It wasn’t really advertised much, but Square Enix has released Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remaster on Steam a few days ago.
I’ve decided to write a guide for those of you who’re primarily PC gamers, and thus play this game compilation for the very first time. But those of you who have yet to play the remastered version on PS3 or PS4 might find some useful tips here as well.
This article is for Final Fantasy X in particular. I’ll cover its sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, on another day.
This article doubles as a tech review of the PC version, as I’ll cover the technical changes and additions here as well.
You will find these tech points at the end of this article.
Start a New Game Options
Once you hit “New Game”, you’ll be presented with two options. The music one is changeable in the in-game menu later on, but the choice of the sphere grid is permanent. Here’s what you need to know.
Sphere Grid Version:
In theory, both versions are fine, but for a couple of reasons, the Expert Sphere Grid is preferred.
If offers more flexibility for those who’ve already played the game once.
For newcomers, you can just follow each character’s intended path and be just fine. Each character starts in the center of the grid, but has his/her own path to follow.
Kimahri is an exception, as he is meant to be a wildcard. You can make him go through any of the other character’s path if you so desire, thus gaining a second copy of a character class so to speak.
Aside from the flexibility the Expert version brings, it also helps you save time.
There is an achievement for maxing out the sphere grid of all characters. Believe me, this can take some time, so choosing this version makes it a bit faster, as the Expert grid has 68 fewer node sthan the Standard one.
You don’t need the extra stats gained from the Standard Sphere Grid, unless you want to see max stats on all your characters. But for beating all the optional bosses in the endgame, the Expert Grid will do just fine when maxed out.
(However, since the PC version has a speed booster, perhaps the grinding time issue is not so severe after all. BUT if you prefer to play the game without any boosters at all, then the Expert Grid is still recommened)
Original or Remastered Music:
Music is always very personal and subjective, so there is no right way to answer this. There is no superior version, because each of them are great in their own right.
The Original version is a bit more video game-y and synthesizer like, whereas the Remastered version is a bit more orchestral in its choice of instruments and style.
For veterans, I recommend giving the Remastered version a chance. This is not a complete reimagination, so it’s not as alienating as you might think.
The composition still feels the same for the most part, so give it a chance!
For newcomers, it doesn’t really matter. But hey, there’s always a second playthrough! So just choose a different version if you ever replay the game.
Sphere Grid Route Planning
You gain a step on the sphere grid with every level, however the EXP required for a new level increase considerably. Thus, it is recommened to not make too many detours, or go back and forth all the time.
Think of the sphere grid as a chessboard: Every move matters. The Expert grid offers many possibilities for those who dare - but you have to plan your route in advance.
If you want to leave the experimentation for later, then just stick with the obvious route laid out to you by the game. Otherwise, make a save before making your move on the grid, just in case.
Al Bhed Primers
Final Fantasy IX had a ton of missable items and sidequests. This game is not like that, however it does have one thing you might want to pay attention to: The Al Bhed Primers.
Just keep your eyes open and check every corner, and you should be able to get them all. Most of them are on your main story path, but the last three are in optional areas.
A couple of them are missable, but they are all available in a row. If you want to play without a guide, I’ll give you this hint: Create a separate save once you hit the desert.
The Extract Trick
Final Fantasy X requires spheres to increase your stats as well as unlock new abilities. Enemies can drop these spheres, but it might happen that you have a shortag of one type of sphere or another.
Thankfully, there exist a few abilities which guarantee a sphere drop of a certain kind. They all begin with “Extract” in their name.
The first few characters in your party have access to one of those abilities. You might need to go out of your way to unlock them in the Expert grid, but it’s worth it.
Those of you who have been playing “PC games” all their lives (the games that were made exclusively for PC) are used to certain things: graphical options, performance that scales with the options selected, a certain degree of modding (be it fixing the resolution of older games, or fixing bugs if the developers themselves are not providing any patches) and so on.
PC ports based on old console games vary greatly in their PC game options.
