A small group of people sits around a campfire on the outskirts of a ruined city, their weapons planted in the ground nearby. One of the men stretches, rises, and begins to move away from the others. The woman next to him looks up from where she sits, as though she’s wondering where he’s going. He places a hand on her shoulder, and she closes her eyes. A moment later, he’s on the move again. He slowly climbs the hill next to their camp, his eyes always on the once great city before him. When he reaches the top, he stops, and simply stares at it. A number of emotions play over his face, but he doesn’t look away. Finally, he speaks.
“Listen to my story. This may be our last chance.”
Those were the first lines ever voiced in a Final Fantasy title. Of course, the man in question is Tidus, the woman Yuna, and the game Final Fantasy X. Final Fantasy X was a game full of firsts, really. It was the first game in the series to feature voice-overs. It was the first Final Fantasy game on Sony’s PlayStation 2, the first to drop pre-rendered backgrounds for completely three-dimensional areas, and the first without an overworld map for the player to traverse. It would also go on to be the first Final Fantasy title to ever receive a direct sequel. Like many others, it was my first Final Fantasy, as I never had a PlayStation, and as anyone who has ever played a game in the series will tell you, you never forget your first.
"Over a decade later, it remains one of the most popular and well-received games in the franchise, and its opening has become one of the most iconic in RPGs, if not video games as a whole. It was, in many ways, one of the defining games of its generation, and one of the jewels in the PlayStation 2’s enormous crown."
Yes, Final Fantasy X marked a lot of firsts for the series, but in many ways, it was also the beginning of the end of Final Fantasy, and Square, as we knew them at that point. It was the last singleplayer game in the main series to be released before Square’s merger with Enix. It was one of the last to feature the involvement of series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. It was the last time that Final Fantasy was solely a singleplayer franchise, and that last time that the game would allow you to name the main character outside of an MMO. Many consider it to be the last “true” Final Fantasy title, and many others would also argue that it’s the last time the series produced anything worthwhile.
Despite all of that, however, Final Fantasy X endures. Over a decade later, it remains one of the most popular and well-received games in the franchise, and its opening has become one of the most iconic in RPGs, if not video games as a whole. It was, in many ways, one of the defining games of its generation, and one of the jewels in the PlayStation 2’s enormous crown.
Given Square’s penchant for remaking and rereleasing older games in the franchise, a rerelease of FFX was inevitable, but to call Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster a rerelease doesn’t quite do justice to the work that Square has done here.
"Final Fantasy X benefits the most from the additional content. By far the biggest change is the option to use the Expert Sphere Grid, which starts all of the characters in the middle of the grid instead of in their own separate sections. This allows players to completely customize their characters without the restrictions of the Standard Sphere Grid, though it should be noted that the standard grid is still available for those who want it."
As the title implies, the collection is an HD remastering of Final Fantasy X and its sequel, but Square didn’t just slap some fancy HD paint on these titles and call it a day. The collection on display is expansive. It includes the International versions of both X and X-2, which were previously exclusive to Europe and Japan, as well as Final Fantasy X: Eternal Calm and Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission. Both of these were included in previous release of the International versions, but, like the International editions themselves, were never released in North America. Obviously, North American gamers will get the most out of this package, as they’ll be seeing this content for the first time, but these are far and away the definitive versions of each title.
Final Fantasy X benefits the most from the additional content. By far the biggest change is the option to use the Expert Sphere Grid, which starts all of the characters in the middle of the grid instead of in their own separate sections. This allows players to completely customize their characters without the restrictions of the Standard Sphere Grid, though it should be noted that the standard grid is still available for those who want it. In addition, the International release also features the Dark Aeons and Penance, a pair of extremely difficult optional bosses for the player to battle. Final Fantasy X wasn’t short on optional content to begin with, but these are welcome additions that provide an extra wrinkle for new and old fans alike.
Aside from that, however, Final Fantasy X is just like you remember. This is still the story of Tidus, Yuna, Auron, Lulu, Wakka, Kimahri and Rikku as they travel throughout the world of Spira in their quest to defeat Sin. You’ll spend most of your time traversing the game world, battling monsters, playing blitzball, riding chocobos, and watching the story unfold around you, just as you did more than ten years ago, and everything is still just as good now as it was then. The story is still entertaining and well-written, the characters are still complex and engaging, blitzball is still the best mini-game in the franchise, and Final Fantasy X still has the best implementation of turn-based combat in the Final Fantasy series. Everything is still here; it just looks a whole lot better.
"A large amount of FFX’s music has been remixed and remastered, and the difference in quality is impressive. Largely, however, the game sounds the same as it always did. The soundtrack is still fantastic, the sound effects are loud and impressive, and the major characters are still very well-acted."
Final Fantasy X was a beautiful game in 2001, largely thanks to its excellent art style, and the same is still true today, especially with the increased resolution. Square has done a lot of work on the game’s textures, and it shows. Everything is crisp and clear, from the environments and backgrounds to the cutscenes. The increased quality really drives home just how gorgeous Final Fantasy X was, and long time fans will appreciate the attention to detail, especially when it allows them to notice an aspect of the game they’d missed in previous releases.
