2001 represented an thrilling time in video video games, because the trade started a shift to newer and began to maneuver previous the rising pains of determining 3D sport growth within the earlier era. Because the tenth mainline entry within the collection, Remaining Fantasy X had quite a bit using on it, as all waited with anticipation to see how Sq. would reinvent the franchise on PlayStation 2 and make the most of the alternatives it supplied. Fortunately, it caught the touchdown – so effectively, the truth is, that it spawned the collection’ first direct sequel in Remaining Fantasy X-2, which itself was a stellar (and peculiar) launch. Now, each the video games have been given the HD therapy in Remaining Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster, and the up-rezzed graphics and audio serve to focus on that these video games nonetheless stay improbable examples of the best way to correctly execute an RPG.
Although Remaining Fantasy X options what is well probably the most complicated and downright bizarre introduction within the collection, it slowly coalesces right into a extra cohesive and gripping narrative a few group of individuals embarking on a journey to save lots of the world (at the least quickly) from the pall of a titanic, eldritch abomination known as Sin. In a fairly fascinating twist on typical storytelling, one may argue that the story isn’t even actually about Tidus—the plucky blond protagonist who finds himself bizarrely transported 1000 years into the longer term—and is extra centred on his love curiosity, Yuna, whose weighty obligations as Summoner function the explanation the occasion goes on its journey within the first place. Because the occasion continues their typically grim journey and also you study extra about every character, the character of Sin, and the decidedly non secular world of Spira, it’s fairly placing how successfully Sq. implements worldbuilding in Remaining Fantasy X. Clear consideration has been paid not simply to fleshing out the particular cultures and clashing ideologies of Spira, but additionally to making sure that this world stays richly detailed and constant in all of the small, seemingly insignificant methods; we’d argue that that is probably the most fully-realised world Sq. has dreamed up but.
Although the pacing of the story can are likely to turn into grating in some locations—Remaining Fantasy X is all about slamming these 5 to 10 minute unskippable cutscenes into each conceivable place within the plot—it’s thankfully held collectively by the well-written characters and usually unpredictable course; Remaining Fantasy X likes to take a pointy left flip nearly each time you suppose you recognize what’s going to occur subsequent. The underlying themes show to be extraordinarily intriguing as effectively, with matters equivalent to generational legacy and the artificiality of faith typically taking the centre stage because the narrative asks questions that may simply be associated to real-world issues and relationships. Bearing all this in thoughts, Remaining Fantasy X proves itself to own a narrative that’s actually price seeing by to its conclusion, but it surely’s additionally a ‘sluggish burn’ akin to an extended and richly rewarding novel; if you happen to’re not the sort of one who has the time or vitality to commit to immersing your self into the struggles and cultures of a distant fantasy world, Remaining Fantasy X might show to be too sluggish or impenetrable an expertise to be price your time.
Remaining Fantasy X represented a daring new step for the collection to a brand new era of , and although a lot of the core expertise remained the identical, a lot of it, too, was altered or tweaked for selection, equivalent to the brand new Conditional Time-Primarily based (CTB) Battle System. Eschewing the tried and true ATB system of the last few video games, Remaining Fantasy X implements a extra strategic and slower-paced system that favours pondering by every motion and utilizing the one that may greatest exploit the underlying system. CTB works a lot akin to a normal turn-based battle setup, however the order of the subsequent a number of turns is proven to you in a small window within the nook. Relying on the motion you choose, a personality’s or enemy’s flip could also be moved ahead or again on the schedule; if you happen to’re sensible with how you intend issues out, you’ll be able to have a number of characters act earlier than an enemy will get to. For instance, if an enemy’s flip is coming after a personality’s flip, eliminating that enemy earlier than its flip can grant a number of of your occasion members an additional flip or two earlier than the opposite enemy will get to behave.
Issues are then additional combined up by the best way that occasion administration is dealt with; despite the fact that you’ll be able to solely have three characters on the sector at a time, you’ll be able to cycle in any benched occasion member throughout any character’s flip and have that incoming occasion member act on the identical flip. This occasion flexibility acts as a welcome and easy manner of sidestepping a typical drawback in RPG’s through which further occasion members are simply left by the wayside and turn into underleveled (and thus, underused) because the hours roll by. Right here, the benefit of tagging in occasion members at any time makes it arduous to not use the total group, and infrequently the enemy selection will demand that you just do. For instance, chances are you’ll end up confronted with an enemy whose powerful outer shell should be penetrated by a sure weapon sort that no one in your on-field group has entry to, or chances are you’ll be accosted by an enemy which requires magic assaults to take down. There’s sufficient nuance to exploiting enemy weaknesses and defending in opposition to their strengths all through your journey to maintain you always in your toes relating to group composition, and we appreciated this extra dynamic strategy to the customarily stagnant nature of a turn-based battle system.
