Final Fantasy X HD Remaster Review

Title: Final Fantasy X HD Remaster
Developer: Square Enix
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 3.4 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail
EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail

The Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster has been a large focus of our site for quite a long time.  On December 24th of last year, we decided that we would make sure we review every mainstream Final Fantasy title available on the PS Vita before the release of the Final Fantasy X HD Remaster collection earlier this month, and we did.  In our database of reviews, there are reviews for Final Fantasy Origins, III, IV: Complete Collection, V, VI, VII, VIII, and IX.  This was all done in a countdown to the release of the HD Remaster, and now it’s time to start making reviews for that collection.

When we had first pondered the review of this collection, it began to be a bit of confusion on whether we should review the collection together, or if we should review Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 separately.  Considering how lengthy and in-depth each game is, and the fact that they are separate games and downloads for the Vita, it was decided that we would review each one separately.  Reviewing them together would not only make for a very lengthy review, but also have a lot of time after its release before we would be able to review it.

The first game in this collection is one of the most popular games in the Final Fantasy franchise.  It was the first of a generation, both for full 3D as well as Voice Acting.  Originally released in 2001 in the first years of the PlayStation 2 platform and now remade as an HD Remaster, here is our review of Final Fantasy X HD Remaster for the PlayStation Vita.

Story

The story of Final Fantasy X follows the story of Tidus.  Tidus, pronounced Tee-dus, is a star player of an underwater soccer/basketball-like sport known as Blitzball.  In the middle of a huge game for his team, the Zanarkand Abes, the city of Zanarkand is attacked by a giant monster called Sin.  Soon after, he finds himself 1000 years into the future in a world known as Spira.  Traveling with the Summoner Yuna, whom is on a pilgrimage to defeat the ever-reappearing monster that brought him to Spira in the first place, he sets out to find Sin and a way home.

The story of Final Fantasy X is interesting in how it is presented.  The entire game unfolds like Tidus is telling the player the story of his journey through Spira.  During cutscenes, you will see things happening, and every so often, the dialogue and music will dim and you will hear Tidus talking to the player about his thoughts on that particular event, as if he were looking back and recollecting his thoughts on it.  As you play through the game, he will tell you certain things as well as how his view on everything changes as he travels with Yuna and their other companions.

The tale doesn’t make sense in some places, like how characters can breathe underwater, but overall, it’s a very good tale that shows a lot of different things that people may find relevant to themselves, from having to come to terms with fate as well as political corruption and questioning morality and religion.  There are a lot of different elements to the story that serve as crucial points for character development.  While Tidus seems a bit impulsive for most of his dialogue, his recollection events really show how his character grows and changes throughout the game, as well as Yuna.

Gameplay

Like games before it, Final Fantasy X is a turn-based RPG.  As its very base, you’re going to do everything you would normally do in an RPG like this.  You will be traveling through towns, villages, temples, and dungeons as your adventure continues, doing lots of side-quests, and taking part in party-based turn-based battles with monsters known as Fiends, as well as other enemies that aim to take you out.

The things that make this game’s system unique are Customization, Spheres, and Aeons.  Customization is unique in that equipping new weapons doesn’t, by default, increase your stats.  Each weapon has ability slots on it and certain abilities equipped.  Accessories and Weapons are equipped for their effects, rather than stat increases.  Abilities vary from Strength + 5%, Waterstrike (Your Attack is Water Elemental), Half MP Cost, No Encounter, Break HP Limit, and more.  A lot of making the ultimate party will be collecting items and materials from battles to use to customize your equipment to have the effects you want.

Spheres and the Sphere Grid are almost the most important part of developing your team.  You don’t level up from experience, like you normally do in RPGs.  Instead, you obtain experience to gain Sphere Levels from battles.  Each character that participates and does something in a battle earns points.  Sphere Levels are gained and can be used on the Sphere Grid, as well as Spheres you win from battles.

The Sphere Grid is what is used to allow your characters to learn abilities and increase their stats.  It’s a large grid full of Sphere “Nodes” that are activated by using specific types of sphere.  For example, increasing your attack stats requires the use of a Power Sphere, and learning Abilities requires the use of an Ability Sphere.  Sphere Levels are used to move around the Sphere Grid to get to specific Nodes, as you have to be on or right next to a Node to activate it and receive the stat increase or ability.

Each character has their own grid to follow, but can also go through other branches to learn abilities from other characters.  For example, Yuna begins as a cross between a Summoner and White Mage, but she can eventually cross into Rikku’s Sphere Grid and learn Thief abilities, like Steal and Mug.  This goes for everyone.  Each of the seven playable characters starts out with a specific grid and moveset, but they can move and learn abilities from other characters as well.  Potentially, you could have everyone being able to Steal and cast Black Magic.  The only specific abilities come from Aeons being exclusive to Yuna and Overdrives.

Aeons are Final Fantasy X’s form of Summons, and they hold a very interesting role, both to the story and battles.  When you normally call a Summon to attack the enemy in Final Fantasy games, they appear for a moment, attack the enemy, and then disappear.  In Final Fantasy X, however, Aeons replace your party members.  Your party becomes the Aeon until they run out of HP or are dismissed.  Like characters, they can learn abilities, which are mostly Black Magic and White Magic, along with their own specific ability as well as Overdrive ability, which are exclusive to them.  Their power is also tied to Yuna, so as you develop Yuna’s stats on the Sphere Grid, Aeons become more powerful.

