Release Date: March 18, 2014
Platform: PS3, PS Vita
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
I wrote previously that Final Fantasy X and its sequel are two of my favorite titles of all-time. I’m telling you this up front, dear reader, so that you know what you’re getting with me. While I had to battle the fanboy in me while writing this review, I was also concerned that I would be let down if Square Enix dropped the ball and somehow marred my pleasant memories of the original games. In other words, I was filled with great excitement, but also had great expectations.
I’m pleased to say that while the game isn’t perfect, this is the title that X fans were hoping for.
The story of Tidus and Yuna is more vibrant than ever thanks to the (mostly) fantastic new graphics. All of the main characters in each title got quite a bit of work. Even the full motion videos, which didn’t look too shabby even on the PS2, were redone with love and care. Final Fantasy X was ahead of almost all other PS2 titles in the graphics department upon its original release and the remaster pays proper homage to the title’s legacy.
Of the two, Final Fantasy X seems to have had the most overall work done, while the main character models in X-2 are a cut above the first game’s. That said, it’s easy to see where Square Enix decided to cut corners. Many of the non-player characters, especially those in X-2, lack polish. The effect is particularly jarring when the main cast has to interact with these NPCs. It’s not enough to ruin the game by any means, I’m just saying it’s pretty obvious where Square Enix allocated most of its time. Some of the game’s backgrounds and set pieces suffer from the same problem.
Whether or not people like the story in a Japanese RPG is often highly subjective, but I still find that X’s story and character development are superior to anything released in recent years. (*cough* Lightning *cough*) The player still connects emotionally with Tidus and Yuna during X and the zany, over-the-top writing in X-2 still made me laugh or roll my eyes.
The remaster brings a wealth of new content to North America including a new sphere grid and optional bosses in X, a creature creator and arena system in X-2, a standalone movie that bridges the gap between the two titles and an interesting add-on game called X-2 Last Mission.
Of these, the creature creator system in X-2 feels like it shakes things up the most as far as truly new gameplay options. It’s possible to capture a wide variety of creatures (and NPCs) throughout Spira and then insert them into your party from the very beginning. Have a problem with the sound of Rikku’s voice? Add Brother to your roster and swap him in. (Some might say Brother is even more annoying, but I digress.) The Charlie’s Angels-esque trio of Yuna, Paine and Rikku will still be in in all of the cutscenes, but it’s possible to battle through the game without actually having to see them together much at all. The arena and monster training system further strengthen the Pokemon feel to this new feature.
When I first heard that Final Fantasy X-2 was getting an add-on game in Japan called X-2 Last Mission back in the day, I had to talk myself out of taking what little money I had in my perpetually broke student bank account and using it to import a Japanese PS2 and a copy of X-2 International. Now that I’ve finally got my hands on it in 2014, I have to say that not spending all of that money is one of the only wise choices I made during my college years.
Don’t get me wrong, Last Mission is fun in its own way. It’s a “roguelike” title, meaning it features random level generation and a top-down view. Yuna, Rikku and Paine must traverse a mysterious tower floor by floor, using many of the dresspheres from X-2. The game offers a good deal of depth and requires some critical thinking to advance in the later levels. But after spending so many hours in the traditional RPG worlds of X and X-2, my first reaction upon seeing Yuna travel across those first few tiles was an audible WTF. The shift in focus just comes across as a bit jarring, and I struggled to adjust to the new gameplay elements in the first couple of hours. The rest of the remaster feels like many elements coming together to form one complete package, but Last Mission is the weird outlier of the bunch.
That said, I also feel that docking points off of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster as a whole for my own discomfort with X-2 Last Mission would be missing the point. Its inclusion, like most everything else on the disc, is all about fan service. It’s a nice conclusion to the X-2 storyline and features some exclusive content if you have a complete X-2 save file from the main title.
Final Fantasy X had an amazing soundtrack the first time around and this remastered collection adds a fresh take while still staying true to legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu’s original vision. More than 60 tracks in total were rearranged or tweaked. X-2’s soundtrack was not touched.
The original Final Fantasy X’s voice acting was heralded at the time as a major breakthrough for Final Fantasy and that generation of consoles in general. All of your favorite, cheesy lines are still there, although some of them feel even more cringe worthy in 2014 than before. Yes, I’m looking at you, laughing scene. And, well, pretty much all of X-2.
Additional features include trophy support for the Playstation Network, cross-platform save compatibility for the Playstation Vita (games sold separately), new dresspheres in X-2 and a 30 minute new audio story that plays during the end credits.
I guess the main takeaway I’d like you to get from this review is that while the game isn’t perfect and does show its age in some spots, the sheer amount of great content you get for $40 overcomes any minor annoyances you might encounter. Final Fantasy X and X-2 are two of the best and most beloved JRPGs of all-time and this X/X-2 HD Remaster does everything it needed to keep us thinking fondly of Tidus, Yuna and friends for generations to come.