Game Review: Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster

I’ve been playing a whole lot of this one since it came out in Australia on March 20th.

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Platform:
PS3, PSV
Developer: Square Enix

Rating: M
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X-2 is download-only on the Vita version, but you won't be playing that anyway.

X-2 is download-only on the Vita version, but you won’t be playing it anyway.

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Those Al Bhed bastards.

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They have the most annoying goalkeeper I have ever seen, ever, in anything. I just want to take his polygon-encrusted face and slam it into a locker until he decides never to play Blitzball again. Ugh. But the game from which he hails is great fun.

THE SET-UP

Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remaster is a visually upscaled re-release of two games that originally came out on the PS2, way back in 2002 and 2004 respectively. This is the first time I’ve touched either, but I’m glad I now have. So glad, in fact, that I’m a little annoyed I didn’t play ’em sooner.

Your most important target.

Your most important target.

WHAT YOU DO

Taking on the Al Bhed Psyches can be a truly daunting task.

Taking on the Al Bhed Psyches can be a truly daunting task.

FF X/X-2 HD Remaster has you playing a fictional underwater sport known as “Blitzball”, taking your initially pretty terrible team, called the Besaid Aurochs, through a series of tough six-a-side matches (the first of which is really difficult). The aim of the game is to improve your team by recruiting better players, paying their contracts, levelling them up, learning new techniques and just generally getting a feel for how the game works. There is a bit of a learning curve involved, as Blitzball flows unlike any game I’ve ever played before, but the payoff of getting a win feels great. Imagine a cross between a game of FIFA and a turn-based strategy game like Fire Emblem and you’re on your way to understanding what a match feels like.

The way you control the game takes some getting used to.

The way you control the game takes some getting used to.

There are a lot of numbers at work in the game of Blitzball, as everything is based on stats you can see. A player with a high PA (pass) stat makes a good midfielder, for example, but in a one-on-one meeting known as an “encounter”, that PA stat may be cancelled out by one or more players with good BL (blocking) stats. Ditto for the SH (shooting) stat of a striker versus the CA (catch) stat of a goalie, or the EN (endurance) stat of anyone versus the AT (attack, or “tackling”) stat of his or her on-field assailant. There is some chance involved that modifies a stat by a random percentage in the heat of the moment to make things interesting, and plenty of learnable skills that apply status effects and/or boost stats in a one-time manner, but most of the time if you have a higher stat than the defender you are pursuing you will come out on top. The friction of the water makes a pass or shot bleed PA or SH value as it travels further, making shorter, multi-teammate movements preferable to distance plays. Your players level up based on actions they perform in a match, meaning you’ll want everyone involved as much as possible. There were clearly some sporting nuts on the development team at Square Enix when this game was made, and it really shows in the best way possible.

Pro-tip: make sure you win this minigame the first chance you get.

Pro-tip: make sure you win this minigame the first chance you get.

WHAT YOU SEE

Visually FF X/X-2 HD Remaster does show its age. Although there is a nice HD sheen to everything, most of the player models have remained untouched. You hardly ever see them up close while playing a match, though, and they animate decently enough, so you’ll hardly feel that the experience is impacted too heavily. The bright colours and watery distortion effect counterbalance the basic 6th-gen graphics rather effectively anyway, and it’s not like you’ll have a lot of time to worry about what the game looks like anyway, as matches move quickly and require your full attention.

At least the menus are pretty.

At least the menus are pretty. Also, Letty is best guy.

WHAT YOU HEAR

Unfortunately just about every match you’ll play throughout the game is set to the same music track, which is unfortunate but perhaps understandable given the game’s roots. Just like the graphics, of course, sound doesn’t really matter all that much when you are focusing on the game. I even found while playing that the track sounded naturally more intense when I was in the grip of a close match and more carefree when I was up 5-0 against a weak team. Of course, you can always mute the game and put on your favourite pump-up playlist instead. Nothing like coming from behind to win a game to the sound of “Eye of the Tiger”, after all.

Tense moments like this make the music seem frantic.

Tense moments like this make the music seem frantic.

WILL YOU GO BACK?

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster does provide a bit of depth and replayability via the different types of competitive fixtures in which you are able to engage. You can play a series of exhibition matches if you want to understand the ebb and flow of a game better, because neither your players nor your opponents will gain any experience points from said matches, though they will be able to learn in-game techniques by emulating their opponents with a move called “techcopy”. Then there are leagues, basically ten-game seasons of fierce competition, and finally there are tournaments, made up of consecutive knockout fixtures with juicy rewards for winning.

Keep pushing to the next level of competition!

Keep pushing to the next level of competition!

Oh yeah, I should probably mention that there is some other content in the game, but it’s a bit weird and I don’t personally see the appeal of it. I seem to recall something about an attempted love story between your starting Blitzball superstar and some magical girl. There’s also a blue lion guy, a woman in black who seems to think she has to lean forward every time she kills a monster, a man who wears fake vein make-up and a dress, some kind of recurring minigame where you have to choose an action and don’t even get to move around, and a yellow bird you can ride. These odd parts of the game force you to look at extended close-ups of the game’s ugly character models, which look all the worse next to the much more detailed faces of the very strange main characters. Curious indeed.

Much graphics. Such texture. Wow.

Much graphics. Such texture. Wow.

omg wtf is dis some kind of joke

omg wtf is dis some kind of joke

This is an April Fool’s joke, people.

THE VERDICT

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Good:
Blitzball
Bad:
Too many bits without Blitzball
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3.5 VsG !

One response to this post.

  1. *slow clap* Absolutely genius.

    Reply

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