Review

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Review

  • Game release: March 18, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • VITA
  • PS3

This is my story.

Even considering my fond memories of Yuna's pilgrimage through the ecclesiastical world of Spira, I couldn't help but consider Final Fantasy X's age when firing up the aptly titled HD Remaster version. It often takes more than a fresh coat of graphical paint to drag an aged product into modern times, but luckily, this marvelous role-playing game doesn't feel stuck in the past. The visual updates--as well as the addition of content previously exclusive to the international edition of the PlayStation 2 original--are compelling reasons to revisit one of the most poignant entries in the long-running series. Yet the religiously charged plot and distinctive progression system are the feature attractions for this particular return.

Spira, even with its picturesque sandy shores and reverential places of worship, isn't a safe haven. The residents of Final Fantasy X's expansive world have lovingly adopted the teachings of the deity Yevon thanks to the pervasive threat of Sin, a destructive, whale-like entity that's been painted as a punishment for past transgressions. The indomitable force cannot be killed, so instead, the devout followers of Yevon known as summoners--along with a group of battle-tested guardians--journey across the world to grow strong enough to banish Sin for a 10-year period. This decade, known as "the Calm," is a blessing for the people of Spira, but the personal cost of the summoner's journey is a great one.

Looking good, indeed!

Like most Final Fantasy games, X's plot is complemented by a budding romance. The bond between protagonist Tidus and summoner Yuna grows strong over the course of this 80-hour experience, and for the most part, their relationship arc is heartwarming and romantic. However, the potency of the game's story lies in a dedication to its fiction. Spira feels both fantastical and genuine, and Final Fantasy X's ardor for its own religious trappings only grows as new layers of a seedy hierarchy are carefully unpeeled. The political and spiritual backbone of Spira allows for a level of believability not often found in the series, or even in games in general.

Fortunately, the story segments aren't overbearing. Yuna's pilgrimage is beautifully balanced between plot, combat, and exploration, eliminating any opportunity for tedium to set in. Just when you've heard enough of the teachings of Yevon, the game introduces a new side of Spira brimming with adventuring opportunities. These segments of your pilgrimage are often expansive enough to sharpen your swordplay, but not so long that you irritably seethe at every nagging random encounter. It's smart pacing, and it doesn't hurt that the turn-based combat system itself is such a joy. Each of the seven playable characters has a set of skills tailored to a certain type of enemy. Heavily armored fiends are best stuck by guardians with bone-crushing blades, while elemental creatures are most easily downed by the effective spells of a mage.

Final Fantasy X doesn't feel stuck in the past. In fact, the strategic, turn-based combat remains just as engaging in 2014 as it was in 2001.

Snappy character swapping mid-battle allows for simple party experimentation, but the game's colossal progression system is where most player agency lies. Individual characters don't earn predetermined attribute points after raising a level; instead, Final Fantasy X incorporates a sphere grid. This circular network is broken up into clusters of individual nodes, each representing a different statistical boost. Using levels earned through battle, characters can travel down a unique development pathway and unlock new abilities, or greater strength and magic, along the way. It's a fascinating divergence from more traditional systems, and for completionists like myself, it's easy to get lost in the colorful network of spheres. I spent hundreds of hours maximizing my group of guardians on the PS2, but I still couldn't stop myself from losing dozens more on this HD Remaster.

Even before digging into the narrative or understanding the monumental sphere grid, the striking update to the presentation is immediately apparent. It might be a remastering and not a full remake, but environments swell with color and detail. Facial animations-- at least for the main cast--have been completely redone, and while it can be jarring to see the flat features of a non-player character next to the expressive, lively mug of one of the heroes, the improved animations are still a welcome addition.

Mog doesn't look too excited by Lulu's magical histrionics.

The soundtrack, too, has been given an overhaul, but even diehard fans of the game might not immediately notice the acoustic alterations. The classic score, ranging from the solemn "Hymn of the Fayth" to the uppity tunes of Mi'ihen Road, has been cleaned up, and the orchestral rearrangements breathe a bit of new life into the 60-track package. If hearing piano in the "Via Purifico" theme causes you to writhe in wistful agony, the work composer Nobuo Uematsu has put in might be difficult to stomach. Nevertheless, the actual quality of the music is crisper, and nothing too drastic has been done to alter the spirit of each individual track.

