Review by MazroKing
""Hey, look, Tidus! The world is about to end!!... Tidus? Why are you smiling?""
Final Fantasy X is the first RPG produced by Squaresoft on the PS2. It's acclaimed by both press and players for reinventing many concepts on the RPG genre... but seriously, the few things I consider really "reinvented" on this game, are so poorly executed they don't even deserve being called reinventions at all.
Yeah, FFX's graphics were amazing for its time. There's no denying that. The backgrounds were incredibly detailed, the FMVs looked beautiful and the summoned monsters were never so incredible-looking before.
But even with all that, there are still some really annoying problems I can't help but complain about in that aspect. Though the 3D character models ARE great, the same can't be said about their faces. Or more specifically, their mouths. It's impossible not to notice that the characters always seem like they're smiling (thanks to their poorly modelled textured mouths). And, in a game that gives the facial expressions as much highlight as FFX, this problem is made even worse. Imagine Yuna being kidnapped by a group of Al Bhed, and Tidus screaming "YOU BASTARDS!!!"... with a smile.
Besides that problem with the facial expressions, I also noticed that the spell effects are nowhere near as beautiful as they used to be in Final Fantasy IX. Not only there are less particle effects used on spells like Thunder and Blizzard, the effects of magic of the same element seem to differ only in size (think of Fire as being a Firaga scaled down).
And last but not least, the menu layout is way too simple and the colors used (purple, yellow and light blue) just don't seem to fit for a RPG menu.
The soundtrack in FFX is amazing. As in all its predecessors, it was composed by Nobuo Uematsu. And that guy is a genius. "To Zanarkand" is still one of the best game musics I've ever heard, as pretty much all the other songs... except for the "Hymn of the Fayth", which is nothing more than nine random notes put together to create something that should vaguely remember a hymn. And what's worse: it's played many, MANY times throughout the game, and one of those times is one of the worst cutscenes to ever appear on a videogame (see the Story part of the review to know what I'm talking about).
As for the voice acting, there isn't too much to comment that doesn't fit into those two words: totally awful. It totally ruins the mood on 90% of the cutscenes, and there's no option to turn it off, making what would already be a pretty lifeless game into a traumatic experience.
There have been a lot of innovations regarding gameplay in FFX. The most interesting of them being, undoubtedly, the inclusion of the extensive use of the up direction of the left analog stick in order to beat the game.
Yeah, up on the analog stick.
Honestly, when Yuna (or Lulu, can't remember) says, at the beginning of the game, that they were going to journey north towards Zanarkand, she wasn't kidding. It's REALLY north. Like, north 99% OF THE TIME. The dungeons in FFX (that is, if they can be called "dungeons") consist mainly of straight lines. Yeah, damn straight lines. Sure, there's one branch here and there, and there are some puzzles at the Cloisters of Trials, but 3/4 of the gameplay consists on holding the Analog stick up until you reach the next door. Sometimes you have to take a turn left or right, but always on a single path, with little to no exploration at all.
Now, talking about the battles. If yo're an experienced RPG player, or at least have played any other FF before, you will knw what to expect of them. Everything is fairly traditional "attack-magic-item-run" stuff, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The bad thing is the amount of palette swapped enemies you'll be fighting. There are LOTS of enemies of the same type, differing only in color. Prepare to find lots of Red Blobs when you're exploring a dungeon. And then, on the next dungeon, Blue Blobs. And further, when you thought different enemies would appear... you'll find Yellow Blobs. Great.
Moving on to the next point, we have the Sphere Grid. This is the only point of the entire gameplay that could really be a highlight. Basically, you have a huge chart formed by small circles, each representing either a stat boost or a new skill. When you level up, you have the option of moving from one sphere to another, thus earning the bonus contained in it and making your character stronger. Sounds good on paper, and could really have been. But somehow Square managed to screw this up as well.
The idea of "walking" through a skill chart is great, but there is an option to "invade" another character's path on the chart. That means though Lulu was supposed to be the group's Black Mage, she can just jump over to Auron's path on the grid, learn his abilities, get all his Strength boosts and become the group's fighter. And by that I mean her weapon, a doll, will do the enemies more damage than Auron's katana. It's absurd.
And to screw things up even more, by your 70th or 80th level the experience needed to gain more Sphere Levels is INSANELY HIGH, and assuming there are HUNDREDS of spheres to be taken over on each character's chart... just imagine how much time and how much slogging through the boring battles would be needed to advance just ONE sphere and giving your character ONE more Strength point or Magic point, around your 100th level.
The story in FFX kinda makes me feel bad. Not because of some sad scene, but because of how much of a wasted potential it is. The plot itself IS great, the whole idea is great, Sin (a HUGE monster responsible for destroying most of the world the story takes place in) is great - in more than one way - but that's about all the great things, because the characters are a total DISASTER. Or should I say, not the actual characters, but the way they interact with each other.
FFX has PLENTY of cutscenes, so there's plenty of opportunities to get to know the characters. But the problem is, there's really little to know at all. None of the party members have a really sad past, or a real good reason to fight for the world. It's all like: "Yuna is a summoner, and we're her guardians, so let's just travel along with her!".
But sure, poor character development could be forgiven if the dialogues between them were fun, right? Uh, no. Their lines are mostly very short, especially Rikku's, whose "You bet!" almost drove me insane and rewarded her with being out of my party until I beat the game. And the other party members, like Yuna and Kimahri, are no different.
Unfortunately, while some of the aforementioned dialogue is just too short or simple-minded, there's a lot of scenes that are just plain stupid. For example, a scene in which Tidus "teaches" Yuna how to laugh. On an absurdly awkward manner, which is made even worse by the terrible dubbing. And specially, a scene in which lots of beastmen (called "Ronso" in the game) SING the aforementioned Hymn of the Fayth in a choir. Now, imagine that: a lot of brave and strong beast warriors... chanting "lee lee lee lee, laa laa laa lee loo" all together.
Lasting Appeal: 0/10
Consider yourself lucky if you survive this 40-hour-long trip even once. Or should I say, if your analog stick survives being pushed up for 40 hours. There ARE quite a few side quests accessible, but most of them consists on either insane levelling up in order to beat an insanely powerful boss or entering random battles to "capture" monsters that can be fought on an Arena afterwards. The point is, they are made of battling, battling and battling. There are few to no minigames (and the biggest of them, Blitzball, is terribly annoying and requires too many playthroughs to win good prizes), only one secret dungeon that's basically a huge maze without a single puzzle and a Sphere Grid that's just to big to master before your patience wears out. So, given the terribly low difficulty of the random fights and the repetitiveness of the palette swapped enemies, I don't see any reason to undertake the challenge of beating the secret bosses.
Rent or buy?
Neither. AVOID. Avoid it like Rikku would avoid a thunderbolt - that means, crawl like a roach.
Final Score: 4/10
I seriously can't see what everyone likes so much about this game. The battles are insanely repetitive, the voice acting is horrendous, the characters are annoying and the cutscenes are so awkward and nonsensical they'll make you laugh even when they're not supposed to. Only the graphics are impressive, but even then there are the terrible facial expressions which are shown all the time. With so many better RPGs on the PS2 and so many better FFs on other platforms, playing FFX feels like a huge waste of time.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 01/29/08
Game Release: Final Fantasy X (US, 12/17/01)
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