Back in 2002, Final Fantasy X came out to showcase the power of the PS2’s emotion engine. While considered primitive now, it was ground-breaking stuff at the time, and because of that it not holds a special place in the collective JRPG memory. Twelve years later, both Square-Enix and fans have aged. Final Fantasy fails to impress the same way it once did, so to go forward, Square-Enix has looked back into the past with Final Fantasy X| X-2 HD Remaster.
Thankfully, Square-Enix had the common sense to know what to touch and what to leave well enough alone. The mostly linear trek across the world of Spira is still a well placed tourist trip, slowly building up a land driven to religious fervour through constant fear of the being known as Sin. Final Fantasy X does an excellent job of world building, slowly adding complexity and depth to the land and its characters.
This Is A Huge Improvement Over The Previously Flat Faces Of Yesteryear
This is all set to Nobuo Uematsu’s simply amazing score, reworked and redone for the remake. Final Fantasy X| X-2 HD Remaster never has a problem setting a tone through music, even if the voice acting leaves something to be desired. Done during the relatively early days of game voice-acting, dialogue is jilted with lines electronically sped-up and slowed down to match cut-scenes. This leaves characters with unnatural cadence as Square-Enix attempt to fill in the space left from the Japanese dub. It doesn’t help that the lack of lip-syncing is painfully obvious, with NPCs and the main cast sometimes mouthing the words long after they finished talking.
Graphically, both Final Fantasy X and X-2 are a mixed bag. The main cast are leaps and bounds above the PS2 versions, with more distinct facial features and more natural eye movement selling the action better than twelve years ago. Sadly however, the increased resolution makes it easy to see where Square-Enix had to cut a few corners all that time ago. Pre-rendered areas look stiff and almost alien, with the card-board like cut-outs that make up the larger objects in the background being painfully obvious and out of place. Final Fantasy X-2 suffers a little more from these issues, which runs the spectrum from beautiful to a little ugly. The pure variety and imagination that went into crafting Spira however make up for this, just expect the odd rough edge along the road.
Sometimes It Feels As If The Games Throw The Graphical Faults Right In Your Face
Both games’ combat systems are completely untouched. Turn-based combat in Final Fantasy X is still some of the best to be found, giving the player enough freedom to formulate their own strategy and preferences. The Sphere Grid remains the same, handing players enough agency to feel in control but fencing them in enough to not paint themselves into a corner. It was a gamble that could have either turned out either boring or compelling, and thankfully it pays off.
The active-time system in Final Fantasy X-2 also still holds up remarkably well. While calling it the Dress-Sphere and Garment Grid irked a few gamers who didn’t like playing glorified dress-up for three young women, it once again allows players a large degree of experimentation without hand-holding within the confines of the slowly expanding number of jobs.
A small number of other niggling issues serve a small annoyance however. Both Tidus and Yuna run in 45 degree angles, meaning there is a noticeable and awkward transition while travelling around. This is compounded by fixed camera angles that sometimes work against the player. At points the camera will switch to another angle where the player will immediately run back to the previous screen, which in turn sends them back to the place they wanted to be and so on and so forth. It takes time getting used to it, and does become easier, but if Square-Enix wanted this to be the remake they so desperately want it to be, they could have taken the time to fix the issues where you can end up fighting with the camera and jerky controls.
Nothing Has Been Done To Alter The 17 Year Old In A Thong And Bikini Top Thing
Along with the two core games, there are a few previously Japan only extras. First there is the short movie prelude to Final Fantasy X-2, titled Eternal Calm, which is entertaining enough but comes off as unneeded fluff. The epilogue to Final Fantasy X-2, ‘Last Mission‘ takes place three months after the games conclusion. Playing out like a turn-based board game, with Final Fantasy X-2’s combat happening when you encounter enemies, it is a entertaining departure from the rest of the package, an a fitting conclusion to the story. Or it would be, until you listen to the audio drama “Final fantasy X: Will”, an odd inclusion that seems poised to annoy fans of the Final Fantasy X saga by going back on the ending to Final Fantasy X-2 and being massive teaser for a possible Final Fantasy X-3. Series producer Shinji Hashimoto has gone on the record saying that this isn’t the case, but given the implications of the short story, it seems Square-Enix have ideas of a threequel in mind.
Strictly speaking, the only things holding back Final Fantasy X| X-2 HD Remaster are the niggling limitations of the past. Although the overall quality of the package surpasses these issues, it is disappointing that Square-Enix didn’t go the extra mile to iron out the control issues. Final Fantasy X| X-2 HD Remaster is an excellent bundle. Not only is it a glimpse at the quality Final Fantasy once had for newcomers, but it has enough additional content and small touches to make it worthwhile for older fans. Hopefully if Square-Enix does decide to make another sequel it won’t be Yuna Returns: Final Fantasy X-3.