Sometimes it’s just a barebones port, sometimes it’s decent, and sometimes a porting developer goes the extra mile to provide the best results given the source code of these old games.
The recently-released Final Fantasy IX was such a good port.
Some players might dislike the letterboxes which were done to retain the 4:3 aspect ratio, as well as the some sound effects whose high pitches are broken.
But otherwise the game is solid for the most part. It stays faithful to the original presentation, if nothing else.
For Final Fantasy X, they really made an effort.
In addition to options even found in even a barebones port (Resolution, Screen Mode, Brightness, V-Sync, Texture Quality), the game also offers more advanced options.
Those are: Anti-Aliasing, Antisotrophic Filtering, Shadows (can even be disabled), Color Correction, Unsharp Mask and Ambient Occlusion.
This version might even give the PS2 version (run via an emulator) a run for its money. Being able to disable shadows or the HUD are features not found on any console version, at any rate.
As for performance, it seems to be well-opimized. I have yet to run into a situation where my CPU or GPU gets hot, even on maxed-out settings at 1080p.
Last but not least, both Final Fantasy IX and X have an auto-save feature. Just in case you’ve forgotten to save manually, you won’t lose all of your progress.
In X, the game will let you know if it has autosaved by showing a yellow bird on the lower-right corner (also known as “Chocobo” to the fans).
The PC version has two seprate option sections: One is accessed by pressing ESC, and the other one is accessed via the traditional in-game menu.
The ESC one is available atall times, but the in-game menu will not unlock until you’ve played about an hour in-game. So don’t panic if you can’t change some settings right away.
ESC Option Menu
In this menu, you can change video and audio settings, as well as activate the “boosters”.
Well, they were called boosters in the PC version of Final Fantasy IX anyway. Here, they’re called “Special Features” and “Parameters”.
The Paramaters are the big cheats, which grant you all consumable items, all character abilities and max money.
It goes without saying that, unless you’ve played the game to death in the past, DO NOT use those if you want to enjoy the game the way it was intended, especially if you’re a newcomer.
This game in particular has great boss fights, each of them requiring a different strategy. Same goes for the majority of the normal enemy encounters.
Activating any of the parameter cheats would ruin the challenge, so if you’re a newcomer, ignore those until you’ve finished the game at least once.
The Special Features are not quite as severe, however. They are less like cheats, and more like helpful tools. Their effects are temporary and are mapped to the F1 through F5 keys.
- F1 – Increase Game Speed. Great for grinding or speeding up traveling from one location toanother on foot.
Please note that only thespeed during combat, as well as while walking on the field, isaffected. Cutscenes, as well as any Overlimit button inputs, arestill of the same speed.
Also, unlike in Final Fantasy IX, sound effects are disabled while the game speed is increased. Otherwise they would be speed-up as well which sounds just weird, butthis way you only hear the music.
- F2 – Supercharge. Completely heals your HP and MP, as well as fills your Overdrive meter completely.
It’s sort-of a cheat, but only if you use it all the time. Also, the effect is only active at the next turn, so you can’t evade a character’s death if you activated it during the enemy turn.
I suppose it is helpful while you’re grinding. If there is a save sphere closeby and you’re using the “no encounter” feature, you might as well save the time from moving to the sphere to recover and back as well.
- F3 – Encounter Rate Change. Toggles between normal encounter rate, an increased encounter rate, or disables random battle encounters altogether.
Great for grinding, or when you’re close to death and want to reach a save sphere.
- F4 – Auto Battle. Not sure if the AI is very good for this, or just sticks with normal attacks. Might be helpful for grinding.
- F5 – Disable HUD. Completely-disables the HUD in both the field, and in combat. Quite useful for making screenshots.
You can access the menu by pressing Y/Triangle on your gamepad, or by pressing V on the keyboard. Once there, you can access the second options menu under “Config”.
Under Config, you can change the soundtrack version, toggle subtitles, toggle gamepad vibration, and a couple other things related to the gameplay itself.