Final Fantasy X HD Remastered Review

Guardians of  Yuna ready to rock!

Guardians of Yuna ready to rock!

The classic PS2 role playing game has received an HD upgrade by Square Enix. Final Fantasy X has been beloved for over a decade for its excellent turn based gameplay, elegant story, amazing graphics for the time, and one of the best soundtracks in a video game. Do Final Fantasy X hold up after 12 years or should the Fayth have kept dreaming?

Final Fantasy X tells the story of Tidus, an ace athlete with daddy issues who witnesses the destruction of his home town of Zanarkand. He is sent away during the disaster by his father’s friend Auron and a massive beast named Sin. When Tidus awakens he is in the world of Spira 1000 years later. Sin has become a constant threat and the only hope to stop Sin are the teachings and religion of Yevon. Yevon is the religion that governs Spira and requires certain citizens to become summoners to make pilgrimage to defeat Sin…even if Sin’s defeat is only temporary. The story revolves around Tidus as he becomes a guardian to the summoner Yuna and aids her quest to vanquish Sin. The story is excellent as Spira struggles to fight the looming threat of Sin while politics and religion clash over the big question: Should we honor religious tradition or seek a new way to stop Sin? The story itself is great even if the moment to moment voice acting and writing isn’t up to scratch…I’m looking at you Tidus’ laugh scene.

I will liberate you from the disease that is life.

I will liberate you from the disease that is life.

The world of Spira is a sight to behold taking influence from Southern Asia. Even though Final Fantasy X is more linear than most Final Fantasy games there are still many things to do. From secret side quests to the addicting and fully fleshed out Blitzball games, Final Fantasy X isn’t short on keeping the player busy. With tons of collectibles to find, now beasts to capture, and Celestial Weapons to hunt Final Fantasy X is the king of Final Fantasy side quests. The only downsides are the requirements and design flaws of the Celestial Weapons. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to dodge lightning 200 times in the Thunder Plains for Lulu’s Sigil or having to go through the living hell that is the Chocobo Catcher mini-game for Tidus’ Sigil.

Hell is Real...

Hell is Real…

The Chocobo Catcher mini-game is easily the worst gaming experience I’ve had in my entire life. This mini-game requires Tidus to pilot a Chocobo through a race against another Chocobo. Hitting balloons negates 3 seconds off your time, while hitting flying birds adds 3 seconds to your time. To obtain the key item for his weapon the player must beat the race with a time under 0:00 seconds. The problem is the horrible controls of this mini-game make it nearly impossible to achieve this time. The randomness and horrible AI of the birds take the experience from painful to nearly unbearable. This mini-game is completely optional, but if you’re a completionist then prepare for the worst mini-game in history.

In contrast, the Blitzball mini-game is quite possibly the greatest mini-game in video game history (It’s up there with Mario Party Bumper Balls). Blitzball is a simulation of soccer, except it is played underwater, and is a number crunching RPG. What makes it so fascinating is how the developers were able to implement a full league with players to scout and free agents to sign to make your team stronger. It’s so amazing that Square Enix should have made Blitzball its own spin-off game.

Summons are still awesome!

Summons are still awesome!

The core gameplay of Final Fantasy X removes the Active Time Battle System in favor of a more traditional turn-based battle system. This system focuses on the different classes of characters who are strong against different classes of enemies. Tidus is strong against agile fiends, Wakka can snipe out of reach flying enemies, and Auron can pierce the strongest armored foes. This paved the way for more modern RPG systems like Shin Megami’s “Press-Turn” system. Each character also has special moves called Overdrives, which increase in power if the player inputs certain commands. Tidus’ Overdrives require you to stop a meter similar to Mario Golf, Auron requires you to quickly input a Konami-esque Code (UP UP DOWN DOWN Etc…), and Lulu requires you to rapidly rotate the control stick. Yuna’s Summons are easily the highlight of gameplay as these massive beasts appear and decimate the enemy. Considering how I am not a huge fan of the Active Time Battle system I must say that FFX has the best battle system of any Final Fantasy game. I’ve never had so much fun just grinding for levels.

