Review by SLASHR4

"The Definitive Review"

Introduction

Since it’s release it has been a widely bought game around the world, especially when some are fortunate enough to get hold of a Japanese PS2 and the import version of the game. It’s sales did well, but not as high as FF8’s back in the golden years when it was hyped so much because of FF7. For people who don’t have the game in America and in Europe, who are waiting to get the English version of it sometime next year, this review will try to do two things. Firstly, is to rate the game objectively and secondly is to say whether or not this game is like what the majority of the people thought of FF8, an utter disappointment to the grand FF7 which was like the introduction of the Japanese FF series to the western world.

For this purpose, this review will contain the following subheadings in order to present a clearer view of this game, so that you will be able to read this more easily:



Storyline

Graphics

Battles

Music

Movies

Cut-scenes

Overall game play + replay value

The Final Verdict.



Thus we shall now begin.

Storyline

In order to not spoil the game’s story for you, I am inclined to say as little as possible, but from what I have understood of the game and by buying Chinese translations and comparing them with the English translations which can be found on the Internet, it is, extremely good. That is to say, the story is on par with FF6, FF5 and FF3 (JP Version) and is slightly better than FF7, in my opinion. However, views degree as whether FF7’s story was really all that brilliant, but to drive your fears about the story away, many people on the GameFaqs FFX message board, and other gaming sites agree that FFX has to have one of the best story plots around for the FF series. There are some plot twists as in most FF stories which add more depth to the game. Each individual character has their own complex background that you will know more about as you progress through the game. Moreover, by doing secret quests you will also be able to find more about the different characters which also bears a direct relevance to the main storyline.

The storyline itself, deserves a winning score of 8.5

Graphics

As a result of this game being on a PS2, and Squaresoft’s attention to detail, the graphics are to say the least, stunning. One might compare its graphics to the interactive movie/game The Bouncer. Its graphics are certainly better than Capcom’s Resident Evil Code Veronica Complete, and also beats its new release Devil May Cry (DMC has flickering bits in one part of the game and there are about two or more parts with barely visible jaggies). FFX, has jagged parts but very, very, rarely for a game of its size, (how long FFX lasts will be mentioned in the Replay value section.) and only normally occur in the cut-scenes when a lot of characters are on the screen.

Full Motion Videos in the game also sport breath taking graphics, thus you shouldn’t need to worry too much about FFX’s overall graphics.

Overall, the graphics in FFX deserve an 8.8

Battles

Strictly speaking, this should be under the Game play and Replay Value section but because I have quite a lot to say about it I have made it into an independent section. Hence we shall begin forthwith!

This time around, FFX once again returns with a battle screen where only three of your party members can fight, ala back in the days of FF7 and FF8. However, do not despair yet, for you can switch party members during the battle anytime you like without the loss of a turn by pressing the L1 button! It is therefore possible to allow your entire party of seven to gain experience from one fight by constantly switching your party members to engage the enemy.

However, the battle system has changed. Instead of the ATB (Active Time Bar) system that dominated the battle arena of FF6, 7, 8, and 9, where once the bar was full you could attack, it is now replaced by a turn-based system. You will be able to see the attack line-up on the left hand side of the screen and you can scroll down it by pressing the R1 button. This may result in a question that you may ask, and that is this, ‘if FFX’s battle system is turn-based, then how the hell does haste and slow magic work?’ The answer is simple. When casting haste upon your party or slow on the enemy, their attack line-up on the left side of the screen will be re-arranged so that your characters will be able to attack more frequently whilst the enemy will only be able to attack once or twice in around 12 turns or so. The net result is that ultimately, haste and slow magic work just like how they used to with the ATB system in the previous FFs albeit in a turn-based system.

The good old limit break system is back, this time in the form of Over Drives. Each character has their own different Over Drive and some characters can gain more techniques such as Tidus, Auron, Wakka, and Kimhari. What is even better is the fact that unlike FF9’s horrible Trance system where if a character completes his Trance bar you couldn’t save it for the next battle, in FFX you can. The Over Drive gauge remains full in the next battle if you did not use it in the last one. Thus you can save your Over Drive techniques for a boss fight!