After that new, HD smell finally wears off, what's left is a pair of enduring RPGs with all the additional content once exclusive to the international release. Within Final Fantasy X is the inclusion of dark aeons, which are optional bosses that pose distinct combat challenges. Moreover, you can make use of the expert sphere grid, an advanced take on the complex leveling system that breaks away from the predetermined attribute path each character originally followed. Instead of having Lulu, the game's designated black mage, pursue an upgrade path littered with magic boosts, the expert option places each character in the very center of the grid from the start. This gives the player more freedom when determining which role an individual character will play in combat, but doesn't drastically change the difficulty of the moment-to-moment action.

If ever the word "ragtag" applied to an adventuring party, this would be the time.

Final Fantasy X-2, which is also included in this $39.99 bundle, sees greater benefits from the original game's international offerings. Additional dresspheres, which instantly alter a character's attributes and abilities, as well as a creature creator and battle tournaments round out this blithe sequel, but what nostalgic fans will likely spend the most time with is the Last Mission. Set three months after the events of X-2, this bonus ending pits Yuna, Paine, and Rikku against the Iutycyr Tower, a monster-riddled spire that houses a roguelike dungeon crawler. It can be a grind as you ascend floor after floor and engage in battle after battle, but the delightful new cutscenes that appear after completing a certain set of challenges makes the trip worth your time.

Nevertheless, Final Fantasy X-2 remains problematic. The mid-battle wardrobe changes are still difficult to rationalize, with the Sailor Moon-esque visual transformations feeling out of place in an otherwise sensible setting. The original story of Tidus, Yuna, and their battle against Sin isn't without its fair share of absurdity, but the inclusion of hot pants and J-Pop leads to uncomfortable tonal shifts. I hold Final Fantasy X in high regard due to its respect for its own fiction, and much of that reverence has been flecked for the sake of emotionally hollow whimsy in X-2. The active combat system is snappy and entertaining, but this flashy sequel is the weak part of this otherwise stellar bundle.

If you want to experience the collection on both PlayStation 3 and Vita, you'll have to buy the game twice. Unfortunately, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster isn't a member of the cross-buy club, but players can still make use of the cross-save system to maintain a single save file between the two platforms. Both versions, in terms of presentation and framerate, are essentially indistinguishable, but minor visual imperfections do appear every so often on the Vita. The uneven textures that remind you of the game's age are more jagged on the handheld edition, but that shouldn't stop you from taking the game on the go if that's your preferred method of play.

Yuna loves a good pillow fight now and again.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is a meticulous refurbishment of one of Square Enix's strongest properties. A careful eye might catch glimpses of irregularity among individual pieces of the environment or passing residents of a town, but the overall package is an attractive renewal that respects its roots. The lengthy Final Fantasy X remains joyous due to a careful balance of its short combat sequences and expertly told story, while its over-the-top follow-up both entertains and exasperates through a frenetic battle system and convivial tone. Both games stand the test of time and are worth the admittedly significant time investment, even if you don't hold a deep-rooted, nostalgic association to the original releases.

The Good
Lovingly remastered presentation
A healthy dose of additional content
Complex yet rewarding progression
An emotional story that still holds water
The Bad
Certain elements of X-2 are too absurd to take seriously
Some less-than-HD textures remain
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Josiah Renaudin filled out the entire sphere grid for all seven Final Fantasy X characters twice when he was in junior high. Those experiences, along with multiple playthroughs of other Final Fantasy games, have made him quite the series fan. For the purposes of this review, Josiah defeated Sin and still teared up at the ending.

