Review by Tricky

"This is not a game. It's an adventure, an experience"

Introduction
Final Fantasy is by far an overrated series, I guess I say that in any kind of reveiw I've written about it and that I may write about it in the future. Just because it's a Final Fantasy it seels, makes people kinda loose their sense of objectivity and yell about it how great it is. When Final Fantasy X came out, I thought that it would just be a regular Final Fantasy game, people yelling about it like crazy, but it being a game far below avarage in reality. But I needed to buy a new game, and the only RPG game available at the store at that time (except for the ones I laready had) happened to be Final Fantasy X. It was cheap priced, so I thought: "What the heck" and bought it. Not with great expectations. It even took a few days before I actually played it, but when I did I didn't know what actually happened to me. Of course the graphics and stuff are fantastic, but the story line grabbed me the most and didn't want to let me loose. And on that moment a miracle happened. I got addicted to a Final Fantasy game. Something I never believed to be possible.

The Story
Well, this is were Final Fantasy X shines the most. The story begins when Tidus, starplayer of the profesional Blitzball team "The Zanarkand Abes", has to play a match. Just a match like every other match. Since this match can determine who wins the cup, it's an important one. A usual round of giving autographs to the fans and flirting with some female fans, well I guess we all know how it goes with superstars. But during the match something very odd happens. The match will be disturbed by a giant creature. A monster beyond measurable size invades the city of Zanarkand. It destroys all buildings and tries to kill anyone who comes too close. This monster is called "Sin". Sin takes Tidus away from his hometown, and takes him to a world he's never seen. A world called "Spira". Everything seems strange about this world. And he tries to find his way back to his home. To Zanarkand. But then he meets Rikku and she tells him that there is no more Zanarkand. Sin destroyed it 1000 years ago. This is very confusing. Has Tidus travelled through time? Things will change even more for Tidus when he meets Yuna. A young pretty girl with who he'll fall in love with. Yuna is a summoner. She can summon great beings called "Aeons". Yuna is on a pilgrimage in order to beat Sin. Tidus will join her in her journey. A journey that will change his fate..... Forever.

Final Fantasy X has one of the best stories I've ever seen in an RPG game. All characters play their roles very well. Perhaps the fact that some excellent voice acting has been used in this game makes the story even stronger. As hero we got Tidus. As far as I know not all fans like him, since he overreacts pretty easily. I see him diffrently. I try to imagine his situation. Being pulled out of my own world into a world I know nothing about. A world that I do not understand. And falling in love with a girl who carries the fate of that world on her shoulders. A girl who has to reach a lot of expectations. I think that I'd be just like him, when I where in his shoes. Yuna is also very strong character. She's uncertain, and it looks like she lacks confidence (but that can be a misunderstanding of her true self), she's naieve, but she IS determined. Then we got Rikku. An overexcited teenager. Don't know why, but somehow I gotta love her. And then we got Auron. A person who doesn't say much, especially not about himself. He guarded Yuna's father (Lord Braska) on his pilgrimage to defeat Sin, and who now he guards Yuna. He knows a lot, but doesn't speak much about it. He's bitter. Over lots of things that happened. I like him for what he is. And then Wakka. A name very well-chosen. Wakka is just a real Wakka. Can't state it diferently. He's a Blitzball player like Tidus, but he cannot match Tidus skills, and he really looks up to Tidus' skills. Wakka helps Tidus big deal on the way to discover the ways of Spira. And then we got Kihmari. He is silent, but when he speaks he speaks words of wisdom. And lastly Lulu. Man, many men have come up with the wildest love ideas about her. Not me, she's not my type. :) But I gotta admit Lulu is truely a very great character and that her tactless visions do give a very good view on how she sees the world.

So overall a good story and a strong cast.

Graphics
Astonishing. Many theories were done in the past if it would be possible to make games so real looking that you may not be able to see the diffrence between computer characters and real people. Final Fanasy X does not look "real" not even close to "real", but you do get the "real" feeling already, and you might think that making characters look entirely "real" may be possible in the future. The graphics engine is just superb. All characters move quite realistic and with the emotional expressions on their faces you sometimes tend to forget that this is a video game and not a movie. Very good.

