FINAL FANTASY X | HD REMASTER | REVIEW
Final Fantasy X HD Remaster puts a fresh coat of paint on one of the better stories and combat systems in the Final Fantasy Series. However, unless you truly love linear, story-driven role playing games with high random encounter rates, you may be suited to skip over this classic tale of love conquers all.
In each review, I break the game down into categories I believe best represent all our unique play style preferences. Here are the categories that will define how you may perceive the Final Fantasy X HD Remaster experience.
In this edition of Final Fantasy, you play is Tidus (or Teedus if you prefer); A young star athlete living resentfully in his father's shadow. That is, until a great disaster strikes his hometown of Zanarkand and whisks him away 10,000 years to an unfamiliar world dealing with the same problem. The problem is called Sin, and Tidus' rescuers eventually recruit him to fight it at their side.
The most interesting part of Final Fantasy X's story is that it's narrated by the main character. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of his immaturity in the present, contrasted against his future narrator self. It makes for very engaging character development.
FFX showcases the characters I like most from the franchise as a whole. Tidus is infamous for being obnoxiously annoying, but I think that's more related to the writing of the dialog than it is his persona in general.
Overall, FFX is a memorable ride with one of the better endings I've seen in my many years playing RPGs.
Final Fantasy Fans often laud FFX's combat system as the best in the series. While I feel those honors should be reserved for FF12, I would easily put FFX at the #2 slot or even possibly at the #3 slot behind FF13.
Combat is fluid, fast paced and highly intuitive. The ability to rotate players in-and-out of battle is absolute butter-cream (which is a term I made up for awesome). I imagine the ability to shift paradigms in FF13 was a concept born out of FFX's robust combat design.
Very few RPGs have made me feel like a hardcore tactician without forcing me into tedious battle scenarios where I need to micromanage items, armor augmentations or timed special moves. FFX should be a strategist’s dream come true if you like your battles straight forward and intuitive.
Final Fantasy X does away with the conventional concept of "leveling" and replaces it with what's called the sphere grid. Battles no longer yield you experience points. Instead they reward you with action points you can use to navigate the sphere. Battles will also reward you with Magic, Power, Speed and Ability spheres you can use to "purchase" stat-boosts and abilities.
I personally think the sphere grid was genius. Here, I'm not grinding just to get enough XP to level up and be force-fed some random upgrade to my general stats. Now, I'm in full control over how my characters progress. With this HD re-release I also have the option to use the "expert" sphere grid which takes the training wheels off and allows us to build our characters exactly to our liking versus forcing us down archetypal paths predetermined for each party member.
For years, explorers like me have lamented the linearity that FFX brought to the table. I've always assumed the corridor-running nature of the experience was made so by technological limitations. Regardless of the reasoning, do not expect to leave a town, hit the world map and explore the world endlessly at your leisure. FFX is more a strung-together patchwork of set pieces than it is a living, breathing world.
Audiophiles + Visualists
Although, the graphical improvements were not as severe as I had anticipated, it was surprising to see how nice a game this old looked with only minor updates. The soundtrack is just as beautiful as ever with some slight tweaks that I could have lived without.
There is quite a bit to do in Final Fantasy X for you completionists out there. From questing to gather what's called the Celestial Weapons (read: the best weapons in the game), to unlocking hidden Aeons for summoning to completing the sphere grid for each character. Achievers can expect to spend over 100 hours easily playing FFX should they so desire. Plus, since this is a PS3 game, it also has trophies. Surprisingly, none of the trophies are really all that ridiculous compared to many other JRPGs from the past generation.
Final Fantasy X was a great game for its time. Technology held it back from the slightly more open adventures found in older Final Fantasy games, but the story, characters, solid combat and unique leveling system made it worth a play. However, unless you're just dying to play a slightly prettier version of a game you've probably already finished, it's not really worth playing again. Some of the old mechanics like random encounters and save points worked in tandem to bore me to the point where I didn't really feel like finishing FFX for the second time.
Bottom line: If you are a huge fan of the original, $19 is certainly not too much to pay to relive the glory. However, if you're barely a casual fan of the game like me, your time could be better spent on other games.