There are two schools of thought among Final Fantasy fans (and few games franchises generate such rabid devotion) about Final Fantasy X: either it marks the moment when the archetypal JRPG started to lose the plot, or it represents the last of the Final Fantasy games that can be described as a classic. Depending on your outlook, this upscaled-graphics remake for PS3 and PS Vita, which adds the sequel X-2 in a keenly priced package, will prompt either moist-eyed nostalgia or head-shaking at the passing of a golden age of games.
Whatever your thoughts, Final Fantasy X still has a vast amount going for it, and Square Enix has done an impressive job on its graphics, so it has never looked better. As a game, you can pick a few holes in it – it takes an age to get going, the voice-acting is cheesy at best, the plot makes little sense, it occasionally forces you to play the notoriously awful Blitz Ball mini-game and even when the action shifts to cities, it is relentlessly single-path. But it looks magnificent – it’s one of the finest adverts for Square’s trademark lush art-direction – and it might just have the finest battle system of any of the Final Fantasy games.
It’s still turn-based, of course, but you can swap characters on the fly to ensure you’ve always got the requisite skills to defeat the enemies in front of you, and the Sphere Grid upgrade system may be arcane at first but proves to be exemplary. Tidus and Yuna, the main characters are much-loved by Final Fantasy freaks (although the former can be a bit annoying) and, given that you get two incredibly long games for a lower-than-usual price, the HD Remaster is extraordinarily good value for money.
It’s so absorbing to play – woe betide anyone who might disturb you during one of the long and intense boss-battles – that you’re more than usually inclined to forgive its little inadequacies. Accusations if occasional cheesiness, for example, can be levelled at pretty much anything that aspires to create an epic fantasy world. And Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster makes particularly good sense on the PS Vita – it’s surely the longest game ever for Sony’s great, perennially under-rated handheld.
And this package, at the very least, gives Final Fantasy-heads something to argue about until they are blue in the face – there’s actually a decent case for marking out FFX-2 as the moment the franchise went into a death-spiral, although even its excruciatingly jokey tone won’t diminish your inability to stop playing it. On the PS3, you can point those craving an old-school Japanese RPG fix at Ni No Kuni, but it’s a no-brainer of a purchase for the PS Vita.
Reviewed by Steve Boxer