Review by KasketDarkfyre

"The Pinnacle of Final Fantasy Games."

Finally, I get a copy of Final Fantasy X for my Play Station 2, and attempt to try and find the first thing wrong with it. While this may seem like a short sided and rather biased attempt to down a game that has plenty to live up to, the only thing that I could find wrong with the game, is that it was way too short for my liking! Placing you back in the Squaresoft world of Final Fantasy, the basis of the story remains while the names of the characters and the overall goal has changed just slightly. In the shoes of a young sports star named Tidus, it is up to you and your comrades to stop the evil force of Sin from destroying the world of Spira. Through your adventure, your character will face off against many dangers that range from matters of life and death to matters of the heart; all done in true Final Fantasy fashion. Much of the game has been revamped, as far as the game itself and how it plays, but again, to this particular reviewer, the game seems to end just as it is truly beginning, and although the shortness of the game is enough to throw most role playing fans off, this title is truly a gaming experience that all Play Station 2 owners should partake in!

The overall game play of the game revolves around the tried and true battle system of turned base action. While the fights are linear in what they entail, there are several instances of Squaresoft returning to the roots of old and throwing in different elements of all the Final Fantasy games that we’ve played thus far. From the different Overdrive moves {they are advanced Limit Breaks} to the different mini-games and summoning quests that you partake in, any fan of the Final Fantasy series, no matter which game, will find a niche somewhere in this title! Something new that I found in this title is that the battles no longer range around a set three people, but rather switching out your characters mid-battle in order to up everyone in the experience department. This is a refreshing way of completing the game, in which you can use different tactics and different characters for all situations that may arise, whether it is a regular enemy battle or a wickedly difficult boss battle. All in all, with the battle system that the game allows you to deal with, you have a wider range of control over the characters, and something that was fulfilled on the wish list of a wide range of Final Fantasy fans is that you can now battle with different Aeons {Summon Creatures} which allows for a greater amount of challenge and variety!

Something that has been seriously changed is the way that you can develop your characters into what they become near the end of the game. Through an extensive grid system that involves spheres of different types, you can take all of the characters on different paths in order to truly customize them for different situations! This is something that I’ve never really had control over, and with the different Final Fantasy games, the only one that I can really relate the way that you develop your characters is with Tactics, but even then, this system is strangely different. Although it isn’t the easiest system to work with {a simple wrong choice will hinder your character} it does offer quite a bit of variety to the what that the game is played and the overall success that you’ll enjoy as long as your characters are vamped up correctly. In all honesty, this is the first time that I’ve ever played a game in which you have to truly think about the choices you make and if you make a mistake, it’ll cost you later on down the road. If you think about it like that, then you’ll find that the degree of difficulty in the game is either increased or decreased depending on what you choose to do. If you place all of your skills in health, then you’ll have a walking target that has plenty of health, but no defense or offense. On the same token, if you place all of you skill in strength and defense, then you’ll have a powerful corpse that is easily killed by a simple heavy hit!

Controlling Final Fantasy X is something that anyone with Final Fantasy experience can do, and even the menus that you run into and are forced to use are easy enough to perform with enough practice. Items and weapons are easily equipped with a simple press of the button and long gone are the days of having to junction abilities or materia to your battle objects! For most gamers who have run across this small annoyance in the previous three titles, this will be a refreshing change of pace in which you can just pick up and go without having to spend twenty minutes traversing menu upon menu. Battling is the same as it has always been in which you simply select your target, your means of action and then hit the button. Other than that, there really is nothing new here that you have to learn, nor is it anything that you have to really stress out over, other than the Blitzball mini-game, but even that is easily learned with a little practice.

Visually, the game is absolutely spectacular. Through most of the game, you’ll find that the difference between the CGI movies and the actual game are so close that you’ll never really know what is going on until you realize that you’re watching one of the numerous sequences! The story line itself is brought to life in such a fashion, that the different facial features as well as the emotional differences that you see within the different characters seem almost realistic enough and can be compared to the visual accuracy that the Final Fantasy movie showed. Such realism in a role playing title such as this is rare to find at this point, and is truly a treat to the ears. If you can really get into the game, you’ll find that weapons and items take effect on your characters in the different battles, and the amount of in game detail is staggering enough to make you sit back in amazement. For once, this is what Final Fantasy should have been since the days of Play Station in terms of the visuals and with all of the different environments, spells, creatures, boss characters and beautiful places and movies that you’ll see, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that comes close to matching it!

The audio in Final Fantasy X is yet another instance of where mood and emotion is put into the game without becoming too overbearing or out of place. The music tracks, while not all that much in the variation department, do come in at just the right places, and the fact that the game features a massive amount of voice acting that comes in at all points of the game, you’ll find that the audio track featured here is some of the best in the Final Fantasy series and otherwise! The sound effects range from the minimal {such as water dripping} to the massive and complete {full cities of walking, talking people} and the ambient level is set to such a plateau that you really get immersed in the full experience that the game offers you. Putting all of these things together, it’s something of a relief to hear the difference between this and other Final Fantasy games by making the game sound as though you were really there and placing you so deep into the story that you never really want to stop listening for fear of missing something important.

Final Fantasy X is the pinnacle of the Squaresoft series that has spanned several different platforms, systems and years. Through this adventure, the story {while well used} offers you characters that you don’t come to hate by the end of the game and the full evolution of those key characters is what truly makes the game a joy to play! With the different battle elements that have been included that span as far back as Final Fantasy 3/6, anyone with any sort of Final Fantasy experience will find their niche here in the game. The completion of a hybrid character development, which allows you, as the player, to direct just how powerful your character can be, truly completes everything that games such as this should be. A game that can’t be completed in a single weekend or even a month, this game is not only a purchasing choice, but truly a collectable game that will be hard to top with another sequel later on down the road!

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 12/28/01, Updated 12/28/01

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