Recently SquareEnix remastered their PS2 classics, Final Fantasy X and X-2 into ‘stunning HD’, along with a few extras that have never been released in North America before: Final Fantasy X: Eternal Calm and Final Fantasy X-2 Last Mission. These ~10 year old games marked their first attempt to bring Final Fantasy to the Playstation 2, and also the first time that a Final Fantasy had received a direct sequel in all regions. You most likely have already played, or tried to play, FFX or FFX-2, and as such most likely already know if you like the games… so I’ll be brief here.
Final Fantasy X HD is the most impressive visual update I’ve seen from an HD Remaster. The graphics really do look fantastic, and while they are just up-ressed it really breathes new life into the visuals. Textures are smoother, colours and lighting look sharper, and the scenery looks a little bit more… alive as a result. The quintessential FFX scene, the first Sending, is a spectacle in this version. The only thing that is a little weird are the characters’ eyes. For some reason updating everything to HD has left the eyes looking utterly hollow. There’s a strange emptiness in the eyes, and since you’re spending so much time in cutscenes you’ll spend quite a lot of time staring at those eyes. It ends up being just a little unsettling.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for the rest of the remaster. FF X: Eternal Calm as well as X-2 do not look nearly as impressive. That is to say, the characters don’t. The scenery, the visual effects, the lightning; they’re all still much improved. But the character models look utterly awful throughout the entire thing. Rikku’s face looks terrifying, for example. It is hard to say whether the improved environments and effects are worth the god-awful character models…
These games already had some of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard so it’s no surprise that they sound fantastic. But they do manage to improve on the sound quality a bit, with some of the tracks sounding like they have a bit more depth, despite being essentially the same track. It’s not a huge improvement, but when you have such a good soundtrack already it’s hard to be disappointed with only a slight improvement.
Ultimately what will determine if you want to give these a try is whether you liked the gameplay and story or not… since there have been virtually no changes to either. The only real change is in the Sphere Grid system for Final Fantasy X, where you now have the option to use the more open ‘expert mode’ which has everyone start near the middle of the grid. There are also some minor tweaks like a few optional bosses and extra dress spheres throughout the two games.
If you did like the story, you can get a little bit more of it in the two included extras. Final Fantasy X: Eternal Calm is a very brief movie that provides a meager bridge connecting X and X-2, and the Last Mission is an extra dungeon that is designed as a followup to X-2.
Overall the additions are minor, but the graphical updates and slight soundtrack revisions make this the quintessential version of Final Fantasy X. If you’re looking to play it again, or if you’re interested in giving it a try for the first time, this is definitely the best way to get it. If all you’re interested in is FF X-2, then you’re probably better off digging out your PS2 because it’s almost painful to see Yuna, Rikku, and Paine looking like this…