TFF Review

Review: FINAL FANTASY X HD Remaster

Revisiting Spira on the road with Playstation Vita

On 17 December 2001, Squaresoft, via Square EA, released its last Final Fantasy title in the North American market under the old moniker. The recipient of near-universal critical acclaim, FINAL FANTASY X rode into the homes of millions atop horses as grand as any. As days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months, many players hopped in the chariot and were taken for a wonderful ride. FINAL FANTASY X introduced us to Tidus by default, and along with him came Yuna, Auron, and a whole cavalcade of entertainment.

FFX Remaster
And, as the game drew to a close, this is how many felt when walking away.

The remastered edition of FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 will ship next week on both the Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita platforms. PS3 users receive both games and all additional content on a single Blu-ray disc, while Vita users will receive a cartridge containing FFX HD and all of the extra content, along with a PSN voucher for FFX-2. There’s an incredibly useful data transfer tool to shift saves back and forth between both versions; unfortunately, the game is not one of Playstation’s featured Cross-Buy titles, so buyers will need to double up in order to fully succumb to Sin’s toxin.

FFX Remaster
But now, we’re reunited and it feels so good.

Remembering that this is an HD remaster of an early Playstation 2 title is difficult. The first time the player is released from the beautifully rendered cinematics and dropped into a playable scenario, FFX HD looks like it is only a few years old. Aside from some of the more difficult upgrades, such as hair, feathers, and other such things, the character models are much more defined, with textures that make the inner surfaces more impressive than the edges. Backgrounds and terrain suffer a similar drawback; the refreshed textures are amazing but the edges are still slightly harsh, albeit undoubtedly some of the best available in the field of Playstation 2 HD remakes. The detail and meticulous care poured into this experience by Virtuos and the team from Square Enix are apparent in every facet of the game, even down to the mild user interface adjustments. There are some differences in the character models that will either surprise or disappoint, depending upon expectations. Some of the emotional responses offered by characters seem less enthusiastic, but this could be attributed to a greater range of control for animating expressions, eliminating the need for exaggerated movements.

Similarly, the overall aural experience leaves so very little to be desired. Dialogue tracks are upgraded utilizing their original recordings (i.e. little or no compression with random exceptions; clearer sound), sound effects for menus and selection are true to the source, and much of the soundtrack has been enhanced or entirely orchestrated. The majority of these upgraded tracks are very pleasant, though there are few occasions where the background craves more attention than the foreground. There have been particular reports from our fellow fansite reviewers of audio issues regarding dialogue; I personally never encountered them, but I used 5.1 digital surround headphones throughout my own experience. It would not be implausible to assume the remastered music could intermittently interfere with the default volume of the dialogue track.

Rather than offer players a gussied up showcase of original footage, Square Enix pays homage to its past with a genuine overhaul. Some mapping issues from the original still exist, though nothing that detracts from the experience in any manner. FINAL FANTASY X HD offers a fresh facelift to the game so many North American gamers fell in love with, and finally brings the International Edition content to our shores.

FFX Remaster
Dark Aeons are just one of many challenges awaiting the group during their pilgrimage.

Users are prompted immediately regarding their Sphere Grid preference. Beware… all decisions are final. Once committing to the Standard or Expert Sphere Grid, only a new game can offer the other option. The Expert option offers more freedom at the cost of basic upgrades. In all paths (especially with Kimahri), characters have fewer default bonuses to all stats affected by the Sphere Grid. In return, players can mix and match many of the useful skills near the start of the game, as characters primarily start in the center and work outward.

Dark Aeons and Penance are another joyous addition from the International Edition. Players are introduced to these abysmal threats not long after gaining access to their airship. These new foes boast stats that break many of the predefined limitations and are a test of skill and stamina alike. Upon defeating all of the dark variants of Yuna’s aeons, access to Penance will appear automatically as an optional boss. With HP ranking in eight digits, Penance is widely regarded as one of the most difficult bosses in the series.

On the media for FFX HD, there are two more pieces of content. First-time FFX players will want to avoid the “Eternal Calm” video sequence until completing the full scenario, while everyone will want to avoid the credits and audio drama until completing the FFX-2 scenario. The audio drama assumes players have reached the perfect ending for FFX-2 and does contain spoiler content.

While perfection is certainly a stretch, FINAL FANTASY X HD comes damn close when honoring the original content while introducing an entire market to a new experience.

FINAL FANTASY X HD Remaster receives

5 out of 5 high-definition blitzballs.

FFX Remaster

FULL DISCLOSURE: Square Enix provided an advance copy of FFX HD for the Playstation Vita for the purpose of this review. A follow-up review for FFX-2 HD will be released at a later time as the Vita variant is digital-only and thus unavailable for download at this time. We did not review the Playstation 3 version. The score above reflects the merit of the HD remaster rather than the original content of the game itself (although if we did half-objects, FFX HD’s content would receive roughly four fully-aired blitzballs and a halfway inflated fifth).

FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster will be available 18 March 2014 in North America and 21 March 2014 for Europe.

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Be sure to check out our complete list of other Final Fantasy Reviews.

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