Will the HD remake be an essential pre-order?
So it was revealed by Square Enix, back in September at the Tokyo Games Show, that the legendary Final Fantasy X will receive HD remakes for both the Playstation 3 and it’s much anticipated little brother, the Playstation Vita. Believe it or not, the game is an entire ten years old, as it was first released for the Playstation 2 in 2001.
Even by today’s standards, this is a very pretty game.
Maybe you missed it the first time around or maybe you want to visit Zanerkand once again because you loved it so much ten years ago. Either way, you want to know if the game is still worth playing today. Well have no fear because I recently purchased a dusty old slimline PS2 so that I could play Final Fantasy X for the very first time. It’s still one of the greatest games of all time but it’s not without its faults. PRESENTATION Even by today’s standards, this is a very pretty game. Upon its release it was praised as the most beautiful game ever. It matched ever other game on the market in terms of graphical quality but it was head and shoulders above them all in terms of presentation. Final Fantasy X took advantage of ever colour under the spectrum and it’s fantasy setting to create something truly special. Most cut-scenes use the in game engine but at a few special moments within the game, we are treated to some eye-pleasing rendered animations. These scenes won’t blow you away if you are used to the graphical quality of recent games, such as Final Fantasy XIII, but they are enough to give you goosebumps if you get as immersed into the game as I did. The bad news is that the graphics are definitely last generation quality and the remake is going to need much more than a fresh coat of paint if it is to please modern day gamers. STORY The key reason why Final Fantasy X is loved so much is because of its story. The story is confusing and quite random at times. The voice acting is poor. The main character, Tidus, is a bit of a tool but for some reason one is completely attached to the characters and their quest. Death is a key theme throughout the game as one of the key characters knows from early on in the game that they must die in the final battle, in order to save the world. Several characters are also present in body and spirit even though they have already met their death. It is an odd concept but it does lead to some great moments in the story. Similarly to the TV series ‘Lost’, this game has a story which will leave you in deep thought about elements which are left open to interpretation. Unlike ‘Lost’ the game has a great, satisfying ending which did embarrassingly bring a lump to my throat. Overall the story is one of the best in video game history. GAMEPLAY If turn-based RPGs are too slow for you, then you won’t like this game. It features a combat system that starts off very simple but, when your team becomes well developed, the battles become epic. As you have a large amount of freedom to develop characters how you wish, battles are very rewarding and you will be forced to develop your own strategy for approaching them. Perhaps the most exciting part of battles is the ability to summon aeons (large monsters) to aid you. The levelling-up system takes the form of a sphere grid. It’s a very complicated system but once you gain an understanding, it’s a great deal of fun. At the start of your game you are given the option of using a simple sphere grid or using a complex sphere grid. If you go for the complex option, you will have complete freedom of how your characters develop, which could end in disaster if your new to Final Fantasy X, so I recommend newcomers use the simple sphere grid option. The one downfall to the levelling up system is that only characters who feature in a battle will receive experience points. As only three of the six playable characters can be used in battle at any one time, it is tempting to scrap half of the characters and concentrate on developing one key trio. The downside to doing this is that certain characters can become unavailable at through small parts of the game, leaving you with a weakened line-up. The story line is relatively linear although there is the odd branching path that leads to a side quest. Towards the end of the game, you have the option to travel anywhere within the game map and hidden locations become available. There is lots to do, lots of items to find, lots of aeons to recruit and lots of boss battles. If discovering hidden extras isn’t for you, you can just go right ahead and face the final boss instead. Be warned there is a point of no return, so make sure you keep a saved game from before you instruct your airship towards the final face-off with Sin. One frustrating problem with the design of the game is that save points can be spread out over quite a distance. For myself there were occasions where I lost over half an hour’s progress because my party was defeated before reaching the next save point, losing all experience points gained since my last save. I don’t know about anyone else but after being defeated, I like to awaken in the nearest Pokémon centre after with all my experience points intact. Another problem is that you may discover that your party is not strong enough to face an upcoming boss. The only option is sometimes to run around fighting enemies just to level up. More side quests and branching paths should have been added so that you have the option to go on an alternative adventure until you are strong enough to resume with the main quest. SOUNDTRACK Similar to other Final Fantasy games, the soundtrack is great. The heavy metal rock track, “Otherworld”, which features in the opening cinematic, makes a reappearance in the final boss battle and is incredibly effective. Some of the orchestrated tracks from the game such as the “Zanerkand” theme from the opening credits, are so pleasant to listen to that they have been added to my playlist of songs to fall asleep to. CLOSING COMMENTS Overall Final Fantasy X is an amazing game. It’s not for everyone. It may be far too peaceful and slow for your average ‘Gears of War’ fan but if you have the patience for Japanese RPGs then you will love this game. If the HD remake receives a substantial graphical overhaul, it will be well worth the money. No release date has been made available yet and details are scarce. If you are too impatient to wait then I suggest you search around for your old copy of Final Fantasy X or visit your local used game store. The original version of Final Fantasy X is still one of the greatest games to play today.
The Bad: The graphics are outdated. It takes a while to understand the complicated levelling-up system. Most of the game is fairly linear.