Summons are back, this time in the form of Aeons. Amongst them, Shiva, Ifrit, and Bahamut make a return from the previous FFs and amongst the new summons, they include, Anima (the most powerful summon in the game), The Megas Three Sisters (which apparently made an appearance in FF4j but not as summons I don’t think), Ixion, Valfour, and Youjinbou. This time, these summons are more like extra characters, since once you have summoned them, you will be able to control when they attack, use magic, defend, use special attributes, or to use their Over Drives (yes each Aeon has their own unique limit break!) The only way the Aeon disappears is when you ‘unsummon’ it by choosing the option in the menu, or if it has died. There is one important thing to note however, and that is your characters will not be able to fight alongside with the summoned creatures. Once an Aeon is summoned, your other characters will leave the battlefield leaving the Aeon to do battle with the boss/monster in the battle. After being ‘unsummoned’ or dead, whatever the case may be, your party members will come back to the battlefield provided that the monsters or boss is still not yet dead.

The battle system, I believe has to be the most tactical offered in the FF series and gets a 9

Music

The music in this game has to be one of the best on the FF series so far, beating 8 and 9 by a twenty-foot pole! Practically all the tracks are great to listen to and really suits the environment and the setting. I think this is the only FF that I believe that I didn’t mind any of the songs. In FF6 there was one that I didn’t like, FF7, a couple, 8, practically every single one, FF9, more than half, and FFX, none. I was really impressed by the songs since I have never found a game that had a song in it that I didn’t like. Either way, the music was a great.

Overall, the music deserves a 9

Movies

As mentioned before in the Graphics section, the movies in the game all look spectacular. The reason why I have devoted a section on it is to let you know that FFX was not like FF8 which was loaded with FMVs the whole time. If you expect to see an absolutely eye bursting introduction movie with FFX then you will be sorely mistaken. It starts with in-game graphics. There will be an eye bursting movie, in fact a few of them, but the soonest one only starts after the game has begun for about five minutes…not a long wait! Therefore you don’t have to be disappointed when you first see the introduction! Besides getting FFX just for the movies and graphics will be a bad decision, since RPGs are more well known for their excellent stories and game play.

However, it can be argued that the graphics in the movies of FFX are what we would all expect from Squaresoft, since this game is on a PS2, much more powerful than the PSX. Having seen the FMVs in The Bouncer (since I own it) I must say that the qualities are pretty much similar, bearing in mind that the characters in The Bouncer are more manga styled whereas FFX’s are more realistic, reminiscent of FF8.
Giving the virtue of the fact that The Bouncer was more or less a first generation PS2 game, the videos in FFX would be given a 7.5

Cut-scenes

Again, this section should be in the Graphics section or the Replay Value section, since it affects both, but once again, I have much to say on this as well.

There are lots of cut-scenes throughout the game. In fact so many that one begins to wonder how long it will be until the next fight, or even, the next boss fight. Playing this game for the first time however, these cut-scenes are invaluable and interesting to watch as the story unfolds. However, playing this game a second time renders it a bore, especially when you know the story, and the cut-scenes cannot be skipped. Some of the dialogue can be skipped, although most of it will not and the cut-scenes in itself are pretty long, on average lasting around 3 – 5 minutes.

Perhaps one begins to feel the merit of having the good old dialogue boxes with the text all written on them again. However, the voice acting is superb (this is the Japanese version I have) and conveys the necessary emotion when necessary, anger, sadness, disbelief, and happiness. It would have been much better if one could skip these cut-scenes with a press of a button like in most of the Capcom games e.g. RE CVC and Devil May Cry.

