Does Square Enix’s blast from the past live up to its current remastering standards?
Of all the Final Fantasy titles released in the past several decades, Final Fantasy X and its sequel Final Fantasy X-2 stick out as some of the most significant and yet, most unorthodox titles in the series. The former paved the way for innovation on the PlayStation, introducing advancements in motion capture and facial animation along with voice acting for the first time in the series. The latter took the series into more light-hearted, questing territory while expanding the same universe, something which went against the grain of Final Fantasy itself. Both games are famous (and infamous) for trying new things and Square Enix’s Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster sought to bring them to a contemporary audience with the usual amount of graphical polishes and increased resolution.
However, it’s interesting to note that the HD Remaster for both titles was done on the PlayStation 3 first. Considering the sizable leap in performance between both platforms, what kind of visual differences could one look forward to? For that matter, how did the HD Remaster compare to the PS2 versions of yore? Let’s find out.
First the good news: The PlayStation 4 indeed offers a significant bump in performance to Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster with the frame rate staying stable at 30 FPS. This is compared to the PS3 version which saw a fair number of drops. It’s especially impressive when you consider that the PS3 version offered two rendering options – 720p with anti-aliasing and 1080p with no anti-aliasing. Meanwhile, the PS4 version is capable of a 1080p resolution with multi-sample anti-aliasing and still maintains a solid frame rate.
Final Fantasy X-2 PS4 Versus PS3 (720p with AA) Head to Head Comparison . Please click 1080p for the best possible video quality.
MSAA itself a solid addition to both games as it provides a higher level of image quality and sharper edges overall. Object geometry and the overall sharpness of structures is a significant step above the PS3 version. This also helps with the geometry of playable characters which we’ll get to in a bit.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster also serves to improve the texture map resolution in several places with the anisotropic filtering on PS4 resulting in less compression artifacting and crisper textures overall. Ambient occlusion has also been applied on PS4, lending a more refined dimension of shading and rendering to the games’ characters. It certainly helps present a more realistic rendition of Spira and its inhabitants, which is all the more important given the fantastical events occurring.
It’s not all hunky dory though and the texture map resolution improvements serve to highlight the fact that the PS4 version’s textures aren’t all that different from the PS3 version. In fact, there are several places which seem to have been giving a facelift while other remain noticeably lower grade and PS3-esque. This isn’t even a clear pattern throughout the game – it’s as inconsistent as the PS3 version’s frame rate drops.
In terms of little touches, the PS4 version sees better alpha effects. Smoke and fire effects are improved and even the fur detailing looks pretty good. Water and lighting effects are better than ever and the PS4 version properly shows off the use of bloom and dynamic shadows with relation to the improved surroundings. And while most NPCs and other characters have new textures, the main cast have been rebuilt to a fair degree. The geometric meshes governing their expressions look much more well-rounded and full of detail. While only the main characters have seen such a strong overhaul to their looks, you’ll notice a few NPCs having improved rendering as well.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster may sport a native 1080p resolution but sadly, the CG full motion videos have simply been scaled from a 4:3 aspect ratio to 16:9. The result is a loss in detail overall and it required a sizable amount of effort in both art and programming to have it mesh with the gameplay. Sure, it looks clearer than the PlayStation 2 version but there’s no denying that lack of clarity overall.
Sufficient effort was put into remastering the game’s music with roughly 60 tracks remastered and the ability to choose between the original score and the remastered work. Voice audio has also been significantly improved though you’ll still have to put up with Tidus’s horrifyingly cringe-inducing laugh.
A number of graphical errors can also be seen at certain points, mostly related to clipping. Hands will pass through sleeves, hair passes into a character’s back as the head moves around, ribbons don’t fold properly and so on.
Final Fantasy X PS4 Versus PS3 (720p with AA) Head to Head Comparison . Please click 1080p for the best possible video quality.
When viewing the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster on the PlayStation 4, it’s easy to compare it to Square Enix’s recent Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. The latter saw a boat-load of improvements in alpha effects, resolution, etc. while the former’s biggest improvements are by of ambient occlusion, a nearly locked 30 FPS frame rate, full HD resolution, MSAA and improved geometry meshes. The aspect ratio of the cut-scenes is a bummer and it is annoying to see glitches from 2001 making an appearance in a 2015 video game, regardless of its status as a remaster.
However, the final result represents an earnest and committed drive by Square Enix to bring its older titles to current gen console users. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster may not be the best remaster of all time but it stands tall, warts and all, and presents a compelling experience worthy of the tag.
GamingBolt’s Bill Smith performed the technical analysis of this game.