Review by Cyril
"Mom and Dad got me this for Christmas. Couldn't they have just killed me instead?"
Christmas Eve, 2001. After spending all night with my family opening presents, and then suddenly, I get an odd present. Its a clothes box, but it feels suspiciously light. I open it carefully, and : OMG OMG Final Fantasy 10! This was the game I was greatly anticipating for the last 6 months or longer to come out. And It wasn't supposed to come out until next week! Wow! I couldn't wait to play it. I had to wait another excruciating hour to actually play it. That year, I also got a big ass stereo as well. Did I care? Nope. I got FFX. Apparently, the game came out a few days early, and my parents special ordered it for me. I was thrilled.
A few hours later, I stuck my brand new shiny FFX game into my PS2, took my brand new official walkthrough out, and started playing. I watched the opening movie, to the lovely music of ''To Zanarkand''. I loved the music, and I thought the graphics were beautiful, but it was WAY too drawn out. When I pressed the start button on the screen, I waited patiently, as I watched the same movie...AGAIN, before I actually got started on the game.
At first, I was totally into the game. At first, it was the best PS2 game I had played. But then, it happened. The movies, while originally interesting, became everything a game in a movie shouldn't be. Sadly, Final Fantasy X is one of the games that started the craze that continues even today: Graphics over game play.
When I said I loved it at the beginning, I mean I was totally addicted. I didn't want to stop, I wanted to play on and on for hours and hours until I fell asleep in my bed addicted. But the thing was, that was only during the times you actually PLAYED. Which is about 20% of the time. I usually don't complain about a game because it is over-saturated with movies, but this game is not just over-saturated, it IS a movie. In the first 1 hour of the game, you play for less then 15 minutes. And in that time, you play maybe 3 battles. At most. The rest is all movie. If you like game play (like myself) Stay FAR, FAR away from this game.
From that point on, you play 20% of the time, and watch 80% of the time. And, sadly, 50% of the game has absolutely nothing to do with the main storyline. I am dead serious here, the game actually doesn't begin to follow the main storyline until the last one or two dungeons. The rest of the story is based on a totally different character, and a totally different plot line. This leads to total and utter confusion when the stories actually meet.
This game is like Final Fantasy 6, and so it has its biggest faults. The main fault in Final Fantasy X is its total lack of character development. The two main characters in the game, Yuna and Tidus (pronounced Tee-dus, as said by Square), are the only ones remotely developed. The side characters, like Wakka, Rikku, and Lulu are really only masks. You see their face, and their base personality, but nothing else. The Wakka you can see is a wild brash, person with a caring heart. You get to learn about his personal history, and learn why he is like he is, but it doesn't really dig deep enough to really develop a character by. Lulu, while she appears cold, she really...is COLD! Damn, why couldn't they add some depth to these characters? Hell, even the main characters don't have too much depth. Also, you know, there really isn't a villain in the game. The one villain the game lays out for you is not really a villain. At all. All you do is fight him a couple of times, as he has a different view then you do. We are talking a worse then the Final Fantasy 8 villain here. And hell, even the final boss isn't a villain.
The story in FFX starts out complex. You are Tidus, the star player of your Blitz Ball team, the Zanarkand Abes, in the mech city of Zanarkand. On his way to a Blitz Ball game, Tidus reminisces about his past, and says hi to his fans. From there, once he enters the game, all hell breaks loose. Zanarkand is attacked by this weird creature called ''Sin'' (so original, eh?) and it totally decimated. Strangely, Tidus's old friend Aurun seems to know what is going on, and sends Tidus plunging into the monster. When Tidus awakens, he is in a totally new world, 1,000 years ago! The story then builds on Tidus trying to adapt into this whole new world, while trying to find a way back to his home world. Oh, how very interesting. And sadly, the story doesn't actually get good until about 70% in. And also sadly, the game doesn't follow the original story, or answer any questions until about 80% in. You have a loooong way to go partners.
Now the one thing that this game excels at more then any other game (other then making me fall asleep) is graphics. The characters themselves are fresh, and well detailed. They have a wide variety of facial expressions, and details. Their hair and sometimes (not often) their clothes move. Even the NPCs have an extreme amount of detail in them. The bad thing is, that the backgrounds aren't as good as the characters. The designs are bland, and unoriginal. They seem more like a less advanced Final Fantasy 8. They also seem to be the same style all the way through. There really isn't any change. The coolest places are the darker, more cold places. Like the Thunder Plains. Everything else is just so happy and perfect.
