Review by Sephimorg
"A monumental, groundbreaking evolution in gaming."
Final Fantasy X is the latest game in Square's continuing showcase franchise. The game is one disc long (due to the PS2's DVD capabilities), but takes at least as long to complete as the previous installments, due to its full complement of FMV sequences. With that out of the way, the review will be based on the ten categories of graphics, music, sound, story, gameplay, battle system, innovation, characterization, replayability, and extras.
Graphics - 10/10
There is no comparison to be made between this and any game previous. The graphics in this game are incredible and are the most lifelike yet seen. Previous releases tended to have an air of plasticity (FF9 and The Bouncer, and FF8 to a lesser degree), yet the quality of the standard (non-FMV) images in the game are at least the equal of the FMVs in FF8. The FMVs go far beyond even the graphical imagery we were presented with in the Final Fantasy movie. The textured backgrounds add depth to the scenery, and the panning camera removes the sometimes confusing static screens of PSX releases. The rendering of water, in particular, is beautifully done. The characters' expressions are quite impressive: it is very hard to convey sadness or awe with computer animation, especially in the normal gameplay, but Final Fantasy X succeeds admirably.
Square has, yet again, set the benchmark for graphics in a video game, and they have done so in one where they had to sustain their performance over dozens of hours of playing time. There is no question that these are the most well-rendered graphical images available on any system at the moment.
Music - 10/10
Uematsu is the most gifted composer of video game music in the business, which is why concerts are regularly given to showcase his musical talents. In this game, he finds a range that surpasses that of previous installments. From the simple beauty of the Zanarkand piano theme to the grating power of Otherworld, he shows himself not to be losing any talent as the series progresses.
My only issue with this, and it is not sufficient to deduct points from the score, is that I seem to be unable to identify the Final Fantasy Theme that has been present in all previous games. The Prelude theme is present in an electronic form, which is a nice touch, though.
Sound - 9/10
This is the first Final Fantasy game with voice acting. The imagery is not quite seamless, but that is primarily because of the language differences. The concept of vocal ethnicity (Wakka's somewhat Caribbean accent, in particular) is incredibly well thought out and well-rendered. It adds a warmness to the game that would have been welcome in other Final Fantasy games.
Story - 10/10
The story is rich, well-told, and has incredible plot twists. There is heroism, cowardice, anger and joy. There's even bigotry and religious dissent mixed in with the beautiful themes. It does begin rather abruptly, but if one pays attention, the story explains itself. The only unfortunate thing is that the game has to end, really: I found myself wishing that there were still more story. In creating that desire, the game has succeeded admirably.
Gameplay - 8/10
The overworld gameplay is not thoroughly different from any previous Final Fantasy. The battle system, which will be discussed later, is the major change present in the interface. The loss of the indicators that were present in Final Fantasy 9 is unfortunate, but is partially made up for by the rendering of actual objects that are to be found (such as the dictionaries).
Battle System - 10/10
The CTB system eliminates all of the waiting and uncertainty that was the ATB system's greatest flaw. Finally, one can see the effect that a Haste spell will have on a character, and can also see what enemies should be eliminated first to avoid attacks. The concept of character strengths against certain enemies is also a welcome change, and adds to the graphical and motional realism of the game.
Innovation - 10/10
This game is almost completely unlike any of the previous Final Fantasies. A few devices, mostly superficial, have remained the same, but the game is like a whole new series, rather than a new installment in one that has existed since the eighties. Square went to great pains to build a beautiful world that was completely independent of the others.
Characterization - 10/10
The characters develop strongly and do not have any visible lack of identity or force. In previous Final Fantasy games, there has always been at least one character who was generally unlikeable: there is not one in this game, though Auron's sourness can be somewhat grating.
Replayability - 10/10
It's an RPG, which means that, by its very nature, it is eminently replayable. It is unlikely that, in the first time through the game, one can complete every single side quest and defeat every special enemy. I find myself wanting to play it again, even though I only finished it recently.
Mini-games, special enemies, side-quests, linguistics, and blitzball. This game is more than just an RPG, it's a journey into a world where there are hundreds of pre-existing customs and pastimes. Each one adds to the completeness of the environment.
Overall - 9.7/10
Without a doubt, the most addictive, fulfilling, and wonderful gaming experience I've ever encountered. There's not much more to say than that.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 01/10/02, Updated 01/10/02
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