Graphics:
8.5
Gameplay:
9.5
Sound:
8.7
Control:
8.5
Replay Value:
10.0
Overall Rating:
9.0
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
Square Enix
Developer:
Square Enix
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
RPG
Release Date:
March 18, 2014


Hey, I remember this! This is Final Fantasy . This is a series I’ve often called “the greatest franchise in video game history.” It’s the series that first got me involved in role-playing and for years, continually delivered. And when I say that, I don’t mean it was always good; there are lots of franchises that are always “good.” No, for a while there, every single entry was epic and memorable; each set a new high watermark for the role-playing genre. And now, looking back, I’m reminded of the singular greatness that was once synonymous with Final Fantasy .

Graphically, let’s just state the obvious up front: Beautiful new high-definition visuals can’t hide the fact that yes, these are PS2 games. While this is a worthy HD upgrade on all fronts, and adds a wonderful luster to our deeply entrenched memories, the developers didn’t recreate the entire game from scratch. As such, the world and character detail can’t be compared to modern-day productions. That’s plain. Even so, given the shift in this industry to more Western-themed styles, it’s kinda like culture shock to retrace our steps to a time when Japanese influences ruled. And you now, it’s refreshing. It’s just a different form of fantastical imagery.

They didn’t redraw all the character and world designs, and they also didn’t recast and re-record the voice performances. Hence, we’re left with the amateurish voice acting that was, at one time, considered top-tier. It was during a time when acting was just coming to prominence in the gaming industry, so you didn’t find many veteran professionals in the field. I say it contributes to the charm of the game, but not everyone will see it that way. Beyond that, you can’t deny the quality of the soundtrack, which is just plain gorgeous. Still not a fan of J-Pop, but that’s hardly the only type of music in FFX-2, a fact which shouldn’t be ignored.

Do you know what struck me during my first few hours playing FFX HD? It wasn’t that turn-based combat should never have died, and should never be labeled “outdated.” And I wasn’t walking around going, “oh, I remember this!” because in point of fact, I don’t remember much of it, having played through it over 12 years ago. No, what struck me surprised me: The pacing. I never realized just how much faster gaming – and indeed, all forms of entertainment – has become. Over the years, developers have felt the need to bombard us with constant stimuli so as not to lose our attention. By most modern standards, these old games are…slow.

And I love it. I love that a camera isn’t changing its viewpoint every two seconds. I love that some special effect isn’t constantly assaulting the screen. I love that we can sit and watch a dialogue sequence without having to press a button, without being distracted by a dozen different things happening in the background. I love that the designers capture this sweeping, epic adventure in broad strokes rather than short, snappy, in-your-face blasts of visceral imagery. The best part is that these games are actually full of unbelievable scenes, replete with memorable drama and emotion, along with some of the most wondrous, awe-inspiring locales ever seen in games.

It’s just the presentation style that’s different. Thankfully . I finally remembered what it was like to become immersed in an adventure that didn’t constantly require my input; I’d forgotten the roller-coaster ride you take when you’re experiencing a fully fleshed-out storyline. Not a storyline that you can change, not a story that’s told through pieces of scattered documents that you may or may not find, and may or may not read in a gigantic world that doesn’t feel tied together by a main plot thread. No, this is a plot written and completed and I’m along for the ride. You can’t skip the cut-scenes? Good . Doing so completely defeats the purpose of taking this ride.

That all being said, I guess I have to agree with the points other critics are making. Several are saying that unskippable cut-scenes are a bad thing and to some extent, I understand that sentiment. After all, if you’re going to introduce a new generation to these old games, you have to make some concessions. Per my pacing comments above, I imagine some younger gamers will just flip out or have some sort of attack because a cut-scene lasts – ‘gasp’ – a few minutes. And if you gave them the opportunity to skip it, they might become more interested in the gameplay, which would in turn make them more interested in the surrounding story.

So yes, I do get that. At the same time, I seriously doubt there are many who bought this package to experiment. This is fanservice, pure and simple. When analyzed properly as the fanservice it is, it’s difficult to find any problems, because these are precisely the experiences we all loved back in the day. However, I will say that given the amount of time it took to produce these HD Remasters, I would’ve expected a bit more in the way of extra content. It’s great that we basically get the International version of FFX (which wasn’t available in North America) but there isn’t much beyond that. For comparison purposes, there are other HD collections out there that offer more extras and goodies.

I also wonder how difficult it would’ve been to implement a free-roaming camera for certain sections, for instance, and what about other in-game items and equipment we’ve never seen before, or an extra quest? The only really worthwhile addition is the Expert Sphere Grid for veterans, but that’s specifically for experts (trust me). It’s clear that all the development effort went into upgrading the game’s visuals, and I don’t really have a problem with that. Each of the main characters are crisper and more defined (and a little shinier), and the special effects really shine during especially intense enemy encounters. In short, you’re looking at the definitive versions of each title.

