What would you give to go back to Zanarkand just one more time? Journey through Spira, watch events unfold and take a 13 year old trip back into time or a refresher perhaps. Many of my peers considered FFX to be one of their favorite JRPG’s that had an immersive story that was perfectly paced, characters that were developed well, an absolutely breathtaking soundtrack and 100’s of hours poured into the game. Square Enix felt that it was time once again to port the HD remaster of your favorite titles over to the next generation system on PS4. How does the game hold up after 15 years? Has FFX/X2 aged well?
Graphically, the game looks much better when you compare it to the original standard definition on the PlayStation 2. Textures are sharp and definitive, edges are smoother and you could instantly recognize the upgrade without taking away the integrity of the game which you once played. While, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the upgrade puts a par performance with today’s current generation games, it certainly does it’s best to balance expectations. Animations are smooth and run at 30FPS @ 1080p full HD. Fans hoping for a complete overhaul, well, SE meets you half way there on this one.
The locales of this glorious adventure still hold up very well. Each town, area visited is colorfully designed bringing out identity and character. One of the game’s particular strength is in its story telling. Exploring issues like friendship, relationships, technology, religious beliefs, love, adventure is all hot wired into this 100 hour journey. In my good old days, I remembered playing the game twice starting the game all over from right after the credits rolled just to experience things from a different angle. The plot slowly edges you in on the amount of information the user or player has to take in. However, the 2nd play through would help the player take in so much more of the intended information at a particular time.
The PlayStation 4 version of the game also comes with the Remastered OST to the game. In fact, at the beginning of the game, you could select if you wanted the original soundtrack or the Remastered version of the soundtrack. Needless to say, I picked the upgraded soundtracks as part of this review. Sound in this game gave soul and life to its environments in Spira. As you probably know, Square brought back original composers to build on the original music and soundtrack to enhance the playing experience. While most of the tracks were conservatively upgraded, the “Battle Theme” had been noticeably changed. A powerful use of various instruments gave the soundtrack a much lifted spirit and certainly brought new depths to the atmosphere.
Gameplay has retained very much of the JRPG turn based styled type of gaming. Switching team members in and out to strategize fights are still key to winning them. Characters would still progress as they should using the sphere grid, levelling characters and customizing skills. Playing it once again was a welcome refresher as it brought out what everybody loved about turn-based strategy games of managing your party resources, skills, and exploitation of enemy weaknesses. For those who are playing FFx for the first time, this might be a good time to experience a system which had already reached a pinnacle point of turned based battle systems before modern games swapped it out for action based type of gameplay. Old tacticians would love a good turn based strategy game, scratching your head on your next move, execution with style and perfection.
I guess the question on everyone’s mind is, should I shelve out and pay full price for a Remastered title. There isn’t a clear cut answer for this one. You should play this only if you have yet to experience FFX and all its glory or if you are revisiting it since 13 years ago. The answer is a resounding yes for the revisit would be worth every bit of your time. The game’s solid and powerful storytelling, character development, immersive and improved OST is very much worth experiencing again.
However, if you already own it on the PS3 or Vita, not much has really changed since so you might want to pass on the PS4 version of the game. Should you decide to buy this one, the steel book edition comes with an artistic print of Yuna from FFx and FFx2 worth checking out for the fan service and a downloadable Zanarkand theme for your PS4.
Ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
by Kenneth Choong
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