Review by Zylo the wolf
"Final Fantasy X got everything a RPG should have, except one thing...."
Final Fantasy is perhaps the only series that isn't from Nintendo which have been very popular since it began in the 8 bit days. While it wasn't as big in at that time as the Mario or Zelda series, it still had a good number of fans. Then in the 16 bit days the series managed to get even more popular, and when the series finally started on the Playstation it quickly became one of the most popular series in gaming history and has since then remained as one of the best selling series of all time. With Final Fantasy X the series had to show what was possible for RPGs .
I'm not sure but I wouldn't be surprised if Square decided to get major influences in the story from Japanese fairy tales or something. Whatever they got their inspiration from, it's obvious that the spend a lot of time to try to come up with an excellent story, since no matter what your opinion is on Spira, it's impossible to deny that it's more than your average fantasy world. The world has a lot of history, and each place in the world has it's own important event in the big history of Spira.
While there is a main character in this game, it's interesting to note that the story isn't about the main character at all, his own story is more of a side story, let me explain. The main character is a star blitzball (a fictional sport which combines Hockey and Soccer + Water Polo. It takes place in a huge sphere of water) player of the team called Zanarkand Abes. When the game starts he's about to begin a new match. He get to meet some of his fans and everything is going well until it happens.
A huge monster called Sin appears out of no where and is making huge tidal waves to destroy Zanarkand, and during all this panic Tidus run into his mysterious friend Auron who gives him a sword and helps him in a fight against a few monsters. After a few fights Tidus (that the main character's default name) is being drawn into Sin just like the whole city. He asks Auron to help but all all does is to say "this is your story" and then Tidus is being teleport to a different world, a world called Spira.
A few things happens and Tidus realizes that he's the only one from his own world that has been teleported into this new world. But since he's a great player at blitzball he quickly becomes friend with Wakka, the captain of the Besaid Aurochs. Then he also meets the summoner Yuna, and the magican Lulu. Yuna is about to start her trial to get all the powerful Aeons so she can defeat Sin and bring happiness backto Spira for awhile, but then Sin will return. Since Tidus doesn't know anyone in Spira, he tags along while he tries to find a way to get back to his Zanarkand.
The Aeons is as you might have guessed a new game that Square have given the classic "summons". Only summoners can use their power and in order to gain a Aeon's power a summoner has to find the temple and pray to the fayth in that temple. The temples are all over Spira, and Yuna is by far not the only summoner out there...
The battlesystem in the game has been altered a bit, for example there are no longer an active time battle system, instead Square-Enix have gone back to the classic turn battle system. Another thing is that each character is good at one kind of enemies. Tidus is the best choice at quick enemies since he's both quick and strong, Wakka is the best option for enemies who fly or who are just hard to hit, Lulu is the best option against enemies who are weak against magic, Rikku is the best option against machines and Auron is the best when it comes to "hard boiled" foes.
Another new interesting thing in the battles is that you can now at anytime switch characters in your party in the middle of the battle. This is however by far not anything new feature in RPGs, I think Dragon Quest IV was the first game with this feature. This adds a lot of strategy thinking when you are facing a challenging enemy, and of course a character has to do something in the battle in order to get any experience points.
Another thing that Square-Enix usually try to make unique for each game is how the characters gets stronger, and in this game they decided to get rid of the whole classic level system and instead add something completely new. Each character starts somewhere on a gigantic board and when they gain an AP level they can move one step on it. If that spot where they are is not empty than they can use an item to get better at something or learn a new ability. In other words it's possible to make any character to a any kind of warrior, but in order to get Auron for example to a useful wizard it takes a lot of time, and Lulu would still be a better wizard even after Auron have learned all the spells.
The perhaps most interesting thing to note about Final Fantasy X is that it's the first game in the series to feature voice actors. Even the main character, who you still get a chance to name, has his own voice. Whatever anyone thinks about this, it makes it easier to understand what kind of personallity each character has. You quickly realizes that Tidus and Wakka are supposed to be the morons while Yuna is the careful and shy girl while Lulu and Rikku are the completly opposite.
There are a few mini games in the game, but the by far biggest mini game is the fictional sport as I mentioned before. It plays almost as any regular sport game, except that you only have one team to choose and the stats of each character is a lot more important than in any regular sport game. If you have played any of the Captain Tsubasa games then you won't have any problem with this game. Personally I think it's okay to play for a while, but it gets boring a predictable after a few matches since the stats of each player is way to important.
Now for the two major things that I strongly disliked about Final Fantasy X. The good old fashioned world map where you are in 99% of the JRPGs with random encounters have been removed and instead you will travel on a lot of roads. And more roads, and even more roads. And on these roads you usually on can go straight forward, for about ten minutes. This can also make the random battles a lot more annoying. Removing the world map also takes away one of the most important things for me when it comes to RPGs, the ability to freely explore a world. Sure you can revisit any place right before the final battle when you got access to an airship, but I want to be able to do that for a big part of the game.
The other thing that bothers me is all these cut-scenes. I used to love cut-scenes in the 32/64 bit era, but especially on the Playstation 2 it seems that games in general are first eye candy with cut-scenes and then you have to play for a while to get to next cut-scene. Then again it's nothing new that games becomes more and more like movies. If I wanted a movie, I could watch one in my regular player, but with these I need a Playstation 2 since my DVD doesn't work with these type of discs.
But despite the negative flaws, I couldn't say that I didn't enjoy the 50 hours I spend with the game. It got voted as the best game of all time of Famitsu and is often considered as the best Playstation 2 game, two things that I strongly disagree with. But after that you have completed the main quest, there are still many things left you can do if you really want to experience the game at max, but personally I think I've done enough in that game. It was great, but nothing more than just great. Not the best game in the series but not a disgrace in it either.....
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/26/07
Game Release: Final Fantasy X (EU, 05/24/02)
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