Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster (PS Vita) Review

By Az Elias 08.04.2014 6

Review for Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster on PS Vita

Every Final Fantasy fan has their favourites in the series. Every Final Fantasy fan has desires for which games should be remade or remastered. Final Fantasy X has been one such title strongly called for a return by its fans. Like other landmark games in the franchise have done in the past, Final Fantasy X introduced a new audience to the magical world of Squaresoft (as the developer was known as back then), fashioning a beloved story on the PlayStation 2 that was critically acclaimed, and went on to perform exceptionally well, drastically exceeding the company's expectations. More than 10 years after its original release, today's Square Enix has seen fit to give not just Final Fantasy X a makeover, but its sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, as well, for both the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita. It is time to journey through Spira again, in the PS Vita version of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster.

Final Fantasy X came off the back of what many would regard as the pinnacle of the series, after Final Fantasy IX on PlayStation. It was tough to imagine whether FFX could live up to such heights, but it most certainly did - especially considering it spurned Square on to make the first true Final Fantasy sequel. Announced way back in 2011, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is anything but a simple port with slightly improved graphics; Square Enix has treated this with the care and respect both games deserve, and it shows.

The PS Vita version of the compilation holds its own against its PS3 counterpart incredibly well, with hardly any noticeable differences in graphical quality. Running on the smaller screen of the handheld, this is one of the more beautiful looking games on the system, and puts so many other HD remasters to shame.

All main characters have been completely rebuilt from scratch in both Final Fantasy X HD and Final Fantasy X-2 HD, with minor characters and monsters getting rearranged textures. Backgrounds have been edited, lighting and shadows improved, and CG movies have also received clear upgrades. If anyone thought that Square Enix was doing this to make a quick buck, they couldn't be further from the truth, as this remastering of both titles has required some serious investment, and redeveloping of a lot of assets from the ground up.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster on PS Vita

It isn't just the graphics that have been spruced up, though; the soundtrack has been recreated almost entirely for Final Fantasy X HD. Now, without the option to switch between the original and new recordings, this is an area that is bound to evoke strong opinions amongst those that played the 2001 PS2 release. Some tracks have seemingly lost memorable parts, resulting in renditions that don't feel quite as impacting or powerful. Others hold their own far better, even surpassing the original versions. When actually playing the game, what may have disappointed because of the changes made initially, doesn't seem quite as bad after a few instances of the tracks repeating; it is something that is gradually grown used to. It really will depend on personal preferences in the end, and how attached to certain tunes individuals were. There are bound to be tracks that will not resonate quite as well in the remaster, but the overall quality is still there, as this well-written score plays into the game's cut-scenes and story to add to the emotion. The fact the team even re-recorded the soundtrack at all is further proof that Square Enix took this project seriously.

For both Europeans and North Americans, FFX/X-2 HD Remaster contains new content that has never been released in certain regions before. Previously only in the PAL and International versions of the original FFX, the Expert Sphere Grid, numerous optional 'superboss' fights, and new abilities, are all present in the remaster; North Americans can now tackle some of the hardest bosses in the game (or series!) for the first time. The meaty Creature Creator makes its way into FFX-2 HD; the short movie, FFX: Eternal Calm - a prequel to FFX-2 - has been added; and FFX-2: Last Mission - the small tactical RPG taking place after FFX-2 - gets its first English release, too. A 30-minute audio drama story, written specifically for FFX/X-2 HD Remaster, detailing current events long after Final Fantasy X-2, is also included (although this new part of the story may not go down well). All of these movies and games are freely selectable from the very start, without needing to unlock anything.


 

Owners of the old PAL versions will be equally pleased to at last play the games at their intended speeds, instead of the slower pace of the 50Hz games that did not receive proper conversions for the region. Being able to move FFX main character Tidus around smoothly and quickly, without him feeling like he's running underwater, is such a satisfying feeling after having to put up with that for so long in the past. With the remasters optimised for widescreen, and super slick redesigned menus, this whole package has lovely presentation values, and squeezed down onto the PS Vita screen, it really makes for a gorgeous-looking set of titles.

The bulk of what is new in the package is covered, so just how good are these two RPGs in this day and age? Final Fantasy X had initially marked some bold steps for Square Enix, as it moved the series onto new hardware - the PlayStation 2. Gone was the traditional world map, previously used as a means of getting to each location over a scaled-down landscape; voice acting was fully embraced to deliver a more cinematic and engaging story; and 3D real-time environments gave a more realistic visual appearance.

