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Final Fantasy X HD Remaster Review

Brendan Griffiths
Final Fantasy X HD, PS Vita games, PS3 games, RPG Games, Square Enix

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster Review

Platforms: PS Vita (reviewed) | PS3

Developer: Square-Enix

Publisher: Square-Enix

Reviewer’s note: This is a review of Final Fantasy X HD, which will be released in a collection with Final Fantasy X-2 HD. As I received this game first, I’ll bring you a separate review of FFX-2 soon.

Has it really been thirteen years since Final Fantasy X on the PS2? The biggest name in RPGs hasn’t had a great time with the PS3, as the XIII trilogy consistently misfired and many of us are still clinging to the hope of a remake for VII. So, a HD remaster of Final Fantasy X and X-2 didn’t exactly strike me as much to celebrate, despite enjoying the first game all those years ago.

I was wrong though. Dead wrong. Final Fantasy X is arguably better than ever and an essential purchase for anyone pining for the good old days of Square Soft-developed RPGs. If Final Fantasy is to have a bright future, the developers need to look back at games like this to understand why the series went global post FFVII in the first place.

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster Review

Final Fantasy X is a traditional turn-based RPG experience that turned heads all those years ago for its excellent combat, in-depth levelling system and the debut of voiced characters in the series. This was an incredible-looking title in 2001 and the Vita version looks fantastic today. Characters are more detailed and environmental textures now sport rich detail compared to the blurry scenes of the original.

The locations are a perfect match for the Vita’s bright OLED screen. The first half of the game takes part almost exclusively in gorgeous sun-kissed locations with the bluest skies I’ve ever seen in gaming. Frankly, it leaves this year’s Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII for dead. If I had to pick on something, some of the hair (Tidus’ especially) has a few texture ‘jaggies.’ Never mind though, do you remember those shiny FMV CGI sequences from the original? They’ve been polished to jaw-dropping proportions on the Vita.

The game’s story has held up exceptionally well and the voiceover work really allows you to invest in the characters. Enough time has passed since I played the original for a few scenes to surprise me all over again too.

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster Review

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster Review

The adventure sees Tidus, a celebrity Blitzball player thrown 1000 years into the future when his homeland of Zanarkand is destroyed by a huge creature known as Sin. This creature still exists all those years later and regularly destroys any community in its path. Serendipity sees him washed ashore on an island just in time to join Yuna and her Guardians before they depart on a pilgrimage to learn the skills to defeat Sin and save the world of Spira. The party grows from there to form a mixed bag of conflicting personalities, allowing the story to excel in both light-hearted and darker moments.

When it comes to combat, you field three members of your party at once, but you’re able to swap characters in and out at will to take full advantage of everyone’s skills. Plus it allows you to level up everyone together as anyone that has a turn takes an equal share of the spoils. This system was a revelation back in 2001 and still feels like one today.

The turn-based battles see you dish out a large array of attacks and spells. Melee, ranged, piercing, elemental, haste, darkness, power breakers and so on all feature heavily. Bosses aside, battles aren’t too challenging as long as you use the right techniques for the job. For RPG veterans everything will feel so natural and newbies should consider this a great introduction to the genre.

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster Review

Unlike recent games, where you can see enemies before you engage them, the old ‘random encounters’ are back where you’re thrown into battle as you make your way down any given road. It’s quite jarring and not always welcome, but it’s easier to reacclimatise if you’re a veteran.

This is also where the game shines on the Vita compared to the PS3. You can only save the game at specific save points, which also top up your MP and HP. Some of these are spaced quite far apart though, making shorter play sessions on the PS3 difficult. When played on the Vita though, you can just pop the handheld into sleep mode and pick it up from where you left off with ease. This is bloody amazing to be honest and a genuine excuse to pick up the game on the Vita instead of the PS3, despite it not being as comfortable as a DualShock 3 over extended periods. If you’re flush with cash though there’s a cross-save feature, so you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Final Fantasy X’s levelling system is the Sphere Grid, which may be familiar to any of you that played Tales of Xillia. Stat upgrades and new abilities are placed on nodes around the labyrinthine grid for each character to unlock. You move around the grid with S.Lv points earned by collecting AP points (like EXP in post-battle screens) and buy new abilities and stats with specific spheres collected in battle or around the world. At the start of the game, you can choose the basic grid or advanced grid. Go basic and your characters develop on a linear path that safely covers all your bases, so you’ll have a dedicated black mage, melee focused striker, healer and so on. However, go for the expert option and you’re allowed to send everyone off in any direction you please. So if you want little Yuna to do melee damage for a change, you can make it happen. There’s a slight risk of painting yourself into a corner, so be sure cover the essential basis of elemental/healing and defence. You can go backwards on the grid and it doesn’t cost as many (still some) S.Lv points, but it can feel like wasted points all the same.

