Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Time can do strange things to our memories. All too often, an HD Collection is released, giving us the chance to play an old favourite and things just aren't as good as they once seemed. Fortunately, Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster isn't one of those moments. Instead, it's a warm reminder that sometimes our memories are correct: older things really can still be great. Perhaps most surprising of all is that much maligned Final Fantasy X-2 is actually better this time round, presumably thanks to having little pressure on it any more.
Admittedly, the pacing is slightly off early on with both titles. Final Fantasy X was released at a time when more was, well, more in terms of cutscenes. Expect much sitting and soaking up the atmosphere as the story gradually unfolds.
It's unfortunate that the melodramatic voice acting of the time hasn't improved with age, nor is there any option to skip through cutscenes. Stick with those early few hours though as soon enough, some startlingly memorable cutscenes emerge and really kick the story up a notch.
Final Fantasy X's real strength is in its combat system. Offering a turn based battle system, there's the flexibility of a tag team style ability, enabling one to switch characters in and out as when needed. Throw in the ability to summon huge creatures to fight by one's side, as well as the fact that each character has their own distinctive strengths, and it's a rather tactical affair which befits the more challenging nature of some of the bosses.
Levelling up is conducted through the use of the Sphere Grid, an open ended approach allowing players to develop their characters towards their own preferred leanings. While certain limitations are there, it's still a pretty open affair and certainly one of the most rewarding methods seen in any JRPG.
Final Fantasy X-2 offers just as much imagination, albeit with a much more fun and cheerier style to it than we've seen for many years in the Final Fantasy series. Any game that uses a form of job system called Dress Spheres, pretty much has to take a lighter approach.
It's a title that feels much more lightweight than Final Fantasy X but its fun and open ended approach compliments it better than it seemed to upon initial release. Perhaps the dubious nature of the Final Fantasy XIII spinoffs has led to some mellowing of my attitude but Final Fantasy X-2 was a more interesting tale this time round.
It also offers one of the most satisfying battle systems in any Final Fantasy game. Using an Active Time Battle meter is nothing new to the genre, speeding up how things unfold, but being able to switch between different Dress Spheres mid battle really enhances the flexibility that's available here. Forming chain attacks is also a sight to behold and very satisfying. It might be a sillier experience than Final Fantasy X's distinctly dour tone but given that the price of the remastered edition could be attributed solely to X, X-2 feels like a delightful freebie this time round.
Visually, the two titles have enjoyed a splash of improvement. Tidus's face admittedly looks a bit odd but otherwise, the two titles benefit from some subtle improvements both on the character models and backgrounds.
The Vita version includes some touch screen based shortcuts, mostly for things like quick healing, but it's not intrusive by any means. This is a remastered title that respects the source material rather than throws in any gimmicks. Indeed, the menu systems have been tidied up somewhat, which is good to see.
This remastered version is easily the definitive edition, namely because it includes a bunch of features that were previously only available in the international version of the game, one that (despite the name) was never released outside of Japan before. That means new bosses for Final Fantasy X as well as a more complex Sphere Grid option (although unfortunately little explanation is given regarding it upon being given the option), while Final Fantasy X-2 comes with new Dress Spheres and a new mini game in the form of Creature Creator, allowing players to train fiends and even NPCs to fight alongside them. Plus, there's the Last Mission rogue like side game to complete the package.
Time is sometimes unfair but that's not the case here. Sure, the random encounter rate might be a little high and the voice acting a little irritating, but that was the case in 2001 anyhow. Final Fantasy X-2 deserves a little more respect but even the cynics can easily accept that Final Fantasy X is very much worth the asking price on its own. Go in with an open mind and you may well be pleasantly surprised. X-2 offers a great combat system that really does cover up a multitude of sins, and it's still much better than the Final Fantasies we get now. So, how about a remaster of Final Fantasy XII, please?
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is out now on PS3 and PS Vita.
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