Discussion

224 comments
zantetsuken1983
zantetsuken1983

I bought this game for the vita but somehow regretted it because the vita's screen is small. i dont have a ps3 sooo... Well i am getting used to it tho. always loved this game but really dont intend to dodge lightning 200 times to get lulu's ultimate weapon etc. may pay someone to do it for me..reason being i smashed my ps2 controller when i was just 11 bolts away from reaching the 200 point mark back in the day lol. This is one of my favorite final fantasy games of all time. My other favorites being FF6, FF7, FF8, CRISIS CORE and FF TACTICS. square-enix is a shadow of its former self I have not and will not play FF13/14..FF15 Looks promising tho. 

guitarpete462
guitarpete462

Does this display in 16:9 or is it still in 4:3 like the PS2 version? I think the review leaves this out.

tom_cat_01
tom_cat_01

Have you heard of the magical shoopuff?

purity2004
purity2004

Final Fantasy X is still as important a release today as it was in 2001, showing a still-unmatched level of emotion, storytelling and easy to pick up game mechanics. People bemoan that the characters are whiny, that the story was unoriginal, and a linear feel but this, for me, was the last great Final Fantasy after the golden age of VII, VIII and IX. You can easily put over 100 hours into X and still have plenty to do, especially with the inclusion of the international features like Dark Aeons, Expert Sphere Grid and optional bosses. 


X-2 set the standard for future ATB systems for battle mechanics, and it's clear that XIII is a clear evolution of it. The battle system is fluid, fast and intuitive, a big step from the last ATB game, FF IX. Although weaker in terms of story and gameplay, X-2 makes up for this with a raft of content, secret endings and, especially in this release, the addition of extra Dress Spheres and Creature Creator, another feature seen later in FF games.


All in all, a great release and a timely one for people who missed on the PS2 release over 10 years ago. 

malachi_27
malachi_27

Came here for Lark Anderson's featured comment video.

AQWBlaZer91
AQWBlaZer91

A great compliation that's held back by how unfun X-2 was from the start.

PiscesAnimeGirl
PiscesAnimeGirl

Love both games and I'm honored to have this in my collection although I own the original versions of both. I prefer X-2 more and am playing it much more than X. Playing X in HD is pretty much the same thing as if I were playing the original version aside from the expert Sphere Grid. In X-2, I have much more fun due to the new dresspheres and the Creature Creator (more specifically the Fiend Arena)

LeonsKnnedy
LeonsKnnedy

well right now im a little piss off. I made the mistake not the check out how long this game is, its 24gb download. I thought well is a ps2 game remaster i cant be that big but it is. I wont even play X-2 man, we should have the option to at least download the one we wanna play. and my internet is fast but it says that it will take 900 minutes. Damn square enix FF15 better be good thats your last chance!

cha0si
cha0si

Felt good to buy a good Final Fantasy game again lol

Phrase_Universe
Phrase_Universe

I forgot how frustrating it is to dodge lightning 200 times. Damn you Thunder Plains! Been at it since yesterday.

But I can't believe how good this game looks on my Vita. 

theGerman5113
theGerman5113

This should have been a video review; just like IGN did.

ryogapower
ryogapower

for me, the moment the shine of the FF games started to dim.. god damn these 'modern' final fantasy games..

Someguy1212
Someguy1212

Kinda funny but on Steam FFVII is 66% off for today

nicecall
nicecall

getting this game when it drops 10 dollars or so or goes on sale... since im in no rush since im busy for several months.

But looking at the screenshots, they did a nice job, its quite crisp looking compared to the ps2 version.

Someguy1212
Someguy1212

Why no video review??????? You expect gamers nowadays to read paragraphs? I read it but as a lazy American I would rather have someone else read out loud to me. Im just being silly ya'll. Great review, I played both of these games at launch and hold a special place in my heart as FFX was the first FF that I ever played. Kinda sad that they didn't make blitzball multiplayer online though. I need to pick this up and play while Battlefield 4 is STILL having some pretty bad issues.