Character models have seen similar updates, and the main cast looks better than ever, especially their faces, which have been redone to allow for more expression. Even the minor characters, which have not seen as many upgrades, benefit greatly from the increased resolution. Of course, this is still a PlayStation 2 game at its core, and aspects of that still linger. You’ll occasionally see a 2D crowd in Luca’s blitzball stadium and, despite all of the updates to the character models, hair still looks less like hair and more like something that’s been glued to everyone’s head. The pre-rendered cinematics look dated as well, though they still impress when they need to. These are relatively minor qualms, however, and by and large, everything looks very, very good.
Similar attention has been paid to the game’s sound. A large amount of FFX’s music has been remixed and remastered, and the difference in quality is impressive. Largely, however, the game sounds the same as it always did. The soundtrack is still fantastic, the sound effects are loud and impressive, and the major characters are still very well-acted. The minor characters are still hit and miss, but none of this takes away from the game in a meaningful way. Simply put, Final Fantasy X has never sounded better, and that is a good, good thing.
"Of course, X isn’t the only game in the package, and X-2 has seen similar upgrades. The visual updates are as impressive as those in X, with the added bonus that X-2 looked better to begin with. Unfortunately, X-2’s music hasn’t been remastered in the same way that X’s has, but everything still sounds good."
The other big addition to X is Eternal Calm, a fourteen minute in-game video that bridges the gap between X and X-2. Like X, it has seen a number of visual and audio upgrades, and it looks and sounds quite nice. Most fans will probably only view it once after completing Final Fantasy X, but it does a good job of filling in the gaps between X and its sequel, and its inclusion here is greatly appreciated.
Of course, X isn’t the only game in the package, and X-2 has seen similar upgrades. The visual updates are as impressive as those in X, with the added bonus that X-2 looked better to begin with. Unfortunately, X-2’s music hasn’t been remastered in the same way that X’s has, but everything still sounds good. Other than that, however, X-2 is largely the same as it was before, as the additions that the International version provides are fairly minor. You’ll get a couple of new dressspheres, as well as a Creature Creator and the Fiend Tournaments, but these don’t add much to the core game, and most players probably won’t pay much attention to them.
Beyond that, however, X-2 is the same game, and it will likely be just as divisive now as it was then due to the all-female cast and its very loose relation to Final Fantasy X’s plot. Still, it’s a well-designed title with an excellent battle system and some great moments, and most fans will benefit from checking it out. If you don’t like it, however, the changes in the International version probably won’t do anything to change your mind.
"Ultimately, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is a love letter from Square to fans of Final Fantasy X and its sequel. It’s a respectful repackaging that collects every major piece of the Final Fantasy X saga, and moves all of it to a modern console."
The biggest addition to X-2’s part of the package is Last Mission, which is a standalone title that tasks Yuna and company with climbing a giant tower. The game is a drastic departure from everything else in the collection, and plays more like Square’s Chocobo Dungeon titles than a traditional Final Fantasy game. Characters move through a grid, where they’ll engage monsters, collect items, and acquire upgrades, all the while trying to reach the next floor. It’s deceptively complex, as you’ll have to manage all of your upgrades, dessspheres, and items to succeed, especially since each floor is randomly generated. Leave the tower, and you’ll have to start all over again. It’s a fairly long romp, and quite challenging, but its design will limit the game’s appeal, and only the most diehard fans will see it through to the end.
The final piece of content in the collection is a thirty minute audio drama written by Kazushige Nojima, the writer of X and X-2. It plays during the credits for the Remaster, which can be accessed at any time from the main menu, as concept art from X and X-2 scrolls by on the screen. The story takes place after X-2, but it ultimately raises more questions than it answers and many fans will be annoyed by its cliffhanger ending, which seems to hint at the possibility of a Final Fantasy X-3. Still, it’s well put together and worth watching for the concept art alone, especially if you are a fan of Final Fantasy X’s visual design.
Ultimately, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is a love letter from Square to fans of Final Fantasy X and its sequel. It’s a respectful repackaging that collects every major piece of the Final Fantasy X saga, and moves all of it to a modern console. It is, like the Kingdom Hearts collection before it, a heartfelt tribute to all that is Final Fantasy X, and amazingly, it all still works. If you’re not a fan of Final Fantasy X, this probably isn’t going to change your mind, but ultimately, this collection isn’t for those people.
This is a collection for the fans, and those who have never experienced these games before, and it makes no apologies for that. It’s a collection that welcomes players new and old, and asks them to sit around a campfire, so that it can tell them a story. It may be a story you’ve heard before, or it may be one that’s completely new to you. Either way, however, you should stop and listen. The story of Tidus and Yuna may be old, but it’s definitely one worth telling, and hearing, again and this is its most beautiful version.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
The International versions add a lot of content to both FFX and X-2. The remastered soundtrack is excellent. The visual upgrades are well done and add a lot to the games. Final Fantasy X and X-2 are still fantastic games. Eternal Calm and the audio drama are well produced and interesting.
The audio drama raises more questions than it answers, and ends on a cliffhanger. Last Mission deviates significantly from the other games. No remastered audio for X-2.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is a fantastic collection that brings together two great games, and a lot of supplementary material, to create the most complete Final Fantasy X release to date. This is by far the most complete version of the Final Fantasy X saga available, and these games have never looked or sounded better. If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy X and X-2, or have never played these games before, you owe it to yourself to check this collection.
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