Two Big Final Fantasy Titles Arrive on the Xbox One, But Are They Worth It?

Posted July 5, 2019 by Thomas James Juretus in Video Games

Developer and Publisher: Square Enix

Release Dates: Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster- original on PS2 2001, re-release for PS3, Vita 2013, Microsoft Windows 2016, PS4 2018, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One- April 30, 2019

Final Fantasy XII Zodiac Age- original on PS2 2006, PS4 2017, Windows- February 1, 2018, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One- April 30, 2019

Much of the Final Fantasy franchise has long found an exclusive home on Sony’s Playstation, up until Final Fantasy XIII branched out onto the Xbox 360. Xbox players have since had Final Fantasy Type-0 and Final Fantasy XV to play on Microsoft’s console, and have also recently gotten a newer edition of World of Final Fantasy. Classics such as fan favorite Final Fantasy VII and my personal favorite of the franchise, Final Fantasy IX, have also been ported over. This article will only deal with Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster and Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age.

Note that these are not going to be full reviews of each game covering story and game mechanics, as that has been covered by plenty of other reviews. Rather this will be to let you know what comes with each title, and whether or not each title is worth your time and money with this new re-issue on a new platform.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster

The Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster was released first on the PS4 in 2015 and then on Microsoft Windows in 2016. The title packaged ports of the two games, Final Fantasy X and its sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, together, along with some extra features. The main games contained content from the Japanese as well as the Western releases, and featured a video, Final Fantasy X: Eternal Calm, which served as an epilogue of sorts detailing a day in the life of Yuna following the disappearance of Tidus. The package also contained FFX-2 Last Mission, where the trio of Yuna, Rikku, and Paine travel to Iutycyr Tower, where they need to reach the top using their own power and items found within. It makes for an okay bonus mission, but there is a different control scheme that you may need to get used to, and fully dying sends you all the way back to the beginning.

The ports overall are fairly well done, with the world of Spira rendered nicely and the sound is very good. The original voice acting is recreated here (yep, along with Tidus’ infamous laugh that’s become a popular meme), and it gives life to the well rounded cast of characters. Gameplay is highlighted by the Coordinated Turn Based Battle system, with upgrades done using the Sphere Grid. While the graphics still look very good, in some spots they do show their age. For the most part the game controls well, though I noticed some occasional lag on the Xbox One version compared to that on the PS4. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but when it happens you will notice it. If you’re an Xbox player who has never played the games but wanted to, this is well worth checking out. Both games combined can equal around 200 hours of gameplay. Both have good stories and likeable characters, with FFX-2 being a bit lighter and more silly in tone with its costume changes. If you already played the version I wouldn’t say it worth double dipping for, but for newcomers there’s plenty here to warrant checking out.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

When it came out in 2006 on the PS2, Final Fantasy XII tried to do something different, with mixed results. While the overall story with its Star Wars– like tones improves as the game goes on, the game is hampered by a lackluster lead in the character of Vaan. Fortunately the other characters- pirate Balthier and his viera sidekick Fran, along with Princess Ashe- make travelling across the world of Ivalice somewhat enjoyable. The Active Dimension Battle system can take getting used to, and figuring out both the licenses and the gambit system can take a bit of time as well. Once you get used to it things flow well, but it can take awhile.

While still worth playing for the story and for Final Fantasy fans, Final Fantasy XII is the more flawed of these two packages. The port by Virtuos is good overall, with beautiful visuals and a choice of two soundtracks. But I did encounter technical issues, like the game freezing and some stutter, and the clumsy menus can be a chore to get around. The gambit system can work well enough but needs constant tweaking, and some clumsy mechanics can hamper gameplay during battles. There is also some very poor checkpoint/save point placement that can force you to redo a big chunk of the game should you fall.The teleport system is nice, but only if you have teleport stones, which are hard to come by. This means you’ll be trekking across a lot of the same large areas repeatedly, though this can help a little with grinding. Unless you use up supplies, which can be hard to come by if you’re low on cash.

This version of the game did add some nice features, however. There is a Trial Mode that can take you through multiple stages and is a good way to earn LP (license points) to help upgrade your characters. Characters can now hold two licenses instead of one, meaning you can be a knight wielding swords as well as use black (destructive) magic, or you can be an archer and a healer. This helps the gambit system be more varied and gives you extra options for combat. Sadly, though they’re supposed to, I had trouble getting items to transfer over from Trial Mode to Story Mode. Again, it’s not completely a deal-breaker, but it would have been nice if that worked better.

Out of the two packages, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is the harder one to recommend at full price. It’s worth playing if you’ve never played it before, but it’s not up to the quality of earlier Final Fantasy titles. It may have tried too hard to be a different experience. Those who do try it and stick with it may find it a rewarding experience, and others expecting something more like past games may be disappointed. It’s not the franchise’s best, but it’s not the worst, either. Picking it up on a sale or playing via a rental may be the better way to go.

However you choose, both Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster and Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age are both nice additions to the Xbox for fans of the series. While it’s easier to recommend the purchase of the former over the latter, both are worth playing and are solid ports to the console.

About the Author

Thomas James Juretus