Review by nash_clovis

"An Underwhelming Experience for Hardcore Fans Only"

“An Underwhelming Experience for Hardcore Fans Only”

I am a huge fan of Role-playing games. Naturally, Square Enix and the Final Fantasy series continue to deliver more and then some. In fact, the last time I didn't like a Final Fantasy game was Final Fantasy II. But now I've found another one that I don't like much: Final Fantasy X. Before I get to why this game sucks, let's explore what makes a Final Fantasy game good. In an FF game, the music is iconic, the characters are memorable, the plot is interwoven and very intriguing, and it looks really pretty. In short, it's just a good game. Final Fantasy X fulfills exactly half of these, and then fails spectacularly in the other two.

To begin with, the story is the most hackneyed cliché in all of gaming: the hero and his motley crew have to kill a big monster...thing. Once they do so, they'll save the world and everyone will go their separate ways. In fact, I could probably just stop the plot analysis here, because that's all there is; just that and pretty much every RPG cliché you could possibly imagine.

One day, Blitzball Ace Tidus (or whatever you decide to name him) tries to go to the Blitzball arena to play, when all of the sudden, a big monster called Sin shows up, wrecks his town, and drops him in Spira. While in Spira, he learns about Yuna and how she is on a journey to get rid of Sin (!!!) and save the world for ten years until Sin comes back again. There are religious references all over the place for those who wish to look into them. Personally, I didn't bother. Not even the most obscure reference will keep me from criticizing you, FFX.

The characters are very unlikeable, as well. Tidus is your generic preppy teenage hero who thinks he's hot stuff, Yuna is your generic healer/summoner who sounds like she delivered her lines after a major vocal cord operation or something because you can barely hear her, Auron is your generic silent guardian/awesome guy, generic, generic, generic, unlikeable. And only about three people in your party are actually developed: the others are seen as several minor characters that you can play as without much backstory involved. The “major villain” of the game is just viewed in an odd light to me: the game portrays him as evil, but the player isn't really led one way or the other in their opinion. He's a villain who really doesn't seem like a villain, which is not all that great.

This game was the first Final Fantasy to be released on the PS2, and the graphics are absolutely insane. They're beautifully imagined and they all look really great. And the music is equally as memorable. If you just looked at the graphics and heard the music, you'd probably want to buy this game. That's pretty much what happened to me. And then you're drawn into the voice acting. Oh, man, the voice acting.

The voice acting is terrible. While I'll give Square credit (It was the first FF on the PS2, and probably one of their first games to have voice acting in it) for trying, it's almost unforgiveable. Yuna sounds like she's always whispering and you can barely hear her, the dialogue seems forced and awkward (especially when combined with the terrible storyline.), and none of the characters have any presence. It's like watching a cardboard cut-out talk: they have the mouth movements and can actually talk, but then you see the whole picture and the fact that it's a cardboard cut-out talking to you. Nearly every character in this game looks incredibly awkward, like the designers tried to cross the Uncanny Valley and fell in.

You don't gain actual levels in this game. Instead, you gain “Sphere Levels”. Each sphere level means one more place you can move up your sphere grid, which is how you gain stat bonuses, attacks, skills, and magic for battle. But to gain those skills, you have to have the respective Sphere in your inventory. It's really not that hard to obtain spheres, and it's not particularly hard to gain sphere levels, either. And once you get the Lock Spheres, you can leave that character's part of the sphere grid and gain more skills. So, it's entirely possible to have a character that has every bonus, every skill, and every magic spell in the entire game. I have no problem with this level-up system, because it gives you enough room to customize your characters however you want, which is pretty awesome. Yes, I do want a character with immense physical strength, defense, and the ability to use healing magic. Because that's pretty awesome.

The Battle system is also fairly decent. There's no set ATB gauge in this game, to begin with. Each action will affect the speed of you next action. For example, if you use an item, you will take your next turn faster than if you had attacked. If this doesn't make a whole lot of sense, don't worry, because it's all pretty easy to understand. Additionally, your Aeons (summons) will actually stay out after they've been summoned. And now you can command them like you would any other character. I'd like to point out now how, if you do your customization and use your summons wisely, it's physically impossible for you to get a Game Over. That's how broken nearly everything in this game is in battle. If I had to take off points for battle, it's that it's way too easy.

Every Final Fantasy game has a few weapons that are renowned as the best weapons in the game. Typically, they're difficult to get, but not impossible to get. Not the case with Final Fantasy X; you'll be at that minigame for hours and hours trying to do it right. Blitzball, the main sport of Spira and the chief minigame here, is absolutely inane, hard to play, difficult to understand, and really obnoxious. There are so many stats that have an effect on the way you play Blitzball and how easy it is that it's insane. And there's so much addition and subtraction over everything that you might as well keep a calculator handy if you're bad at math or something. If you somehow manage to win this unfortunate mish-mash of a minigame, you can get a character's ultimate weapon. But the only ability it has is an ability where YOU DON'T GAIN AP. “So,” you might ask yourself, “how to I take this off and put new stuff on it?” The answer is to either explore or do more minigames. Both of which are terrible ideas. Oh, and I haven't even gotten to the Thunder Plains or the Chocobo Races yet. In short, if you aren't obsessive about completion, don't even bother: your sanity is a very valuable thing.

All in all, this game is bad. It's a stain on the otherwise wonderful Final Fantasy series. The few good points of the game are overshadowed by terrible voice acting, awful character models, easy “PRESS X TO WIN BATTLE” gameplay, ridiculous and obnoxious minigames, Blitzball, and unlikeable characters. If you aren't a hardcore fan, you might find it kind of hard to appreciate this game.


Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 11/23/09

Game Release: Final Fantasy X (US, 12/17/01)

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