"Sins of Our Fathers"

Often thought of the best RPG series to grace our planet, Final Fantasy will always be remembered throughout the ages. Some installments are known to be better than others, and Final Fantasy X just so happens to be one of them. The amazing story, combat system, graphics, sound - all wrapped up into one nice little package. This is one adventure every PlayStation 2 owners should take - no, every gamer should take.

In the beginning you take the role of a young athlete named Tidus. He’s a star of a game called Blitzball, a mix of soccer, football, and swimming. It’s a big night in your futuristic city of Zanarkand because your Blitzball team has big game tonight. You bring your burning passion for the game on the field and decimate the competition. While absorbing the hearty cheers of the crowd you notice something out of the corner of your eye: a gigantic pulsating orb of water. The spectators take heed to it immediately and run for their lives and you the same. As you’re dashing out of the stadium, you spot an old friend of yours. He gives you a sword and leads you toward the water. Is he crazy or something!? Since you trust your friend, you follow him toward the thing. The hydraulic sphere spews aquatic monsters at you, and eventually sucks you in. Everything becomes dark.

Eventually you wake up in a strange new location. A place called Spira. This world is much different from Zanarkand. Spira is left in ruins, and the people refuse to use electronic devices they call “mechina“ because of something called Sin. They say this creature will come and devour them if they dare utilize the forbidden “machine” - or so says their spiritual god Yevon. Eventually Tidus meets up with a cute young woman named Yuna. She is practicing to become a summoner. As a summoner, she must go on a pilgrimage to the Temples of Yevon. At these holy sanctuaries she must obtain the power of Aeons, beasts called upon for defeating Sin. Yuna’s pilgrimage is starting soon, and since Tidus seems to be lost, the summoner’s guardians decide to bring Tidus along. The ragtag group aiding Yuna tells Tidus they’ll bring him to Spira’s largest city in hope of finding someone that knows him. However none of them would know of the massive journey they’d all be taking together.

The plot is amazing with a slew of twist and turns. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next to the cast of FFX. Also the ending is just marvelous. However many people complain about the story because of the excessive amount of scenes. Personally I didn’t care about sitting through scenes, because they gave more emotion and personality to the characters and moved the plot along at a wonderful pace. Since Sin is a grandiose creature that doesn’t talk, there are other villains featured that you’ll love to hate. In addition the characters are excellent.

As I said before, you fill the shoes of our main character Tidus. Many people complain that he’s too annoying or stupid, but I think that Tidus is probably the best main character in a Final Fantasy game. He has a personality and more emotion than anyone I’ve even seen in a RPG. Going through the game, I wanted Tidus to succeed in his everyday misadventures. I wanted him to win a game of Blitzball, tell off the pompous villains, and do whatever it takes to achieve his destiny. Quite simply, Tidus is the man! I felt the same way about the main heroine Yuna. The supporting cast of characters are also just as interesting. We have a bungling Bliztball coach and friend of Yuna named Wakka. An always serious black mage and “sister” of Yuna called Lulu joins the cast. There’s a silent gigantic beast man that has vowed to protect Yuna named Kimahri. Also present is a cunning cute little thief girl that knows her way around machines called Rikku. And lastly we have a tough as nails swordsman named Auron.

Another excellent thing about FFX is how for the most part everyone has their own job in the game. Tidus is your all around great character. He’s speed allows him to dodge attacks, he’s got decent HP and defense, and he’s pretty powerful. Yuna is your white mage and summoner. She’ll obtain most of the healing magic and she can call upon the Aeons for help in combat. Wakka is your basic long range attacker. He’s not as powerful as say Tidus, but he can hit ANYTHING! Wakka’s accuracy is usually insanely high. Lulu is your attack magic character. She’ll learn all the black magic to make her enemies fall. Rikku is the thief who utilizes skills such as steal or coin toss, but she’s not that strong. Kimhari is a completel customizable character. His starting path is very short and allows you to move into anyone else's path. Auron is your classic tank character. He’s slow, but Auron packs a punch with his blade and with high defense and HP, can take any attacks.

The battle system has changed a bit. There are still your standard random encounters, but they no longer feature the Active Time Battle system. FFX has gone back to the old ways of a turn based system, but it does have a petite addition. In this title you can switch party members on the fly during combat! This has to be the best addition to the series I’ve ever seen! I always hated how you couldn’t use everyone in the older FF titles. You’d have to always put someone on the sidelines while you have your high level characters dish out the pain, but now you can bring someone in whenever you want. Another plus to this is if you’re character is low on HP and you don’t have time to heal them, you can simply replace him with a fully healed character.

The combat system also utilizes the Limit Breaks once again, but they’re called Overdrives here. At first they’ll seem like the same things you found in FFVII - you have a meter that increases as you take damage. When you take enough damage, you can perform an Overdrive. However eventually the differences will show. Later on in the game, your characters can unlock new ways to fill that Overdrive meter. There are other such as damaging enemies, healing allies, killing monsters, or even winning a fight. The different styles of filling your meter make it easier for certain characters to get their Overdrives. For example, Auron won’t take a lot of damage, so giving him the first one won’t help him very much. However if our tank has the “damage to an enemy” mode equipped, than he’ll be acquiring a slew of Overdrives.