That’s really what this is all about, isn’t it? It’s about presenting the long-time fans with updated versions of two great games, and any collector worth a salt wants this in his or her collection. The visual and audio bonuses are really just icing on the cake, but it’s a tremendously tasty icing. As for the all-important test of time and whether or not FFX and X-2 withstand it…I’d say that’s very subjective. From a technical standpoint, yes and no. "Yes" in the general design, creativity and imagination aspect; "no" in the nuts-and-bolts department. From an artistic standpoint, again, yes and no. "Yes" in regards to the beautiful music, excellent and diverse enemy and world design, etc. But "no" concerning things like voice acting.

The bottom line is that the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is for the fans and the fans alone. There’s nothing here that makes concessions for the new generation, and tries to get them more involved in an older style of gaming. The unskippable cut-scenes, amateurish voice performances, overall slower pacing; it’s not going to convert someone. It does, however, cater to the loyal fans who have watched this franchise’s tailspin with heartbreaking dismay. Essentially, I view this compilation as our consolation prize. It’s not exactly what we wanted but we have to appreciate it, right? These games were amazing. And now they look better.

So, what's there to complain about?

The Good: Fantastic visual upgrade, top to bottom. Epic, memorable adventures in both games. An homage to a gameplay style that should never be called “old-fashioned.” A few nice extras. A huge amount of bang for your buck (up to 200 hours for only $40).

The Bad: Not enough bonus goodies. Isn’t inviting enough to newcomers.

The Ugly: “Only that this reminds me just how far Final Fantasy has fallen.”

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Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
8 years ago

I may have just been sold on this. I own the originals for the PS2, but my B/C PS3 is unhealthy and in storage, so this may just be the incentive I need to play through these two titles. They sound utterly wonderful.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

The first definitely is, the second will depend more on if you can handle the silliness that surrounds a decent core game.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

I've supposedly got some extra goodies with my Limited Edition, which just came. Guess what I'll be up late doing?

Second Son also arrived, but I think I gotta play this first 🙂

cLoudou
cLoudou
8 years ago

Singing "A Thousand Words" with Yuna?

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

If that's a euphemism then yes.

MrAnonymity
MrAnonymity
8 years ago

Am I the only one that noticed an upgrade to the soundtrack? Compare the original soundtrack to the HD version's. The battle theme, in particular, now features a tasty electric guitar backdrop. Even the victory tune is a little more dynamic. Being a huge music fan, and lover of Nobuo Uematsu, hearing an overhaul to the soundtrack was one of the first things I noticed.

*breath*

Anyway, very solid, very *fair* review. There is no point calling this more than what it is – and that is fanservice. Either way, being a fan, it is incredibly worthwhile and worth the money. Hopefully, despite it not having the flair of something truly next-gen, it might yet pull one or two souls over to greener side of the grass.

aaronisbla2
aaronisbla2
8 years ago

I'm enjoying the enhanced soundtrack. Via purifico I've heard years ago though, but I'm glad they used the piano version as its beautiful

Banky A
Banky A
8 years ago

AAAANND it's a 10 folks. Replay value is definitely a 10.

The LE is even more amazing in the flesh and taunts me for not being able to play it..

I'm happy to announce that this will be my lady's first console game experience. Since the PS3 is at hers whenever my semester starts, what better way to put the game to good use (by getting her to play this piece of art).

We've made a nice lil' swapsies contract between us where we share and enforce our hobbies with/to the other. She gives me the books she's recently loved and I read them and give thoughts. In turn I am giving her the games I love – ones that are for her; those being story driven games with enchanting music scores that you will never find in a novel. The FFX and X/2 will be the first up 🙂

Wish us luck meheh.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

I'm trying to convince my gf that she should play FFX. 🙂

Banky A
Banky A
8 years ago

Mine's going to embark upon Spira in 6 mins. Going over to set it up now 🙂

//We couldn't play last night because I messed up the PS3 on startup so it got corrupted File System. Took half my day of trying to fix to conclude it was no use and just had to format the entire HDD. All is well now as it works but still lost 400GB of content :'( My portable HDD backup is filled up with my PC backup (as it's also getting fixed…).

Corvo
Corvo
8 years ago

Awesome man, its something she won't ever forget.

Good luck convincing your lady too Ben, she HAS to play FFX.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

Love it so far. Since the original was meant to be seen on standard definition TVs without these improvements it's interesting how in HD the character models become more like the work of a bygone era displayed as a form of art. They are like PVC figures in motion.

Zemus101
Zemus101
8 years ago

Been waiting impatiently for this review. Agree with all that was said. While reading, I was thinking about something; Is the XIII series of games (first two at least) reminiscent of FF Mystic Quest on SNES? Game(s) feels like a step back from the previous game in the series, simplified items and equipment, auto-battle, limited party members in battle. Just a few things I noticed. Maybe no one else remembers FF:MQ? Wait, of course some of you guys do. Am I crazy? FF was perfectly fine, and getting even better, after that "Western specific" FF:MQ. Will we maybe get something special again with FFXV? Or stay in this Western direction despite mediocre reviews and sales for the XIII series?

