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Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster review

Great
AT A GLANCE
  • Excellent gameplay still holds up
  • Return of a classic story
  • Added content
  • Some odd-looking models
  • Carried-over issues from originals
  • Hit-or-miss additions

There are some games that never really leave you. For many, Final Fantasy X is one of those games--it's got innovative gameplay, stellar graphics, epic story... pretty much everything you'd expect from one of the best Final Fantasy games. As the name implies, Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster is an updated edition of the RPGs Final Fantasy X and X-2. It also boasts an array of features never before seen in European and North American releases, as well the mini-movie Eternal Calm; the short, boardgame-esque Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission, and an all-new audio drama. So yeah, not a bad little package Square Enix is serving up here. Even if Remaster has some problems only nostalgia can forgive, there's plenty here to create new fans while satisfying the old.

Remaster has a lot to live up to, and it excels in some ways more than others. Case in point, the updated presentation: environments and structures look noticeably better, but characters in FFX sometimes look oddly doll-like and less expressive than their original incarnations. FFX-2 suffers less in this regard (and don't those magical girl transformations look fantastic!), but the graphical limitations of the original are still present. CGI cutscenes have seen only basic touch-ups; character motions are still occasionally jerky, and the sometimes-dubious voice performances remain largely intact. As polished as it is, Remaster sticks close to the source, blemishes and all.

And to be clear, when I say it sticks to its roots, I mean that as a compliment. Making only modest changes to the gameplay and narratives of X and X-2, Square Enix has avoided butchering a once-great experience and instead makes it feel considerably enhanced. The turn-based battles of X emphasize strategy over speed, allowing players to swap characters as needed and plot out tactics several moves ahead. Having to really plan out your moves demands a more thoughtful approach to combat, keeping the fights fresh and engaging, and it's a system that holds up beautifully. Remaster also presents a challenge for veteran players in the form of enemies like dark aeons and Penance, opponents introduced in the Japan-exclusive International edition of FFX. The refreshing sphere grid system makes a double-comeback with both standard and new expert versions to satisfy beginners and old masters alike. 

FFX-2's fast-paced job-switching system, meanwhile, is an entirely different beast that caters to those uninterested in the turn-based scene. This system, which lets you change your characters’ jobs mid-fight, offers an ideal way to find your own preferred playstyle, and playing the job you like best makes the frantically exciting battles all the more satisfying. The addition of two job classes--the previously Japan-exclusive luck-leaning Festivalist and hard-hitting Psychic--further increases Remaster's value.

The one significant addition to X-2's playbook--a monster-teammate mechanic similar to the one employed in FFXIII-2--doesn’t lend much to the original dynamic, and actually seems extraneous and out-of-place. The simplified single-character gameplay of Last Mission is also hit-or-miss, and may take some getting used to for players expecting something akin to the game that inspired it. For the most part, though, Remaster approaches X and X-2 by leaving well enough alone where it needs to.

Finally, you can hardly talk about a Final Fantasy game without mentioning the story and music, and the lack of changes to those deserves a collective sigh of relief. Often regarded as one of the strongest narratives in the series, the story of X doesn't need much reworking, and there's something to be said for letting a classic speak for itself. While some changes do arise with the addition of Last Mission and the new audio segments, they are bonuses that leave the source largely untouched. Yes, the infamous laughing scene still exists, and Tidus is still fairly whiny near the story's start, but the games’ most impactful moments have also gone unchanged, which is definitely good news. Couple that with the remastered musical stylings of Nobuo Uematsu, composer of some of the series’ best music, and the experience is just as good now as it was back then.

Remaster is less about rebuilding FFX|X-2 as it is putting on a fresh coat of paint. For X, it also means the various bits of added content--much of which is seeing first release in the West--has been consolidated in one place. While the effort does stumble in a few places, with some awkward visuals and carried-over issues from the originals, the integrity of these two classics totally holds up. Remaster strikes just the right balance between modernizing a classic series for new fans and honoring the experience of old-timers.

More Info

Release date: Mar 18 2014 - PS3, PS Vita (US)
Available Platforms: PS3, PS Vita
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: Square Enix
Franchise: Final Fantasy
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Language, Mild Blood

A few iffy visuals and lingering shortcomings aren’t enough to keep this collection down. Boasting stellar gameplay, a still-epic storyline, and a fully realized FFX compilation, Remaster has plenty to offer new fans and old alike.

This game was reviewed on PS3. 

15 comments

  • MeanwhileGuy - March 26, 2014 9:32 a.m.

    I'm sure I've said it tons of times on this site, but X-2 is my favourite FF, so I'll gladly be picking this up. For me, X-2 was an improvement from everything in X, especially because Tidus just wasn't in it. I even deliberately didn't 100% the game, just so he would stay dead. The only other FF characters who has annoyed me as much as him were Hope and Squall. Plus the story for X doesn't even make sense when you sit down and analyse it, and it isn't even about Tidus. "This is my story!" No it isn't, you titanic wanglord. It's Yuna's. It was always hers. You're not even a real person anyway, so shut your whiny gob. Wow. That got a little out of hand, didn't it? That's how much he annoys me. But anyway, I can't wait to buy this, so I can relive one of the happiest and most fun FF games. And its boring prequel.
  • PhantasyPopStar - March 21, 2014 1:54 a.m.