Ultimately I have to give two scores for this section. The first score is for playing this game for the first time through and this will be an outstanding 8.5

The second time playing it, for completing all the secret quests most of which, can only be done in the latter stages of the game will be a low 4.7

Overall Game Play and Replay Value

Ultimately the game play of FFX is very good. The invention of the Sphere Board in which characters gain different abilities, HP, MP, and others, is an extremely versatile machine that allows gamers to be able to make characters totally independent of each other by being able to gain other character’s skills. You can do this by unlocking parts of the Sphere Board with Sphere Keys to be able to access another character’s sphere board so that you can gain their abilities and HP and MP too!

A new addition to FFX is that in previous games, 9999HP was the maximum HP available and 999MP the maximum MP available. Moreover, 9999HP damage to enemies was the maximum amount of damage available. In FFX however, you can equip weapons with special abilities that allow you to gain up to 99 999HP and hit for the same amount as well! You can also gain up to 9999MP by equipping these abilities and filling up the rest of the Sphere board with HP and MP spheres. You can therefore hit 90 000 more with one blow than in previous FF games!

This alone can allow for RPG perfectionists to play this game for longer in order to try to max out their stats*. Also, there are many secrets in FFX, a characteristic commonly found in most RPG games. There are ultimate weapons to be acquired for all the characters which are tough to find, and often requires items only available from doing secret sub-quests. Hidden Aeons include Anima, The Megas Three Sisters, and Youjinobou.

There are a number of mini games too. Chocobo racing is back, although you cannot rear chocobos or upgrade them like in FF7 and FF9 respectively. There is a sports mini game called Blitz Ball which plays like a tactical football game located in a watery environment. Moreover, there is a series of small mini games such as catching butterflies and avoiding lightning for extremely useful items necessary to gain each character’s ultimate weapon! These mini games alone would guarantee scores of hours of fun and when put in with the tactical battle system, superb graphics, excellent storyline, and dynamic characters, FFX is certainly a game that exceeds over 100 hours in playability.

However, regular FF series fans may be disappointed to know that there is no longer a world map where you can freely navigate your party to different locations at will. Instead you will have to travel in a set path such as through a forest to reach the next destination, instead of being able to wander around on the world map like in the previous FF series. Even when you get an airship you do not control it but merely select your destination on a place where you have visited and you will be automatically transported there. In other words, it can be argued that FFX is more linear since there really isn’t a freedom of choice to explore other areas apart from the ones which you need to travel through. This can act like a potential ‘stab in the back’ for many FF fans or RPG fans for that matter.

In terms of replay value however, it is a different story mainly due to the agonizing cut-scenes. I remember that during one of them I made a cup of coffee which took around two to three minutes and then finished it in another two minutes because it was too hot for my liking and the cut-scene only ended after another 45 seconds or so. For people who are into speeding through the game and competing with others on the fastest completion time, this is a real nightmare. It’s particularly annoying when you know what the story is about and all you’re looking forward to is getting to the latter parts of the game to do all those extra sub-quests only to be constantly tied down to precious time wasting. Eventually it gets so much that you really do consider whether or not to go in the game and tell them to all shut up and get on with it! In my opinion, a second time is fine although I still find it slightly irritating and as for playing this game for a fourth or fifth time is really out of the question.

* You will need HP and MP spheres to do this as well as Erasing Spheres to erase some spheres you don’t really need such as luck in order to attain maximum HP and MP.

The Overall Game Play scores an 8

The Replay Value scores a 6.1

The Final Verdict

So…here’s the final conclusion. All in all, FFX is a good game, although spoiled by the inability to skip cut-scenes when playing through for a second time which really does grow on your nerves, especially when you know that the next boss will give you a sphere that will help increase your health more, or a Sphere Key to unlock some more locations for more powerful abilities. Other than this, and the arguably ‘non-existent’ world map that we have been used to in previous FFs may also render this game far from perfect.

However it has its merits, with more mini games then you could shake a stick at when compared with FF8 and 9 combined and its more tactical style battle system. The eye candy is an added bonus, and the Sphere Board, a original invention that is easy to use and quick to learn.

Overall, FFX deserves a ranking of 8


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/19/01, Updated 10/19/01


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