Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Review: Praise be to Yevon
Confession time. Final Fantasy X was the first Final Fantasy I beat, and its sequel was the second. It certainly wasn't the first I've played. I was introduced to Final Fantasy VII through an older friend and watched him play it, which then made me confident enough to purchase Final Fantasy VIII. Still, even with all that time, I'd never actually beat any of them.
Then the PS2 came out with its fancy graphics, and the trailers for Final Fantasy X blew me away. It was like watching a trailer for a movie. I was hooked even before I'd gotten my hands on it. Say what you want, but Final Fantasy X ranks as one of my favorites, even after actually playing the majority of the series. With that said, you can imagine how excited I was to replay it on the PS3 and Vita, especially with the sharper graphics, reorchestrated soundtrack, and the amazing additions of the International versions that those in the States never got to experience.
Final Fantasy X tells of a story of young Blitzball player named Tidus who finds himself whisked away to an unknown land called Spira. His home now a 1000 year old ruin terrorized by a monster named Sin, he embarks on a quest with Summoner Yuna and her gang of guardians. Together, they make their way across Spira to ultimately put an end to Sin.
Final Fantasy X-2 picks up the story two years after. I won't go into heavy spoiler territory in case you haven't played it yet, but you're now playing as Yuna, who has left her summoner past behind her. Instead, she's singing pop songs and calls herself and her fellow team members, Rikku and Payne, Sphere Hunters. Make no mistake, Final Fantasy X-2 is nowhere near as timeless as its predecessor with its Charlie's Angels vibe, but for those who eagerly anticipated the continuation of the story, it's a worthy time investment.
Both X and X-2 have similar battle systems. X's is the Conditional Battle System, where the player can clearly see the order of turns and can witch out party members on the fly. The trick to mastering this system is to either try to use moves to delay a monster's action to try and get as many hits as you can with your party, or focus on monsters whose turns were coming up.
X-2's battle system is a little more fast paced, harkening back to the Job system first introduced in Final Fantasy III. This time around, it's a lot more glamorous thanks to Dress Spheres. Players can equip multiple Dress Spheres in a grid, and switching jobs mid-battle allows the player to acquire certain bonuses.
So what exactly can players expect when they pop the remaster in their PS3 or Vita? Well, the most obvious change is the game's remastered graphics. It's not a remake, so don't expect the games to look drastically different. A lot of the side NPCs are clearly lower resolution than the main characters, with bland faces and not nearly as much expression in their face. However, the environments now look absolutely fantastic.
The in-game FMVs hold up, and look as good as they did when the game originally released. They're still absolutely breathtaking. I love the first Blitzball scene where Zanarkand gets invaded by Sin, or the wedding that Tidus crashes, and of course the timeless scene in the lake where Tidus and Yuna share their first romantic moment. These are scenes that players old and new will no doubt be enthralled by.
There's also the remixed soundtrack. Not all songs are completely redone, but some, like the Battle Theme, now sound amazing. I was a little disappointed that the game's didn't allow me to switch the audio from English to Japanese, as I've always wanted to play these games with the original voice cast.
There are some remaster specific functions, like being able to swipe on the Vita screen to bring up a menu that allows you to immediately heal party members via items or spells. It's a nifty feature, but somewhat pointless considering the Save Spheres always heal up your entire party to the max. You can also use the swipe during combat before summoning one of Yuna's Aeons to change the animation from long to short. Trust me, you'll be using these guys a lot, so do yourself a favor and shorten them.
Since both X and X-2 are International versions, there are numerous additions that make it a much more complete experience. X comes with the Master Sphere Grid which has a new design and allows you to fight super bosses. X-2 comes with a few neat additions as well, such as the Creature Creator. You can also watch the Eternal Calm in-game video, which provides some more exposition about the events take take place between the two games. There's even a voice-drama. It's a little too long and somewhat hard to follow, but if you ever hoped for a X-3, this is as close as it gets.
You can Cross-Save between systems, but it's important to note that the game's aren't Cross-Buy, meaning you have to purchase both the PS3 and Vita versions separately. Also worth noting is that the Vita version actually comes with a physical copy of Final Fantasy X and a digital copy of Final Fantasy X-2, so make sure you have some space left on your memory card.
Love it or hate it, this love story that spans two Final Fantasy games contains superb gameplay, gorgeous environments,a fun combat system and a story that's heartwarming as well as heartbreaking. I can easily recommend this to both fans who played this on the PlayStation 2 and want to relive this grand storyline, as well as newcomers who never had the chance to experience it the first time around.