Review by Celeborn

"Exceeded all my expectations..."

INTRODUCTION
On Wednesday 25th December 2003 I finally received a Playstation 2 and the game that all of my friends were talking about. Final Fantasy X. On looking at the screenshot on the front of the case I knew that this was something special. I have always been a fan of the Final Fantasy games even from their humble days as games on the original Nintendo.

And from the recent array of Final Fantasy games on the Playstation I had a good idea of what to expect. But after just the first hour of play I was astounded. The game didn’t just live up to my expectations, it surpassed them in every possible way. Everything about this game was outstanding from the off.

STORY 10/10
The story is very similar to previous Final Fantasy games. Normal guy has to save the world from seemingly unstoppable evil. However the complex plot that unfolds throughout the game make it a very memorable experience The plot revolves around a pro blitzball player named Tidus, a hot headed but decent guy who also happens to be the most celebrated blitzball player anywhere. During one of his games in the futuristic city of Zanarkand however a gigantic blob named “sin” comes out of the ocean and destroys the city. Along with his mysterious friend Auron, Tidus is absorbed into sin and thrust 1000 years into the future. In this strange new world called Spira Sin is still around and thanks to its frequent rampages the previously technological world has been set back many years. Tidus then meets the summoner Yuna (who summons creatures called aeons) and her Guardians Wakka, Lulu, and Kimahri. Later on in the story, Auron comes back onto the scene along with the Al-Bhed explorer Rikku. Together they aim to defeat Sin once and for all to save the land of Spira.
Another great part in this game is the way that the characters have been created, each with their own personalities. You feel for the characters in this game. You can feel their emotions and you share them. If they cry you feel like crying. If they laugh out loud you feel like doing just the same. Not only do the characters feel real, they look real. You want them to win. You want them to survive. Moreover the characters themselves are great creations. Unlike the characters in Final Fantasy IX, you feel that you can relate somewhat to the predicaments that they find themselves in. This makes you care for them a lot more than in previous games.

GRAPHICS 10/10
The graphics in this game are superb. Never before has a video game reached this kind of detail. In characters and background of the level alike. Released from the blockheaded characters of previous RPGs this game provides you with well proportioned characters that move just like you would expect real people to move. Not only that but the characters have actual facial expressions that show their emotions. Without the characters saying a word you can tell what their feeling. It is all in their looks. Also the characters look the same in battle scenes as they do in the adventuring sequences. This is a big improvement to older Final Fantasy games where it looked as though there were different people wearing their clothes. The background visuals are just as impressive with them looking for the most part very realistic. Often enemies can just run onto the screen without it fading out and you simply battle there and then. This makes it a lot more exiting than the battles in previous Final Fantasies. The fiends that you fight in this game also look a lot better than in previous games and are a lot more detailed.
The FMV clips throughout the game almost look as if they were taken from the Final Fantasy “The Spirits Within” movie. They really do look that good. The FMV sequences and the ingame graphics look so good that it sometimes becomes hard to see when FMV footage begins and ends. The whole world of Spira just looks and feels alive.

SOUNDTRACK 10/10
The sound in the game is better than in any Final Fantasy game I have ever seen. It creates atmosphere in the game that is hard to find in any other title available. The only incident where the music compares to that of Final Fantasy X has to be the Resident Evil series. But instead of creating a feeling of horror and despair you’ll often find that the music changes along with the mood of the characters. Possibly my favourite track is right at the start when Tidus is introduced in Zanarkand playing in a Blitzball game. The techno music that is played here emphasises the technological world where Tidus lives and gives you a superb taster of the visual and audio experiences to come later in the game.

GAMEPLAY 10/10
Despite the awe-inspiring visual and sound quality of the game the best feature is possibly the new method of character advancement that has been introduced in this instalment of the series. Gone are character levels and experience points and in its place is the extensive sphere grid. Each of the main characters in the game has his or hers own path on the grid and move along it to gain new abilities and to increase their attributes (strength, magic power etc). Although at the start your path may seem very limited, after a couple of hours playing the game you’ll find that you are able to progress into other areas of the grid. This makes for very versatile characters that can learn everything. This however takes an extremely long time and is unnecessary apart from a couple of side quests. You are far better off strategically planning your route around the grid so that all of your characters have a varied range of abilities along with different strengths and weaknesses. This idea should appeal to all Final Fantasy veterans as it allows you to personally customise your characters to suit your needs.

BATTLE 10/10
Battling in this game is great. A million times better than in all the other final fantasy games put together. The battle scenes often flow seamlessly from the ingame graphics and the monsters are superbly well crafted. Characters can now be changed in battle which is a welcome addition at the start of the game when they all have different strengths. The summons of the game (now called aeons) also have a much bigger role n the game than they did previously. When summoned they now act as proper characters and can learn new techniques. You can then dismiss then when you want. Also they have their own overdrive (limit break) attacks that are usually devastating. Incidentally they are much better thought out in this game with you partaking in their execution instead of simply selecting them. In essence the battles in this game are better than in any other RPG available.

SIDE QUESTS 10/10
Another absolutely great part of this game is the different side quests it has to offer. These can all last a very long time and are fiendishly difficult. The game can have you capturing monsters to breed rarities in a monster arena, which can actually take 10 hours plus. There are various chocobo races to partake in and secret aeons to collect. Then there are butterflies to chase and 200 lightning bolts to dodge in a row (which took me many numbers of hours to complete) without missing a single one. However the biggest minigame, if it can actually be called that, is blitzball. A cross between rugby and water polo, it is a fast moving and brutal sport played by the many peoples of Spira. Rather than just letting it be a game that exists in the background of the game they have incorporated it fully into the game and it is just about the biggest game-within-a-game ever created. It has its own tournaments and leagues and the lives of all the inhabitants seem to revolve around the game. By winning multiple games you can get powerful overdrives and weapons for Wakka to use in battle. Blitzball is so well created and so detailed that with a little polish it could be sold as a full price game.

REPLAYABILITY 10/10
If you want 2 complete the game then it takes around 40-50 hours to complete. If however you want to get absolutely everything out of this game and doing everything that this game has to offer, then your looking at about 250+ hours. This game will not do any good to your social life, however good it is. There is so much to do in this game that if you like RPGs you’ll never get bored of it, and will play it over and over again.

CONCLUSION
I really can’t find anything wrong with this game and so I can only possibly give it 10/10.

Buy it.
Why wouldn’t you?


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/08/03


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