The Final Fantasy series has captivated gamers for over 26 years – an epoch by video game standards. Since its initial release in 1987 on the NES, some 14 entries into the beloved franchise have shipped, along with countless spin-offs and an endless supply of rereleases.
Is the industry in need of yet another Final Fantasy rerelease? Can Final Fantasy X withstand the test of time? Let's find out.
Final Fantasy X HD starts as an interactive movie. You can sugar coat it if you like, but that's just how it is. There's an allure of game hidden beneath a multitude of cut-scenes, but the first few hours of the gargantuan 80+ hour campaign will be spent watching, listening, and reading.
There are the occasional battles or walking ten-feet in a direction before another movie kicks in, but they act as more of a tutorial to ease players into the action and manage expectations, rather than a realistic example of what the game holds in store in the later acts.
Players assume the role of Tidus, a major league blitzball star (think dolphins playing football) who is sucked into the future, narrowly avoiding an apocalyptic nightmare.
For some, the biggest draw of a Final Fantasy game is the story. The plot in FFX admittedly does suffer from pacing issues early on, but thankfully manages to rectify itself about a quarter of the way in.
For others, Final Fantasy is a game about the vast exploration of a high-fantasy world and nail-biting combat, something that Final Fantasy X delivers effortlessly.
Combat plays out by selecting an action – be it attack, item, or magic – for party members during their turn, then watching as they launch a volley of offensive onslaught.
Each character offers a unique playstyle, which is nice because combat never becomes tedious. Tidus is a simple sword-wielding melee character, whereas Wakka excels at range – using his football as a weapon, something that is both bizarre and brilliant. Both are efficient in their roles, but their abilities differ, meaning either one could make or break a battle.
It's interesting that no single character is more or less important than another. Teams need the heavy hitters, but they also need the magic wielders to help heal and dispatch enemies resistant to melee attacks. So balancing who to use and who to sideline plays a factor in every encounter.
Mind you, not all combat encounters are identical. Certain encounters change the rules, forcing the player to think and evolve their plan. One such battle saw me use a crane to kill a boss. Of course, it's never that simple, though. The crane didn't have any power, so through the use of my Black Mage, I was able to charge it with lightening, thus powering it up, and then use it to rip a boss' head off.
These combat curveballs change the battle dynamic in small but meaningful ways. The outcome being that battling doesn't stagnate and always feels new.
Final Fantasy X may get a lot right, but it also gets a lot wrong. In its defence, we are talking about a game that was originally released in 2001 on PlayStation 2, so most of its criticisms aren't relevant by today's standards.
Should we moan that characters move like they've got a pole shoved up their arse? They do, but motion capture in 2001 wasn't what it is today. Should we complain that some of the voice acting is awful? Well, FFX was one of the first Final Fantasy games to feature an actual voice cast.
Sure, it's got problems, but they never get in the way of everything that makes Final Fantasy X HD such a stellar outing.
With an endless supply of rereleases under Square Enix's belt, seeing the latter Final Fantasies get the attention they deserve is both what dedicated fans and newcomers to the series want.
FFX was dubbed a ground-breaking success the first time round, so adding a famous new lick of paint to the mix in the form of a high definition upgrade, only helps to strengthen this myth into a legend.
In 2001 Final Fantasy X was superb, in 2014, it's equally so.