Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster was recently ported to PlayStation 3 and Vita. Now a year later we have a PlayStation 4 version. How does this classic hold up in this eighth generation of consoles?
Shamefully enough I didn’t get to play Final Fantasy X when it was first released, so you can take this review as an insight from a fresh perspective.
Final Fantasy X just has that kind of intriguing story that keeps you constantly on your toes. The characters are likeable and as you get to know them even the characters you didn’t like at first start to grow on you. Yes, even often hated Wakka.
The premise revolves around Tidus, a prospective blitzball star player from Zanarkand who gets sucked into chaos caused by an evil dark force called the Sin. After surviving through tortures of Al Bhed, people who speak their made up language, he finds himself in some far off land. Little did he know that his home town was destroyed a thousand years before and he is now actually living in that far future, stranded all alone.
The world in Final Fantasy X just seems alive. Places like Beasid village (possible Seaside anagram?) is a place where people seem to do stuff, not just stand around like fools. Progressing the story is done in the way that you spend just enough time in one place and move on so it never gets stale.
Even though the game mostly has linear structure, there is still a lot of exploration as each area is meticulously designed. You have actual towns with shops and people to talk to.
The game is really cinematic for being originally released in 2001 (2002 in Europe). Everything is introduced at just the right time. There are many little cut-scenes throughout your journey that nicely tie everything together.
Battles are quite dynamic for a turn based style Final Fantasy game thanks to characters’ interaction and dialogue. Your teammates are quick to give you advice or to just complain if you do something stupid. You can switch up characters mid-battle, which keeps battles even more dynamic.
Each character has their place in battle, but Yuna is quite interesting as she has Summons called Aeons so that you can use their help to take out tough opponents quickly. If knocked out you have to recover your Aeons at a Save Sphere. Do you see a pattern here? In Final Fantasy X everything is sphere shaped. Even the puzzles themselves.
Then there are other colourful characters that make the main cast of the game. Most of the other characters serve as Yuna’s protectors, called Guardians. Lulu, that lovably strange belt-dress lady, has her magic which comes in handy at all times. It helps that her personality and snarky comments make every dialogue that much better. Even Wakka, a goofy captain of the infamously-pathetic Besaid Aurochs, is very useful as he can take out flying enemies with his blitzball.
Then there is eternally cool Auron. If you showed a picture of him to aliens I think they would agree that he is so cool it hurts. There’s silent Kimahri, a Ronso – a type of angry humanoid cat, whose duty is to protect Yuna. And of course, a spunky girl Rikku. She is a member of the Al Bhed tribe that helps Tidus in the very beginning.
Even boss battles are quite creative as there are little puzzle segments to them. Sometimes you will have to focus on attacking objects in the background, like a fin out of the ocean. Or powering up a crank in order to knock out a boss.
Upgrading is done through the Sphere Grid, which is polarizing feature among the fans. It is an interesting concept, but can be a bit confusing at first. You use spheres, which you acquire in battles, in order to progress your character stats and unlock new skills. Leveling your characters isn’t automatic and you have to use the grid to actually upgrade them, but sometimes this won’t be enough as the skills and stats you can upgrade follow a sphere path.
Like most good old Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy X features a unique mini game in a form of a blitzball, the official number one sport in Spira. You can control active character manually or set it to automatic and choose when to pass, shot or dribble. But most of the time you will be clashing with opposing players and thinking whether to break through them or not. Of course it gets more complicated with trying to learn skills and leveling up your players. You can even recruit new players for your team.
Yet another really cool feature is that during your travels you will find Al Bhed language primers, so along the way you can learn it. And then when you replay the game you can load all your collected knowledge and then understand what everyone is saying from the get go. It really is great when there is so much extra content in a game like this.
Final Fantasy X features prerendered backgrounds and a fixed camera angle which can get a bit awkward when you are interacting with some objects in certain scenes. Character models used in this HD Remaster edition are of higher quality than those in the original and the resolution is ramped up to 1080p so everything looks very smooth and crisp.
You are given a choice between the original and arranged soundtrack, which is nice for those that want that remastered experience as both are great. Voice acting which is dubbed in English is quite good for 2001, especially when you had this as the norm.
I haven’t even spoken about the Final Fantasy X-2, a sequel that follows Yuna’s adventures, which is also included in this release. But combined with the original this gives you over 200 hours of gameplay.
Did the story hold up after all these years? My answer is a resounding yes. After playing Final Fantasy XIII previously, I was really happy that in Final Fantasy X it is quite refreshing to see a coherent story as I could understand what was happening with the world and the characters. And you can empathize with what they are going through.
If you didn’t get a PS3 or Vita version, PS4 is an ultimate version to get as it has better textures and some improved NPC models. Not to mention better anti-aliasing and frame rate even though it is locked to 30fps. Then there’s cross save ability with both Vita and PS3 versions.
I recommend this title to the fans of the series as well as new players who didn’t get to play the original and want something refreshing in their JRPG routine.