Review by Shinnokxz
"I love it!"
Welcome to Final Fantasy reborn.
The Final Fantasy series has graced each era of gaming equally. The 16-bit generation of consoles were given classics like FFIII (VI in Japan) and FFIV, which appealed to the hardcore RPG gamers. Final Fantasy blew the 32-bit era wide open; giving us classics such as the story-inducing FFVII and the originality of FFVIII. After a so-so presentation of FFIX, people were eager to see how the Final Fantasy franchise could perform on the more modern and powerful 128-bit consoles.
Listen to our story...
Right off the bat, you will notice how colorful the cast Square has given us. Tidus, a young man that won’t take any snuff from anyone. You have the beautiful young Yuna, a Summoner that has a quiet, yet intelligent sense that complement her character in the story greatly. There’s Auron, the powerful sensei of the group whose past is shrouded in mystery. Wakka, the Blitzball team captain that has a passionate hatred towards the Al Bhed (a group of people who speak a language of their own and have their own beliefs). Speaking of which, the young energetic Rikku, an Al Bhed herself, graces your cast with her remarkable attitude. You are also given the asset-heavy Lulu, whose beauty is matched with her experience with magic. The beast-man Kimahri who belongs in a race called the ‘Ronso’ whose humanity is being threatened by the bad-guy: the gargantuan beast Sin.
Wiping slates clean, FFX brings forth a new innovative level-up system that fits in perfectly. The Sphere Grid is a chart of hundreds upon hundreds of trails of Strength Nodes, MP Nodes, HP Nodes, Special Ability nodes, et cetera. By gaining AP by winning battles, you essentially gain ‘Sphere Levels. These are used to navigate your way node by node. Although it may seem a bit set-in-its ways at first, but you can collect different kinds of Spheres that have distinct affects that can put you where ever you please on the grid. This gives you a certain freedom of customization over your party.
To put it bluntly, the battle system is excellent. Unlike previous Final Fantasy systems, FFX brings us a Turn-Based system — giving you all the time you need to choose the right item or attack. The fighter’s turns are put into a user-friendly bar located on the right side of the battle screen. The order of the character turns in this menu can change at any time during the battle; based on what effects the characters are under (Haste, Slow, or even Stone). This is a welcomed addition to the game, and is a big leap from previous installments and their Active Time Battle systems. Although it may sound easy, the fact that you can switch with any of the seven characters at any time during your turn adds great strategic elements to FFX.
With all of these new-inspired ideas, FFX manages to maintain the classic RPG elements. Your characters can be cast spells like Fire, Ice, Water, Lightening - all the basics that we have come to known in the FF franchise. Of course you have Cure (a magical effect that replenishes some of the HP of your injured comrades). There is Esuna (that can heal your from practically ever status ailment). Then you have others like Shell, Wall, Slow, Haste; ailments that you can cast on yourself to nullify and absorb enemy attacks.
Not to be forgotten, you have your basic status attacks. Poison, Stone, Death, all the aggravating statuses that can wreck havoc on your battle plan.
The equipment system is fairly generic, but it has a unique twist to it. Firstly, you can equip each character with a weapon, and armor. Basic stuff here. The weapons can raise your HP, give you added affects with magic attacks, double potency of items, et cetera. But the unique twist is the ability to customize your weapons and armor. In exchange for items, you can customize the weapons to your liking. Is that ruthless boss’ status effects giving you a hard time? Customize your weapon or armor so the effect is nullified. Do you need more HP for that weak character that just isn’t getting any HP nodes on the Sphere Grid? Customize your weapon so it raises your HP by 30 percent. Mind you, customizing your weapons isn’t exactly easy. To get the really good weapon customizations, you’ll have to hunt for rare items that aren’t easily acquired.
Each Final Fantasy has had some sort of a limit break, and FFX is no exception. Overdrives are simple in concept, and can build up based on the way you want them to be built up. Want your Overdrive meter to gain a few points every time you use magic? Or every time you attack? Heck, you can even set it so it builds every time you’re run away. When your overdrive is built up, your character will unleash a violent attack. To add to the attack power, the game gives you small puzzles that you must complete to use the attack to its fullest power. For instance, in order to get maximum damage on Auron’s overdrive, you must put in a sequence of buttons (in the order that they appear on the screen) in only five seconds. To get the ultimate power on Lulu’s overdrive, you must rotate the right analog stick as fast as you can. Even if your Overdrive gauge is full, you can still attack and use magic normally, so you can save your Overdrive for a stubborn boss.
