Even though the game is just being released outside of Japan today, I got my hands on a Japanese copy for my Vita a few months ago. Since I never played the original PS2 version, I figured it would be worth giving this remaster a try. While I have yet to put a large dent in the game, it’s safe to say that it was worth the purchase.
Let me just say this beforehand – since I’m playing the game in Japanese and only understand about half of what’s said (even less when they’re explaining game mechanics), my understanding of the story so far is… insufficient.
Right off the bat, the visuals look pretty good. However, since the game looks about the same on PS3 and Vita, I think it’s safe to say that the game does not look nearly as good as Final Fantasy XIII does on the PS3 and Xbox 360. While FFXIII had smooth transitions between pre-rendered CG cutscenes and actual gameplay, the difference between pre-rendered and on-the-fly graphics in FFX is obvious. Fortunately, part of that can be attributed to how good the CG cutscenes look, as expected of Square Enix.
In addition, a lot of the on-the-fly cutscenes (is there a better term for this that I’m forgetting?) have strange issues such as hands clipping through things, awkward and stiff walking animations, and lack of facial expressions. It seems like they just took things as they were in the PS2 version and improved how they looked on the surface, but not so much how they functioned. Lip-syncing is also not even remotely accurate, so I’m hoping the English version does a better job with that.
Distinctive character designs are definitely a good thing, but in this game the side characters all suffer terribly from it. All the faces look the same across the gender, and clothing and hair look flatter, less colorful, and generally far more bland than the main characters.
Environments and enemies look good, and have a decent amount of variety to them, so it never feels like a lot of time is spent in a single area.
So as a whole, I’m a bit disappointed in the visuals. Maybe I was expecting too much from it, but it seems like more should have been done, especially when you compare this back to FFXIII, which came out five years ago. I’d imagine the limiting factor was that they were merely improving what they already had rather than completely replacing it.
Outside of the obvious visual changes from the PS2 version, the gameplay was also a completely new experience for me. First and foremost, Blitzball. This is basically a turn-based sport mini-game, and it’s really odd, mainly because it’s completely played in a levitating sphere of water that the players can somehow move in without breathing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand everything in the little tutorial bit for the required match, so I had to guess my way through to victory.
The battle system is fairly basic, with my favorite thing about it being the pseudo-ATB (active-time battle). On the top right of the screen, you can see the turn order, and depending on what action you choose, your next action might be soon or far later in the turn order – for example, switching equipment will not cost you much time, but using an Overdrive ability will leave you unable to do anything else for a long time. You can also quickly change party members without wasting turns or worrying about passing time, so the system relies on well-planned strategy more than anything else, and I really like that about it.
There’re also the elements of summons and overdrives, which add even more strategy to battles while also making them a lot easier. And unlike FFXII, where the summonable espers never seemed to contribute anything worthwhile to battles, the summons here are very powerful, even if they take the place of your entire party for their duration on the field.
A lot of my complaints come from my time spoiled by Final Fantasy XII. While I like that there are a lot of “event” battles that take place with more than just bosses, I’m not a fan of random encounters when simply traversing some given area – granted, this is an issue I’d have with any game. Along with this, I’m only 8ish hours into the game but everything has been very linear so far – basically walking down a straight path from point A to point B (with fixed camera angles! eww). This has been the result of everything so far being completely story-driven, but it feels too confined. I loved the open-world feel of FFXII.
Oddly, there is no option to skip cutscenes. While this doesn’t matter much on a first playthrough, it could become very tedious on a replay. There aren’t really any nitpicky issues besides that, and I’m looking forward to the rest of my time with the game. I think I can safely say that I’ll be starting the game over in English once I get the US X/X-2 combo
later this week (just kidding, Target sucks and my order is delayed until April for some reason). Then, if I ever want to replay it, I’ll go with the Japanese version.
Overall, the Final Fantasy X remake leaves a bit to be desired but still delivers a great game on modern consoles with a modern look. And more awesome RPGs for the Vita is always a plus.
Recommendation – Check it out
If you’ve already played the PS2 version of FFX before and enjoyed it, this seems like the perfect opportunity to jump back into it so long as you have a Vita or PS3. If you’re new to the game, I would definitely recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of JRPGs. This also feels like a great way to jump into the Final Fantasy franchise.
While FFX and FFX-2 were released separately in Japan for Vita, they’re bundled together in the US, UK, and Australia for both Vita and PS3*. The game actually has cross-save support, so while I wouldn’t really recommend buying it for both consoles, it is an option to take full advantage.
* The PS3 version has both FFX and FFX-2 on the same blu-ray disc, but the Vita version has FFX on a game card and a download code for X-2 included. So make sure you have space on your Vita’s memory card(s)!
Final Fantasy XII better get the HD treatment. Besides the fact that it was one of the best-looking PS2 games, FFXII’s battle system was limited by either the game engine or the capabilities of the PS2, resulting in lag during intense battles and a limit on how many high-powered spells could be used at once. However, if it were given an HD remaster, I’m sure that whatever the original issue was would end up resolved. And it’s one of my favorite video games ever, so I really want it. Now.
They would also use the International Zodiac Job System, which I’ve been told is vastly superior to the default license board (if there was a US version with this, I would have bought it years ago). It’s times like this when I wish my laptop could actually handle gaming, so I could get a copy, use the English patch, and then play to my heart’s content via emulator.
As you can see from the annoying watermark, all the screenshots except for the FFXII one were taken with my Vita – the FFXII one is from here.
It was brought to my attention that I haven’t done a proper anime review that had a positive rating, so you can expect one in the somewhat near future. On an unrelated note, I’ll probably review Noragami and something else at the end of the season, probably Super Sonico if I ever catch up.
I also just finished my Kill la Kill review, which I’ll post once it’s finished airing. “But Kyoycz, the show’s not even over yet!” That’s irrelevant. I already know how it will end.