    Why am I the only one who remembers that the dark aeons where not a Japanese exclusive as the pal version indeed had them. Source? I beat them.
  • ObliqueZombie - March 13, 2014 10:03 p.m.

    These iffy remakes (overall great, yet still many of the same kinks) has really been pissing me off about Square recently. Kingdom Hearts, for example. Just beat it yesterday for the first time; overall good, but no new content and on-off character models, as well as some questionably old design choices. Great models yeah, but you REALLY couldn't add, or improve, or reconfigure any part of the game? Look to Persona 4 Golden, all yee remakers, for how a remake/HD collection should be. Ah well, I guess it means I'm enjoying the game as it was, but with HD resolution. Now it's either going to be this or Tales of Symphonia next....
  • pl4y4h - March 13, 2014 10:03 a.m.

    FFX is one of those games that i've play over and over, and I can continue to play over and over. Since I don't really give a rip about X-2 maybe i'll just pull out my ps2 and play it again lol
  • HOUSTON420 - March 13, 2014 9:58 a.m.

    I played all Final Fantasy's but only beat part I, IV, VI, VII, VIII, XIV, X and as for the ending of X, it had to be one of the most epic ending in the series btw I'm playing FF III remake from the DS on my windows phone 8 so soon will be added to beaten FF list..
  • Doctor_Pancakes - March 13, 2014 7:36 a.m.

    Can't wait to play this again! Best of the series imo. Only if they ported it to the Wii U :( Dose the Vita have touch controls for the sphere grid?
  • Bansheebot - March 12, 2014 8:40 p.m.

    Tidus is celebrating this review in the best way he knows: "HWAAAAA-HAAAHAAAH HAAH AAH AAH."
  • gilgamesh310 - March 12, 2014 5:49 p.m.

    FF X's story is mediocre. It takes ages to get moving properly and is full of boring and stupid characters, with only Auron standing out as great. There are lots of other games in the series with better stories. I think FF 7 is overrated and still think it has a much better story. The stories of 4 and 6 destroy it. The music is incredible though, just like in all the Uematsu composed games.
  • Relayer71 - March 12, 2014 7:16 p.m.

    Stories of 4 and 6 destroy it... hard to argue with that. But come on, the story isn't mediocre, it's pretty good, certainly better than the stories in FF 8 and 13, and yes, FF 7 as well (which didn't have a bad story, but one that was poorly told). And gameplay wise, X was a hell of a lot better than those 3 games I've mentioned. Wakka is annoying at first but given some time you see that he's a pretty well fleshed out character, deeper emotionally than most FF characters. Lulu, too. Both of these characters make lousy first impressions but they're some of the best written FF characters. My only issue with the game is those annoying temples. On the one hand, they give you something different to do to break up the game a bit. But on the other hand, some of the later ones are frustrating and too long. I really could have done without them. Anyway, I'm not trying to gush about the game, for me it sits right in the middle between my favorites FF 9, 4, 12, 6, 5, and my least favorites (FF 3, 8, 7, 1, 2, 13)
  • gilgamesh310 - March 13, 2014 4:19 a.m.

    I think FF 7 and 8 have better stories but not 13. FF 8 is a bit underrated. I know it's a bit mushy compared to the others, with more of a focus placed on the love story but it's still well paced and plotted. FF X has too many diversions from the main plot and also a lot of plot holes. Lulu is a decent character but Wakka just seemed mentally retarded for a lot of the game. Never mind progressing on with the plot, we need to stay here and "atone". I agree on the temples. 9 and 4 are my favourites too. I didn't like 12 too much though. It required too much levelling up to progress in the main campaign. The story wasn't great either, though it did have some good antagonists. I haven't played 1-3.
  • GamesRadarCollanderCooper - March 12, 2014 4:51 p.m.

    YES!
  • Talvari - March 12, 2014 2:45 p.m.

    One of my favs from the series <3 Will be picking this up at somepoint down the line. I have the original X and X-2 and a PS2 still alive and running so not in any hurry to pick it up. Also no skippable cutscenes, what up Squeenix :|
  • hintzke - March 12, 2014 2:08 p.m.

    I did not like X, but will buy for X-2. Maybe it will be better another time around.
  • Pooka - March 12, 2014 2:49 p.m.

    You didn't like X, but you like the X-2, the dress up simulator. wat
  • hintzke - March 12, 2014 7:35 p.m.

    X was slow, boring, and lacked interesting characters to me, but I enjoyed X-2 for it's simplicity and relative speed of the game. Sidenote, I was also a 13 year old boy, so there is that to skew the results.

Showing 1-15 of 15 comments

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