Another addition to the battles strategy sense is the ability to summon Aeons. With Yuna, you can call a powerful beast that comes into battle in replace of your normal three fighters. The concept sounds the same as the GFs in FFXIII, but instead of having the summoned beast do just one attack, the Aeons attack, use magic, and use abilities exactly how Tidus would, or Auron. Heck, you can teach Aeons abilities in exchange for items (like you did for the weapons and armor), higher their HP, up their defense or attack power, or even teach them magic skills.
A few hours into FFX, I found myself sort of dumbfounded, or a lack of better words, at how linear the quest seems. You’ll happen onto a few side-trails that contain a few chests, but there are virtually no alternative routes that you can take. A small radar that aids you in your quest with a small arrow to point you to your destination is a nice touch, but it may make the game seem a bit too easy. But further into the game, you’ll notice that it sets the speed of the game perfectly.
No Final Fantasy would be complete without mini-games, and FFX does not disappoint. But this time around, you have Blitzball. Blitzball is an underwater sport that resembles a mix in between water polo and soccer that has two teams with six players on the field. Each player has their own stats that can specify their endurance, throwing ability, speed, and shooting. The concept is rather confusing at first, but once you recognize the rules and playing mechanics (plus the many different attacks you can bestow in your arsenal that could do anything in play; from damage to status affects) the game can seem to be its own Sports title inside of a FFX.
You also have smaller mini-games that aren’t as intense at Blitzball, but they’re just as fun. The monster-arena is a quest that has you catching every monster in the game. And the only way you can catch them are with certain weapons. You have small rewards here and there while catching the monsters; like catching three of every bird, or even catching every Cactuar in each area (which is a small mini-game of its own, actually). You are also given a small Chocobo mini-game, but it’s aren’t as nearly as engrossing as they were in FFVII. You basically just race Chocobos, or dodge items that are thrown at you while riding on one. Sorry folks, no training your Chocobo with items this time around.
FFX: a Jagged Sword.
The visuals, quite frankly, are impressive. The Worlds you travel through, though suffer from some very noticeable aliasing issues, are rendered outstandingly. The environments are vivid with detail, color, and animation; and the landscapes are full of hills, trails, and objects that complement the overall theme of the area.
The battle scenes are rendered beautifully. Each character has fluid and distinct animations, and, again, is full of glossy detail. The monsters are another impressive story. Even though you will find some palette swapped creatures throughout your adventure, you still run into beasts that are original in looks, attacks, et cetera.
Alls not perfect, though, and it would be a sin not to mention a bit about the aliasing issues. During conversations, the characters do have jaggies on them. And, as I mentioned before, the environments are blanketed with a jagged look that take away from an otherwise perfect feel.
On the other hand, FFX sports some of the MOST impressive FMVs found on any console. Viewing these sequences will leave you in complete and utter astonishment. The life-like movements of each character, the facial emotions, and the incredible amount all around color and atmosphere that grace your TV will dazzle you.
Stunning audio. Nothing less.
FFX features one of the most influential and memorable musical score since FFVII. First things first, the sound effects are done with the classic FF tone that we have come to know of. The chimes you hear while grazing through the menus are all present; and the sounds of the swords/staffs crashing against the enemy beasts are all solid.
I was incredibly impressed with what FFX had to offer as far as musical score goes. Though I don’t really agree with the song they chose to play while you fight the final boss, all the tunes go excellent with what the game’s atmosphere brings.
As the most highly anticipated feature FFX promised before its release, the voice acting is a much-added bonus to the story intense franchise. Although it isn’t a Grammy performance, each voice complements each character’s looks. The only voice that might twitch a nerve or too, in fact, is not only but the young star of the game, is the voice of Tidus. Although it’s fitting most of the time, his reactions seem rather forced when heavy emotional sequences take action. Nonetheless, Yuna has a remarkable voice, which monotone of it actually helps develops her character throughout the game. I won’t bore you with reviews of the other characters, but I can safely say; the addition of voice acting is surely impressive.
Not a final fantasy – but a beginning one.
Though the quest will really only take you about 40 hours complete (roughly half of how much it took for me to defeat FFVII), it is a game that you could play through a second time and have as much enjoyment as you did the first time through. FFX is an excellent game inside and out, and it’s a great first attempt into the 128-bit realm. -Shin (6/12/02)
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 04/26/03, Updated 05/19/03
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