Of all the games that have been announced to be be getting an HD remake, no two have been more anticipated than Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX and Final Fantasy X|X-2. As both titles are little more than graphically improved versions of their PS2 counterparts, this preview will cover both remakes briefly.
This HD remake contains Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. While I was not able to make it through all three games inside this compilation at E3, I was able to check out Final Mix and see just how far they were able to rework the visuals. From the beginning, once you see the game in action it is easy to forget the original came out 11 years ago. Each model seems to be beautifully rendered as if it was designed for a current generation platform, something that shows just how far ahead of the curve these titles were when the released.
Sadly, while the visuals are still breathtaking, the mechanics that the game is built off of still feel quite antiquated. Jumping around with the lock on system to ensure you circle-strafe your opponents works as well as it did over a decade ago, but sadly the camera is still that familiar struggle from last generation. Moving too close to a wall forces the player to have to adjust the camera to maintain visibility, something that will inevitably cause you to get hit at some point.
Chain of Memories is also supposed to be having a full HD remake, so fans who were not able to pick up the game when it originally launched on the GameBoy Advance, or the PS2 remake Re:Chain of Memories, will have a third chance at picking it up. Sadly, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days did not see a complete overhaul like the other titles in the compilation, but will get reworked cut scenes.
So, if you are a big Kingdom Hearts fan you probably won’t need this preview to make up your mind, but if you haven’t tried the games out before, this compilation is definitely something to check out if you can get past a dated game mechanic.
Much like the preview for Kingdom Hearts, the Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster is a compilation product that is little more than a old product with a new coat of paint. The only problem with this port is that, while it does look better than its original, the hyper-realistic models become a visual hurdle that just cannot keep up with modern assets for realistic characters. That means that, when combined with its rigid animations from yesteryear, the overall product doesn’t seem to benefit from its makeover as much as we have seen in other remakes.
Playing the game still feels very much like the game you played in 2001, just with a few more rounded edges, showing that not all games can simply feel new with a makeover. Thankfully though, FFX was one of the last games that used the classic turn-based combat system that made the franchise so popular, and that is still very much intact.
Final Fantasy X-2 was not playable on the show floor, so details on how that fared will have to wait till we get our hands on a full review copy.
Lastly, for people curious about the Vita iteration of FF-X HD and FF X-2 HD, neither were on hand at E3, so you will also have to wait for us to get our hands on copies before we can say more. Although, looking at the compilation for the PS3, it is sad to know that the Vita version will be selling both HD titles separately, meaning that the console version will obviously be the better purchase.