Wired Wednesday: Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Game Review

Photo: Square Enix
Photo: Square Enix

Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers

I’ve always been a big Final Fantasy fan, ever since playing Final Fantasy VIII when I was eight.

When I heard that Square Enix was remastering Final Fantasy X in HD, I was beyond ecstatic. I didn’t get far into FFX the first time (played it on a PS2 Emulator that wouldn’t run smoothly), although I did get a chance to play some of FFX-2. After waiting about half a year and after pre-ordering FFX HD Remaster for Playstation 3, mainly for the sake of the exclusive limited edition concept art book, I finally picked the game up last week.

For those who are unfamiliar with the game, or will be playing FFX for the first time, the story is set in a fantasy world called Spira, revolving around a group of adventurers on their quest to defeat a destructive monster called Sin. Tidus (player character), a blitzball star, finds himself in Spira after Sin destroys his home city, Zanarkand. There he learns that he has traveled 1,000 years into the future. Barely settling in Spira, Tidus meets a summoner, Yuna, and joins her journey, as one of her guardians to destroy Sin, before Sin annihilates the entire world.

Photo: Kerri Kwong/4YE
Photo: Kerri Kwong/4YE

For those who pre-ordered FFX/X-2 HD Remaster, you get a complimentary lovely limited edition art book, featuring the works and concepts of Square Enix’s artists. The art book is fairly small, but it is a very pleasant gift for a fan to receive. The packaging is quite nice. Although, it’d be even nicer for the book to be separate instead of having the disc inside the book. The box is bigger than your standard PS3 game, so it definitely stands out from the rest. For two games, an exclusive art book, and bonus audio and content, $40 (USD) really isn’t that bad.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Game Review
Photo: Kerri Kwong/4YE

I was giddy with excitement when I inserted my disc into my PS3, and was quite impressed with the menu screen. The iconic image of Yuna and Tidus together in the “Suteki Da Ne” (Isn’t It Beautiful) music video is wonderful. You can choose to play from four modes: Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X: Eternal Calm, Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission. You can also access bonus audio and credits from the main menu.

After playing for a good eight to nine hours of FFX, I’ve found a fair share of strengths and improvements in the game, as well as disappointments.

It’s very evident that most of the audio work, including music and voices, has been redone, spectacularly. The music quality is excellent – very crisp with a lot more depth. It’s a bit difficult to explain what I mean by “depth”, but if you get a chance to listen to the music from FFX HD, you will see. Some songs have been retouched, with a bit of added effects and touch-ups here and there. Some fans like the new versions while others disagree and think the original OST was already perfect. I personally think the new music and sounds are great, and classic favorites, such as “To Zanarkand” sound nicer with more clarity.

You can listen to the Final Fantasy X HD Remaster OST below:

The cinematography has been improved to stay just as crisp, whether you’re playing on a standard 24” computer monitor or a 60” screen LED TV, while carrying all its high details.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Game Review
Photo: Square Enix

Colors are much more vibrant in this version of FFX. Scenery graphics were fantastic and highly improved, with greater details compared to the original game.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Photo: Kotaku

I expected a lot more, however, for the characters. Although the characters had some touching up done, they still carried the same doll-like expressionless faces. The details weren’t as strong. When the game goes into close-up cutscenes of people talking, I eventually cringe as I couldn’t really see them react emotionally to what was being said. This ultimately leads to another big flaw – the inability to skip cutscenes.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Game Review, Blitzball
Photo: Square Enix

I had attempted to replay the (SPOILER) Blitzball game in Luca about three times so I could successfully win against the “Luca Goers” in order to unlock an Overdrive for Wakka. Every time I failed to win and wanted to replay it, I’d have to repeatedly sit through 10 minutes of conversations and cutscenes. No, it’s not fun at all.

Although I can understand the game wasn’t necessarily designed for us to “replay” a certain situation, having the option (like FFX-2 and higher have) to skip cutscenes would be well appropriate and feasible. Especially since the game was redesigned for previous lovers to play it again. Most players will have already known what’s to happen and smaller cutscenes are needless to really watch.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Photo: Square Enix

The game had appealed very strongly for North Americans. Being 13 years old since its release date, it would make sense for Square Enix to finally reproduce a full International version of the game, rather than using English dubbed over Japanese conversations and cutscenes. They didn’t bother to, which was a big disappointment. Listening to English while watching characters mouth something entirely different makes me cringe, a lot.

Final Fantasy XIII Gameplay vs Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Photo: FF XIII Gameplay, Square Enix

Unfortunately, I can’t help but compare FFX to FFXIII. FFX does almost seem like a chore to play in battle mode, compared to FFXIII with the faster and more exciting game play. There’s still no option to pause in battle either and I don’t understand why not. It’s difficult for me to not think about FFXIII because that’s the latest one that I’ve been playing, and I’ve really gotten used to the fast-paced and exciting battle plays.

Photo: FF X HD gameplay, Square Enix

So to revert back to the classic method of fighting is not so fun for me. Aside from the gameplay, FFXIII was a full cinematic experience, from fighting to talking, the graphics were absolutely excellent. I’m not going to lie, I expected the HD Remaster of FFX/FFX-2 to be more like that.

There weren’t many changes, although I have heard that there is bonus content with this version. I find the HD Remaster is merely just a fresh coating of paint is all, as it really didn’t meet my expectations, graphics-wise. I’m still really enjoying the game however, not to mention I’ve been playing it for hours straight until 1 in the morning. The storyline is absolutely great and I never know what to expect. It was quite the legendary game for RPG and Final Fantasy lovers, and it still is. All I need now is the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster OST.

I have yet to try out FFX-2, but do expect a game review on that in the following weeks!

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