Review by Animawarrior

"Some Good, Little Bad"

This review is for Final Fantasy X, the first Final Fantasy game to beset the Sony PlayStation 2 and the fourth in the numbered series since Squaresoft (now Square Enix) began working on the Sony home consoles (the PlayStation).

Final Fantasy X had the job of carrying on the legacy of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and the Sony PlayStation's Final Fantasy games specifically Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy IX, which many fans of Squaresoft and Final Fantasy consider to be the best of the series. I believe it both disappointed and satisfied.

Graphics
The graphical quality in Final Fantasy X was obviously better than that of the prior games considering the Sony PlayStation was only a 32-bit system and the Sony PlayStation 2 is a 128-bit system. The graphics in Final Fantasy X leave little to be desired. They are almost flawless looking next to the graphics of past Final Fantasy titles. Many of the characters look so well done that they could jump right out of the screen at you. Gone are the days when the background looked wrong behind the characters. The character designs no longer look cut up and pixelly but look much more realistic even next even to the improved background. The characters flow smoothly on the screen and their actions have much more realism then past games. The textures on the characters and environment good, and the game definitely is awe inspiring.

Flow and Textures
The graphics have a smooth blend of lighting and texture to create some of the most realistic characters and settings ever in any game. Few jagged angles and warped designs make it definitely the most visually appealing Final Fantasy to date. Few load times and smooth transitions between different scenes are also a plus. Final Fantasy X kind of failed a bit inn texture. It had such a high polygon count that at some points the characters appeared to be some what plastic. They look to smooth and have no realness. But it is rare and usually unnoticed.

Full Motion Videos
Full Motion Videos are a given in recent Final Fantasy games, and the ones in Final Fantasy X are as amazing as ever. Many of the FMVs almost seem to come to life on your screen even more than the real time. Pushing the limits of a system as always, Square made it so we will very likely never see much better graphics than these on the PlayStation 2. Though many complain about the excess of them, totaling over 50, I find them well done and smoothly transitioned to the real-time graphics. And really you're either watching a cut scene or FMV, which would you rather watch? The character designs are amazing and my jaw dropped more than once. There is also an option in Final Fantasy X for you to buy the FMVs you have watched throughout the game in the form of Spheres, the main video in the world of Final Fantasy X.

In Game and Cut-Scene
This is another small problem with Final Fantasy X. Final Fantasy X uses three separate models for the in game/real-time, cut-scene, and FMVs so the characters look little like there counterparts in the different forms of video. But other than that it is still breathtaking and well done. The new “emotion engine” is really well implemented. And like I said before, the realism is very impressive and you probably won't notice too many of the graphical bumps.

Graphics: 9/10

Game Play
The most important part of any RPG, the game play. Final Fantasy X completely re-does the old game play systems of the recent Final Fantasys: a whole new battle system, a new way of leveling up, no world map, etc. For some this may seem horrible and make them think Square Enix ruined the series, but I find the innovation is what the series really needed.

Game Play – General
Gone is the day of the world map. Final Fantasy X offers a full environment with no points where you “have to press X to enter”, no areas on a map smaller than you, nothing like that. The game is quite linear but it in no detracts from the story, quite the opposite it adds to the story. And most Final Fantasys are quite linear. And really a world map at this point with the graphical capabilities the PlayStation 2 has one would seem quite ridiculous. At certain points of the game Chocobos are ride able but no more ranches, and it costs to ride but not much. Additionally, the Chocobos can't go farther than the area you get them in. There are plenty of highroads and such that you have to walk, but the world of Final Fantasy X has many different environments from snowy mountains to forests and open fields.

Game Play – Story and Characters
The story follows a young Blitzball [the sport/mini-game of Final Fantasy X] player in his journey through a new world, as he accompanies a summoner on her pilgrimage. Simple, right? Wrong, but you'll have to play the game to find out the rest. The characters are very well done; you can really feel their struggles. They don't seem false in any way and have very good back stories. The game does a good job of explaining each characters story and tying them all in together in the cycle. You can come to really almost know why they do the things they do and it rarely feels out of character for them. Which could be considered a fault; their progression is quite predictable many a time.

