Review by gothic_chic

"My favorite Final Fantasy game, the one that got me officially obsessed with video games."

Final Fantasy X

This is one of my favorite games of all time. FFX is the type of game that can be played about 1000 times and the experience is still just so magnificent. Yes, I know you're probably saying: “Gothic_Chic, this game is six years old! Why are you reviewing it now?” Because, I never had an account until about two years ago, when I got this masterpiece for Easter. Every moment is mesmerizing. If you've never played it and you like RPGs, go rent this one right now! This is the greatest RPG of all time (that I've played anyway...). Actually, FFX is my second favorite game of all time, right after Ocarina of Time, the BEST GAME EVER! And Link's hot!! Oops off topic. Now, let's get to the review before I ramble more.

Let's start with the storyline, which is one of FFX's greatest strengths. I don't know if this counts as spoilers but if you're considering buying this game and you don't want the first 1/ 20 of the game spoiled skip this section.

It starts out really simple: you are Tidus (or whatever you name him), a 17 year-old blitzball player from the great, high tech city of Zanarkand. The game starts on the day Tidus' blitzball team is having a game with an opposing team, but the match is cut short when a giant, unholy being named Sin attacks and destroys the city. Sin takes Tidus and his friend, the swordsman Auron, to another world called Spira. There Tidus is rescued by a group of Al Bhed, a race who speaks the-er-Al Bhed language. However, one of the Al Bhed can speak English, the teenage girl Rikku. When Tidus tells her where he is from, she says that Zanarkand was destroyed 1000 years ago by Sin and that Tidus must have had some kind of dream. Then, Sin attacks the boat and Tidus is swept off deck. He is washed up on Besaid Island, where he meets Wakka, a blitzball captain of the Besaid Aurochs, Lulu, the stoic and very busty black mage, Khimari, a Ronso (which is the cross between a mountain lion, smurf, and a person) with the combined abilities of both a blue mage and a dragoon, and Yuna, a kind, soft spoken summoner. The rest of the game follows Tidus while he travels with Yuna and her guardians (Lulu, Wakka, and Khimari) as they embark on a pilgrimage to defeat Sin.

Yes, this sounds like such a simple plot at first. But as the narrative unfolds throughout the course of the game, the storyline grows very deep and complicated. Unlike most other games I played, I actually found myself caring about the welfare of the cast; well, except for Khimari, who just didn't seem to have much of a personality. Anyway this game's got it all: enough romance, drama, action and tragedy to satisfy your needs. If a game can make you get teary eyed, you know it has succeeded in the story department and this is one of those games.

As for the graphics, this game is really dated looking. The characters' faces look flat most of the time, the lip synching is a bit off, and in one part, a character was speaking but their lips didn't move at all. The backgrounds can look muddy. I won't be deducting many points because of this however. After all, the game is six years old and that's ancient for a video game. On the bright side, many times during the adventure, FFX looks quite beautiful. Sometimes, the characters' faces look more realistic and alive. The facial expressions in this game are also very good. Oh and thank God that Noruma designed the characters in this game. His style is definitly superior to Aonuma's evil looking scribble scratch. (I swear, Aonuma's character designs always look evil!) But let's talk about what no 3D Final Fantasy game will ever be without: the FMV scenes.

Wow. No matter how many times I play this game, the FMV sequences just blow me away. Their magic never ceases to amaze the eye; every color and detail is just takes all the oxygen out of your lungs when you drink them in. Even though this game is from 2001, the FMV sequences are anything but dated.

Alongside the breath taking visuals is the music. This game showed me that music in a game really makes an impact. While I didn't care for one or two themes, the majority of the music in FFX is unforgettable. Especially the battle theme, which you will hear about- hmm - approximately 1891 times throughout the whole game. That song can wear out after the first thirty-two times you hear it. The victory theme also got a slight make-over. It's a bit more peppy than it was in its predecessors, but it is still quite enjoyable. The many other songs you hear are wonderful; from the metal song you hear in the first FMV to the orchestrated "Isn't it Wonderful" during the credits. Every piece feels so epic and perfectly fits the game's tone.

But wait! There's more! This was the first Final Fantasy to include voice acting. We all know voice acting has its deadly weaknesses: some can be simply atrocious, some can just be so horrid that you will mute the telvision and put cotton balls in your ears to stop the bleeding. (This is why I think Zelda games should never have voice acting- I'm scared.) But voice acting also has many strengths. The characters are given more personality, making them seem more real to the player. FFX has passed this voice acting test with an B-. Tidus' voice is really whiny and annoying at first, but as the game progresses he becomes less annoying...or maybe you just get used to him. But that's not the main issue I have with the voice acting. Let me sum it up with one word: WAKKA.

Now for the part that really matters about a video game. Gameplay, of course!

The battle system in this FF is the simple turn-based system. Truth be told, I prefer this style of battle more than the Active Time Battle gauge (ATB) because you are given more time to plan out your next attack. Anyways, this is my favorite battle system in all of the FF games I've played. All because of the ability to switch characters into battle on the fly. During a battle, three characters are in the fray; if one of the characters on the sidelines are needed, you can simply swap out one of the three characters you're using. This is also useful for when one of your characters are critically wounded. However, the balance among the characters aren't all that fair. Auron's strength and defense is the highest in the party, so that just guarentees him a spot in every fight. Wakka and Khimari's services will be found inferior when compared to the other characters', so they might be stuck on the sidelines a lot. This can be frustrating if you like to level up each and every character to their highest stats.

