The Triumphant Return to Zanarkand
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited about this release. Truth be told, I have been waiting for this day since I heard the rumor that Square Enix might be releasing an HD remake of these titles. But never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that they would’ve taken their time and done it all so right. This HD remake of these two titles far exceeded my expectations.
Just watching the opening scenes of Final Fantasy X , I realized what kind of detail they put into this title. The skies looked more detailed and clear, the clouds more defined and even the water had a brand new shine on it that my PS2 version just didn’t seem to have. Then I noticed something else: the music was different. It sounded fuller and more…well, more. So as I listened closer I realized that the music had been completely re-recorded with real instruments and not just digital ones. I was floored.
So I powered my way through the early battle sequences and in-game tutorials that were all too familiar to a fan who had completed this game so many times I lost count. All the while, marveling at the definition of not only what I was seeing but what I was hearing as well. This game was truly a fanboy’s dream come true.
As I worked my way through familiar levels and battles, all of the nuances of turn-based combat started coming back to me. The fact that nearly every RPG I have played since FFX used a real-time combat system had almost made me forget how much fun turn-based battles could be. The pacing of the battles felt as smooth as they ever did and the combat mechanics were every bit as slick as they were the first time I ever played FFX .
So I decided to pop into a game using the expert sphere grid from the international version of the game. Suddenly, the game took on a whole new dynamic. Expert was the exact word I would have used to describe the new sphere grid system. It was a far more involved system that makes you really think about your choices before applying spheres. So for those of you who fancy yourselves masters of Spira, give your game a little kick in the teeth with the expert sphere grid.
Oh, and if you think for a minute that you can just waltz up to a dark aeon or Penance and just pick a fight, just try it and see what happens. You better have a nearly fully maxed out team behind you or you will get hosed so fast you may not know what hit you.
So after A/B-ing FFX against the PS2 version, I decided to do the same with FFX2 (although I had to go out and find a copy to use because I had gotten rid of mine a long time ago). I remember FFX2 being a mixture of Final Fantasy X, Charlie’s Angels and Dolly Dress-Up all rolled into one. So I resumed an old save file on my PS2 that I had on an old memory card (hard to believe we ever used those) and dug in. As I got more familiar with the dress-spheres and their grids, and the combat style of using timing as well as costume changes to defeat your foes, I started to wonder what the HD remaster would look and feel like.
I fired up the PS3 and watched the opening scene and was again blown away by how much more defined everything was. That’s when I remembered that the last time I played this game, I played it on the PS2 into a DLP projection screen TV. So now, seeing it on the PS3 into an OLED TV was nearly like playing the game for the first time.
I honestly had almost forgotten how difficult it was to get a handle on the dress-sphere thing early on. As I said, I had played the original using an old save so I was much farther in the game than starting all over. Once I got back into the groove of things, it all started coming back quickly.
I noticed the same with this title as I did with FFX . The audio had been redone as well as touching up the visuals. All in all, it was the total package. The ending was still just as confusing as it was the first time and the dress-spheres felt just as corny as they did the first time, but this time there was an air of nostalgia and fun I felt that made me want to keep playing. No matter how much I complained about this game when it was first released, I found myself transfixed and not able to quit.
But as fun as the FFX2 game itself was, I actually had even more fun playing the “ Last Mission ,” content. If you are a fan of Final Fantasy Tactics or the Disgaea series, then the Last Mission is for you. It is quite simply an endurance battle to the top of a large and recently discovered Al Bhed tower in Spira. It is turn based combat mixed with the fact that you can only use what you find in the tower. If you die, you have to start all over again…at the bottom of the tower. It is a challenging game and a total blast if you are into tactics at all.
Overall the HD remasters of FFX and FFX2 are a home run. Square Enix managed to capture the initial feeling of playing these games for the first time as well as making them much more beautiful to look at. Then they took it one step further and included all the international content as well. Simply put, this is the most comprehensive Final Fantasy experience from the PS2 generation that exists. Final Fantasy X fans rejoice, your airship has finally come in.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
For a PS2 HD Update, it looks great. 5.0 Control
Familiar but still fresh after all these years. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Totally redone soundtracks add new depth to these titles. 4.0 Play Value
Still feels old school, but enough new content to keep you playing, maybe more than once. 4.7 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best