Final Fantasy X uses a unique level up system called the sphere grid. Each character collects spheres for different attributes such as strength, magic, agility, and defense, while ability spheres allow for characters to gain new abilities. The freedom of selecting which attribute or ability to get is refreshing and allows for some incredibly unique character growth. This is especially true if you choose the expert sphere grid at the beginning, which doesn’t immediately lock certain characters into classes such as warrior or thief. Want to build a warrior who can heal while stealing items from enemies? Well you totally can.

SD versus HD

SD versus HD

The presentation is nearly perfect with each vista being so breathtaking that it’s hard to believe the PS2 could handle this game. From the amazing HD graphics to the amazing landscapes, Final Fantasy X is one of the most beautiful worlds ever created. Spira is a world that goes beyond immersion and feels real. This fact is made even more solid by the game’s outstanding soundtrack. I enjoy Final Fantasy X’s soundtrack so much that I’m positive it puts the legendary soundtrack from Final Fantasy VI to shame. The downside…is the voice acting. Being Square Enix’s first FF game with voice acting it is clear that things were a bit rough. Many characters talk like they’re William Shatner having a stroke and some performances go way over the top for no reason. It is so jarring with the rest of the game that the voice acting can’t even be seen as humorous.

Final Fantasy X is an amazing experience and the core game holds up great after 12+ years. Unfortunately, the rough edges that were present in the original game haven’t been improved on at all for this HD remake and are just as terrible as they were the first time around. Luckily, most of the flaws are minor or optional making Final Fantasy X HD a must buy for any fans of Japanese Role Playing Games.

Story: 9.3/10
Design: 8.4/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Presentation: 8.8/10

Final Score: 8.9/10

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The Best and Worst Games of the Generation

With the Ps4, Xbox 720, and whatever the hell Nintendo is doing, right around the corner we began thinking. What is the best and worst game of the generation? Now for each category a franchise may also be mentioned as a whole if the franchise was consistently perfect this generation. For our worst game of the generation we understand that “worst” is a pretty broad term. So think of it more as “Most Disappointing.” These are the games that let us down so hard that we still haven’t recovered and like above…full franchises may apply. Without further ado here’s our best and worst finalists.

BioShock-Infinite-Columbia

Best Games

Bioshock: Although it’s too soon to include the fantastic Bioshock Infinite (ah honeymoon period) we are putting the original Bioshock on the list. The game made such huge leaps in video game storytelling, while also being a freaking blast to play. Most importantly, it showed how games can be intelligent and thought provoking. It’s been 6 years since it’s realize and we would kindly put it on our list of best games of the generation.

Super Mario Galaxy: The physics behind Mario’s latest 3D adventure were incredibly groundbreaking. Gravity and platforming were evolved to something never seen before in video games. Beating Bowser was never so much fun before and some of the greatest level designs of the generation came from this game. Now only if Nintendo stops with the “New” super mario Bullshit.

Mass Effect 2: Mass Effect as a franchise was the benchmark for storytelling this generation. Although it wasn’t consistent as a franchise we must include the series’ high point Mass Effect 2. This game was so polished and so well designed that every moment was epic. This game is easily one of the best ever made. At least…according to the choices I made 😉

Portal Franchise: No game made us laugh more than Portal this generation. The passive aggressive GLADOS is the most memorable villain of the generation and the puzzle are still stumping us all these years later. We never thought Portal could be topped, but along came Portal 2. The sequel was bigger, funnier, and much more polished than the first game (Which is still a masterpiece). Wheatley, Cave Johnson, and GLADOS will go down as some of the best written characters in the history of games…if you disagree I’ll burn your house down….with lemons!

Elder Scrolls V- Skyrim: One of the most ambitious games ever made. Skyrim blew everyone away in 2011 with a massive FUS RO DAH!!! The world was incredibly beautiful with a fantastic story that could even make George RR Martin weep. Skyrim is easily an RPG fan’s wet dream and succeeded on so many levels…even the glitches became an art form of hilarity.

