There are few games in the last 20 years that hold such a tender place in the hearts of gamers as Final Fantasy X and X-2. After seeing a release on PlayStation 3, 4, and Vita, now PC players can enjoy the HD Remaster of this incredible and amazing adventure. If it were a straight port of those efforts, it wouldn’t have caught my attention; but there is a lot more on offer here for patient PC players.
The first major upgrade here comes from selection of the “better” source to power — Final Fantasy X and Final Final Fantasy X-2 International editions, including Eternal Calm for Final Fantasy X and Last Mission for Final Fantasy X-2. This also means players can select Japanese dub and text, as well as English dub and text, though you cannot mix and match. Intrepid PC players have already fixed this with mods, granting Japanese voice with English text, if that’s your jam.
Just like the release on PlayStation 3, 4, and Vita, both Final Fantasy X and X-2 are a mixed bag in the texture territory. The main characters received the largest overhaul (and Tidus gets some serious guy-liner), but the NPCs are still block-headed and lower quality. It’s not that it looks terrible, it’s more that it’s a jarring juxtaposition between the two.
HD textures upgrades aside, the PC version has a great set of technical upgrades to take advantage of your PC hardware, though admittedly not as complete a set as you might like. 16X Ansitrophic options, VSync, MSAA 8X Anti-Aliasing (with SMAA post-processing), HDAO Ambient Occlusion, and resolutions up to 4K await your selection. Similarly, you can set shadow quality up to as high as 4096×4096, and apply Unsharp Mask, (something you typically see in Photoshop instead of games) all in attempts to make this game from 2004 look as good as possible.
There is one thing missing from the wide array of options — the game’s engine is locked at 30fps. I’m not certain if it is a limitation of the engine, or a conscious choice by the development team, but I’m fairly certain the modding community will resolve it quickly. I don’t feel like this is a needed mod as the motion is smooth, and there’s likely more than a few things bound to the framerate, so unlocking this option may have unintended consequences. There are also a few framerate wobbles, even at 30fps and with a system that can run The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Ultra, so just expect that going in.
Controlling Final Fantasy X or X-2 is easy enough with a keyboard, but know that the game doesn’t have any mouse support of any sort. Thankfully, with no configuration necessary, you can use an Xbox 360, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4 controller. The key bindings are intuitive, but entirely remappable, so customize as you see fit.
Given that this is the International version of Final Fantasy X, you’ll be given two options that were unavailable at launch — the Expert Grid, and a new “Arranged” score. The Expert Grid unlocks all options, allowing you to fully control the type of character powers you’ll unleash on your foes. It also takes off the training wheels, so be careful with your choices as you can make ineffective characters just as easily as incredibly powerful ones.
The original soundtrack to Final Fantasy X is an absolute masterpiece from three of the best composers in the business: Uematsu-san, Hamauzu-san, and Nakano-san. It holds a special place in the hearts of many gamers, so obviously many will eschew the “Arranged” soundtrack entirely. I would encourage you to try it out, though I must warn you — I was unable to find a way to switch it back once I had committed, so the selection seems to be permanent. While I personally prefer the dulcet tones of the original, the “arranged” soundtrack is equally amazing. Few companies master music the way Square Enix has.
For many players, including myself, you’ve probably played Final Fantasy X (if not its sequel) several times. To help you jump to your favorite moments, Square Enix has included a few added goodies to ease some of the grind. There are options to toggle 2x or 4x run speeds to let you zip through long hallways, a toggle for enemy encounter frequency, an autobattle system, and a Supercharge option that gives all players full overdrive every round. If you want to push these little tweaks a little more, you can also max your gil, unlock all skills, and add 99 of every basic item to your inventory. If it sounds like cheating, it is, but it’s also a very clear path to enjoying the story without worrying too much about combat.
There is one thing that I wish Square Enix had fixed with this most recent release, but still remains an issue at launch — unskippable cutscenes. You can still click through most conversations, but you’ll have to sit through some movies and interactions whether you like it or not. If there is a modder out there that could fix this, I’m certain many people would greatly appreciate it.
Final Fantasy X/X2 HD Remaster
There’s no point in trying to sum up Final Fantasy X or X-2’s storyline beyond saying that it is every bit as incredible as you remember, cringeworthy laughing sequences and all. The PC version brings accessibility and graphical upgrades, as well as the promises of unofficial mod-based improvements. If this is your first time with Final Fantasy X, I envy you -- it’s a powerful journey that you won’t soon forget.