FF X/X-2 HD Remaster

It’s been a good couple of weeks since one of the greatest things arrived at my doorstep: my Limited Edition copy of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster for PS3! These two titles (plus two more bonus adventures merged onto one disc) have been keeping me busy for the last little while, honoring my memories of my first RPG (Role Playing Game). I remember all the hype when the commercials would play on TV advertising FF X-2, which is what lead to me playing both games. I was apprehensive about buying this release, though, because I never finished either title when I first played along on PS2. I also wondered what the chances of me playing a game over again would be, especially lengthy games like these. HOWEVER, let me just say, I’m SO glad I went against my doubts and bought this bundle! Here are my reasons why:

A classic never fails.

As soon as I heard Tidus‘ monologue in the beginning sequence, all the memories of Spira, fiends, and FMVs (Full Motion Videos) came back to me. Final Fantasy X really pushed borders for the series being the first to receive a PlayStation 2 release; it had plenty of story and playback, many complicated battles, legendary music, and probably the best character development. All of that is still here, yet it all seems even better than before. When I first began to play around with the battle system, I immediately thought it might have been upgraded, but alas, I’m still using the old BradyGames Guidebook and everything matches up. I think I might have been too young when the game first came out to fully understand the politics of the story-line and intricacy of the relationships, but seeing it all now lends much respect to Square Enix and team for their efforts back in the day.

A true visual ‘re-masterpiece’.

The key here is that these two games have been remastered in HD, not remade. When I first took a look at the trailers, I wasn’t feeling what I saw because I had those two words confused. There is no crystal-clear perfect CGI or motion capture action going on here; the games are very much the same as they were in the early 2000s. However, even though those odd character gestures and lip syncing terrors are still present, the visual quality is simply amazing. The team behind this cleanup did a very good job of ironing out the characters’ facial expressions and cleaning the edges. Much effort also went into redrawing the background environments, which are now basically flawless. The optional subtitles is another treasure, as the older games were hard-subbed in a not-so-clear font. One of the biggest (and obvious) differences is the native resolution; any true follower of the series would know both titles had a very TERRIBLE screen size, outlined in a black box to prevent the characters from running off the screen in scenes. Now, everything has been re-rendered to fit the high definition standard and it all looks GREAT. The FMV sequences, though, definitely went through upscaling since the quality falls short of what HD video should look like in 2014. Nevertheless, just the fact that a fan can now relive everything in such beautiful quality is a blessing.

A melody to your ears.

The remastering did not end with the visuals (not at all)! One of the things that really stood out as a problem back then was the balance of music against the vocals. A lot of the time the volumes would be too harsh or not harsh enough. Say goodbye to that problem as the vocal cleanup here is basic perfection. Yuna and Tidus‘ horrific voice-acting still survives, but that isn’t something anyone can do much about at this stage, right? As if the vocals weren’t ambitious enough, this project also showcases the re-arrangement of most of the music in the two games. Die hard fans of the music of Final Fantasy, like myself, will notice this change right away (especially during battles). Most of the tracks are the same, but simply revived with lighter instrumentals or more powerful ones where needed. Opinions will vary, and I personally am a fan of the original soundtrack, but I also like the change as it keeps me wondering what each step of the game will sound like. Never fear, though, Suteki Da Ne is still in tact in its original form!

A bonus or two? Yes please.

Aside from grouping the two main game onto this disc, fans are blessed with two additional bonuses! One is the Final Fantasy X – Eternal Calm bonus sequence, acting as a brief movie that bridges the gap between the two games (story-line-wise). It was never released with the original game, but later was made available in English to exclusive PlayStation club members online. The second bonus is the Final Fantasy X-2 – Last Mission game, which is basically a short after-story adventure the girls go on. It was released as a repackaged PS2 title Final Fantasy X-2 – International Version, though an English version was never made until now. I have yet to dive into these two bonuses as I’m still in the hardcore game-play, but I am so excited because I remember being younger and jealous of not having access to these. Some other treats include a new 30-minute audio drama that plays after the credits in the second game and for fans that purchase the Limited Edition or Collector’s Edition, a printed artbook and Blu-Ray of all the remastered music is included!  If anything, this release is comprehensive to the series, which makes buying it a must!

A heartfelt story of the ages.

RPG titles have mixed reactions from gamers because while the adventure is lengthy and challenging, there is a lot of cinematic-watching and story-drama to endure too. I live for this. I remember crying when I was younger from the beauty of the characters and their lives, deaths, and romances. The story told is actually very engaging and endearing, especially since both games are long. The music in the series lends a great helping hand to gathering the emotions, but the romance between Tidus and Yuna is generally the theme of games and it is a great one. There are a wide array of characters to like, such as Lulu, Wakka, Rikku, Shuyin, Lenne, and so forth between the titles. Both games teach of many things, such as morals, friendships, politics, power, religion, and good versus evil. FF X-2, more specifically, seems to have been a move to gather more female fans since it stars a cast of three women as the main players, so the gender barrier is officially broken down for anyone to love the series.

Enough of my rambling on… both games were originally PS2 Greatest Hits, so believe me when I say that the price paid for this is nothing in comparison to all that one gets in a single package. Anyone who hasn’t landed their copy of this bundle yet is missing out, so definitely head over to Square-Enix’s Store and pick up a game that will definitely make a lasting impression for life.