FFX/X-2 HD Remaster Review: Echoes of Final Fantasy’s Former Greatness

This wonderful collection serves as a warm yet disappointing reminder...
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The Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is a bittersweet revelation for me, and for most franchise fans out there.

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On the one hand, we indulge in our warm, fuzzy memories of the past, and we’re allowed to remember just how great these games were. We remember how much entertainment they afforded, and we recall precisely why they occupy such lofty places in our hearts.

On the other hand, this package only further illustrates the franchise’s decline. For instance, comparing the high-definition overhauls of FFX and X-2 to the recently released Lightning Returns is just plain… depressing. There’s no other word for it.

Therefore, despite the 10 this compilation receives from me (I can’t think of a more fitting number), I have to assign it with a heavy heart. It’s because I know I may never again give a 10 to a Final Fantasy title. That may sound cynical but, given the current direction of the series, I’m afraid it’s accurate. However, rather than harp on the uncertain future, let’s pay the proper respect to the past.

Yes, indeed, this is the way RPGs should play

Oh, I remember this. I remember how timing was only a minute facet of the gameplay (in the case of FFX, only the Overdrives demanded some form of dexterity and reflexes). I remember that strategy and depth was at the forefront; I remember that having a team amplified that depth and further immersed us in a fantastical world. I remember working one of the best character advancement mechanics, the Sphere Grid, and one of the finest ATB turn-based structures in existence.

In short, the gameplay doesn’t only take us back, it stands tall and says proudly (yet sadly): “We never really had to die. We’re just as appealing as ever.” I understand that a new generation of gamers may not have the requisite attention span to deal with menus and commands; they’d rather just press a button and have something happen instantaneously. And I would understand their frustration with this style of gaming because to them, it really would seem slow.

Yes, slow. Magnificently, beautifully slow. “Slow” couldn’t possibly be a more positive term in this scenario. The camera shots don’t break away every two seconds to show us a different angle of the same scene, the enemy animations aren’t constant and in in-your-face; there’s a wonderful pacing to the game’s progress that comes home like truth. Hey, I’m all for the advancements we’ve made, but I don’t like to pin the “outdated” label on games like FFX and X-2 precisely because they only represent different styles of adventuring. That doesn’t make them “old.”

I would also like to add that the Dresspheres in FFX-2 remain a fantastic evolution of the turn-based system found in FFX. It’s reminiscent of the job classes in Final Fantasy Tactics and other previous franchise entries. It also infuses the game with some much-needed depth, which was lost when they limited the playable characters to three. Okay, so I’m still not a big fan of J-Pop, and you could argue that FFX-2 is indeed just fanservice.

But that’s precisely what these HD Remasters are: Fanservice. And it’s glorious fanservice–the kind that we’ve been waiting on for years.

A worthy graphical upgrade

Let me be clear: You still can’t really compare the graphics in these games to modern-day productions. Granted, there’s a very pretty high-definition gloss but at the same time, the developers didn’t recreate all the world and character designs. Therefore, it’s obvious that you’re playing a PS2-era title, just in the overall design, which is in fact found significantly lacking when compared to recent titles.

But it’s not fair to make that comparison in the first place. We’re talking about games that are 12 and 10 years old respectively, so we need to understand that. All we’re really looking at is the quality of the high-definition upgrade, which is borderline flawless. We’re allowed to re-experience our favorite moments with a brand new luster, and that only gives our memories an added glossiness. No, that’s not how it looked back then, but in our minds, maybe that’s how it should’ve looked (obvious technical limitations notwithstanding).

The epitome of “bang for your buck”

It’ll cost you $40 to own this package, which, by the way, includes content for FFX that was previously only available in the International version (not released in North America). Even if we don’t count the additional content, you’re still looking at two games that offer, at the bare minimum, 30-40 hours of gameplay each. True fans and completionists can probably find up to 100 hours of entertainment in each title, which is why it says there’s “over 200 hours” of nostalgic gloriousness on the back of the box.

Let’s also not forget that each of these games cost $50 apiece when they debuted way back when. So now, for a measly forty bucks, we get two of the greatest games of all time (a subjective statement, of course, but for role-playing fans, it’s probably close to accurate), which will offer a huge amount of game time. Besides, are these not the definitive versions of each game? For the collector, isn’t it a no-brainer that these must be in your collection?

Rekindle your love of Final Fantasy

That’s really what this Remaster set does. It did it for me, at any rate. I didn’t even bother with the heartbreaking mess that was Lightning Returns; the demo and surrounding information was more than enough to make me pass. It was the first series entry I didn’t play and finish since FFV. As such, it felt like the end of an era. And while I know the past can never return, and that FFX and X-2 will always be deemed “old-fashioned,” their stellar quality shines brightly.

To sum up, they remind me why I still call Final Fantasy the greatest video game franchise of all time.

FFX/X-2 HD Remaster Review: Echoes of Final Fantasy’s Former Greatness
This wonderful collection serves as a warm yet disappointing reminder...

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A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.