It seems like it was just yesterday when I bought and played the original Final Fantasy X back in 2001 and the awesome sequel that was Final Fantasy X-2 a few short years later in 2003. Both games changed what fans loved and expected from the franchise in mostly positive ways, though neither were without their detractors. All of which brings us to their long-awaited return in high-definition greatness with Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster on the PlayStation 3.
Longtime fans will feel like they’re revisiting old friends (who never looked better) while newcomers will finally get to see what made these two games so great, only now in the crystal-clarity befitting a proper high-definition remaster.
In Final Fantasy X, the story follows a young man named Tidus who plays the popular sport Blitzball on the world of Spira, and a priestess-like summoner named Yuna who has to journey across the world to stop the evil force known as Sin from taking over. It’s not long before fate causes their paths to cross and forces them to use their abilities to save the world, along with some help from the various friends they make during their journey.
The HD remaster of this classic definitely looks and sounds better this time around, as the character models have been completely revamped to look great and animate smoother than before. Their eyes and facial expressions tend to look a bit more realistic, and you’re able to see more details on their outfits and weapons. Though some things like their hair is still a little stiff, and the npcs look a bit bland compared to the main characters remodeled look, but you’ll be too busy enjoying the improvements to notice much. The music has also been rearranged, which can be a good or bad thing depending on if you like the original tunes better.
The turn-based battle system is still present, along with the the infamous Sphere Grid, now improved to work better thanks to changes from FFX International being implemented in this release. Now players can use the points they earn from battles to customize their character’s abilities even more than you could in the original game. There’s also a nice cutscene follow up called Final Fantasy X: Eternal Calm you can choose from the main menu that you’ll want to watch after you’ve beaten the game, as it gives some insight on what happened after the events in the original title.
Just when you think the fun has ended, there’s the fun and highly enjoyable Final Fantasy X-2, starring the lovely Yuna, Rikku and Paine teaming up in a Charlie’s Angels fashion. Without spoiling anything, they take on mission-based battles versus the linear layout of the first game, in hopes of reuniting with an old friend and just to have some fun. The sphere grid is replaced with the dressphere system this time around, which has the ladies changing their outfits that also change what abilities and class they are. This gives a nice, fun mix to the combat that is sure to keep players busy and entertained with the different combinations, especially with some new ones being added to the mix. As with FFX, the graphics and animations have never looked better, with this game being the real standout of the two. Fans who enjoyed the original soundtrack will be glad to know it’s fully intact and untouched here, unlike the FFX remastered version.
Thanks to the FFX-2 International version gameplay additions being included in here, there’s a few new features this time around, mainly the new Creature Creator that allows you to capture and train enemies to play in Pokemon-like battles. As you collect and level your “pets”, you’ll have the opportunity to see more story parts and even character-specific endings that bring more replay value, along with an added audio drama when you beat the game. There’s also a stand alone add-on you can choose from the main menu called Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission. Here your job is to lead the ladies through a series of tough boss battles that unlock new story elements and more. The customization and open exploration take a back seat this time around, as players have to be smart and plan for the upcoming, straight forward battles accordingly.
It was nice being able to replay two RPG classics thanks to Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. It really did feel like catching up with old friends you haven’t heard from in a long time. Those who enjoyed the original games are sure to love this collection as well, despite some minor quirks such as different music and overlooked elements in the otherwise fine graphical enhancements. Newcomers will quickly learn why the fantasy is never truly final, and can ‘finally’ see exactly how these two games became held in such high regard.