era. While your party is full of beautiful character models, the NPCs have flat faces and make you feel like they are from another game. The voiceovers also haven’t been changed so Tidus’ voice is still annoying and whiny in some parts, and Yuna feels lifeless with her voice in some scenes. Other faults, like Kimahari’s almost pointless existence in the game and the annoyance of the “cloister of trials”, are still present.

The PS3 version also has too many loading screens for a PS2 remake, and in some open areas, summons result in a noticeable drop in frame-rate. I could understand the Vita having issues with it, but in my experience, the Vita fared a lot better when it came to loading times. I would have also liked an option to play the games with the original Japanese audio and English subtitles.

When you really like a game, your good memories of it are often exaggerated as time goes by, and remakes usually fail to live up to those memories. In this case, the game feels the same, if not a lot better, than you remember. Yes, there are faults, but the package you get is well worth the asking price. You get cross-save across PS3 and Vita if you buy both versions from the same region, and it works flawlessly.

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This is how games should be made today. Play on your home console and then pick up your handheld and continue where you left off. Also, having this huge and immersive RPG on my Vita is awesome. If you’re thinking of picking this up (I assume you are because you made it this far in the review), there’s a limited edition with a 40-page artbook available through Games The Shop stores for the same price as the standard edition on PS3.

IVG's Verdict

8/10
  • Looks amazing
  • Two full games + a lot of extra content
  • Great combat and story
  • Remastered soundtrack is awesome
  • Cross-save
  • NPCs look ugly and flat
  • Voiceovers don’t sync in some cases
  • Loading times
  • X-2 on the Vita is a digital download
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