March 20, 2014
The story of Final Fantasy X offers a great mix of styles. It’s hilarious at some points, while heart-wrenching at others. Final Fantasy X-2 on the other hand is much less serious and instead takes a much more fun and whimsical approach to the JRPG genre. Despite this disparity, they do still complement each and as long as you are open minded about the experience, you will have a great time in the world of Spira.
Final Fantasy X was the first game in the series that included voice overs and in many ways, it was a landmark game for video game voice overs in general. Those who are keen on nostalgia will be pleased to know that the infamous lip synching is still as awful as ever, but even though it’s now in HD, it never takes you out of the story in either game. Still, with such time going into creating each new main character model for this HD Remaster, you would have hoped this issue might have been resolved, but similar to Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD, these improved models are still using the same PS2 model to move and talk with.
On the topic of the brand new character models, it is important to note that only main characters got this treatment in both games. That means that every other character model is the same one from the PS2 game and these stand out like a sore thumb. This is far from a deal breaker and it’s important to note that it’s much less noticeable in Final Fantasy X than in Final Fantasy X-2. The backgrounds for the worlds on the other hand have been masterfully redone and even include small texture details that they couldn’t fit in either of the original games.
Final Fantasy X has been given a significantly rearranged soundtrack. Not all of the tracks have been remastered, but it does means that there is over six hours of music for you to enjoy. While not everyone is going to love the newer versions of these classic songs, the changes are positive on the whole. It’s just a shame that the original soundtrack is not an option for Final Fantasy X, so if you don’t like the new versions, you are stuck with them. Final Fantasy X-2’s soundtrack is still the same and it is a shame that they couldn’t have rearranged at least a few songs from Final Fantasy X-2. But that doesn’t deter from what was, and still is, a fantastic soundtrack.
The rest of the “new” content in this HD Remaster really depends on which version of both games you played. If you live in Europe or Japan you may not find the new additions as amazing as most North American players will, since Final Fantasy X International released in Europe and Japan. This included plenty of new boss fights, an advanced sphere grid system, a 15 minute epilogue, and much more.
Final Fantasy X-2 International on the other hand never saw any sort of English translation until now. That included a creature capture system, new dress spheres, a coliseum, and a playable epilogue mission that turns the game into a roguelike that puts a fun new twist on the battle system. Newbies to roguelikes beware, this last mission is not for the faint of heart and calling it difficult is an understatement, but like many other rogue likes it is extremely rewarding.
The last bit of content in this collection has already caused quite a lot of confusion and questions and that is the 30 minute audio drama called Final Fantasy X -Will-. This takes place after Final Fantasy X-2 and the X-2.5 novel that was never released outside of Japan. The X-2.5 novel is key to understanding a majority of this audio drama, but once you get past that glaring oversight it does have a lot of very interesting hints at the future of the Final Fantasy X saga. Still, the fact that we actually got the original cast to come back to do this audio drama and extra content never before released really shows that this was a labor of love.
Now while all of that new content is cool, the games are still the same at their core as they were over a decade ago. And that’s a good thing. Final Fantasy X’s take on turn based battle system is still challenging and rewarding, with the ability to switch out party members on the fly. On the other spectrum of things Final Fantasy X-2’s active time battle system based around the dress sphere system offers the ability to change job classes on the fly – it also paved the way for the Paradigm Shift system in Final Fantasy XIII.
The only really dated aspect from this package is possibly worst sport ever invented and that is Blitzball. Many people either love or hate Blitzball – I’m in hate camp. I mean, how could a sport look so cool on paper and become a game all about numbers in practice? Well while I know some people out there love this aspect of Final Fantasy X’s world, it was an annoying chapter that had sadly not aged that well.
Besides the annoyance of Blitzball, it is amazing how quickly both of these games grabbed my attention all over again. It really goes to show what made these games a PS2 classic back in the day from the drop dead gorgeous pre-rendered cutscenes, addictive battle systems, and unforgettable characters. So whether you have a PS3 and/or Vita get ready to sink easily 100 hours playing these games all over again. Thankfully both games feature cross-save to move your progress from one version of the game to the next hassle free. Since the Vita version looks just as good as the console version the, portable aspect does give the Vita a bit of an advantage, but if price is not an issue buying both versions is the way to go for any diehard fan of these game.
The wait may have been long, but Square Enix really delivered on making one of the best HD collections. It has improved visuals, new features and you will sink tons of hours into it, but it also excels in so many other ways – it’s one of the best JRPGs for a reason. Whether this is your first time visiting Spira or your 15th, it has never been a better time to sit down and listen to this unforgettable story.Editor's Choice
Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita. You can read more about GamingUnion.net's scoring policy here.