Final Fantasy X
Review by joshx42
"It's finally here... the greatest RPG of all time."
Why is Final Fantasy X the greatest RPG of all time? Simple. The three most important aspects, gameplay, story, and graphics (in that order) are better here than in any other FF installment, and the overall package ends up being more superb then any other RPG, even though Xenogears had a better storyline.
The storyline is possibly my favorite part of this game, because it is so unique, well-done, and entertaining. I'm sure everyone reading this already knows that its about Tidus and Yuna trying to defeat a creature named ''Sin.'' Even though the overall story is fairly simple (which isn't a bad thing, at least in this case) it becomes much more complex. This is no FF7 or FF8, SNES-RPG lovers. The story is not bad, confused, or annoying, it is the antonym of all of those, and the most emotionally moving, which I find the most important in a story. Metal Gear Solid 2 also knows how to put together this high-quality of a story, but that isn't an RPG, so I won't compare them. All I can really say without spoiling anything is: get ready for one of the most amazing adventures ever, with mostly unforgettable characters (Square succeeded at making six of the seven main characters likable, but didn't get to 100 percent, because I can't stand Wakka) all of the FMV's and great cutscenes that Playstation-weaned RPG gamers are so fond of (I'm a perfect mix, so don't call me biased in either direction, because I do love FF4, FF5, FF6, FF7, and FF8 all together) and terrific gameplay. Read on, please.
The removal of the Active Time Battle system was one of the smartest decisions Square has made yet. Kudos to Toshiro Toshida (I hope I spelled that correctly) for fixing all of the bad gameplay elements that plagued FF8, and making the battles more strategic. I especially like how summon creatures (they're called aeons, and hopefully they'll be from now on) are able to stay and fight, even though you need their overdrives (that'll be explained later) puffed up to the maximum in order to even use their best attack. Because of the story, only one person can summon aeons, but this doesn't really lend itself as an annoyance. Overall, the gameplay is a refreshing change, and offers my favorite battle system ever. You may not like random battles, but since the battles are so much fun anyway, I could hardly care.
FFX has something called a Sphere Grid that replaces the traditional experience points and levels system, and this can be either a blessing or a curse, mostly based on personal preference rather then quality. The biggest pro is that it completely eliminates the need to run around in circles in some area, getting into random battles in order to level up your characters. If you refrain from escaping most battles as you plow through FFX (very few parts made me want to scream at the random battle rate, unlike FF6) you'll be ready for the tough boss battles, at least in the game's first half. Anyway, the Sphere Grid allows your characters to move around on a giant grid and pick different statistical abilities to acquire to your characters, and the amount of steps you can take each time you visit is determined by the amount of points you get after each battle. Getting enough AP (Ability Points) will give your character one step, usually letting him get one ability, or if you haven't sphere-grid-leveled-up your guy in a while but used him in battles, he might have about nine steps available to him. The Grid offers customization as well, because each character can become a black mage, white mage, etc, it just takes hard work. Not as complex as FF5's Job System, but still very nice.
My favorite new battle system ability is how you can press the L1 button in a battle to switch the character who's turn it is with another, currently unused character in your party. Unlike, say, every other FF, your characters will all travel simultaneously, which allows you to do this. In FF7, as an example, you traveled in two parties to lower the risk of danger, at least according to the story. Bringing a character into the battle and having he or she use at least one command will qualify the character to receive AP points equal to that of the other characters who have participated. Using the switch ability carries no penalty, so you won't use a turn up when you switch, because the new character will be able to attack immediately.
OH... MY... GOD. Final Fantasy X's graphics are so unspeakably astounding that they simply have to be seen with one's own eyes in order to be believed. The FMV's are mind-blowing, the environments insanely detailed, and the character models fabulous. Tidus and Auron, especially, are incredibly well done. And later on in the game, few graphical achievements come close to watching Sin. But what really shocked me was just how damn good the facial expressions were. Those simple expressions raise by many points the impact that the story had, because they make it so much more believable. But remember this, for the people reading this review that like FF4-6 and no later FF's. You may not like FF7 and FF8 because you believed that their stories and gameplay were subpar, but FFX is different, because it has all the good graphics of the PS1 FF's, (for the time I mean, FFX's graphics are way better then that of FF7-9) but still retains a fabulous story and gameplay that hasn't been seen with such quality for a while.
The other reason that the story has such a high impact on the player is because the great voice acting, third on the PS2 to only the Metal Gear Solid and Soul Reaver franchises. Please, please, don't complain that James Arnold Taylor's performance of Tidus sounds whiny after playing the first ten minutes of the game. His performance quality grows quickly, and before long you will have no complaints. The person who does Rikku was so great to listen to that I actually continued to hope that she would speak, because she... just.. well... it's hard to explain but I hope you'll understand after encountering her later in the game.
Fortunately, Nobuo Uematsu is not gone yet, and he delivers with another great soundtrack that rivals the ones found in FF6 and FF7. Most of the songs are great, but my main complaint would be that there aren't any super-memorable ones, like the theme played in FF7 right before the end of Disc 1, during that one unforgettable scene (you know what I'm talking about, most of you.) The pace of the songs is a bit faster, because the songs now seem closer to rock, then they once were (the song played during the brief Blitzball game during Final Fantasy X's first FMV is an example) and this is actually a good thing. I can't wait for my copy of the FFX soundtrack (full edition, not that TokyoPop version with only a fraction of them) to arrive in the mail.
The last thing I want to add about the battle system is to answer your questions about if Limit Breaks return from FF7-8. They do, but like FF9, under a different name. They're called Overdrives this time, and they all have to entered differently, which I find unique (Lulu's involves twirling the right analog stick as fast as you can, Auron's involves entering a multiple-button sequence, etc.) Your Overdrive meter can be increased in multiple ways, which have to be earned throughout the game, and some of them are personal damage, ally damage, kills, etc. Unlike FF7, when you die, your Limit Break/Overdrive doesn't go down to the bottom, which helps out a bit. It does on the aeons, however. The characters can also learn different Overdrive attacks in different ways, (Tidus involves repeatedly using previous Overdrives, Yuna's involves getting new aeons, etc.) but except for the truly hardcore, it won't matter much if you don't learn more then two. I personally like the Overdrive system in FFX better then the Limit Break system in FF7 or FF8 (especially FF8) and better then the Trance system in FF9. I think it's original and creative.
To sum up my review, all of the above adds up into simply the greatest RPG ever. You'll love the ending, to me it is one of the most emotionally moving scenes I have ever seen or read, game, movie, or book. Buy Final Fantasy X if you like RPG's. Heck, buy it even if you don't- you just might acquire a new respect for the genre.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/10/02, Updated 01/10/02
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