Review by JGilbert
"A Game of Risks and Chances"
Squaresoft took a major risk with this game, it did many things that had the potential to anger the entire Final Fantasy gaming community, that vast group of people who have loved the games for so long. Some say this series is degenerating, that it's growing older and weaker, and becoming less like a game with each new title. Well, this may be true. The move from Final Fantasy VI to Final Fantasy VII was rather drastic, but it brought several new things to the series as well. Final Fantasy X is no exception, it is a dramatic change that simply adds more to the overall feel.
Now, did you expect this game to get any less? Each new one in the series has only grown more and more beautiful, and this tenth installment is absolutely amazing visually. The world crafted through the graphics is awe-inspiring and so real that at times it is downright scary. Every cinema, every character model, and every single spell is completely detailed, and utterly beautiful. In one scene, where two characters swim through the water in a romantic interlude, it is so lifelike in parts that it bests even Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Though at times there are a few graphical flaws, they are so few and far between that there's a really good chance you wont even notice them.
This is, most likely, the place where Squaresoft made the largest gamble, and got the biggest payoff. Many many Final Fantasy veterans recall ages ago when Squaresoft introduced the ATB system, and now they have thrown that out the window and started off fresh. I'm not sure if this new system as a name, but I truly hope Square decides to keep it, because it is truly wonderful. The ATB system always promoted fast choices and quick planning over strategy, which made it less fun in my opinin. So, this games emphasis on strategy, planning, and knowing the limits of all your characters appeals on a fantastic level. The game is linear, which removes most of the feeling of exploration, but you will want to move on anyways most of the time. Also, later on it DOES open up more, it just takes a while to get to the point where you have virtually total freedom.
Music and Sound: 10
Another grand job by the series veteran Uematsu, though he is joined by two other people as well to compose this game. This music is so gripping, so emotional, and so perfectly tuned that it pretty much always gives the desired effect. A piano solo track in depressing parts makes your heart sink, the heavy metal song makes you almost burst with anticipation, or the song with a pipe organ and chorus that makes you almost affraid. If anything is flawless in this game, it is likely the music.
Now, what do characters have to do with a technical review? Well, this isn't a technical review, this review is on all aspects of the game, inbcluding the story and characters themselves. This game has one truly unique thing, if nothing else, in the area of the characters. This single thing is either the link to making you love them forever, or hate them always. That is the voice acting, the ability to finally hear what they characters say, sound like. This one aspect, as well as the simply well thought characters, makes them all more lovable than ever before. By the end of all the Final Fantasy games, I had at least one person in my party I could generally care less about, but in this one they actually managed to get me to care for every single one of them, I truly wanted a happy ending.
This is both the simplest and most complex storyline to date in a Final Fantasy. You have a simple and single true objective throughout the entire game, and that is how it is simple. However, it grows far more complex in the twists and turns that are taken. By the end, what you knew as pure evil and what you knew as pure good are totally shaken, and you feel like you can't trust what you hear until you've seen it. The many twists and turns add a new level of depth, and the simplicity in your single plan makes you feel as if you are not as overwhelmed as you could be.
Whoa, where to begin here? Well, there are tons of new things, and new concepts in this game that aren't in any other. There have now been three games that truly redefine what Final Fantasy is, and those three games are Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy X. Final Fantasy IV brought us the ATB system, and also was the first to have a truly deeper and more involving storyline. Final Fantasy VII brought the Limit Breaks, and a new style of game through the use of interactive cinemas and amazing graphics. Now, Final Fantasy X does at least twice as much with the Sphere Board, the new battle system, and a new method of airship use even, not to mention side quests unlike any other.
The Sphere Board replaces levels in Final Fantasy X, it is a board on which your characters move to gain vital statistics and spells. You can move once for every Sphere Level you gain, and Sphere Levels are gained by defeating enemies. The new battle system does away with ATB and uses more strategy, as explained earlier. Instead of navigating the airship yourself, you simply choose a choice from the many places you have been, and go there. You can also use latitude and longitude in order to find new locations, which I found very cool. Also, at least one side quest is something never done before in a video game, to the best of my knowledge. You ollect books, and each one tells you a new letter in a foreign language, which you can learn all of.
I know, I likely sound biased, but I went into this game with rather low expectations. I thought Tidus looked like a male Meg Ryan, Seymour's voice actor sounded a little homosexual, and I was very skeptical at the Sphere Board system. This game, in the end, turned me into a believer. Never again will I doubt that Squaresoft will deliver, and I have been with this series since the sixth installment (I'm only sixteen, gimme a break!).
The characters, story, gameplay, and overall mood all add to a game that creates an absolutely amazing feel. You won't regret buying this, and at the minimum you should rent it, because this is the role playing game to own on the Playstation 2!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/28/01, Updated 12/28/01
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