Back to Zanarkand, again. Again.
Final Fantasy X means a lot of things to a lot of people. As the first entry in Square’s storied franchise to grace the PlayStation 2, it served, for many, as an introduction to the series. Final Fantasy X was a game full of firsts, really. It was the first game in the series to feature voice-overs, 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.
In many ways, however, it was also the beginning of the end of Final Fantasy, and Square, as we knew them. 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 a 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.
" Like the previous release, 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 prior to the original remaster on PS3 and the Vita, as well as Final Fantasy X: Eternal Calm and Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission."
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 one of the most iconic JRPGs, if not one of the most iconic video games, ever produced. It was one of the defining games of its generation, and one of the jewels in the PlayStation 2’s enormous crown.
A game like that matters, and more than a decade on, Final Fantasy X lives on in video games’ little slice of pop culture, inspiring debate and reflection, and serving as a cultural signpost for both JRPGs and video games as a whole. It was because of Final Fantasy X’s importance and longstanding place in the canon of video games that I was surprised when Square Enix, having decided to remaster the title, opted not to release said remaster on the PS4, instead choosing to support the PS3 and PS Vita instead. The move just seemed as though the publisher was leaving money on the table. Square Enix must’ve come to the same conclusion because a little more than a year after the original release, they’ve opted to re-release their remaster on PS4.
It would have been fairly easy for Square to simply re-release the collection on PS4 and call it a day, but that’s not what they did. Like the previous release, 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 prior to the original remaster on PS3 and the Vita, 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 prior to the release of this remastered collection.
"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."
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 attempt to save the world of Spira from an endless cycle of destruction brought about by a colossal monster known as 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.
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 longtime 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.
"Additionally, Square has taken the time to update the character models for many of the game’s NPCs and monsters this time around, which was something they didn’t do for the PS3 and Vita versions."
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. Additionally, Square has taken the time to update the character models for many of the game’s NPCs and monsters this time around, which was something they didn’t do for the PS3 and Vita versions. They still don’t look quite as good as the updated models for the main characters, but they do look significantly better, and they don’t look like they belong in a different game anymore, either.
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 this is easily the definitive version of the game visually.
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. Those who prefer Nobuo Uematsu’s original soundtrack will be happy to know that it has been included in the PS4 version, and players have the opportunity to switch between the original and remastered soundtracks at any time. No matter what you prefer, both soundtracks are 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.
"With the additional visual enhancements and the option to use the original soundtrack in Final Fantasy X, the PS4 remaster should be the definitive version of the game. Unfortunately, as of this writing, it isn’t, due to two major bugs that appear exclusively in the PS4 version."
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.
The ability to Cross-Save, which was a major selling point for the PS3 and Vita versions, returns here, and any save that is uploaded to the cloud can be accessed on any of the three versions of the game, as long as you have an internet connection, meaning you won’t have to start over if you decided to double-dip. With the additional visual enhancements and the option to use the original soundtrack in Final Fantasy X, the PS4 remaster should be the definitive version of the game. Unfortunately, as of this writing, it isn’t, due to two major bugs that appear exclusively in the PS4 version.
"Essentially, there’s a bug that has completely broken the game’s RNG, or random number generator. The random battles in a game like Final Fantasy X are supposed to be, you know, random. In the PS4 version of the game, this is no longer the case."
The first is related to the soundtrack switching system. In the other versions of the game, entering a battle would cause the soundtrack to stop, and then resume where it left off once the battle was finished. In the PS4 version, however, entering a battle causes the track in question to start over from the beginning. In games with as many random battles as FFX and FFX-2, this means you’ll almost never get to hear more than twenty or thirty seconds of a track before you enter another battle and everything resets. Due to the way the system was implemented, it affects both Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2, which is really unfortunate because of how fantastic these soundtracks are.
The second only affects Final Fantasy X, but is far more serious. Essentially, there’s a bug that has completely broken the game’s RNG, or random number generator. The random battles in a game like Final Fantasy X are supposed to be, you know, random. In the PS4 version of the game, this is no longer the case. Every battle will happen exactly when it is supposed to, feature the same enemies, and occur the same way, no matter how many times you reset the game.
To provide an example: say you’re fighting a boss, and on Auron’s first turn, he attacks the boss and misses. No matter how many times you load up that fight, Auron is always going to miss that first swing. You will always walk five steps after that battle and fight the same set of enemies, who will always drop the same things. As you might imagine, this is kind of a big deal. It doesn’t break the game per se, but it definitely does keep it from being the definitive version of Final Fantasy X. Hopefully this, and the soundtrack bug, will be patched in the near future.
"The PS4 version’s technical issues keep this from being the best version of this release available, but it’s still a game worth playing, especially if Square does the right thing and figures out a way to fix it."
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. The PS4 version’s technical issues keep this from being the best version of this release available, but it’s still a game worth playing, especially if Square does the right thing and figures out a way to fix it. 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 4.
The International versions add a lot of content to both FFX and X-2. The remastered soundtrack is excellent, but you can still listen to the original if you want to. 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 Cross-Save feature works between all three versions of the game.
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. A bug causes the soundtrack to reset whenever you enter a random battle in FFX and FFX-2. FFX’s random number generator is completely broken in the PS4 version, as of this writing.
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. A few bugs currently mar the PS4 version, but if you can look past them, you’ll find the most beautiful and complete version of these games. If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy X and X-2, and can get past the bugs, you owe it to yourself to check out this collection.