Review by Archmonk Iga

"Tidus's story is one you will never forget."

Squaresoft are no doubt one of the most dedicated videogame companies on the planet, and their Final Fantasy series proves that point. Time and time again, they have worked their asses off to give players new FF games that will make anyone who experiences them become hooked until the very end. Final Fantasy X for the PS2 once again does not come even close to disappointing. Their first FF for the PS2, FFX gives any gamer who plays it one of the most memorable stories they will ever see and some of the deepest gameplay they will ever undergo. There is no doubt in my mind that Final Fantasy X is one of the best games not just for the PS2, but of all time.

STORY:
“This is your story!” That is what Auron tells Tidus when they first encounter one another. Tidus is the main character, a star “blitzball” player for the Zanarkand Abes. He is in the middle of a match when a gigantic being appears and demolishes the entire city. Later, Tidus is being held by the collar by Auron, whom asks an unseen life form “You are sure,?” and lets go. Tidus awakes in a strange place, and eventually meets up with Rikku, an Al Bhed, and after a certain incident with her, he washes up on the isle of Besaid. There he meets the summoner Yuna, who is just beginning her journey to defeat Sin, the giant beast who is the people's atonement for their, well, sins. Countless lives have been lost because of Sin, and summoners go on pilgrimages to defeat it. Of course, this is FAR from easy. The pilgrimage involves acquiring the aid of aeons (Shiva, Bahamut, etc.) and once the end is reached, the summoner will call the final aeon to bring “the Calm,” or, a time without Sin. There are other catches that are involved with this pilgrimage, and the journey Yuna and her guardians go on will be remembered by all who witness it forever.

You will no doubt become attached to every character who joins your pilgrimage. Each and every one will go through immense personal growth and development, which makes ME very happy. Tidus may be a “crybaby,” but by the end you will realize that after all he's been through, you've just got to give him a break. Love him or hate him (I love him), Tidus's story is one of the most spectacular you will ever get in a videogame. Yuna, the summoner, is a beautiful young woman with a kind and gentle heart. Although she certainly doesn't purposely present herself as someone who deserves it, everyone who plays FFX will grow to respect this brave young woman. Kimahri, a Ronso, is Yuna's best friend and most loyal guardian. Although he doesn't talk much, his story is actually very sad. Wakka is a blitzball star, but even more than that, he is the type of guy who would do anything for his friends. He despises the Al Bhed with a passion. But as you progress, Wakka may come to realize that all people have their faults, regardless of who they are. Lulu is Yuna's “big sister,” with a troubled past concerning Wakka and his dead brother. She is usually very cool and collected, but you can't help but wonder about all the thoughts she stirs up in her mind in some situations. Auron is a legendary guardian who helped Yuna's father, Braska, defeat Sin many years ago. He is the “badass” of FFX, but holds a secret that, when revealed, will break your heart. Lastly, Rikku is an Al Bhed and Yuna's dear cousin. She will do whatever it takes to protect Yuna and her other friends, despite the cruel fact that many people (like Wakka) would rather she stay far away from anyone.

Aside from the characters, FFX's story has so much going for it. The crusaders, Yevon, Zanarkand, the Farplanes, blitzball, and so much more perfectly make up the unforgettable story that FFX has. I can't think of anything to say without giving important parts away, so I will just say this: Final Fantasy X will make you laugh, make you cry, make you angry, depressed, and happy. It's a bittersweet journey that Yuna must endure, and once you beat it, it will stay in your heart forever. If it doesn't, then you probably have no soul.
STORY: 10/10

PRESENTATION:
While FFX retains many of the things from the past games (chocobos, moogles, elemental magicks), many things are taken away too. This may surprise you at first, but it's really not that bad. For example, remember the good ol' white glove that was your cursor in all the previous games? Gone. The blue window backgrounds? Gone. The protagonist with the funny hair? Definitely still here. Although these are small things, I sometimes wondered why they had to remove some of the old aspects for FFX. I mean, the main theme of Final Fantasy was never played! I love that song, and it's a shame I didn't ever get to hear it. But these new paths that are taken are completely overshadowed by the new battle system…
PRESENTATION: 8.5/10

GRAPHICS:
The visuals in FFX, while some may argue they're not quite on par with the current PS2 releases, are still extraordinary. The character models all look amazing, each having facial expressions and realistic body movement. Their detail is incredible, everyone with cool clothing and other accessories around their body.

Not just the characters, the FFX world looks fantastic. With the “railing-type” camera following you everywhere you go, you get a perfect look at all the environments you travel through. The mysterious Macalania Woods, the beautiful fields of the Calm Lands, the quaintness of Besaid Village, the menacing of the Omega Ruins… everywhere you go you will be in awe of the effort put into making the areas in FFX.

Lastly, the FMV sequences look like never before…every little hair on a head, every ripple in the water, and every scale on Sin's body was given the utmost care in FFX's FMVs. Simply put, they look amazing.
GRAPHICS: 10/10

SOUNDS:
Once again, this works out great. First and foremost, FFX replaces text with real voices for each character. For the most part they sound fine. I have a hunch that people won't like Rikku's or Tidus's voices, but I didn't mind them at all. The one I hated was Shelinda, who sounded like a child molester disguised as a nanny. But for the most part, they were really good.

The music in FFX varies from very tropical sounding to very moving. “To Zanarkand” is one of my favorite pieces of music from any FF game to date, and “Isn't It Wonderful?,” a song with Japanese vocals, will move anyone to tears. Though at times the background music was just a boring and repetitive drumbeat with some ambient sound in the back, the good tunes are DEFINITELY good tunes.

