Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remaster

Square-Enix’s long-running Final Fantasy franchise has a tradition where each new numbered entry occurs in a completely different universe, a feature allowing those who haven’t experienced the series from the beginning to dive into it wherever they please. However, during the PlayStation 2 era, they announced that they would for the first time be making a direct sequel to one of the franchise’s series, Final Fantasy X, entitled Final Fantasy X-2, which received positive if somewhat polarized acclaim. Around a decade later, the game became part of an HD remaster collection with its predecessor, entitled Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remaster, which is for the most part a solid experience.

Like its prequel, X-2 features random encounters, although an accessory acquired partway through the game allows players to completely nullify them, but odds are, since bosses gradually become harder, players will wish to level their party consisting of Yuna, Rikku, and Paine. The Active Time Battle system of titles before Final Fantasy X returns, with a nice class system where players can put Dresspheres into Garment Grids and allow characters to change classes anytime during their turns, sometimes necessary to victory. Players can pretty much coast through the game with a dedicated healer, and the encounter rate can be schizophrenic at times, but otherwise, the Active Time Battle system is refined in the first direct sequel, and helps the game more than hurts.

However, the game would have benefited from better placement of save points, given the frequency of stretches in dungeons to bosses without them, and the direction on how to advance the main storyline at times is vague. A tidy but flashy menu rounds out what could have been easily-improved interaction.

Aside from the aforementioned vague direction on how to advance, the story isn’t half-bad, focusing on Yuna joining the Gullwings with Rikku and Paine to hunt for recording spheres after seeing one that supposedly showed a missing character, ultimately culminating in a conflict with an ancient weapon of mass destruction called Vegnagun, with a good atmosphere and believable setting serving the direct sequel well.

The translation is well above average, with the continued enigma of the Al-Bhed language and occasional humor such as references to The Simpsons and Sesame Street. The lip-syncing of voices with characters is still off like in the previous game, but otherwise, the localization is polished.

Aside from the aforementioned lip-syncing issue, the audio serves the game well, with a largely-fresh soundtrack that doesn’t rehash its predecessor’s, and superb voicework.

The graphics largely remain unchanged from the prior game, not a bad thing as they look nice, although there is minor laziness in not updated a character’s model to indicate her pregnancy.

Finally, the main quest is fairly short, twenty to thirty hours, with a New Game Plus enhancing replay value.

Overall, Final Fantasy X-2 is for the most part a solid direct sequel that hits many of the right notes, particularly with regards to positive aspects such as its refined Active Time battles, good atmosphere and narrative, enjoyable soundtrack, and polished visuals, although there are some issues with regards to interaction such as the sometimes-vague direction on how to advance and the iffy spacing of save points at times. Some have blasted or boycotted the game for having an alleged high estrogen content, although these claims are for the most part baseless, with the first Final Fantasy direct sequel being an overall fun experience even today.

The Good:
+Refined Active Time Battle system and nice class pantheon.
+Story is actually enjoyable, sometimes humorous.
+Solid localization.
+Great soundtrack and voicework.
+Nice visuals.
+Plenty replay value.

The Bad:
-Dedicated healer necessary at many points.
-Needs more save points at times.
-Sometimes poor direction on how to advance.

The Bottom Line:
A great direct sequel.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation 4
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 6/10
Story: 7/10
Localization: 8/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Medium
Playing Time: 20-30+ Hours

Overall: 8/10

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