Someguy1212
Someguy1212

Time to dust off my old FFX and FFX-2 strategy guides

grenadehh
grenadehh

I like how the only cloister that gave a trophy was Besaid, literally the easiest one in the game. They should have put a trophy for each, or each major boss, or stfu'd. All in all, I'm happy with this product - I can now enjoy FFX again because PS2 FFX looks like shit on my tv.

grenadehh
grenadehh

What bothers me is that they said they remade the models. They only redid the 7 party members and Seymour, everything else is the original. Also the remastered soundtrack is disheartening at times.

FLEEBS
FLEEBS

It's hilarious that he calls X lengthy. When the original was released, there was tons of fan backlash that the game was too short and could be completed in 40 hours. I myself put a good 120 hours into the game. It remains one of my favorite in the series, and in my opinion, it was the last great Final Fantasy game.

ristactionjakso
ristactionjakso

LOL, they wont remaster FF7 because it would take to much time.......then turn around and release a FF10 remaster haha. Jerks.

Lpedraja2002
Lpedraja2002

This is one game I don't think I'll ever play again, the experience was one of the best I've had and the story is still engraved in my memory, I love this game but I almost went mad trying to complete it 100% like I did with most games those days. Anyone remember trying to get the 99 teleport spheres from the 13 chests in the omega dungeon? Or the chocobo race for one of the parts for Tidus ultima weapon? Or the hundreds of lightning evasions for Lulu's ultima?

Those are experiences I would never care to repeat in my life again, once was enough to drive me insane.

Thyasianman
Thyasianman

I will forever say no to nostalgia, it just never works in video games. 

therealzorvan
therealzorvan

@purity2004 Sadly these really were the last of the great FInal Fnatasy's. Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final fantasy, left Square-Enix after X-2. Without Sakaguchi, Final Fantasy has just limped along getting progressively worse with each installment.

LeonsKnnedy
LeonsKnnedy

now it went up to 1400 minutes :O, i deeply regret buying this, buy it on retail!

JRLennis
JRLennis

@Phrase_Universe Oh yes.  Getting Lulu's best weapon is a serious pain in the rear.  It was the only thing I detested in FF X.

AQWBlaZer91
AQWBlaZer91

@ryogapower Oh yes the Nightmare of the new Final Fantasy games, when the franchise got on the wrongside.

cha0si
cha0si

@ryogapower I can't even begin to express how much i agree with this statement...

toddx77
toddx77

@Someguy1212  dang $3.99 is a goo price, but after X HD I have X-2, plus IV on my gba, the new patch for XIV came out,I got Crisis Core last year for super cheap and haven't played much of it and I still need to finish Dimensions on my old phone.  Do I add more Final Fantasy back log lol

oChampion
oChampion

@Someguy1212  Thanks for that!

Would've missed the deal if you wouldn't have mentioned it.

G4mBi7
G4mBi7

@grenadehh Remember the game was outsourced, i dislike the music in besaid but other than that i thought it was well done. The character models are very disappointing, only like lulu and wakka.


The thing that gets me is auron has an orange coat and while they redid or upscaled a lot of weapon models, his celestial weapon looks pixelated. :(

grenadehh
grenadehh

@FLEEBS  The game was easily over 500 hours if you took everyone all the way around the sphere grid, did all the monster arena, dark aeons, arena bosses, blitzball, and final weapons, and got all the aeons.

Someguy1212
Someguy1212

@ristactionjakso They did but it was only released on PC on Steam. The models are slightly smoother and that's about it.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@ristactionjakso  They won't remaster FF7 because they would literally have to remake the entire game. It can't be "remastered". They would have to put in an all new game world similar to crisis core, completely make new textures and models, remaster the audio, and that's ignoring that Square Enix is incapable of doing anything whatsoever that doesn't suck. It's practically a miracle they didn't ruin this one.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@Lpedraja2002  The only experience I NEVER want to repeat again is the chocobo race, the lightning dodging, and the butterfly catching. Compared to that anything in omega dungeon is a joke. And I've done all of those multiple times. I nay broke a 60 inch tv because of the lightning bolts once and I wasn't even the one playing, it was my roommate and he did it over 200 consecutive times without getting the sigil.