Lastly, the sound effects are expectedly good. Just like any other game should be.
SOUNDS: 9/10

GAMEPLAY:
Some of the deepest, most engrossing gameplay ever will be found in Final Fantasy X. First things first—this is a linear game, and there is no world map. This is a huge step for the FF series… one that some people may not accept right away. But it works just as fine as the others before it, so I don't really have a problem. And anyway, once you reach a certain point, you can backtrack to previous areas.

Another huge difference is that FFX does NOT have the Active Time battle system that we are all used to from other FFs. Instead, depending on people's speed, the fighters' turns come up and can act once its their turn. You can see the order of turns, which definitely brings in some strategy. Sure, it's a huge turnaround for the FF series, but it's really a ton of fun. It's especially fun because you can switch out characters, allowing you to use them all in battle!

Like the three FFs before it, FFX's characters each have their own “limit breaks,” or as they are called in this game, “overdrives.” Each character's overdrive requires you to perform an action to use it. For example, Lulu's overdrive “Fury” requires you to turn the right analog stick as many times in a short amount of time as you can. This results in her casting the chosen spell multiple times. It's very fun, and there are different ways you can build up your Overdrive gauge rather than just getting hurt. For example, since Auron is so strong, he kills stuff a lot. So set him to “Slayer” Overdrive mode, and every time he kills something, his gauge will build up. It requires some fun strategizing, depending on each character.

After battles, characters earn AP (no experience points) for the Sphere Grid. When they gain a level, they can move forward on the grid, increasing their stats (strength, agility, etc.). They can also learn new abilities and unlock blocked nodes. This was my favorite part of the gameplay—building up my characters. It's so fun watching your characters grow stronger and stronger as you fight more. Each character starts in his/her own area of the Sphere Grid. For example, since Tidus uses a sword and attacks swiftly, Squaresoft made his area one where he could build up to become stronger and faster, as well as learn abilities that control people's speed (Haste, Delay Attack, etc.). Once a character is finished with his/her set area, he/she can move onto another character's. So say Auron - who is very strong yet very slow - can move into Tidus's area so he can use his powerful attacks more often. It's one of the most fun ways to build up characters I've ever seen… maybe even THE most fun. As far as originality and innovation goes, leveling up pales in comparison to the Sphere Grid.

As with all the other Final Fantasys, numero 10 has a ton of sidequests. First and foremost is blitzball, Spira's favorite sport and a good way for the people to forget about Sin. It's sort of like a mix between American football and water polo, which means it's pretty rough. There's a lot of depth in blitzball… so much so, it could've been a separate game! First off, there are dozens upon dozens of blitzballers all over Spira, whom you can recruit to join your team. Next, each player has his/her own skills. Tidus is an amazing forward, and can score goals like no other. Nimrook is an excellent goalie, and catches balls like it's his job. It's waaay more in depth than how I make it sound. If you like it, you'll end up spending hours upon hours playing blitzball alone and forgetting about the main quest. Though my problem was that, after around 40 games, I just got really effing bored with it. I mean, soon enough you'll only be playing it because you have to (to get certain items). But that's just me! I personally was addicted for quite awhile, but it began to wear on me by the time I wanted the Jupiter Sigil.

Apart from blitzball, FFX has many other sidequests… all I can say to Square is this: how could you be so cruel?!?! They have ruined chocobos in FFX. I LOVED CHOCOBOS! I'm not supposed to hate them! Chocobo Catcher is possibly the worst mini game I've ever encountered. I hate games that require more luck than practice, and this was definitely one of them (you'll see what I mean when you play it). Still everything else completely overshadows that. Other minigames that aren't quite as aggravating include catching butterflies, dodging lightning, playing “Red Light/Green Light” with Cactuars, Aeon quests, and capturing monsters. The last one, if you want a complete file, will take hours, maybe even days. But fear not, for the rewards you are given are well worth it.

As you can plainly see, FFX's gameplay is some of the most engrossing you'll ever come across. You may not be engaged from the start, especially because it's a linear game, but once you get going, you. Will. Become. Obsessed. It will become your life til the screen says “The End.” I've heard of people becoming depressed because once they have done everything they could in FFX, they don't know what to do with themselves. That's what this game is! IT DEPRESSES YOU!! But in a good way! Play it! It's some of the best, most original gameplay ever (not counting Chocobo Catcher).
GAMEPLAY: 10/10

LASTING APPEAL:
This game will last you forever. The main story alone probably takes around 40-50 hours, and all the extra stuff (sidequests, character advancement, revisiting old towns) can add on God knows how much. If you do EVERYTHING in your current playthrough, it will take hundreds of hours to reach completion.

And we can't forget the amazing story! I know once I beat it, after witnessing that amazing ending, I just wanted more. So you'll just want to start over simply to see the story unfold again and again. This game may have only one ending, but it will no doubt give you multiple playthroughs.
LASTING APPEAL: 10/10

OVERALL:
Final Fantasy X was Square's first Fantasy for the PS2. Is it revolutionary like its predecessors? Most definitely, and then some. Call me a “fanboy”, call me ignorant, call me close-minded—I stand firm in my belief that Final Fantasy X is one of the most important, most beautiful, most ground-breaking videogames in every aspect: story, gameplay, characters, visuals… Final Fantasy X, to sum it up, is perfect. I cried.
OVERALL: 10/10

Thanks for reading =)


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/22/06, Updated 10/10/06


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