Review by IamtheRevan

"This game is one of the best ever."

Introduction
Ever since Final Fantasy hit the Sony Playstation in 3D fashion, its popularity has skyrocketed to many top ten lists, whether it was for story elements, character development, or the different ways it reinvented itself as a series through smart gameplay design tweaks. Final Fantasy VII had the materia system, VIII had the junction system, IX had you learning from weapons and armor. The differences weren't so much an improvement to the series, than refreshment from the RPG days of old.

Final Fantasy X uses the Sphere Grid system, which deals away with one of the RPG gaming genre's most popular convention, the leveling system. Instead of grinding to the next level, you gain AP (really, it's just exp) with which you build up sphere levels. Almost each step will lead your character into a path of attributes and abilities, and eventually, characters will complete their path, and be able to follow other characters' paths down the grid. This system is genius in its execution, and while it looks like a daunting task at first, it will eventually become second nature.

The story, which is easily one of the best stories in RPG's ever, follows Tidus as he ventures through Spira, a strange world he is transported to after Sin, a raging beast of epic proportions, destroys his homeland, Zanarkand. His story is narrated by himself, so you get the feeling that the game takes place in the past tense.

Titus encounters unique individuals. Auron, an old friend of his who has kept watch over Tidus as he grew into a young man, is an enigmatic personality who tends to stand back and let Titus learn his life lessons. His past is of great fame, as people refer to him as "Sir Auron". Indeed, Auron is well-known throughout the land of Spira. Plus, he's just badass, being the samurai he is.

He encounters Rikku, a young Al Bhed thief who informs Tidus that Zanarkand has been gone for a thousand years. Titus is whisked off to Besaid Island, a breezy location, and meets Wakka, a blitzball team captain. They become instant friends, as Tidus is himself a star player. Tidus soon meets Lulu, a black mage, Kimahri, a Ronso with the ability to learn enemy skills, and Yuna, a beautiful summoner and white mage.

While the story is told from Tidus's point of view, it does revolve around the other characters significantly, Yuna being the most prominent. You aren't left to imagine the different events that went on before characters joined the party, so the backstories of characters enrich the plot significantly. There are plenty of plots, characters you believe are good people, but may not be, and so on.

The plot is great, but what makes this game so good is how polished the actual gameplay is. Battles are seamless, and with the CTB system replacing the ATB, you won't be rushing through commands as fast as you can. The Overdrive system, which is essentially an expanded Limit Break system, lets you use special abilities when your limit bar hits a certain point. Different conventions, like overkilling monsters, which increase your rewards and gil, encourage different strategies. The fact that you can change party members at any time on your turn in battle helps increase the options for strategy. Since each character has their own niche of skills, you'll find that switching characters on the fly is mandatory to survival. Sometimes Tidus can't crack the shell of a dragon, so you'll want to switch Auron in so he can do some serious damage.

Final Fantasy X wouldn't be a true Final Fantasy game without great minigames, and FFX delivers. Blitzball is one of the best ideas for a minigame ever, and with monster hunting and sphere collecting, this game will keep you busy for a long time. Ultimate weapons are a hassle to get and unlock, but the reward is well worth it (can you say 99,999 damage?). Minigames are rewarding, but not a thorn in your side, so if you don't care about them, you don't need to mess with the stuff.

The soundtrack is beautiful, even if it isn't all orchestrated. Nobuo Uematsu has produced another masterpiece, and voice acting is top-notch. There are some annoying bits, such as Tidus's voice, and shallow acting for one-time speaking roles, but generally, Final Fantasy has never sounded better on a console. Great stuff.

Graphically speaking, FFX is beautiful. Wonderful spell effects, dynamic cameras that let you appreciate the full grace of the world, and gorgeous cinematics create a seamless masterpiece.

All in all, Final Fantasy X has improved in most aspects over its predecessors. A respectable entry into the series, and definitely one of my favorite RPG's ever.

Sound
Soundtrack is gorgeous. Voice acting is appreciated. Magic sounds are unique enough to not bother. Some voices are lame, though.

9/10 points

Graphics
Beautiful effects, smooth menus, wonderful cinematics, and good character expressions and animations. Unfortunately, jagged edges are present, but not enough to ruin the experience.

18/20 points

Gameplay
The CTB system is almost flawless. Different abilites that change statuses are fun to use, and the sphere grid system will make leveling up never boring. Minigames are very fun to play, and collecting items and upgrading weapons and armor is satisfying. While battling monsters is not exactly revolutionary from the conventions, you're not going to mind, as this game makes entering commands entertaining in and of itself.

39/40

Story
A wonderful example of how to write a script. Plot twists, powerful characters, and great localization efforts bring the world to life. Not as depressing as games like Final Fantasy VII, but way better than almost everything new.

30/30 points

Replay Value
You'll be playing this game a lot, and the story elements and gameplay are good enough for you to come back and play over and over again.

(Very High)

Total: 96/100 points, or 10/10, according to GameFAQS.

Final Recommendation
An exemplary game, worth the 20 bucks you'll pay to get it. SquareEnix has done supremely well on Final Fantasy X. With easily over 50 hours of playing just for the story, you'll happily spend more than twice that unlocking ultimate weapons, collecting items, learning powerful abilities, racing chocobos, and even more.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 02/26/08

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


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