Posted by Zac Elawar on Jan 16, 2014

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Hands-on

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Now this is a remaster I can get behind. Final Fantasy X was beloved by fans back in 2001 when it came out for the PlayStation 2. Final Fantasy X-2, well, not so much… at least from many fans’ perspectives. Let’s just say it wasn’t as universally loved. Either way, the two are being released together as a compilation for the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, entitled Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. Our Square Enix Showcase coverage continues with a hands-on preview of the remaster… sort of. You see, the build only included a portion from Final Fantasy X HD, and it was quite short to boot.

Now, you guys are reading this because you are fans (most likely), so gameplay-wise, I’m sure you’re familiar with the game. Even if you weren’t, this is sadly not the place to find a detailed look at gameplay since our time was, as mentioned, brief and, well… Square Enix have always been fond of long cutscenes. You remember exactly what I’m talking about. Instead, what’s deserving of the spotlight in this piece are the graphical enhancements and the additions and differences that constitute a HD remaster. The section playable was the opening sequence set in the high-tech, futuristic metropolis of Zanarkland, leading off from that familiar intro of Tidus and his party sitting by a campfire outside a ruined city, retelling his story. There’s also a fleeting segment from the Baaj ruins that immediately follows.

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Right off the bat, it is evident to anyone who has played or seen footage from the original, that this HD remaster is crisper, with incredibly enriched color depth and sharper lighting. Once we enter Zanarkland and see Tidus – being the talented and popular ‘blitzball’ player that he is – greeting his fans, what becomes even more noticeable are the improved textures, not just in the environments, but the characters as well. The game is also displayed in a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. With all that being said, character models and objects, as enhanced as they may be, still look rather blocky so do not expect that to change. The developers would need to practically redo every model from the ground up and rewrite a significant amount of code, in which case it becomes a flat-out remake, not a remaster. X-2 understandably fares much better in this respect.

The visuals aren’t the only element being reworked, with upgraded audio quality and, apparently, 60 remastered tracks in the full release. As I played through the run where Tidus and Auron are ambushed by Sinscales, I noticed small revisions to the camera angles, or at least my brain was tricked into thinking as much. With the new aspect ratio, that’s what could be making that impression. I also wouldn’t have recognised this at all if I hadn’t taken a trip back down memory lane before attending the preview event. Almost a dozen years is a long time. Wow, it just hit me… nigh on 12 full years and we’ve only gone from Final Fantasy X to Final Fantasy XIV. All spin-offs considered, if you needed an example of just how much lengthier development cycles become with every successive generation, look no further.

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After getting sucked up into the Sin and experiencing a vision of his father, we as Tidus awaken, attempting to take refuge in a small watery temple ruin before being attacked by a school of Sahagin. Inciting nostalgia yet? Dispatching of them leads to the emergence of the Geosgaeno. Fighting him off to a scripted near-death scenario, Tidus makes his razor-close escape and the demo concludes. To close, I feel it is important to mention exactly what you would be getting in this package: Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X: Eternal Calm, Final Fantasy X-2 and Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission, plus a special 30-minute audio drama called Final Fantasy X -Will-, set one year after the events of Final Fantasy X-2. Of note, the versions included are the “International” ones, which include extra options, abilities, optional boss battles and more which the majority of PAL and North Americans players never received.

Seeing as you’re just the right audience, why not check out our hands-on preview of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII while you’re here. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is scheduled for release on March 20 here in Australia.

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