Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
Also available on: PlayStation Vita
Reviewed by: Brady Ruiters
The Final Fantasy series is definitely one of, if not the longest running Japanese Role Playing Game (JRPG) series to date. The majority of titles from the series aren’t really connected in any way but in fact act as standalone titles. Final Fantasy X was the first game from the series to appear on the PS2 and is possibly one of best games from its era. Final Fantasy X-2 was the very first direct sequel throughout the history of the series and featured a new story, just with a lighter tone. Now, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster has been released and looks to recapture the hearts of fans while offering the opportunity for newcomers to experience the magic for the first time.
Final Fantasy sees players take control of Tidus, a young man caught up in the adventure of his life in the world of Spira. The story features drama, romance, action and comedy with the backdrop of Spira needing to be saved from an entity known as Sin. Final Fantasy X is captivating from the start and continues to be up until the very end of the adventure. The characters also do a very good job at driving the story along rather nicely and tend to grow on you as the plot progresses.
As much as I loved Final Fantasy X, I unfortunately cannot be as enthusiastic about its sequel. Final Fantasy X-2 takes place 2 years after the events of its predecessor and is focused on Yuna and the adventures of her team, known as the Gullwings. Again, not much can be mentioned without revealing spoilers as FFX-2 refers to FFX throughout its story. As mentioned before, the story has a lighter tone and indulges in more antics than before. Despite its silliness, the plot still has some good moments throughout.
Gameplay in both games are quite enjoyable, despite their variation in style. Final Fantasy X features a turn-based system with a limit of three active characters per battle. However, characters can be swapped in and out depending on the required approach when dealing with an enemy. As soon as I was able to get into battling, I was immediately hooked again after having not played it for a good few years. The upgrade system, known as the “Sphere Grid”, moves away from traditional levelling and allows the player to decide how they would like to proceed with the development of each character.
Final Fantasy X-2’s battle system is substantially more fast paced as enemies do not wait for the player to make their next move. The battle will continue with or without you. I learned this the hard way several years ago when playing this game for the very first time. With only three available characters to utilise, Final Fantasy X-2 introduces a feature called “Dress Spheres”. These are essentially classes that can be changed into, provided they are equipped to a character’s “Garment Grid”. Garment Grids contain your chosen Dress Spheres but only contain a certain amount of slots. So at any given time, it’s somewhat impossible to have a Grid with all your available Dress Spheres equipped; unless of course, you only have three of them.
The Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster also features some added goodies that have previously only been available in Japanese versions of the game. Eternal Calm is a cinematic short which does a good job at bridging the gap between Final Fantasy X and X-2. Last Mission is a bit of a mini-sequel to Final Fantasy X-2 and features third-person roguelike gameplay utilising a grid-based system. Unfortunately it isn’t a particularly interesting extra and barely distracts you from the main game. The final extra included in the Remaster is Final Fantasy X -Will-, an audio drama featuring nearly all the characters from the story. It takes place one year after the events of the game and can be a little confusing. The Remaster also features trophy and cross save support with the Vita version of the game, so continuing your game on the go is a possibility. It should be noted, however, that the Remaster is not cross-buy compatible so players will have to fork out cash for an extra copy if they would like to continue their game on either the Vita or the PS3.
Visually, both games really benefit from the HD overhaul. Textures look a lot smoother and character models definitely look improved. It also seems that the colours of the game tend to pop and look more vibrant than they did before. Better yet, the FMV sequences that appear throughout Final Fantasy X and X-2 look better than ever and are a pleasure to watch. The only downside is that these sequences, both FMV and in-game, cannot be skipped. While this might not be a problem for the first playthrough, it can be somewhat annoying when attempting to take a second crack at the story.
The audio portions of both games are very much on par with their visual counterparts. The soundtrack for Final Fantasy X features remixes on some of the original tracks. The main battle theme has an included distortion guitar track mixed with the sounds of an orchestra to deliver a feeling of grandeur for each and every battle encountered. However, there are some tracks which I would have preferred to be left untouched but these don’t detract from the experience too much. Unfortunately Final Fantasy X-2 did not receive a soundtrack remix but seems to get along fine without it.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is a great package. Final Fantasy X delivers an excellent story with a brilliant cast of characters that really grows on you as progress. X-2, however, has a lighter tone with more silliness than its predecessor. It still features some good moments throughout the story though. The battle systems work rather well in both games with X-2’s being a bit more dynamic in its nature.
Visually, both titles benefit from the HD overhaul as the visuals have been upgraded to smooth out all the rough edges. The FMV sequences look especially amazing and are a pleasure to look at after all these years. The soundtrack for Final Fantasy X has been remixed to deliver a completely new audio experience. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is a pleasure to play after such a long time and delivers a somewhat refreshing experience. It’s a treat for fans and the perfect opportunity for gamers who never had the chance to play these games on the PS2.
Lasting appeal: 8.5/10