Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Game Review: FFX HD Remaster (PS Vita)

Final Fantasy X is the story of Tidus, a young man lost in space and time, and Yuna, a young woman who has chosen to battle an undying monster. Yuna, a Summoner who can command mythical creatures (Aeons) in battle, is on a pilgrimage with her Guardians to obtain the Final Aeon to defeat the dreaded Sin. Tidus joins them in the hopes of making his way back home, to Zanarkand, the city that never sleeps.

FFX was so popular that it got reworked as a Playstation Vita game. The remaster boasts better graphics than the original, and the same wonderful soundtrack and absorbing gameplay. Unfortunately, the development team kept the crappy voice acting and the inability to skip cut scenes.

Below are the pros and cons of this game:

(+) Soundtrack--FFX has tons of excellent themes, from the haunting "To Zanarkand" to the earworm-y encounter theme. "Suteki da ne" is a beautiful love song, similar to FFVIII's "Eyes on Me." The only thing missing is an overworld theme, but that's because this game is linear (!) and doesn't let players wander to non plot-advancing locations.

(+) Gameplay--Two elements made the combat system stand out: the sphere grid and the ability to swap out characters in battle. The sphere grid lets players choose which attributes to raise for each character--more HP or MP, higher defense, new spells, etc. While the progression is straightforward, towards the end players can experiment with boosting stats or learning spells to make very specialized or extremely well-rounded characters.

(+) Graphics--Pretty good for the Vita, and much better than the original PS2 version. In particular, the main villain has plenty of opportunities to loom intimidatingly, always a bonus.

"Yo. I'm Sin."
(-) Voice acting--Alas, the two leads, the ones with the most lines, are awful to listen to. Tidus, the male protagonist, is a whiny brat. Yuna, his love interest, pauses at odd moments mid-speech, probably to sync with the animation/lip movements. Problem is, she sounds hella awkward. Everyone else is okay, especially Seymour, who hits the right mix of oily, untrustworthy, and insane.

(-) Plot--Hoo boy. It's...complicated, but the main mystery is how Tidus ended up on Spira, apparently 1,000 years into the future, where Zanarkand is a legend, Sin has to be defeated by a Summoner every 10 years, and humanity has been taught that technology is evil. The reveal at the end is convoluted and unsatisfying.

(-) Blitzball--This submerged water polo sport defines Tidus, who's a star player, but it's unappealing and not terribly fun to play in-game. And, despite the tech = evil message pounded into players' heads, there's wall-to-wall TV coverage of the damned competitions, which takes place in a giant water bubble dome. Presumably this all operates on technology. WTF.

That's not magic!
(-) Sidequests: These come late in the game, and without the joy of inadvertent discovery. Unless you know exactly what you're doing (e.g. via guides), you won't know how to get the bonus weapons and secret dungeons. Grrrr.

Overall, the good eclipses the bad, making FFX a strong entry in the Final Fantasy series. I may even play FFX2, where Yuna gets a skimpier outfit, because of course she does.

TL; DR: It's quick, easy, and a bit different from other games in the series--play the FFX HD Remaster if you missed the PS2 version.

This post brought to you by chronic lack of sleep.