It’s no secret that Final Fantasy X was a break-out hit of its time. Released at the initial surge of the PS2 era, the game dazzled in sales and managed to cement its place as one of the most beloved Final Fantasy titles at the same time.
For many, Final Fantasy X’s legacy is one that ushered in a new era for the franchise – one that brought articulated cutscenes and full voice acting to the series for the first time. Often seen as one of Squaresoft’s swansongs before its merger with Enix a couple years later, FFX was and still is a landmark release that marked the beginning of Final Fantasy’s cinematic era.
Throughout the years Final Fantasy X has remained quite dear to me and I was glad to hear Square Enix was working on a high-definition release to be readied around the original game’s ten year anniversary.
Wrapping my head around the Japanese release of Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster was nothing short of a blast from the past. The game looks very similar to what I remember playing back in the PS2 days but completely overhauled in terms of graphics including character models, textures and even some of the music.
Overall, the result rings familiar for those who experienced the original Final Fantasy X – gameplay systems remain untouched while characters move and control as they did way back when – everything just looks and feels better now tuned to the modern age.
Both games look fantastic and while not quite up to the level of typical PS3 titles – do well in their own right as a revamp of now ten year old experiences. Running now in HD the visual leap from the originals is simply astounding and the addition of widescreen offers a welcome change for two titles that still hold true to their original roots. CG scenes and pre-rendered backgrounds are cleaned up quite nicely, although they lack the native sharpness of modern FF FMV.
The user interface has been updated to modern standards as well and retains its original feel while gameplay itself remains the same. After some of the more Active Time Battle-focused FFs, it feels strangely refreshing to return to the turn-based combat that defined FFX. In a world where turn-based console games remain few and far-between it still feels pretty good. While the controls themselves can be a bit more sluggish than modern games, it’s still important to remember we’re dealing with a couple of more than ten year old games here.
It’s unfortunate, but the game does feature a bit of added load times – more so than I remember the original release having. Loading is often brief if anything, however, the frequency of loading in and out of certain areas or scenes is something that leaves me scratching my head. The lack of a cutscene skip function in FFX is also puzzling but given the story content, I feel it’s somewhat forgivable in the grand scheme of things.
“EITHER WAY, FANS BEST READY THEMSELVES FOR YET ANOTHER STELLAR HD REVAMP.”
Aside from the graphical overhaul, Square Enix saw fit to include all of the International version content for both FFX and X-2. This includes things not found in the American releases such as new Sphere Grids, Dark Aeons as well as the Eternal Calm and Last Mission content. Both X and X-2 carry their own set of trophies and a more interesting 30-minute voice drama that plays during the end credits. FFX’s music has generally been overhauled, with many new arrangements by original composer Masashi Hamauzu. For the most part, each revision is better than the original – maintaining the same charm that blasted over the PS2’s sound chip. Several tracks do, however, lose a bit of their luster and it would have been nice to at least have the option to turn back to the original score in those instances.
The real draw of this Remaster collection is of course the chance to play Final Fantasy X and X-2 again with updated visuals. The time I played with the Japanese version does feel quite good and although my experience with it has not yet been extensive, I feel everything I’ve seen thus far will hold true through the end of my play throughs. As for the English version, we’ll see how the localized cast fare when the game releases overseas this March. Either way, fans best ready themselves for yet another stellar HD revamp – it’s definitely worth the wait.