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FINAL FANTASY X HD Remaster (PC) artwork

FINAL FANTASY X HD Remaster (PC) review

"Probably more appealing to nostalgic players of the original FFX, but it does still hold up as an RPG."

I’ve recently been playing the Remastered version and while I will talk about some of the extra bits and baubles it has to offer, it has largely remained the same. The textures are of course crisper but the models are unchanged so don’t expect a remake akin to what they’re trying to do with FF7. Some of the NPC’s still have older looking potato-faces, and even the prerendered cutscenes are there in their whole 2002 glory.

For the record, I will likely be reviewing X-2 separately, because my experience with it is minimal.

Chances are you know about, or have already played, FFX. I remember it being somewhat divisive on the earlier days of the internet but current research tells me that it was, over all, well liked. It charmed people with its story, characters, progression. Almost everything about it is aces and remains solid to this day, and my complaints aren’t even related to most of that.

I’ll catch everyone up to speed regarding the story and I’ll move on to how the game works.

You play as Tidus, a star player of a Blitzball team which is basically underwater soccer. You spend the first twenty minutes or so of the game in Zanarkand, a remarkable futuristic city that wouldn’t look out of place in a Mass Effect game.

During a Blitzball game, a mysterious creature (quickly revealed to be named “Sin”) attacks the city and completely levels it. Tidus meets up with Auron, the game’s resident badass (which actually translates well into the game itself, as he’s the anti-tank, hardest hitter), who seems to have been with him throughout childhood as a sort of father figure. They fight some growth-like offspring of this giant beast, but eventually get sucked up into a Sin-bourne vortex which transports him a thousand years into the future. His city in ruins, most of it underwater. Now he has to navigate the new social norms of a new world called Spira, with the help of your general ragtag team of misfits. Most of the story is Tidus asking “What is this thing”. To be fair he has some of his own motivations as he is trying to get back home. Since this is an expansive RPG, this proves harder than it seems and he quickly realizes that.

Now, some people love their stories with their game but I have found it irritating at my age and gaming experience to have control constantly wrestled from me. Far too many times you’re given control of Tidus to walk a few feet and right into another cutscene or conversation. Most don’t last terribly long, but I still wonder why they gave me control to begin with. Sometimes it makes sense, like giving you a save sphere nearby before walking into the next encounter. Yes, a save sphere. This game was made back when you couldn’t really save anytime you damn well please. Thankfully it does have an autosave if you find yourself needing to leave, but don’t rely on it when you’re on a grind session.

It does seem strange to complain about story in a game often revered for that very same story. I just sometimes feel there’s more of a point and click adventure game going on, and I once went a full hour without any actual gameplay. Once on a boat between points in the story, I ran around talking to everyone and couldn’t figure out why the game wouldn’t progress. Only to find some easy to miss stairs up to two characters for Tidus to effectively eavesdrop on them. I do love the story, but I also love the combat and leveling system here and I do get twitchy if the game doesn’t let me kill another Basilisk.

I never liked Tidus as a character, either. That said, I could appreciate that his evolution as a person was actually noticeable. During the Blitzball game, the crowd starts cheering for Wakka, who was wounded the previous match. Tidus himself dips out to let Wakka retake his place as the team lead, stating in a voice over, “This is their show, after all”. This is a far cry from how he was a few hours ago in gameplay, where he was running into forbidden temples yelling “Like I care”, as a damn child would. I can always appreciate character arcs, and everyone here has one. Lulu (resident black mage) warms up to Tidus over time once he proves he’s not useless. Yuna (resident white mage) gets more assertive as time goes on. Wakka matures a bit. Even Kimahri does begin to speak after a while, and has his own side plot that you end up helping with. It’s all pretty much a smooth run as far as stories go, and is some of the best pacing you’ll find in a game.

The mechanics are aged but still fairly solid. I mentioned in another review that turn based mechanics fell off the mainstream for a few years, because they’re a bit of a flow-breaker. Encounters can still be fast paced and intense, and I enjoy boss battles the most because it requires you to figure out what they do and counter it. Without a guide, you may not know what they do outright which makes things more interesting.

There’s a myriad of stats to focus on and everyone has their own grid to work on (except Kimahri, whom starts in the middle and can delve into other roles as you see fit, but since all roles are accounted for he’s not important and is weaker in late-game), each have specific stats that are clearly focused. Wakka and Tidus have a fair amount of agility and accuracy, while Lulu and Yuna have a lot of magic on theirs.

I once read a guide that tells people to treat it like a board game. Leveling up gives you points that are like dice rolls. You move forward in the grid and you can tap into any stat that is adjacent to your position. In that regard, I usually wait until I have three to five “Sphere levels” to move so I can hit around three upgrades at a time.

The game is pretty smooth overall and progression feels constant, giving you just enough challenge without having to grind at all, though some people recommend some grinding at certain points of the game which I am certainly taking advantage of.

Know what else I’m taking advantage of? The extra features and parameters the new remastered version comes with. Some of which are game breakers, comparable to downloading an outright hack or trainer for older games.

You can also get full stacks of all basic items, unlock all skills for every character immediately, and max out your gil (money). I took advantage of the “get all items” and “Enemy encounter override”. Having potions helps keep my people alive and I like the major encounter rate because it helps me farm, even the early game. I basically move on when I start one-shotting things.

There is no command that gives you gear, though. So I won’t be breaking the damage limit for a little while yet and bosses still take some doing. I am overkilling most basic enemies though, to great hilarity.

I played and beat this game fairly legit over a decade ago, so I’m treating these new parameters to help me get through it to refresh myself on the story, so I can play X-2, which I did very little of. Presumably these mechanics also exist in X-2 which will help my run be a bit more smooth, because I remember not really understanding the leveling system there. That’s an anecdote for another time.

If I had one other point of contention, it’s the sound design. The voice acting is hit or miss, and while the infamous “HAHAHA” scene is taken out of context (the characters were force laughing on purpose, it was supposed to sound stupid), I find it to be solid overall. However the sounds itself seem irrelevant in this game, I could practically play it muted. Enemy attacks are practically telegraphed, even in text on the top of the battle screen and there’s status effect icons that pop over your character’s heads if they’re suffering from something. Attacks are flashy with fancy particle effects and sounds but what really matters is the numbers of damage you can do. Other than the rather enchanting music, you can play this game muted and miss next to nothing from the experience.

All in all, I just can’t stop smiling while playing it. I don’t give FFX enough credit towards my gaming career, which starts in the 96′s and 98′s with things like Unreal, Quake, and Starcraft. FFX would come into my life a few years later and it just captured my imagination and was able to play through it more than once. Here I am again, enjoying the ride. I recommend anyone who is a fan of the genre to give this one a go.


Zydrate's avatar
Featured community review by Zydrate (July 12, 2017)

Zydrate is most active on Steam and Tumblr.

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hastypixels posted July 12, 2017:

The soundtrack is a bit of a mixed salad for me. I enjoyed most of it, and yes it's excellent, but not as memorable as other titles Nobou Uematsu is better known for, like FF IX. He did hand the reigns to other musicians who took charge of his responsibilities, and that's where the brilliance dies away.

Having said that, the FF X OST is powerful in its own right.
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Zydrate posted July 12, 2017:

I like the main theme and the variants of the "Hymn of the Fayth" are usually pretty good, and very majestic for the setting.

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