Review by lighty691

"Arguably the best in the series..."

Final Fantasy X - Review
by Andrew Light

Welcome to my review for Final Fantasy X for the Playstation 2. Final Fantasy X follows a successful series of games but is the first for the Playstation 2. Earlier incarnations (VI, VII, VIII and IX) had all been released on the less powerful Playstation 1 but had huge success so there was a lot of expectation on the Playstation 2's first outing. By having a new system with far superior capabilites Final Fantasy X needed to be something really special...

Final Fantasy X follows the story of lead character Tidus who is a young, outgoing and sometimes brash character who believes strongly in friendship and helping people regardless of the problem. Tidus is a star blitzball player (an underwater mix of basketball, rugby and football) who plays for the Zanarkand Abes. He is a cult hero in the sport and is known across the whole world of Spira. However during a Blitzball match the city is attacked by a huge enemy known only as "Sin" and Tidus is thrust 1000 years into the future. This is where the main game begins as Tidus meets up with another Blitzball player called Wakka. He is also a guardian to a summoner who has to go on a pilgrimage to become high summoner. Tidus takes in on himself to join in and help along the way. Final Fantasy X follows the typical storyline of previous games in the series where the player takes on the role of a single character with their own background who is inevitably destined to save the world from evil. As always the storyline forms the main basis of the game and continually unravels as the characters progress. One of the best features of the story in Final Fantasy X is the broad range of characters and their interaction with each other. For example you have the laid back and easy going character of Tidus contrasted against the mysterious and deep character of Auron. There is also similar contrast between the fiercely loyal half man, half beast Kimarhi and the reckless and strange antics of Rikku. This is a running theme within Final Fantasy games of the past and appears again here in this game. The characters in the game are very easily related to and you find yourself really caring for their predicament and desperately wanting them to succeed. This is probably one of the reasons Final Fantasy games are so successful.

Another hugely important part of any game, particularly RPG games is the gameplay and Final Fantasy X does not disappoint. Fans of the series will instantly recognise the style of gameplay which beings with semi linear gameplay and eventually progressing into full freedom as to where, when and what you do in the game. A huge new feature in the game is the Sphere Grid. This is a huge grid where all new abilities, spells and power ups are set out in a grid. In order to progress players win battles and are awarded "moves" on the grid to access different skills and abilities. When players reach an ability or power up they use skill spheres to permanently activate these powerups. This gives players much more freedom to develop and progress characters exactly as they like as you can plan routes to the abilities you want the most. The sphere grid is huge and will require many hours to master. Another new feature of the game is during battle. The basic elements of turn based attack are still in the game however now you can view what order attacks will occur in. Certain powerful attacks will take longer to implement, therefore your enemy could get in two attacks before you. Similarly you could also implement a quick attack to get in multiple attacks before your enemy gets the chance to retaliate. Another new feature around the battle system is the change to switch players mid battle. You will select a party to start the battle however should you need to change a character can use their turn to switch places with another character. Both of these new features add a whole new element of strategy within the game. Monsters are stronger and characters can now inflict up to 99,999 damage per hit with the right weapons. This is due to a new feature which lets players decide what abilities a weapon or a piece of armour has. This again allows players to customise their equipment to their exact specifications depending on the amount of freedom required. The last major change within the battles is the use of allies. In previous incarnations, summoned monsters are called once to perform an attack and leave immediately after. The Aeons in Final Fantasy X act as a playable character when summoned, having their own stats and unique devastating attacks. They also have special limit break attacks just like their real life counterparts. Aeons can be called and dismissed during battle as needed.

One of the most recognisable features of Final Fantasy games has always been the vast amount of side quests that are available to players. Final Fantasy X is no different and has hundreds of hours worth of extras to complete. There are far too many to mention but one of the main ones is the Blitzball competitions. As mentioned the main character was a star Blitzball player back in his time and Wakka is also the captain of his home team, the Besaid Aurochs. Very early on in the game Tidus agrees to help out the team. There is only 1 match that is mandatory to complete the game but there is a whole host of other games and tournaments that can be competed in. This side quest is almost a whole game in itself and is incredibly addictive. Players can be recruited whilst on your travels around the world and team members can learn new abilities and special moves as well as improving stats through playing games. There are also unique prizes to be won by winning cup and league competitions. The other big side quest to complete is a completely new feature where you capture enemies with special weapons. These are then transported to an arena where you can fight them multiple times. If you catch enough of certain types and breeds of enemies the arena owner will create unique monsters for you to battle against that cannot be found in the normal world. These enemies are often superstrong and will take some effort to defeat.

As mentioned previously Final Fantasy X is the first title on the superior Playstation 2 which game the developers the opportunity to create a game that could blow away anything we had seen in a Final Fantasy game before. This was without doubt achieved as the game looks stunning. Graphically the characters and the surroundings that they are in look amazing and are certainly far superior to anything else seen before in a game. Characters now have real facial emotions and real voice actors are used to supplement the text that is used when characters interact. The FMV sequences are also incredible and are presented with stunning detail. The official soundtrack to the game is arguably the best that has been seen in a Final Fantasy game up till now. The music in the game sets out perfectly the different scenarios in the game from the technical lifestyle of certain cities to the rural areas of others. One of the best tracks is the music played during the cloister of trials.

Overall the game is so large that most players will probably never complete everything in the game, but this is a good thing! For those that do, the storyline and general addictive nature of the game means that players will definitely come back for multiple plays. Anyone who has not played this game before needs to get out, pick up a copy and play it now.

Final Score 10/10

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 06/14/10

Game Release: Final Fantasy X (EU, 05/24/02)

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