I know it's a bit weird to review a game that's over fifteen years old, but I never had the chance to try and sink my teeth properly into FFX-2 and this steam re-release gave me ample time and opportunity. I think that it's a nice entry in the Final Fantasy series - although I had problems with its seemingly wildly varying difficulty spikes - and that the remaster features they added are nice inclusions, if you're into making games easier after the fact in order to see the story and content.
The battle system is classic ATB, your three characters act on timers that get longer or shorter depending of the actions they're doing. You pick from various actions depending on your character class and since you have three party members, you can make up a team pretty much how you want. A real neat thing in FFX-2 is the Garment Grid system, where during battle you can change from one job to another, often giving you stat bonuses. This gives some more depth to the battle system because if a battle is going well, you can stay in damage dealing jobs but switch to healing once things turn sour. You can also configure your own garment grid by placing jobs where you want to suit how each character is build and the kind of accessories they have.
Each job has a bunch of abilities that you learn while fighting. You need to select which one you want to learn next and more get unlocked as you progress. I like this kind of system, but I feel that it's a bit of a bummer that there are no abilities that keep their effect even when you change jobs. Also, some jobs are a bit uninspired and have a bunch of redundant abilities. Some jobs might seem really cool, like the Songstress class that has dances that inflict status ailments or warriors that can delay enemy actions and lower their stats but - and this is one of the biggest problem I've had with FFX-2 - this becomes irrelevant quickly. I was decimated by spellcasting enemies and high damage-dealing foes and tried acting accordingly by either silencing, stopping or delaying them, but I wasn't even that far into the game and enemies were immune to everything I could try to prevent them from killing me. It's a bit weird. Don't make seemingly powerful abilities available if they get useless after a short while.
This game is chockful of minigames, from learning another language to giving massage to a crime boss syndicate. There is also a pokemon-like subsystem that I refused to interact with because it was a bit weird to replace my party members with a bunch of creatures that have no job system and garment grids. The game also adds special features to help you breeze through it - useful if you don't want to fight at all or grind or anything - and while it's nice that it's there, I'm not using it.
Ultimately, maybe I should have. I'm not sure if it was because of some way I was playing it wrong, but FFX-2 was terribly difficult. Some random encounters ended in one hit, others took forever and required me to heal nonstop with one character. Some boss fights were trivial while generic enemies used instant death non-magic attacks and they couldn't be stopped, silenced or delayed. Even with the best strategy I could muster in a turn-based RPG, random enemies using physical attacks just one-shotted my whole party on turn one. This really turned me off from the game after playing it for a dozen hours or so. FFX-2 HD Remastered is a quality product, but you'll have to be better at RPGs than me to enjoy it fully, it seems!