Very like the brand new battle system, character development has equally been overhauled for Remaining Fantasy X, eschewing the normal idea of ‘levelling up’ totally in favour of a way more fluid development system that clearly options traces of what Sq. experimented with in the last few video games within the collection. Somewhat than your characters gaining ranges and rising their stats in a linear vogue after buying expertise in battle, each character that participates in a struggle is awarded expertise that grants them ‘Sphere Ranges’. These can then be spent on the Sphere Grid, which is a sprawling, board game-like grid that includes a dizzying array of interconnected nodes that symbolize stat positive aspects, talents, and energy ups. Every character begins at a distinct place on the grid, and also you spend Sphere Ranges to maneuver them the equal variety of nodes alongside their path. You will need to then spend different, consumable spheres dropped by enemies to activate these stat and talent nodes as you move over them, however you’ll be able to select to forgo activating them if you happen to’d fairly save for one thing additional down the road.
At first, the Sphere Grid is a linear expertise in which you’ll solely transfer your character down a inflexible, principally straight path, but it surely quickly turns into extra fascinating once you begin nearing the place different characters are on the grid and junction factors turn into extra widespread. At this stage, character paths can start dovetailing collectively, and you’ll train talents or purchase stat builds that might ordinarily be the area of one other character in your group. Maybe you’re feeling like educating your white mage some black magic spells. Maybe you’d prefer to shore up the bodily defence and well being pool of your black mage. Each character can finally traverse all the Sphere Grid, so character development is de facto an prolonged sport of prioritising the way you need your characters to take part within the broader group and particularly guiding them down that path. Some could also be intimidated by the open-endedness of this method, however we discovered that it finds that rewarding steadiness between being too inflexible and too open, calling to thoughts the Jobs system of previous Remaining Fantasy video games.
Although Remaining Fantasy X proves to be a distinctly linear expertise when it comes to its overworld development—there’s not even an overworld map on this one—Sq. made certain to account for this by together with a plethora of mini-games, chief amongst them being Blitzball. Blitzball might be most intently described as a totally underwater variant of water polo, through which two groups of six battle to attain as many targets as doable over the course of two five-minute halves. It’s fairly spectacular how a lot Sq. invested into this, as recruiting new group members and leveling up their varied stats by taking part in matches is sort of a separate sport in and of itself, although the size and repetition of Blitzball matches tends to turn into tiresome with time. Nonetheless, Blitzball proves to be a worthwhile distraction that has some sturdy ties to the primary questline, and we recognize how the builders made it one thing that may each be nearly utterly ignored and one thing that may actively assist your predominant occasion’s effectiveness if you happen to select to pursue it absolutely.
Remaining Fantasy X simply stands as a basic then, and justifies selecting up this remaster by itself, however what of Remaining Fantasy X-2? The primary direct sequel in Remaining Fantasy historical past set an fascinating precedent in the way it’s really the opposite aspect of the coin, providing a top quality, however wildly completely different expertise to that of Remaining Fantasy X. It’s simple to see why Remaining Fantasy X-2 was so polarising upon its launch and why followers even at present nonetheless hotly debate its advantage, however we discover that when one focuses on what it’s—fairly than what it isn’t—that is in some ways an expertise that surpasses its predecessor.
To get one factor out of the best way instantly, the jarring emotional whiplash one will get going from Remaining Fantasy X to Remaining Fantasy X-2 rivals the expertise of listening to the Beatles’ White Album and going from ‘Blackbird’ to ‘Piggies’; it isn’t simply merely transferring the needle, it utterly shatters the gauge. Remaining Fantasy X-2 picks up two years after the top of Remaining Fantasy X—through which the heroes (spoiler!) overcome Sin, however at nice price—and follows the adventures of Yuna within the new golden age that Sin’s destruction has introduced. Nevertheless, as a substitute of being a fairly grounded, sombre, and emotional story of friendship and sacrifice, Remaining Fantasy X-2 is an irreverent, ridiculous, and flamboyant expertise that’s typically performed for laughs and fanservice.