Playing through FFX and I just finished the Macalania section. You know, Shiva. Should ring a bell.

Anyways, with FFX there's the epic story, amount of ridiculous customization, battle system with the character swap, all of that… feels like a massive technical step ahead of pretty much anything else on PS3. Obviously including any of the XIII games.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

I never played Mystic Quest because I'd heard it wasn't really worth my time, so I couldn't say. 🙂

Zemus101
Zemus101
8 years ago

Actually, it's not THAT terrible. When I was a kid I was desperate for anything "Final Fantasy" so I played through it many times. It's the type of game that I would get my nieces to try and play to see if they would like to try the FF series. Best thing about that game is it's soundtrack though.

Oxvial
Oxvial
8 years ago

It's only 40! o_ó not bad.

CHAOS THEORY X
CHAOS THEORY X
8 years ago

I paid for the regular edition of the game but they gave me the limited edition one instead. 🙂
The voice acting and faces are awkward, but they always were. Its just a prettier, more distinct awkard.
Ive played through this enough times I wasn't afraid to try the different Expert Sphere grid. Doesnt seem hard at all.


Last edited by CHAOS THEORY X on 3/22/2014 3:19:51 AM

Zemus101
Zemus101
8 years ago

Loving this new grid! Keeping the game fresh for me.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

The Expert Sphere Grid isn't "harder," per se; it just gives you more freedom to build your characters as you see fit. You do have to know how the game progresses and which characters do what, though, so it does require some accumulated knowledge, which is why it's called "Expert," IMO.

I just don't care about it because I've never really had an inclination to turn Tidus into a Mage, for instance. 🙂


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 3/22/2014 11:11:21 AM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

I'm using the new grid, can't really tell how it's different.

Corvo
Corvo
8 years ago

Hey:

Buy it. Don't question, just buy.

berserk
berserk
8 years ago

I ll get it one day but why would i bother right now with all the march ( let s include castlevania ) release i never played ( at least did nt finish yet ).

Godslim
Godslim
8 years ago

Loved FFX, such a great story. Will have to get my hands of this as i havent played it in years.

ulsterscot
ulsterscot
8 years ago

I completely and utterly fail to see the appeal.

Each to their own I suppose.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

Really?

It's basically like CoD, but without everything that's awful about CoD.

Godslim
Godslim
8 years ago

haha nice underdog

Godslim
Godslim
8 years ago

the appeal is great story and fun gameplay. Plus when this came out on ps2 the graphics were amazing

ethird1
ethird1
8 years ago

FF 10 = 9.0. Ff 10 2 = Fail. FF 10 + FF 10 2 = 5.

End of line.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

Moronic.

ZettaiSeigi
ZettaiSeigi
8 years ago

Sorry, but FF X-2 is far from awful. The hyper-feminine presentation may be too much for some people but there's no denying that it is a great RPG. The battle system alone put a lot of RPGs to shame.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

He still suffers from psychosomatic chronic pain from the beatings his drunken, insecure papa gave him for playing with barbies. His blatant ignorance must be forgiven.

Draguss
Draguss
8 years ago

"every single entry was epic and memorable" Wasn't FFII supposedly terrible?

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

I don't remember, but I was mostly referring to the stretch between FFIV and FFXII.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

FFII was originally only released in Japan. It came here first (aside from fan imports) as a PS1 FF Origins release.

It wasn't terrible. People praised it for the ability to grow the characters however you want. It's also the first one to give a real attempt at storytelling. It set the tone for the series in a lot of ways. In short, it was an important entry.

The FFII that originally came outside of Japan was for SNES and was what is now known as FFIV and what was once known as FFIII is now known as FFVI. It was always correct in Japan, but I guess back then they figured they'd only confuse us if they gave it the same numbers since we never got 2,3, or 5 originally… lol ah well.

Anyways, in that SNES case, that FFII (FFIV) was great, too. It's the one with Cecil and Kain.

chuckuykendall
chuckuykendall
8 years ago

Ben, I agree with you:
– My 14yo nephew is an avid gamer and instead of playing games I on occasion watch him play. Just about every single chance he gets to skip a cut scene he does and every single time I roll my eyes…"you're not even paying attention to the story…"

Ben, I disagree with you:
– I've never believed the voice acting in FFX was great, not even through my nostalgia-colored glasses.
– The only cut scene I am in favor of being able to skip is the one right before a major fight that I get my a$$ handed to me and I lose. That cut scene, that I have to watch over and over and over, is one I don't mind skipping. 😉

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

FFX's voice acting was basically better than any other game at the time, which is why – for the era – it could only be qualified as "great," comparatively speaking. It's still amateurish in the bigger scheme of things.

On the first point, I'm totally with you. 🙂