Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster Review – Praise Be To Yevon

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final fantasy x x-2 hd remaster logoDeveloper: Square Enix Publisher: Square Enix Platforms: PS3 (Version Reviewed), PS Vita Release Date: March 18th, 2014

Listen to my story. This…may be our last chance.

It has been quite some time since Final Fantasy X and X-2 first hit the PlayStation 2′s library. The RPG genre has changed a lot since then, yet this HD Remaster collection brings players new and old back to an era when Final Fantasy was at its strongest. While the franchise began its slow demise following the release of Final Fantasy X (one that saw it plummet off a cliff with Final Fantasy XIII and is barely climbing back up with A Realm Reborn), let us take the time to look back at the good old times with great fondness. This is one HD collection that RPG fans can’t afford to miss.

Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster acts as a set of games that improves the mini-series in upgraded graphical fidelity, additional bonus content not yet released in North America, a soundtrack that saw new compositions mixed with old and an expansion upon the lore and story of the Tidus and Yuna saga (more on that later). Those familiar with playing Final Fantasy X will notice stark changed when it comes to character models and classic musical tracks, and may be taken aback at first. Once the initial shock subsides, it becomes easy to dive head first into the world of Spira once again.

In Final Fantasy X, you play as renowned athlete Tidus in the town of Zanarkand. You play Blitzball, a sport that acts like underwater contact soccer/rugby, held in a water-filled sphere situated in grand stadiums. Following begrudgingly in his father’s footsteps, Tidus’ world is completely changed when the energetic city is attacked by a giant water beast, known better as Sin. He is then transported to the world of Spira by his father’s friend, Auron, but is ultimately separated, confused and alone.

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It is through a helpful group of Al Bhed (technological tribesmen), including a thief class character in Rikku, that Tidus stumbles upon the remaining cast of characters in the Final Fantasy X story. Wakka, like Tidus, is a blitzball player, who gives up his sport to embark on a noble quest. He is joined by Lulu (a black mage) and Kimahri (a blue beast creature specified as “Ronso”) in an attempt to defeat Sin by protecting Yuna (a summoner) along her pilgrimage across Spira. It is through conquering several trials across the world’s temples that Yuna can acquire beasts known as Aeons to summon into battle, as each one added makes her that much stronger. Tidus eventually joins the group full time as a guardian of Yuna’s, although his unfolding plot speaks to much more than that of just a protector role.

Final Fantasy X sells its story through its dialogue. One of the better marketable aspects for the game during its initial release was that it provided perhaps the largest amount of voice-acted dialogue for a video game. It has been estimated that there are over 9,000 total lines of dialogue featured in just X alone, and although it can be quite corny at times, overall it provides rewarding subtlety and nuance to the characters that written text simply could not portray by itself.

A rather notable departure from regular Final Fantasy play is the linearity. Although not quite being the hallway simulator that Final Fantasy XIII turned out to be, X’s story takes players through a deliberately straightforward progression until near the end of the game. Quite understandable is the disapproval of hardcore fans to see the Final Fantasy staple of open world freedom be abandoned, and is hard to argue against that. To me, playing off of a story as deeply entrenched by its particular series of events as Final Fantasy X does necessitate its linearity, and earns respect in its own right.

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Final Fantasy X-2 is quite the opposite in its storytelling. Instead of buying into the epilogue of the original game’s linear tale, the story of Yuna, Rikku and Paine’s adventures as sphere hunters focuses on freedom of choice and non-linearity. The plot is advanced by an overarching endgame that is reached through individual missions finished in an order chosen by the player. Furthermore, depending on your total progression, the conclusion to the entire playable Spira saga is up to the player’s dedication to completing as much of the game as possible.

For what it’s worth, X-2 also provided a look into the future of how certain female playable protagonists would be regarded throughout the following non-MMO entries; ways to sate fan service interests of the young male demographic. Although Final Fantasy X played upon certain aspects of sexuality, Final Fantasy X-2 cranked it up to 11 with scantily-clad versions of existing characters that felt unnecessary (mostly in regards to Yuna). I am not one opposed to characters showing skin; Final Fantasy X is ripe with such aesthetically-pleasing subjects both male and female, and that’s more than fine. For Yuna to go from reserved, conservative heroine to a bubbly J-Pop personality that dons short shorts is quite disappointing to me, personally.

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Tags: Final Fantasy X Final Fantasy X-2 Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Review Square Enix