Yuna now travels the world along with her buddies Rikku and Paine as a part of a lady gang known as the Gullwings, flying throughout Spira of their motorcycle-like airship on a continuing seek for treasure spheres. There may be underlying which means to this, in fact—Yuna is finally pursuing this quest searching for a mysterious determine that may or won’t be Tidus—however a lot of the narrative is following the misadventures of this ragtag band as they hunt for spheres, steadily encounter bigger than life characters on their travels, and get caught up within the political battles between factions that vie for management of Spira. Viewing it as a comply with as much as Remaining Fantasy X, it’s a bit tough to not be off-put by the excessive weirdness and high-energy ‘woman energy’ stylistic modifications to Remaining Fantasy X-2; Yuna herself is barely the identical character from earlier than, and all the brand new characters solely additional serve to take issues into wacky and unusual territory. Nevertheless, when seen by itself deserves, Remaining Fantasy X-2’s story proves to be a raucously pleasing expertise, cashing out the heavy themes and plodding tempo of Remaining Fantasy X in trade for a fun-filled sugar rush of a narrative that hardly ever fails to intrigue, even when it comes off as being a bit shallow. True, Remaining Fantasy X-2 is a direct sequel, however this isn’t a lot an extension of its predecessor as it’s a standalone expertise that’s nonetheless knowledgeable by what got here earlier than.
One of many greatest shifts made right here is the change from linear storytelling to a extra non-linear, mission-based construction. Inside minutes of booting up Remaining Fantasy X-2 for the primary time, you’re proven a map display that functionally lets you go to each locale the sport has to supply, with every providing up its personal secrets and techniques, questlines, and treasures. Areas that can additional the primary storyline are conveniently identified to the participant, however you’ll be able to choose and select the place you’d prefer to go at your leisure, and also you’re clever to diverge from the primary path recurrently searching for higher gear and a few glorious side-content. Echoing the golden age that now defines a post-Sin Spira, Remaining Fantasy X-2 is all about freedom and this mission-based construction helps to contribute to that theme.
Persevering with the pattern of taking Remaining Fantasy X and simply making it quicker and extra enjoyable, Remaining Fantasy X-2 replaces the CTB system in favour of a revamped model of a (debatably) new system that actually places the capital ‘A’ in Energetic Time Battle. Every character and enemy now has a gauge that fills up, permitting them to maneuver for his or her ‘flip’ as soon as full, however Remaining Fantasy X-2 takes this method a step additional than previous video games by permitting completely different characters’ actions to be executed concurrently, leading to far more chaotic fight encounters which might be a lot nearer to live-action battles than they’re turn-based. For instance, if you happen to use a shortly activated assault as an enemy is within the wind-up animation for an assault of their very own, you’ll be able to stunlock the enemy and delay their assault by a number of treasured seconds, maybe shopping for sufficient time for an additional occasion member or two to tug off their assault. That door swings each methods nonetheless, and given that each motion has a casting time between you choosing it and the character really doing it, it’s simple to be caught along with your pants down and have a number of actions of your individual delayed. This heavier give attention to timing is then additional exacerbated by the brand new combo system, through which any assaults that land inside a second or two of one another will feed right into a combo multiplier; every new assault within the multiplier will do notably extra injury, so it’s vital to remember how sure assaults and methods might be synergised to get probably the most out of each motion.
As if this method wasn’t wild sufficient, Remaining Fantasy X-2 additionally options the return of the basic Jobs system of character classing, however right here it’s utilized in a way more versatile method. Jobs—known as Dresspheres right here—might be swapped on the fly with a number of picks within the battle menu, functionally permitting every member of your group to be a full occasion in themselves. Naturally, every character has their very own strengths and weak spot, and it’s good to focus them on a associated handful of lessons that they’ll actually excel at, however having every character be so ‘fluid’ on this method injects much more vitality into every battle. It’s primarily unimaginable for there to be any holes in your group lineup, and being able to do issues like shifting your black mage to white mage to drop some heals earlier than going again on offence, all on the drop of a hat, is revolutionary in sure methods. Every character’s mastery of a given Dressphere ranges independently as you utilize it extra with them, having access to new talents and spells over time, and we thought it was a pleasant contact the way you’re in a position to choose precisely which new abilities or talents every character can study subsequent for his or her class by simply choosing it from the pause menu, providing you with full management over how the character can develop into that function.