Another big problem with Final Fantasy X is the Sounds. While the music itself isn't bad, some songs are gorgeous, most of the rest is just mediocre. Take the voice acting. That is some weird, weird, messed up voices. Yuna and Rikku sound like they are around 13 or 14. Tidus sounds around the same age as well. The rest of the characters, and especially the NPCs just are..bleh. Just bleh. Think Grandia voice acting on a big budget game. If you havent played Grandia, just know this: It's scary. Now the music itself is good. Some songs, such as ''To Zanarkand'', ''Otherworld'', and the ending theme are awesome, but some of the others are bland, and unoriginal. Just like the game itself. Luckily, there are a wide variety of tracks, but still, they are overused. Now, the sound effects are the worst. You are always thinking, ''Hey, haven't I heard this before?'' It is like Square reused the same type of sound effects for this game that they used in the last few FF's.
Now, I am not going to complain about the Sphere Grid. That is one part of the game I actually like, but the thing is, it was executed in the completely wrong way. There are no levels in Final Fantasy X, there are only Spheres. basically, every ''Sphere Level'' you gain, you can go forward a notch in the Sphere grid. And these notches contain skills, HP, MP and other stats. Each character has his own section of this huge grid, and when they complete their section, they can go into someone else's. It sounds weird on paper, but is is actually quite interesting. Sadly, it is worthless though, because they didn't execute it properly. the best thing about the Sphere Grid system is that you can customize your characters quite well. The worst: it is incredibly easy to make your characters overpowered.
The battle system is different, and somewhat innovative. I noticed from the moment I was capable of using it fully, that Square took a hint from Capcom and Breath of Fire 4. Basically, the system is the same as that, except less innovative. You can change characters at any time in battle, as long as it is your turn, by pressing R1. And of course, the character has to be alive to do so. This is of course, quite interesting, but it makes the game very easy. Sadly, the rest of the system is ****. There is no Active time battles. It is more like a system from FF1. There is a small group of panels on the right corner of the screen, and that shows the battle order. The characters are then doing battle in that order. The order can change depending on the action taken, but it is always shown in that corner. Can you heal before that boss makes a very powerful attack? Most of the time it is yes. This is because you can change characters, and lets say your physical attacker has a turn right before the boss, you can then switch in your White Mage that same turn, and Poof! You will be able to heal yourself, and your party. You can also do this to characters ready to die. This leads to the next problem in FFX.
Final Fantasy X is probably the single easiest game I have ever played. And that is not good. This is mainly because the battle system has the problem that allows you to cheat by bringing in other characters when one character, or the entire party is dying. And to make it worse, the enemies, until the last 3 dungeons, are very easy. From then on, if you aren't strong enough, even the normal enemies can defeat you. The curve all of a sudden just...goes straight up and into the ceiling! But it does add something. Sadly though, the bosses don't get harder, like the normal enemies do.
And the worst problem with Final Fantasy 10: Linearity. Now, I know all RPG games are linear, but this game basically defines linear. You seriously walk from one side of the world to another. Thats like me walking from New York to Russia. Is Spira the Pangea of Earth? I think not. The entire world defies physics. And another problem with this, is that you cant go back sometimes. After certain events, you cant go back to the old towns because say, maybe you broke the law, or because they are barricading the area. Its so damned annoying I tell you!
Sadly, the replay value of FFX is near zilch. Because of the total linearity, there is nothing to do in the game once you beat it. If you want to replay it, you are just following that same old road once again.
And the last big mistake Square made with Final Fantasy X: The Side Quests. Maybe 1/10 of the side quests have meaning to the story. And the rest of them are so hard, its annoying. I admit, I finished just about every side quest this game had to offer, but to do so, I actually almost literally destroyed my controller from fury. They are that hard. Things like getting 0.00 in Chocobo racing, or dodging thunderbolts are near impossible. Hell, even the easiest side quests can be hard. I guess it makes up for the lack of difficulty in the normal game. And sadly, the main Mini-Game in FFX, Blitz Ball, is also easy. Once you get the right team, you will be undefeatable. You don't even get the best prizes from it either. So its mainly a waste of time.
Final Fantasy X could have been good. it really could have. I actually find some parts enjoyable, but the entire game seems sloppy and rushed. A shame, because it had some potential.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 06/16/03, Updated 06/16/03
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