Persona 4: Atlus struck Gold this generation with Persona 4. The hit JRPG ended up being the most polished JRPG of the generation. With a fantastic story, deep addictive gameplay, and memorable characters. Persona 4 exceeded on so many levels. PLUS it was a constant reminder how every day was great at your Junes.

resident-evil-6-dc

Worst Games

Resident Evil 6: In 2012 Capcom abandoned all horror roots for their popular franchise in favor for everything that’s wrong with the game industry. Excessive quicktime events, explosions explosions explosions, and a movement towards the brainless mainstream audience that only played Call of Duty. Not even zombies would eat this bullshit up.

Final Fantasy Franchise: Oh how the mighty have fallen. SquareEnix was a mess this generation and their flagship franchise Final Fantasy suffered the most. Abandoning the open worlds of previous games in favor of linear dumbed down games with awful stories, characters, and gameplay that played itself. Final Fantasy 13 struck a broken chord with fans who dismissed it as one of the worst Final Fantasy’s ever. So SquareEnix heard their cries (Sarcasm) and released not one but two sequels to Final Fantasy 13. No one asked for that, No one wanted that. The only thing worst was Final Fantasy 14, an MMO that actually set the genre back 10 years. It was as if Square made all their games within a vacuum with no exposure to the outside world. FF14 was so bad that they fired the whole staff and rebuilt the game from scratch. Final Fantasy 14 is expecting a re-release later this year…ugh SquareEnix *Facepalm* …and don’t even get me started on Final Fantasy All the Bravest.

Aliens Colonial Marines: After 6 years in development Gearbox released ACM in 2013 to a critical slaughter. The game was unfinished after 6 years and what’s worst was that the game was a giant lie. The demos and trailers showed a completely different game that had everyone hyped like crazy, but when the release day came…a massive bait n’ switch. ACM had the graphics of original Xbox mixed with awful AI, story, level design, etc the list goes on and on. The lie that was Aliens Colonial Marines will go down as one of the biggest disasters in modern gaming.

The WarZ: WarZ will not only go down as a bad game, but will also go down as a giant scam. The game released with massive accusations of false advertising and poor customer service. The game’s micro transactions were insulting to anyone that played it and the game was filled to the brim with hackers. The WarZ will be remember as one of the cruelest games ever released. Gamers aren’t stupid, so don’t pretend we are.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2006: This game was made as a reboot for the franchise that was starting to slowly fall apart…oh boy what we got was a disaster of a game. Unbelievably glitchy with an awful camera and a story that bordered on gross (hedgehog and human love…ew.) The game was a disaster and further added to the poor Hedgehog’s fall from 90’s grace.

 

AND THE BEST GAME IS…

 

 

 

 

 

BioShock_box

BIOSHOCK

Our adventure into rapture defined the generation and pretty much started the movement towards better storytelling in video games. What Bioshock did better than the rest though was that it achieved this level of thoughtful storytelling in a way that only video games could achieve. Bioshock the movie or tv show would never achieve the atmosphere and horror that is Rapture. Mixing first person shooters with action games and RPG’s also made Bioshock stand out among the many Call of Duty clones this generation. Bioshock was a hell of a lot of fun to play and “Would You Kindly?” is still echoing in our brains 6 years later.

 

AND THE WORST GAME IS…

 

 

 

 

 

final-fantasy-13

FINAL FANTASY (The whole franchise.)

The trainwreck that Square Enix has caused is incredibly disappointing. Final Fantasy used to bring gamers to their feet with applause, but now…it’s a hallow shell of what it used to be. Final Fantasy 13 killed the fanbase with its linear design, annoying characters, and gameplay that played itself. Final Fantasy 14 was a joke of an MMO with the game being pulled from shelves less than a month after release. The game was so unfinished that the staff was fired and the game is being rebuilt from scratch (But no one will buy it now…). This quality has bled over into Square Enix’s other major platform….mobile games. The early Final Fantasy were ported to IOS, which many fans were initially excited for….until they saw the price. Final Fantasy’s were around $16 to purchase in a market where the average game was 99cents. It was a disaster for Square Enix and only got worst with the release of Final Fantasy “All the Bravest.” This game was made solely to cash on nostalgia for the franchise with non-existent gameplay. The game was pretty much “Microtransaction: The Game” and was the nail in the coffin for Square this generation. Hopefully, Square Enix gets their act together for the new console generation, but after their extremely poor showing at the PS4 event our hopes aren’t very high.