• Narrative
  • Original Score
  • Sheer Amount of Content

Final Fantasy X was one of the first games I played on my shiny new PlayStation 2 all those Christmases ago, so naturally I was excited when Square announced that it would be getting the HD Remaster treatment back in 2011. Even though I have played through the game thoroughly at least six times over the years, it had been quite a while since my last pilgrimage through Spira.

I can’t exactly say everything old feels new again, but that’s not a bad thing. Given my familiarity with nearly every aspect of the game, Final Fantasy X HD feels as if I’m loading up my PS2 again, albeit this time on a 1080p LCD TV. That’s a good thing, though, since the ostensible point of an HD Remaster is to simply update the game for the newest generation of hardware.

The game itself deserves only the highest praise. However, since the game is so old and so many reviews have already been completed on its individual merits, I will simply say that the narrative is still one of the finest in gaming, the combat system is engagingly old-fashioned, and the musical score almost always fits the mood of the scene perfectly. Instead of spending time detailing those points, I will explain what’s actually changed and what feels a bit different.

I already admitted that the game for the most part feels exactly as it did on the PS2 in the early 2000s, but there are some changes to make note of. Besides the obvious graphical enhancement, the musical score has been almost entirely remastered. When I first listened to the score on my computer, absent the context of the game, I was a bit jarred. After all, I had listened to the original score countless times to go to sleep on my bedside CD player as a kid, so tracks like “Besaid” and “Someday the Dream Will End” are burned into my subconscious. The remastered score highlights background melodies and adds some flare to the battle theme with an electric guitar. While I altogether did not appreciate the changes at first, I must admit that they sound awfully good in context.

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A comparison between the original PS2 SD graphics and the new higher-resolution HD graphics.

I purchased the game both for PS3 and Vita and, while it runs perfectly fine for both platforms, there are some relative pros and cons for both. It goes without saying that the picture quality is superior on the console version, but I have noticed some mild input lag in the main menus. It is not too noticeable, but switching back and forth to the Vita version reveals that the Vita version controls much faster on the whole. If memory serves, the PS2 version felt the same way as the PS3 version does now, so perhaps since the Vita version likely required more meddling into the main code the pace of the inputs is quicker. Either way, I’ve enjoyed the quicker menu scrolling speed on my Vita.

The Vita version also gets a new swipe feature, allowing the player to easily use consumable items or restorative abilities from a quick menu. While I have never taken advantage of this feature, it is still nice to have the option.

While Final Fantasy X HD is not cross-buy (meaning you have to buy the game for both the PS3 and Vita if you wish to play on both platforms), it is cross-save, which has already been incredibly useful for me. I would have never imagined as a kid that one day I could take my save file from my favorite game onto a handheld device and continue playing through a long car trip, but that is exactly what I did my first weekend with the game. The cross-save features requires that the player is signed onto PSN with both devices, but otherwise it is a very quick and easy process.

Final Fantasy X HD also comes bundled with Final Fantasy X-2, the oft-maligned but still fun sequel. While this review is strictly for the remastered version of Final Fantasy X only, I can say that I have played X-2 twice and it is actually a very good game, naysayers be damned. If not quite up to the standards of a main-entry Final Fantasy title, it still comes close and is far darker than its common perception as a girly dress-up game. Final Fantasy X-2 HD comes on-disk with the PS3 version but is only available as a digital download with the purchase of the Vita version. The game is over 3 GB, so make sure you have space if you want to play it on Vita.

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The FMV sequences still look as stunning as they did on the PS2.

I should mention that the Final Fantasy X HD and Final Fantasy X-2 HD versions included in the bundle are the “International” releases of the two games. I chose to import FFX International way back when the PS2 was still cool, but most US gamers never got to experience the added challenge of the Dark Aeons and Penance, the new superboss. I have yet to play the “Last Mission” content in Final Fantasy X-2, but I hear that it is quite fun and seems to function somewhat similarly to Final Fantasy XIII-2 in that you capture monsters and use them as part of your party in combat.

Also included in the bundle is a short video entitle “The Eternal Calm,” which bridges the narrative between FFX and FFX-2. It is nothing special, but does carry a silver trophy just for watching it and gives some insight into Yuna’s decision to join the Gullwings.

Last and probably least is the new audio-only drama that takes place after the events of Final Fantasy X-2. It centers around Chuami, who professes to be Auron’s daughter, and features Wakka, Lulu, Tidus, and Yuna. I was puzzled listening to it, and can’t really see the point of its inclusion unless Final Fantasy X-3 is announced soon. I won’t spoil, but if you’re a canon-fiend and need to know how the creators envision the future of the FFX saga, it would probably be best to at least brush up on the plot details of the Japan-only novella sequel to FFX-2. Tidus’ current situation and the concept of beckoning are somewhat important to understand if you want to fully enjoy the audio drama. I will suggest that those who wish to simply enjoy their favorite game(s) once more skip the audio drama. However, I don’t regret giving it a listen, even if I’d prefer it just doesn’t exist at all.

For $40, the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster bundle is an amazing value and I cannot recommend it more highly. Again, I did play it both on the PS3 and the Vita and both versions are excellent, so pick your favorite platform (or both, like me) and take the wondrous journey through Spira.

You can buy the game or find more information at the official site.