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster Review

As we saw with Square’s HD release of Kingdom Hearts, there’s some new material for many of us. This (and FFX-2) is the International Version, meaning there are some extra abilities and weapons. More noticeable is the extra cutscenes viewable from the main menu called Eternal Calm, which acts as a segue between the two games.

This is a huge game, with the story mode alone lasting at least 30 hours for most players. While not packed with traditional side missions, there’s lots to discover in Spira, such as fully deciphering the Al Bhed alphabet, finding all the Celestial weapons or maybe training up your Besaid Aurochs to become the best Blitzball team around -to be honest, the Blitzball games are still dogshit in my opinion. True purists amongst you may take on the challenge of maxing out the sphere grid in the hope you can take on the game’s bastard hard hidden bosses. However you decide to spend your time in Spira, rest assured you’re playing one of the finest RPGs ever made.

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster ReviewPros

  • HD remaster makes it look like a brand new game
  • Combat and levelling system amongst the best in the genre
  • Story and characters have aged magnificently


  • Blitzball should have been scrapped or at least redesigned
  • Random encounters can take a bit of getting used to again
  • I still kinda want to slap Tidus

The Short Version: Wow, I seriously wasn’t expecting Final Fantasy X to blow me away again after 13 years. The world of Spira looks better than ever as the new layer of detail makes you feel like you’re playing a new game rather than a HD re-release and the traditional RPG combat feels better than ever in the wake of genre’s attempts at modernisation. Great storytelling never gets old though and Final Fantasy X’s is an absolute genre gem.

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster Review

Add a comment8 comments
Kais  Mar. 16, 2014 at 18:13

"to be honest, the Blitzball games are still dogshit in my opinion"

Pretty harsh. I realie that blitzball isn't for everyone but there are people out there, myself included, that quite enjoy it, even though it is quite shallow. This line just sucks all the professionalism out of the article.

Apart from that I'm impressed with the review. Can't wait to get my hands on the Limited Edition on Friday.

Sosoaha  Mar. 16, 2014 at 18:39

It's one of my all-time favourites, this game
AND i couldn't agree more on the dogshit line.

MattGardner  Mar. 16, 2014 at 20:30

I'm so very excited for this. There's no better feeling than being so very pleasantly surprised by a game really nailing it where it counts, and it's good to hear that FFX still absolutely rocks it. Yet another win for the Vita.

Zeipher  Mar. 16, 2014 at 23:32

Really enjoyed this game. Last Final Fantasy I truly loved. I remember sitting back during a hard battle and planning out my strategy.

I have quite the backlog though... still have Assassins Creed 4 and Batman to get to, so I might wait until the price drops. Really wish this was cross-buy.

Breadster  Mar. 17, 2014 at 17:12

I really didn't like blitzball at first but after deciding to give it a proper go and putting some time into it, I really started to enjoy it. I ended up playing it for ages and had a great team (reqruit wedge and you'll have a much easier time, he's just ridiculous in pretty much every role).

A great game in any case, just wish I had a PS3 to play it.

stevenjameshyde  Mar. 18, 2014 at 12:18

I was a big fan of Blitzball back in the day - it becomes a lot more pleasant when you poach all of the best players from the Al Bhed Psyches

Never did defeat Penance, though - maybe I should give it another try...?

CarlPhillips  Mar. 18, 2014 at 14:00

Oh Blitzball - the controls may be crap but my god I used to love playing it. I'm surprised to hear many of you hired other players for the Aurochs, as I would just level up the original team and dominate the competition.

Man, beating the Goers was always great, but it was the Psyches that were always the true challenge.

Breadster  Mar. 18, 2014 at 14:49

Oh Blitzball - the controls may be crap but my god I used to love playing it. I'm surprised to hear many of you hired other players for the Aurochs, as I would just level up the original team and dominate the competition.

Man, beating the Goers was always great, but it was the Psyches that were always the true challenge.

I used Tidus and Wakka but I think the rest were all hired. Seriously, Wedge was so OP. He was almost as good as Tidus at shooting and better than most others in any other position if I remember correctly, even in goal.

Last edited by Breadster, Mar. 18, 2014 at 14:51



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