Revisiting FFX even now, it is a very comprehensible RPG, defined by its simple, yet free, character growth structure - the Sphere Grid - and the strategic Conditional Turn-Based Battle system - still one of the best systems in the series. With time stopping completely whilst each character's turn is thought out, and the option to switch in and out any party member, battles allow a degree of tactfulness and preparation that is not as prominent in previous entries that use an active or real-time approach.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster on PS Vita

The removal of the world map is again proven to be for the better, as it chops out the unnecessary, ugly-looking terrain that really served little purpose than to link towns together. In its place, Final Fantasy X allows almost every location to be reached by running through each one on foot, as they connect along the same linear path. This isn't Final Fantasy XIII levels of linearity, though; just about every location can be returned to again to scour for secrets and complete quests, and the airship menu makes this an instant process. Even though it is a slight shame that the ability to fly around an overworld in an airship is no more in FFX, it does streamline the game to remove all of the tedious wandering around.

As a story, Final Fantasy X is an unforgettable journey, that manages to reverberate profound emotions and attachments, and the voice acting, whilst not immaculate, in part due to the constraints that had to be worked with back then, is of a high enough standard that it still stands strongly today, with Tidus' narration helping to guide the plot along, and keep it understandable.

Final Fantasy X-2 takes a drastic turn in the themes of the game, with its pop influence attributing massively to that, dressing Yuna and Rikku - two of the lead females in FFX - in attire unbefitting of their previous roles, making it sometimes difficult to accept that this is the same Yuna from the first game. FFX-2 shouldn't be overlooked, as it offers a fun version of the job system - an iconic aspect of the franchise over the years. The extremely fast-paced Active Time Battle system is in stark contrast to the turn-based affairs of its prequel, and many opportunities for customisation of the three female main characters present themselves, as they are able to switch dresses at will during battle, adapting to the foes being fought, but it can be easy to slip into the frame of mind of reusing attacks that require little charge time to ensure fights proceed quicker, resulting in the combat of the game's prequel being preferred.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster on PS Vita

A somewhat non-linear approach to the story is taken with FFX-2, where locations can be visited from the start, and optional missions can be participated in to score new dresses and learn more about the world and people of Spira, and how they are adapting and changing two years after the events of Final Fantasy X. It may not come close to recreating FFX's levels of affections or absorbing story, but it can provide light-hearted fun while it lasts. The unfortunate side of the coin is that the path to achieving 100% completion in FFX-2 is still as nit-picky and annoying as ever, where no changes have been made to make it easier to obtain; it is almost impossible to know how to get the full achievement without using a guide.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is the ultimate collection of the best versions of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2, and RPG fans the world over owe it to themselves to play FFX at the very least. Both games are packed to the brim with the sort of content that is demanded from a Final Fantasy title, and certainly make for a compilation that deserves to be in any RPGer's collection - especially if the games have not been played before. Besides, nobody can deny the super convenience of carrying a game like Final Fantasy X on the PS Vita around in a pocket - it is perfect for those mini-games and grind quests.

All that is left for Square Enix to do now is give Final Fantasy XII the same treatment.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Over ten years on, Final Fantasy X is proof of just how good turn-based Final Fantasy really is, and a reminder of some of the better days of Square Enix. Hopefully the success of its HD remastering will spurn the company on to create new projects in the series in a similar style, after taking an action-oriented route for the last generation. Final Fantasy X-2 may not be as rewarding or compelling as its prequel, but it does manage to deliver an alternative battle system that fans of the ATB and job system will cherish. In Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, the pair makes up one of the most exceptional remaster compilations there is, and undoubtedly is a bundle that insists it be in the PS Vita at all times. If these games were missed back in the PlayStation 2 days, ensure that the wait is endured no longer, and pick up a memorable RPG experience. Anyone that played and loved them way back when, this is the definitive version of both, and makes reliving the journey through Spira extra special; they are worth replaying all over again.

Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Still as over rated & under whelming as ff7 is...HD visuals can't improve bland characters or poor voice acting. I'll be skipping this one for sure.

It is not wise to speak on subjects you do not know all facts about, nor is it smart to judge a game based on looks alone. PSN: Nintendo_Gamer 3DS: 4296-3029-7422

I remember FFX fondly, but FFX-2 not so fondly...I think FFX was probably the last Final Fantasy I worked through to the bitter end.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

FFXHD is taking up a lot of my spare time lately. Still my favourite battle system.

Managed to get 0:0.0 in that dreaded chocobo catcher mini-game last night!

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Is that an in-game tool for sharing the screenshots that you use? Or is it tied to the console? Cause the picture is quite blurry, i hope it's an artifact of the compression used and not how the game really looks on-screen as you play

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

RudyC3 said:
Is that an in-game tool for sharing the screenshots that you use? Or is it tied to the console? Cause the picture is quite blurry, i hope it's an artifact of the compression used and not how the game really looks on-screen as you play
PS Vita built-in screen capturing. It compresses it poorly, unfortunately. Trust me when I say in the review it looks gorgeous. Is a shame the capturing doesn't do it justice. It's a pretty handy tool, though.


I would have picked this up had I not switched to the PS4. 

I'm with Adam on this one, it's the last FF I properly slogged through, the later games just never 'clicked' for me.

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