Game Play – Battles
A totally new battle system called CTB, or Command Time Battle, is used in Final Fantasy X. Although not totally turn based it is a step in that direction from ATB. Each character has a turn but how many they have and how often is dependent on their speed, unlike in turn based where each character has one turn, then everyone else has one. You have as much or little time as you want to choose what attack or action you want to use, which makes for a very good system. It can be fast like real time, but you don't have to worry about being attacked while scrolling through menus. One of the best systems I've ever played.

The level up system is basically scraped for the Sphere Grid. The Sphere Grid is made up of nods which raise your abilities and attributes. With certain spheres you can unlock nods like HP +200 or Strength +2. It leaves very little room for customization early on but later becomes on of the most customizable systems ever as you move into other characters grids. Each character starts out with a path of their own, but later you can move into other paths and create and erase nods of your own. I like the system but I find it needs more work than normal leveling up. In this game weapons and armor are customizable, and this is a double-edged sword. It is hard to decide which way to make your weapon with all the decisions and it also uses items, but customization can make you immensely stronger and the game immensely easier. Additionally, customization is quite permanent. You can customize your weapons and armor in any way from strength increases to elemental types.

Characters are now switch able whenever even during battle and the switched in character has the first attack. Nice, huh? Summons are now, also, controllable and are your greatest ally in tough battles. You can use them until they run out of HP, which they have a lot of. Even better is that they have Limit Breaks, now called Overdrive, and it can be saved and used at your disposal, the same as the characters.

Game Play: 9/10

Sound and Music
Two words for you: Voice Acting. That is right. The first Final Fantasy with Voice Actors [and Actresses] is on the Sony PlayStation 2. And they do a brilliant job. And the music is not bad either.

Voices and Mouth Movement Matching
The voice actors do a wonderful job, and you can really feel them portray the characters emotions. The script is well written and also helps to portray the characters. The actors were well chosen for there roles and fit quite well though many complain about some of them having high-pitched voices but I don't see why they think that. Square really could have done a better job on matching the mouth movement to the voices. Many of the scenes look like bad, BAD, BAD foreign Kung Fu movies. The words and the moths do not match at all unlike other Square Enix games with voices like Kingdom Hearts. Though you can press the X button during speech to cause them to stop talking altogether, but the game script will not go any faster. I only they had spent just a little more time on this.

Battles
This may seem like a weird section to put under the sound category but not so here. During battle the characters will say certain catch phrases like while fleeing you might say, “Catch you later.” This really adds to the over all quality of the game and is a definite plus. And the battle music is no let down either though it is similar to past titles.

Music/Original Score
The music of Final Fantasy X is amazingly well done. It is probably some of the best music of the series. The sweeping music really fits with the scenes and can make the difference between just another scene or just another place and a spectacularly done area. Final Fantasy X's music is really awe inspiring and amazingly well done. It is one of the more memorable scores in Final Fantasy. Music can also be bought in the form of Spheres.

Sound and Music: 8/10

Controls & Camera
Controls
The controls are petty similar to Final Fantasy IX in many respects and are quite easy to pick up on right away.

Camera
The camera is uncontrollable, but it very rarely causes a problem for the player. The only problem I've had is sometimes when it is to far zoomed out it is hard to see sometimes. Basically you walk a certain distance and the camera suddenly decides to catch up.

Controls & Camera: 8/10

Replay
Final Fantasy X has very little immediate replay value due to it either being a very long game or the plot being slow to pick up, but it is always a good game that is easy the sit down and play with a medium challenge.

Buy or Rent
Definitely a buy, you cannot really experience the full game without a much longer time then a simple rent would allow. Though if you are unsure it is a good idea to rent it first but make sure to play through a good part of the game or you will miss out on a lot.

Pros
-Amazing graphics
-Good character development
-Great music
-Good controls
-Good camera

Cons
-Short on the real story part
-Character model differences
-Overused enemy designs
-Voices do not match up with mouth movements

Graphics: 9/10
Game Play: 9/10
Sound and Music: 8/10
Controls & Camera: 8/10

Total of 8.5/10 that I rounded down to...

Overall: 8/10


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/29/05, Updated 12/16/05


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