Review by ShapeQuest
"Different from its predecessors in many ways"
Final Fantasy X is, in many ways, unlike its predecessors. It is the first Final Fantasy to have voice actors. It is the first to drop the world map format. There is no leveling up in this game. The battle system no longer includes a little meter that must be filled up before someone can attack. You can switch out your characters DURING the battle. The summons stay on the battlefield and have multiple abilities. The point is, the list is long. Are these changes for the better? Let's examine the game further:
You begin the game as Tidus, a star Blitzball player. Tidus somehow gets blasted 1000 years into the future by a gigantic creature named Sin. As he struggles to understand this new world and its situation, he eventually meets a young summoner who must make a pilgrimage to defeat Sin. The other characters are called her guardians, which is where the whole switch-out-a-character-midbattle thing came into play.
Each character starts out on a certain point in what's called the Sphere Grid. This grid is the leveling up system in the game. As you win battles, you'll be given the chance to move around the grid more. This allows you to gain access to different stats (strength, magic, agility, etc) with different values per node. For instance, you might encounter a +3 boost in luck. And sometimes you will even encounter a new ability on the grid.
Because each character begins on different points in the grid, the characters have different job classes in the beginning of the game. Tidus specializes against enemies that have a high evasion rate, for instance. And Lulu is the Black Mage. Eventually, as the game progresses, your characters will travel all over the grid, and they can become many job classes at once. The only exception is Yuna, who is the summoner mentioned earlier. Only she can call the summons, named Aeons in this game.
Limit Breaks make their way into this game as well, only this time they are called Overdrives. The interesting thing about Overdrives is that they are unlocked in different ways, depending on the character. Tidus's are unlocked by successfully completing previous Overdrives. Lulu's involve her black magic abilities, so you need to find them on the grid. Kimahri is the Blue Mage in the game, so his Overdrives are whatever abilities he has collected. Also, the player will need to be a bit more involved when he or she chooses to induce a character to go into Overdrive mode (that's another difference, by the wayyou can choose to use these things whenever you feel like it). The player will need to press buttons or use the analog stick for a successful Overdrive (the exception is Kimahri, Yuna, and Rikku). And not only thatthe summons have Overdrives as well. So these can make for some really powerful moves.
Another new feature in this game is the fact that your weapons and armor can be totally customizable. Along your journey, monsters (called Fiends in this game) often drop items which can be used to add cool abilities to your weapons/armor. For instance, an item related to ice will probably make your armor resistance to ice attacks or will make your weapon have an ice element added to it. Towards the end of the game when you find some REALLY cool items, a lot of cool options will be available for your equipment. You can also use these items for customization during battle for some interesting effects (this is also tied into Rikku's Overdrive, called Mix).
A lot of these storyline bosses are no picnic, either. You'll have to make full use of the game's mechanics. For instance, one boss casts STRONG elemental magic at you. You'll have to cast nullification magic accordingly. Another boss will try to heal during the fight, so you'll need to know about the properties of Reflect and Dispel.
There are sidequests galore in this game. Throughout the journey you can collect Al Bhed primers. The Al Bhed speak a totally different language and only by collecting all of the primers will you be able to completely understand them (via the subtitles). And remember how Tidus is a Blitzball player? Well, Blitzball is a HUGE minigame that involves tournaments and great prizes (and it's also fun!). Additionally, there are multiple areas that are TOTALLY optional. Some of these contain extra summons for Yuna (all are very powerful). Then there's the Monster Arena, where you can battle against optional bosses if you feel the storyline ones aren't up to par. Trust me, you'll need to train a LOT to take them on. And if all THAT wasn't enough, each character has his or her own individual ultimate weapon. Seven in total, these weapons have separate sidequests so that you may obtain them.
The graphics in this game really show off the power of the PS2 (especially during the FMV sequences). Even better, the game developers have included a little section in one of the towns where you can go to rewatch all the FMV sequences in the game (except the ending sequence). The architecture is very detailed, and the natural scenery is wonderful to stop and look at. The characters themselves have full facial expressions, which is a nice bonus to see.
The music in this game is WONDERFUL. Nobuo is really shining at his best with what is clearly full use of the orchestra. You will never get tired of any of the tunes being played. The two songs in the game with lyrics are also really great. And, as per tradition, the usual Final Fantasy victory tune will play at the end of a battle.
The replay value is great if you want to start over and finish all the numerous sidequests. I've heard of lots of people who have racked up hundreds of hours just doing everything. Also, you can see what the Al Bhed are saying if you play it for a second time (with all the primers of course).
So why did this game not receive a perfect score? Two reasons. One: the main character is, in my opinion, somewhat unlikable. He whines a lot. He has one of those cliché father-complexes. And while the rest of the voice acting is great, some of his lines made me raise my eyebrow. Two: there is, like many of the other Final Fantasies, a love story here. And it's well, in my opinion, totally improbable. I think it was poorly executed and what can I say, it made me cringe. Some might argue that you don't necessarily play a Final Fantasy game for the stellar love story, but I've come to expect better with RPGs. For these two things, I give a point deduction.
Other than that I can proudly give my full recommendation for Final Fantasy X. Although several changes were made for this PS2 game, I believe this offers us a fresh and interesting gamestyle. The graphics are great, the songs are great, and the battle system offers lots of choices If you see this game in the stores, please consider picking it up. This is also a great game to be introduced into the RPG genre with.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/15/09, Updated 07/15/09
Game Release: Final Fantasy X (US, 12/17/01)
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