Battle has a couple unique features to Final Fantasy X.  The first, and one you will be using a lot is the ability to switch characters out.  There are certain types of enemies that only certain characters can be proficient against.  Armored Enemies have very high Defense against everyone except for Auron, and flying enemies have a very high Evasion rate against everyone but Magic-users and Wakka.  Each time a character has a turn, you can tap L to immediately switch out for any character currently not in battle to be able to handle those enemies.

The other is the Overdrive Gauge.  Overdrives are character-specific Ultimate Attacks.  The Overdrive Gauge for that character must first be filled before being able to use them.  You can learn new Overdrive Modes by doing certain things in battle and each Overdrive Mode changes what makes the gauge fill up.  Some Modes allow you to fill up the gauge by receiving damage from enemies, or attacking enemies, or fighting by yourself.

Once the gauge is full, you can unleash the attack.  All of these are powerful attacks that do a huge amount of damage.  Depending on the ability, they might even be able to do more than the 9999 limit for damage.  Some characters have preset Overdrive abilities, and others can learn others by using certain attacks against enemies or using their Overdrive a certain number of times.  You can also activate your overdrive anytime you want.  So, if you want to build up your Overdrive on all of your characters and Aeons before going into a Boss fight, you can do that and unleash a huge wave of Overdrives on them all at once.

For a lot of the game, you don’t have a lot of extra places to go.  While there are a ton of sidequests to do, many of them don’t appear until near the end of the game.  You can still do some sidequests as you play, like Al Bhed Primers, Chocobo Racing, Monster Capturing, and Optional Summons, the majority of the extra content happens near the end of the game.  There is a ton of extra stuff to do, especially considering what the HD Remaster adds to the game.

The HD Remaster version of this is based on the International version of Final Fantasy X, which never released outside of Japan.  This added a good bit of more side-quests to do as well as the Eternal Calm video that bridges the stories of Final Fantasy X and X-2.  Most notably are the Dark Aeons, super-boss versions of every Aeon you can obtain in the game, as well as what is considered one of the toughest super-bosses in the history of Final Fantasy, called Penance.  There is also a new feature for the Vita version of the game, which allows you to swipe the touch screen outside of battle to automatically use MP or Potions to fully heal your party’s HP.

As far as time is concerned, you will be expected to put a lot of time into this game.  If you go through just to be able to get to the end and defeat the final boss, you will be putting about 50 hours into the game.  If you want to do 100% on it, though, expect to add at least 20 hours to that for Chocobo Racing, Monster Arena, Ultimate Weapons, Dark Aeons, Optional Aeons, Blitzball, Filling the Sphere Grid, and more.

Controls

The controls of an RPG like this are not normally too hard to grasp.  Action RPGs are normally a bit more complex, but that’s not what this is.  There is a touchscreen control thrown in here, but overall, it’s not too complicated.

You use the Left Analog Stick or the D-Pad to move your character, or navigate through menus.  The Start Menu Pauses the game, and the Right Analog Stick is not used for anything.  The L and R buttons are used in battle for accessing menus like switching out characters.  The touchscreen is using for swiping and choosing the Heal HP options outside of battle, or for switching the length of the Aeon cinematic length within battle.  The X Button is used to select a command or an option and the Circle button is used to go back in a menu.  The Square Button isn’t really used, and the Triangle Button is used to open up the Menu.  That’s about it for the controls you will be using.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this section, the controls aren’t too hard to get a grasp on.  It may take a bit of time to get used to specific controls, but overall, it’s a pretty easy-to-remember control scheme.

Presentation

The presentation is one of the highlights of this game, as far as it is shown, compared to other PlayStation Vita games.  The work that the development team did for this collection is pretty impressive.  While the game doesn’t look as good as it does on the PlayStation 3, it’s a big step ahead of its PlayStation 2 version.  A lot of the models and effects are very smooth and if you want to find jagged edges, you will be looking for a very long time.  The collection really shows how great a Vita title can look if the team is dedicated to it.

Another addition the HD Remaster added to the game was that all of the music tracks in the game have been completely redone and improved.  From the normal battle theme to Via Purifico, every track has been re-done and sounds much more deep and symphonic than in the original PS2 release of Final Fantasy X.

As far as loading is concerned, the times are pretty short.  Loading new areas can sometimes take a few seconds to load, and loading a save file can take a good 6 seconds, but most of the load times are short.  The time is takes to go into a battle is about 5 seconds, give or take.  That is from the field screen to being able to do something in battle.  For the most part, this is done rather well.

Overall

All in all, Final Fantasy X HD Remaster is everything the game was back in 2001, and then some.  With the addition of the International Content as well as the new features to the game, this is a game that will easily take 50-100 hours away or more.  The story is a little confusing and the character development for Tidus can be a bit hit and miss for players, but those looking for a Final Fantasy fix or an excellent turn-based RPG cannot go wrong with this.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Final Fantasy X HD Remaster a 9/10.  

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