Review by paraoh
"An Unforgettable Journey.............Worth $600!"
As a big fan of Final Fantasy series (arguably the greatest game series ever), I decided, after much debate, to buy a Japanese PS2 for $499, and the FFX import for $89 in August. Waiting until spring 2002 would have been too long, and I absolutely despised hearing English dubbed voices.
Well, after spending over 100 hours of playing this fantastic game, I can surely say that EVERY PENNY of the $600 was well worth it. Below are some of the reasons why:
Enough has already been said about the quality of FFX's graphics, and suffice to say, it has the best graphics of any game out today period. (Shenmue II comes as distant second). The graphics are so good that, dare I say it, one would not notice much difference between FMV scenes and regular dialogue cutscenes. Ok, that may be a bit of exaggeration, especially considering how incredibly beautiful some of these FMV scenes are, but you get the point.
The greatest thing about FFX's visuals is that EVERY conversation, EVERY little interaction between characters become joyious events to watch, in contrast to previous dull, boring conversations in previous FF series that lacked any visual treat. In short, each conversation is like watching a soap opera in this game.
What makes FFX unique is its voice-overs, that are used for almost every important dialogue. Now, I HIGHLY recommend that you get the Japanese import to experience the quality of these voice-overs and the great atmosphere created by them. To me, Yuna, Lulu, Kimari, and Auron are PERFECT. Somewhat disappointing (but not annoying) actually is the main voice for Tidus, but surely, it is likely to be far better than U.S. dubs.
Ok, if there is any setback in this game, especially in comparison to previous FF, it is the story. The story is VERY linear, and although there are several big twists, they do not shock you. Right from the start, you know that your group must battle the mysterious force Sin to save the world, and that is exactly what you will do.
In other words, the story lacks scale and epical scope. Remember, in FFVII, FVIII, and FFIX, the main characters DID NOT know that they would fight the ultimate evil to save the world from the start, but rather somehow found their way into such situations through various events. However, this IS Final Fantasy, and while this story may not match that of the previous games in epical dimension, it still does invoke more than enough passion and interest.
Another masterful work done by the Great Nobou Uematsu. Every game that seeks to get some respect should follow the model set by Final Fantasy and invest some effort into their game music. This is not just a background noise for videogame. Music in FFX, like other FF games, qualifies in and of itself as ART.
This is what sets FFX apart from its previous counterparts.
I only have two things to say: Sphere Board and New Battle System. They both are INCREDIBLY FUN AND ADDICTIVE.
Yes, the traditional fans who have been used to seeing their Levels go up may feel uncomfortable at first, but trust me, the sphere board is the way to go in the future. Why? First, it allows full customatization of your characters. You want Auron to have insane amount of HP, while making Rikku have same magic as Lulu? Or you want Tidus to have lightening speed while Yuna focus on magic defense? All possible with sphere board. In a way, this may resemble FFVIII's leveling, in the sense that eventually, you can get every character to have every other character's magic and techniques (but that will take insanely long time, like 200 hours).
Secondly, you need spheres in addition to AP points to utilize the sphere board, and this in itself becomes quite interesting. There are numerous spheres that you need to unlock more powerful spells and techniques, and that in itself becomes a challenge. See how there can be so much GAMEPLAY in leveling up compare to beating up enemies and just seeing your number rise?
An even greater aspect of this game is its new Battle System. Gone are the days when you had to pick and choose your three or four party members, while the remaining parties sat idle. The instanteous switching of characters in FFX (you don't even lose a turn!) that allows to utilize all 7 characters means its actually 7 vs. monsters, not 3 or 4 vs. monster. This, to me, is the single most noticeable improvement, resulting in great FUN in even random battles.
This game, while lacking in epic-like story, has so much to offer, that in order to accomplish everything the game has to offer, you will need to invest up to 200 hours or more. No other FF game required me to invest more than 100 hours to accomplish everything. (My previous high was 109 hours for FFIX to collect every card).
In order to ''max'' out your characters, meaning having up to 99,999 HP (which is theoretically possible, but utterly hard)), will be far more difficult than getting to Lv99 in previous FF games. That is the beauty of this game. There is NO CEILING. There is always things to do, even after spending hundreds of hours! (Not to mention obtaining all skills in Blitzball, beating all the monsters in special battles at Monster Trainer, etc.)
In short, $600 I spent comes out to less than $6 dollar spent for an hour of fun, and that is bargain hard to find in today's world.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/19/01, Updated 09/19/01
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