So over the holidays I received a Playstation 4 for Christmas. So of course, what’s the first game I play? A remaster of a game first released in 2001 that I played back on the Playstation 2, of course! And since it fits into that whole fantasy niche, I thought I’d take a look at it here. This review only covers Final Fantasy X, I’ll do a separate write-up for X-2.
Graphics are a mixed bag, but not for the reason you might think. On the one hand, the game really has been given a face lift, and considering the age of the game, it looks quite nice. You’ll never mistake it for current gen, but it’s nice. The cut-scenes were re-rendered and in some parts look absolutely amazing. But the same cut-scenes can also be jarring, especially when you have ten seconds of the new render book-ended by the in-game engine graphics. I found it to be distracting not only for the huge difference in graphic quality, but because why bother having clips that are that short? Did those five seconds really need to be redone?
That said, this is a nitpick. The game looked great in 2001 and looks even better now. Considering its age and that this isn’t a remake, it looks fantastic.
This game is Linear, and that isn’t a mistype. For as much grief as XIII was given about being linear, FFX was even more so – at least XIII eventually opened up. Before the 80% mark of this game, there are exactly two things you can do that are not the main story line. One: you can play blitzball. Blitzball is a mini-game that is necessary to get Wakka his overdrives (think special abilities) and his ultimate weapon. It was so despised by the fanbase that in FFX-2, it is 100% optional. Thankfully, unless you’re going to do endgame tough-than-the-final-boss monster fighting, you can completely and safely ignore the game beyond the one game you are compelled to play. Two: you can dodge lightening. If you successfully dodge 200 times, in a row, without saving you can get a component Lulu’s ultimate weapon. If you value your sanity, you save this for endgame anyway so you can get some No Encounter gear. But that is it. There is absolutely nothing else to do til towards the very end of the game that isn’t in the main story. And even then, the sidequests that are present once the game opens up either serve to a) get your characters their ultimate weapons or b) fight super tough monsters because you can. Again, there is nothing story-driven, though you do get a few small snippets of scenes if you complete certain tasks. If you predominantly play JRPG this isn’t entirely new (and really, none of the games in this series save the MMOs have been all that open) but if you mostly play western RPGs it might bother, so take that into consideration.
Difficulty wise, it’s just right. Remember to level all your party members (at least til end game when you really whittle your party down to Tidus, Auron and Yuna quite easily, especially if you get the latter two’s ultimate weapons and theirs are the easiest), try not to Flee that often during normal game progression and be prepared to grind once a while before tough bosses and you’ll be just fine. Of course, end game content (Monster Arena, Dark Aeons and the Omega Ruins) are an exception and those are a bitch, but those are also 100% optional and by the time you’re ready to take those on, you’ll find that you’ve basically broken the end game and the final few bosses should go down without a fight.
Finally, FFX is know for the Sphere Grid system. In this re-release it comes in “normal” and “expert.” Normal is what shipped with the U.S. version and expert shipped everywhere else. I’d say that if you’ve never played before, you might want to stick with normal. You can screw yourself up by not sending characters down their respective paths if you don’t know what you’re doing as each character was set up to naturally serve a certain role. That said, playing with the expert grid is fun and you can give yourself a few advantages if you do know what you’re doing. It’s your call, just be prepared to grind if you find that you’ve screwed yourself up so you can get back on track.
I’ve always loved the story of FFX and I think it holds up well. It’s a tale of faith, shattered faith, hope and sacrifice. The love story is subtle, but it is touching. I’ll be honest, even though I knew what was coming, and even though some of the scenes that surrounded it were 100% cheesy, I was emotionally invested in it enough to cry when all was said and done. It just worked.
That being said, I really do wish that the game could have been more open. Throughout the course of the story the characters learn things that more or less destroy everything they knew about their religion. And in order to stop it all, they have to commit acts that at the start of the game they’d considered blasphemous and would have refused to even entertain. By this point in the story though, it pretty much gets dealt with a scratch of the head and a character basically saying “Welp, I never thought I’d do this, but let’s do it.” I’d love to have had a chance to explore it further in side-quests because you really could get deep if you’d wanted to. On the other hand, I’m okay with it. Tidus isn’t religious and as he reminds us, this is his story so such explorations would have been odd. Still, I’d love to see a Final Fantasy game go there one day.
Two games. 80+ hours each. $40 (or less!). I don’t have to tell you that it’s a steal, do I?
FFX was one of the most lauded games of the PS2 era and it holds up remarkably well. If you’ve never played it before, it’s well worth picking it up and giving it a chance. If you have, it holds up well and is well worth a replay, especially if you haven’t played it since it’s PS2 debut. Buy It.