In the course of battle, you fill up your overdrive gaue. This gauge is basically the same thing as a limit break gauge, just a different title. The gauge usually fills up when your characters are hit by enemies, but as you level up, you are given different options on how you want to fill up your overdrive gauge, such as healing allies, successfully attacking or slaying a foe, and other weird stuff. The overdrives of four of the seven playable characters are pulled off by pressing buttons on the controller in a corresponding order, trying to get matching reels on a small slot machine, pressing the X button at the right moment, or by twirling around the right hand joystick within a small time limit. For some characters such as Yuna and Khimari, you don't have to do anything at all when you wish to use their overdrive. Even if you don't finish either of these before time runs out, the character still performs their overdrive, the attack will just be weaker it would have been if you'd finished it. As the game progresses you can learn new overdrives or earn them during sidequests.

As for the rest, you know how the battle system goes: you use attacks, magic, summons, and items to slay your foes and gain experience points. When you gain a certain number of experience points, you gain a level. In this game, when you gain a level you are able to improve your battle statistics and you can learn new abilities to crush your enemies with by filling the nodes on a Sphere Grid. The Sphere Grid is the one of the most genius ideas in gaming history. Each character has a Sphere Grid, which is a large grid with tiny nodes that grant your characters higher attack, defense, magic, magic defense, luck, evasion, speed, and other sort of statistics. Some nodes grant abilities as well. During battle, it is possible to earn certain spheres that fit in certain nodes. For instance, an Ability Sphere is used to fill a node that can grant the character a certain ability such as a new spell or attack. A Power Sphere is used when you need to fill a node allowing you to increase the strength, defense, or HP of your character. Each character starts at a different place on the Sphere Grid, but you can customize them with whatever abilities and statistics you want. So if you want Lulu, the black mage, to learn white magic or the ability to steal items, go right ahead. This makes upgrading your party a lot of fun. It also makes your party very diverse and flexible.

As for summons, they're still as impressive as ever. Everytime you visit a temple, Yuna gains a new aeon to use in battle. When she summons an aeon, the other two party members flee the battlefield to allow room for Yuna and her aeon. Unlike its predecessors, FFX allows you to actually control the summon just like you would a party member. The aeon actually has its own special attacks and spells, as well as its own special overdrive. While they don't have a sphere grid, they level up in statistics when Yuna does (when Yuna gains 200 more HP on the sphere grid, her aeons gain 200 HP along with her.). Later on, you'll be able to give your aeons new abilities and spells by using items. You're also able to upgrade their statistics and HP with items as well, but since they level up along with Yuna anyway, this feature is not all that useful or profitable. Plus, why would I want to trade away 10 of my spheres for my sphere grid only to upgrade my aeon's HP by 1? Anyway, there are also extra aeons you can get by completing sidequests.

The game doesn't shine as brightly when it comes to freedom. For most of the game, you are told where to go and what to do and you aren't given a choice in the matter. It's not until near the end that you finally get your airship. While on the airship, you're allowed to go anywhere you want when you feel like it, I just wished that it was so earlier. However, I loved the fact that you didn't have to drive your airship over a large world map. I know most people missed that, but I have a hard time finding towns and cities and I'm super lazy, so I loved that you were automatically taken to your desired destination.

There are plenty of sidequests to tackle, too. I found many of them super challenging, maybe even more challenging than the final boss. Each sidequest you complete reaps you very awesome rewards and they're fun too. The minigames vary from traditional Chocobo racing to the novel sport of blitzball. Blitzball is a cross between football and soccer, except it's underwater. Blitzball can be very hard to get into since it's just repetitive. The only thing that makes blitzball worth playing is the rewards you're given for winning tournaments. You can also earn ultimate weapons for all the characters and you can earn more aeons for Yuna, as I mentioned earlier.

When you play this game for the first time, it will be moderately challenging but not too hard if you keep your characters levels on the bar. However, once you beat the game, it becomes tremendously easier when you decide to play the game for a second time. Plus, the replay value isn't all that high sadly.

OVERREVIEW

Pros
+ Deep storyline.
+Interesting cast.
+Detailed and beautiful graphics.
+FMV sequences are stunning as ever.
+Unique sphere grid and battle system.
+Sidequests are actually challenging and fun.
+The new way of using summons.
+Wonderful music.
+First Play through is moderately challenging.
+The airship automatically takes you where you want to go.
+Most of the voice acting is good.

Cons
-Lip synching is a bit off.
-Some scenes feature dull character models.
-Characters are not all that balanced in strengths and weaknesses.
-Voice acting can irk nerves.
-Blitzball's repetitiveness.
-Lack of exploration until the end.
-Not much replay value.

Graphics- 9
Story- 10
Characters- 9
Music- 9
Gameplay-10
Sidequests- 8
Minigames- 6
Voice Acting- 7
Challenge- 7
Replay Value- 5
Total- 9

Yes, FFX is old. Yes, FFX is not perfect. Yes, FFX may not be as legendary as FFVII. But, FFX is a good game and it's worth playing. I suggest renting it first if you feel like pulling out your PS2 again or if you're starving for a good, intriguing story. If you like it, buy it. It's about $20 since it's a Greatest hit title anyway. If you hate it, that's a shame. But either way, at least try what might just be one of the greatest RPGs for the PS2. It's got my vote.

Until we meet again.......

FIN


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/03/08

Game Release: Final Fantasy X (Greatest Hits) (US, 12/31/03)


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