FLEEBS
FLEEBS

@Thyasianman  I know what you mean. I felt they absolutely destroyed the remake of Final Fantasy Tactics with character and location name spellings changed, spell/ability/item names changed, and horrible downgrade of the amazing audio quality of the original. I ended up not being able to play the remake. If I want nostalgia, there's really only one place to look, and that's the original. Fuzzy, pixelated graphics? That's fine. My eyes will adjust as I play. I always try to place myself in the time that these classics were released. It's much easier to think the graphics are good when you consider the era and system they were made for. At least for me, anyway.

GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

@Thyasianman  Iv found that to be true in every HD collection iv bought.....but I still just can't stop buying them.


stuff238
stuff238

@LeonsKnnedy  And people still think DD is the future. This is why physical media is king. Don't need to worry about 50GB downloads!

FLEEBS
FLEEBS

@grenadehh @FLEEBS  500 hours seems stretching it a bit, but I can see spending a lot of time with it. It has been a very long time since I have played the game, so I don't remember everything I did or didn't do, but I got super close to completing the sphere grid with all characters (I think only 2 or 3 characters didn't have it complete) and spent tons of time in the arena. I played blitzball for awhile, but got tired of it. Now that I think about it, I'm almost certain I put 180 hours into the game, not 120.


I'd also like to add that I'm not calling the game short at all. As I said, I put plenty of time into it. But at the time there were plenty of people calling it too short. 

StammBladecastr
StammBladecastr

@grenadehh I still remember where I was when I finally dodged all the lightning bolts and got the sigil.  I remember what I had for dinner and what the weather was like.  It was one of the most ridiculous things I ever went through for a video game.  I was really hoping they would make it a bit easier on us this time, cut the number of dodges in half or something.

Thyasianman
Thyasianman

@FLEEBS @Thyasianman  I bought the Kingdom Hearts remake 1.5 and I just couldn't really get into it honestly. Loved the games growing up, but I think it really comes down to the game being so outdated that I don't feel the connection with the game I played when I was younger. I mean at the time KH came out, it looked great on the PS2. Now though, it's really hard for me to feel like I'm really going back in time to replay it. It's also just really hard to connect with the characters because their facial animations are so bad.  

finalstar2007
finalstar2007

@LeonsKnnedy @Eikichi-OnizukaIm pretty sure PSN store tells you exactly the size of the game your interested in buying so you should have paid attention to the size of it before buying i mean i knew exactly the Vita version was 6.6GB before buying it so i can make sure i have enough space beforehand, make sure you keep attention to the size of the game on the store before making a purchase.

LeonsKnnedy
LeonsKnnedy

@Eikichi-Onizuka @LeonsKnnedyyea that might be the case, im not blaming square, im just saying 24gb download for ps3 is not a good idea, they should have divided the games in two, instead in order to make money they sell them both together. I understand they have to make money and all, but they are making it hard for people that own old versions of the ps3 that do not posses more than 80gb of memory.

Still even even if my internet its slow i still recommend to buy the physical copy of the game, but its up to the buyer, this is just advice.

sakaixx
sakaixx

@G4mBi7 @FLEEBS @grenadehh  I did everything on FFX in my second playthrough and it only took me 65 hours. in contrast FFXII is about 100+ hours and thats only half of its quest.

G4mBi7
G4mBi7

@FLEEBS @grenadehhNot really, you could do everything except blitz ball in around 100 hours, maybe a bit less, maybe a bit more. Blitz ball just takes too damn long to do it all again.

calvinsora
calvinsora

@Thyasianman @FLEEBS  Honestly, though, I felt the facial animations were awful back then as well. Particularly when the mouth went from being 3D-animated to 2D. It's something you get used to, though, for the most part. I like the level design in KH1 more than in KH2, so I always go back for that feature. Monstro is the exception, though.

Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster More Info

  • First Released
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation Vita
    Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster is a single disc bundle that brings Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 remastered in HD for the PlayStation 3.
    8.8
    Average User RatingOut of 102 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Virtuos
    Published by:
    Square Enix
    Genres:
    Compilation
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Mild Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence