Review by Blue Blob
"High production values aside, FFX is a dull, linear experience that fails to entertain"
Final Fantasy X
I had a lot of trouble trying to initially play FFX, although not in the ways that some might think. Being a Nintendo kid, my main console as a teenager was a Gamecube and I got a PS2 somewhat later, in early 2006. At this time, a lot of the launch titles and older games were either reduced in price or had been traded in by other people - I had to buy 3 pre-owned copies of this before finding one that actually worked, because apparently there was so much replay value in it that the discs would become scratched and stop playing on your PS2. Upon playing the game, however, I don't see why anyone would want to go further than the first boss.
The tenth installment in Square's behemoth of a franchise, with an audience of everyone from nerds to goth chicks to teenagers to college kids, is a colossal mess. The plot is sloppy and nonsensical, the story itself is told obnoxiously and takes priority over the game, and the whole damn thing is just so stale. The previous adventure, Final Fantasy 9, was one of my favourite RPGs ever (back when I was into them - I don't have the free time to invest in RPGs these days), so where exactly did Square screw up? The answer is this - when they started caring about the icing instead of the cake.
The entire game plays like a typical Japanese role playing game. You assemble a team of rag-tag warriors all with unique properties, and traverse a large overworld. Combat is turn-based, with you and your allies getting a hit in, and then your enemy being allowed a go, much like a board game. Essentially, you're playing a really stale, cookie-cutter RPG from the SNES, just dressed up in prettier graphics. The battles are slow and boring, there's only one way through the entire game with absolutely no chance for exploration (you literally just move 'up' the map until you get the airship, which you can't even control), and the whole thing just isn't very entertaining to play. There's also the dreadful Blitzball mini-game, which plays like some sort of awkward, turn-based version of soccer.
Final Fantasy X offers absolutely nothing new in how it plays. With some games this can be alright, or even a good thing, but these mechanics were ancient even at the time of release. RPGs often get 'picked on' because they just re-use the same elements without improving them for the sake of 'tradition' or, more accurately, the developers being lazy and wanting to focus on making the game pretty instead.
And this game does look wonderfully pretty. It's one of the best looking games of its era, and the cutscenes are absolutely mindblowing. The colours, textures, and general background design all still stand up today. The bosses look great, and the lead monster Sin (a gigantic, armoured whale-dragon) is absolutely terrifying in places. This is just due to Square's incredibly high amount of cash, though. Much like the graphics, the sound is also great - with fantastic songs and sound effects all over. In fact, there's only one song I dislike in FFX, and it's the repetitive battle theme (which also uses SNES-esque MIDI guitars - come on Square).
So we've got a very pretty game that plays like a boring SNES game from 1992. What's left? The story and characters. Spikey haired whiner Tidus is our protagonist, and he is probably the worst protagonist ever. He's a completely unlikable brat. A star of Blitzball in his home city Zanarkand, he is thrown into another world by the monster Sin and is given the task of assisting a priestess named Yuna on a pilgrimage to keep Sin away for ten years or so, before he comes back. That's the basic gist of it, and to be honest, if they'd have left it basic, it would have been alright. Complete the journey, Sin dies, Yuna is happy, Tidus goes home.
Instead Square decided to throw an absolute barrage of absurd twists, idiotic events and other travesties into the story. To avoid spoilers I can't really list any, but they're all moments that will make you roll your eyes. Sin stops being the main badguy for a while and you instead have to put up with the fruity wizard Seymour, who has the worst hair I've ever seen. Sure, it's pretty typical for a reviewer to rip on this guy, but he is just so poorly designed and non-threatening that he comes off as a complete joke. I'm not intimidated by Seymour, just mildly annoyed by him.
The rest of the characters are all stock RPG guys. Wakka is your typical 'bro' and general brawn of the team who can hit midair enemies using his weapon. Yuna is the mellow, shy healer girl. Lulu the goth witch distracts enemies with her cleavage and sometimes uses black magic or whatever. Auron is your hard-hitter, hyperactive teenage girl Rikku is your thief and Tidus is your speed demon. There's also furry blue abomination Kimahri, who can steal enemy attacks for his own gain. The different characters all bring an element of strategy to the fights, which would be fun if the fights weren't so damn boring in the first place. Apart from Auron, the characters don't really contribute anything to the story either. Lulu stays silent for most of it and Rikku is just plain annoying.
Wipe away the glitz of FFX, and you'll see that this game is actually dull as dishwater. It's playable, but it's a playable mess and I'd honestly only really recommend it to true FF fans or people who want to go through the entire series. Everyone else, though, should steer clear.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 10/26/10
Game Release: Final Fantasy X (Platinum) (EU, 05/02/03)
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