This a double pack of remastered Final Fantasy goodness is a must-buy even in the face of some questionable voice-acting.
This Is Our Story
The residents of Final Fantasy X’s expansive world - Spira - have lovingly adopted the teachings of the deity Yevon. Thanks in no small part to the threat of Sin, a destructive entity that is seen as punishment for past transgressions. Sin cannot be killed, devout followers of Yevon known as summoners - along with a group of guardians - must instead journey across the world growing 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 one with great cost.
Like most Final Fantasy games, X’s plot contains a romantic storyline. This time around it’s the bond between protagonist Tidus and summoner Yuna that grows over the course of the 80-hour experience. But the main draw of FFX is the main storyline and world building. Spira feels genuine, and with a rich history begging to be explored. The political and spiritual machinations allow for a level of believability not often found in the series.
Yuna’s pilgrimage is balanced between plot, combat, and exploration. Just when you’ve heard enough of the teachings of Yevon, the game introduces new opportunities. These segments are often expansive enough to give a good amount of combat, but not so long that the random encounters become tedious. The turn-based combat system is also enjoyable. Each of the seven characters has a set of skills tailored to a certain type of enemy. Heavily armoured foes need a guardian with a bone-crushing blade, while elemental creatures are weak against magic.
Sphere Of Influence
Character swapping mid-battle allows for simple party experimentation, where you won’t be horribly punished for a simple mistake. FFX also feature one of the series’ most colossal progression systems. Characters don’t earn predetermined upgrades after levelling up. Instead we have the sphere grid - a network that is broken up into clusters of individual nodes, each representing boosts. Using levels earned through battle, characters travel down unique development pathways unlocking new abilities, or greater strength and magic. For completionists, it’s easy to get lost in the colourful network of spheres desperately trying to get every sphere for every character - something that will take well over 100 hours when using the “expert grid”, which is available for the first time outside of Japan.
A Lick Of Paint
Final Fantasy X is a remaster, not a remake, but environments are full of colour and detail. Facial animations for the main cast have been completely redone. Sadly, it was jarring on the original PlayStation2 release to see the flat features and stilted animations of a non-player character next main group. This is even more jarring in the remaster.
The soundtrack has also been overhauled. Every track has been cleaned up, and the new orchestral rearrangements breathe a bit of new life and depth.
Final Fantasy X-2 is also included in this HD bundle. But it remains problematic. Wardrobe changes replace character switching and are still difficult to accept. The visual transformations feel out of place in the sensible setting and plot. Final Fantasy X had respect for its world and the fiction within. But Final Fantasy X-2 does away with much of this in favour of a lighter, whimsical tale. Final Fantasy X-2 is the weaker of the games, but then long-time fans already know this.
Final Fantasy X remains a joy due to the balance of combat sequences and expertly told story. Final Fantasy X-2 is over-the-top, it’s entertaining but fairly shallow. That said, both games have stood the test of time, and both deserve attention. Although Final Fantasy X in particular requires a significant time investment, especially if you want 100% completion.