In fact, Sq. didn’t wish to make this class-shifting system too damaged, so you’ll be able to solely have as many lessons as your Garment Grid permits. Garment Grids are picked up all through the sport as quest rewards and treasures, and every one presents you with a in a different way interconnected matrix of nodes in which you’ll place a number of of your Dresspheres. Seeing as how one can solely transfer one node at a time per gown change, it’s vital to give attention to the way you group the skills, and a lot of the grids provide up sure minor stat bonuses for crossing between particular nodes in a battle. This Garment Grid system is a welcome facet of the character development not simply because it places some limits on how versatile every character might be in battle, but additionally as a result of it lets you additional differentiate and specialise your occasion members by outfitting them every with a grid that matches the function you need them to take.
Provided that that is the HD Remaster of the Remaining Fantasy X video games, Sq. opted to throw in all the additional content material from the ‘Worldwide’ model of the sport, as if the 120+ hours on provide between the vanilla variations wasn’t staggering sufficient. In Remaining Fantasy X, this further content material takes the form of an expanded Sphere Grid, together with a slew of endgame super-bosses that assuredly deliver the ache to anybody that doesn’t primarily max out their group’s stats. In Remaining Fantasy X-2, this further content material takes the form of the ‘Creature Creator’ system, which lets you catch and practice over 150 enemy sorts and use them in battle as occasion members, a number of further dresspheres and Garment Grids, and a pair super-bosses. Additionally, separate from, however narratively linked to Remaining Fantasy X-2 is the ‘Final Mission’ mode, which primarily acts as a Thriller Dungeon clone that sees you taking management of one of many three predominant ladies at a time and battling by flooring after flooring of a mysterious tower. Maybe unsurprisingly, Chocobo’s Thriller Dungeon: Each Buddy! proves to be the stronger interpretation—Final Mission actually looks like an afterthought—but it surely’s nonetheless extra worth added to this already full-to-bursting bundle. Although the pace and battle boosters from the PC model of this remaster notably haven’t been included right here—no on the spot max stat characters or 8x pace for you—we discovered that their absence wasn’t too obvious; not like the PS1 releases, each these video games have held up effectively sufficient that you just don’t a lot really feel the necessity to actively ‘cheat’ to avoid the extra antiquated or irritating elements.
From a presentation perspective, each Remaining Fantasy X and X-2 show to carry up moderately effectively from their humble PlayStation 2 origins, aided in no small manner by the redone character fashions and high-res textures that Sq. added. Whether or not taking part in on the go or on the TV, each of those video games look nice in movement with the endlessly inventive and vibrant artwork course that actually solidifies the ‘tech and magic’ type that the Remaining Fantasy collection is now recognized for, whereas additionally fusing the world design with an fascinating South East Asian look that isn’t typically explored in video games. We discovered ourselves snapping loads of footage throughout each adventures, whether or not of rickety village boardwalks by the ocean at sundown or blue-tinged forests pulsing with crystals and magical vitality. Each of those video games are a high-fantasy visible deal with, and we actually appreciated how the builders pulled out all of the stops and let their imaginations run wild in dreaming up these locales. Now, with all that being mentioned, it’s apparent in lots of locations that these video games originated on the PS2, as often derpy faces and jagged geometry give away the practically twenty years its been since these video games first launched. We discovered the brand new texture work and character fashions masks the age effectively, however there’s additionally no mistaking these video games for a current-gen releases.
We’d be remiss to not point out the unimaginable remastered music that includes right here, too, with the 2 video games collectively providing up a various auditory journey that’s in some methods as jarring because the stylistic shift from X to X-2. Whereas Remaining Fantasy X—primarily organized by longtime collection composer Nobu Uematsu—options all of the dramatic piano tracks, horn-focused battle themes, and sweeping, cinematic anthems for the broad pictures, Remaining Fantasy X-2—organized this time by Noriko Matsueda—takes issues in a jazzier, Bayonetta-esque course that mixes in parts of J-pop in addition. The tonal shift is actually bizarre if you happen to occur to leap between the 2 video games steadily (not really useful, play them so as because the Lord supposed), but it surely’s arduous to argue that every soundtrack isn’t well-suited to the general themes and course of their respective video games. Both manner, it’s tough to be upset by what’s on provide right here, and we’d say that at the least Remaining Fantasy X’s soundtrack deserves to be within the working for greatest within the collection.