Hands-on with Final Fantasy 10 and Kingdom Hearts HD upgrades

Square Enix's upcoming HD remasters of Final Fantasy 10 and the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix bring a welcome graphical overhaul to two fan favorite franchises.

We spent time with both games at this year's E3. It appeared that neither title was shown as a demo, but rather in its full form. Kicking off a new game in Final Fantasy 10, we explored the game's opening sequence and battles. Although the game's FMVs appear to be the same as in its PlayStation 2 release, in-game characters show the difference. During lesser cutscenes on the previous release, characters would often appear to have strange, mask-like facial experiences. They were also incapable of expressing any kind of emotion. With the HD remaster, characters now have noticeably improved facial control.

Cutscenes that were typically more animated also have a definite impact on the game's characters, though not always for the better. Protagonist Tidus now seems to have permanent bags under his eyes, which look unnaturally and almost alarmingly large. The HD remake also adds a few weird hair effects that make it oddly transparent at certain angles. You can watch the trailer below, but beware of major spoilers.

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix HD will feature theJapan-exclusive "Final Mix" version of Kingdom Hearts and Re: Chain of Memories. At E3, we were able to spend some time with the first game in the title's opening sequence and Aladdin's homeland of Agrabah. The HD upgrade helps brighten the game's already vibrant worlds ever so slightly, while it makes Sora and his big-eyed, big-shoed friends look even more cartoony.

Overall, both games feature crisper-looking battle menus and run much more smoothly than their dated predecessors. Final Fantasy 10 will come bundled with Final Fantasy 10-2 and is expected to launch this year for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD remix will launch for PlayStation 3 in September.

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