Music
You can see that the gaming industry is taking the aspect of music more and more seriously. The guys at SquareSoft are no exception. While not all music is good enough to nominate it for an Oscar, the music gives the mood the game needs. The soundtrack of this game is in Japanese and not translated to English. But somehow that doesn't matter. That track sends out a certain mood which you can feel, and of which understanding of the lyrics ain't required to feel the music's intention. I like it. And also big compliments for the song that is quite central to the game. The choir song, known as "The Hymn Of The Fayth".

The Gameplay
Of course it's all good that the game as really good graphics, strong characters and so on, but in the end, it's the game itself that matters. And Final Fantasy X works out on that aspect in every single way. One of the main reasons for that is that SquareSoft tossed it's Active Time Battle system (ATB) away, and I thought FINALLY. Because of that you no longer have to worry about the ticking clock and focus on a good battle strategy in stead. And you may need that. Some enemies are really strong and very deadly, but everything works out when you come up with the right strategy and the right party members. What is very new is the character development system called "The Sphere Grid", more about that later. Also interesting is the subgame called "Blitzball". The gameplay is pretty addictive and carried by the other great parts it'll get you off the streets for some time.

The Sphere Grid
As I told you earlier, in stead of just gaining levels as you gotta do in any regular RPG game, things are diffrent in Final Fantasy X. Here you gotta make your characters stronger by using the "Sphere Grid". By fighting battles your characters will gain AP (Ability Points). By reaching a certain ammount of AP you'll gain a sphere level, but with that none of your stats will increase. Now you can get on the "Sphere Grid". Which each Sphere Level you have you may move one spot over the sphere grid. With spheres you earn with battles you can activate nodes that you pass on the sphere grid. According to the node's properties your stats can go up or you can get a new spells or ability. This system gives you a bit more freedom in how characters develop and get some of your characters spells or moves that would otherwise be beyond your reach. There's much to gain by using the sphere grid wisely. In the PAL version you even have an "Expert Sphere Grid". When you've played the game at least once, you may consider playing the game again with this grid. This grid gives you more freedom and gives you the possibility to get all characters to do other things then the game intended you to. This sphere grid is truely a very fresh twist into the RPG genre. It doesn't happen so often that a new character development system works out so greatly.

Blitzball
Tidus is a star blitzball player, so what would the game be without a minigame in which we can put his skills to the test? It's quite strange to see a teamsport being put into an RPG content like that. That works out greatly. The controls may be hard to understand, but once you get the hang of it you'll learn to love the game. You can win great prizes at blitzball games, and you can even recruit your own players so that you may get the team that fits best by your playing style. What is Blitzball exactly? It's a ball team sport that's played underwater. You can compare it with games like soccer. You try to get the ball and to throw it into the goal. If you can set up the right team you may really see that Tidus can live up to his name as the Star Player Of The Zanarkand Abes.

Conclusion
Well, was Final Fantasy VII not really fantastic, Final Fantasy VIII just crap, we got a very nice game in Final Fantasy IX, but Final Fantasy X is the first episode in the Final Fantasy saga I played that really lived up to the expectations you might have by series that have such a great name. Every single part of it is simply magnificent. Only one thing I really got to fart on, and that's the addition of the Dark Aeons in the PAL version. Those are optional bosses that are beyond your strength and they block other subquests. Well, you can finish the game without them, so it's something that can be forgiven since the rest of the game more than makes up for that in every single way.
Final Fantasy X is one of the few games that has gone beyond a regular video game. It's become an experience you don't want to forget, and a story with a very clear message for those who are keen enough to find it.
This game is truely a classic, and it really says something if that comes out of my mouth, because I'm a real critic when it comes to RPG and not easy to satisfy.

This game is a good example of how great RPG games can be!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/21/07


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