Of course, status effects once again rear their vile heads. Luckily there aren’t as many in this title. First we have darkness. This effects radically drops your accuracy making it impossible to hit your opponents. The there’s silence, which voids all magic for the carrier. Poison once again returns, and as always damages a character every time they perform an action. Allies can once again be put to sleep, which stops them from attacking as does prettification. However if you’re petrified and then attacked, your character is gone for the remainder of the battle. A confused ally will randomly attack their friends and foes, while a berserked character will simply keep attacking their enemies. Characters that are afflicted with the zombie status effect are hurt by curative magic. Lastly, a slowed character won’t execute moves as fast as they normally would.

There are now only four opposing elements as opposed to the massive amounts of earlier FF installments. There’s fire, ice, water, and lightning. Fire is weak against ice, while ice is weak against fire. Lightning is weak against water, and water is weak against lightning. Got it? Good.

The summons work differently than past games. Originally, summons would briefly come into a fight, do some flashy move, and leave. Aeons on the other hand come in and fight for your party. You take control of the Aeons as if they were a party members (note that the rest of your party leaves when these enormous beasts hit the scene). They have their own stats, abilities, spells, and Overdrives. Also eventually you’ll gain the ability to increase your Aeon’s stats by giving them items.

With the exception of the changes I’ve mentioned, the combat system is pretty much the same. There are the same old commands such as attack, magic, or defend and the HP and MP are still there. But the experience system is a complete change.

No longer will you gain experience points to “get to the next level.” Now you gain experience to gain Sphere Grid moves. Every stat increase, ability or spell (this excludes Aeons) is obtained through the Sphere Grid. At your place on the Sphere Grid, you can utilize spheres to improve your stats and what not. When you move on the grid, you can access more of your spheres. You can find these spheres in chests or beating creatures. But the best part about the sphere grid is how you can customize your characters. With special spheres found throughout FFX, you can move your character’s place on the Sphere Grid anywhere. By the end of the game my party was completely different from the norm. Yuna had every white and black spell in addition to a skill that allowed her to cast two magic spells a turn and made all magic cost one MP. Tidus was incredibly quick, accurate, and powerful. Also he knew every ability in the game.

To gain the powers of new Aeons, Yuna must pass the Closter of Trials in each temple. What you the gamer must do is solve puzzles with Tidus. These puzzles usually involve taking spheres out of walls and placing them elsewhere, moving pillars around, or simply touching walls. Some puzzles such as the replacing spheres I just mentioned, are overly simple. You won’t have any trouble figuring those kinds of puzzles out, but others may frustrate you. The puzzles that involve Tidus placing his hand over the stony surface are often difficult because you just wouldn’t think to do that. Luckily there aren’t many like that, and you could always just read a FAQ to figure it out. In addition in each temple of Yevon, there is a secret item that will aid you on your quest. Should you find all of them, you’ll also gain another VERY helpful secret. . .

FFX can be a very long enthralling quest, but it depends on what you do. If you want to do the bare minimum, you’ll get to the end in about thirty hours. However there are a plethora of side quests to do, and trying to customize your characters further will also make this quest pretty long. My main file is now somewhere near one hundred hours of gameplay, and I’ve hear tales of people that have played for more than two hundred and fifty hours! Are the side quests worth it? Well. . . .maybe.

The big attraction for side quests this time around isn’t a card game, but instead Tidus’ favorite sport Blitzball. It’s a very complicated and expensive game. I say expensive because you have to pay your players a salary and most of the best ones are quite costly. I won’t go into any details about Blitzball because there is a massive tutorial in the game. Personally I found Blitzball enjoyable, but not something I’d want to play on its own. Unfortunately the game just doesn’t cut the mustard as much as Triple Triad from FFVIII did.

Other side quests involve things such as catching monsters, racing chocobos, and finding hidden Aeons. They’re aren’t exactly extremely fun things to do, but the rewards are amazing. However acquiring the ultimate weapons in the game kind or destroy combat. Every ultimate weapon allows your characters to do more than 9999 damage. This completely throws off combat because you’ll be able to beat anything in one hit (this even includes the final boss). Many people complain that the final boss is too easy. I’ve actually seen people say “FFX sucks because you can beat the final boss in one hit”. For those people I must say this: I’ve played through the entire game twice. The second time I skipped getting the ultimate weapons because of how difficult obtaining them is. Let me tell you that the end of the game is REALLY challenging without your ultra powerful blades. So you can all just shut up now.

Graphically this title is amazing. The real-time visuals are astounding with a slew of smooth polygons with impressive textures and colors. The characters and monsters have excellent animations. The backgrounds are also wonderful now that they are fully 3D instead of the old pre-rendered backgrounds of the last installments. The trees and grass even sway with the breeze. There is no pop-up either, which is a welcomed aspect of 3D games. The characters’ faces are mind boggling because they sport expressions giving emotion to the game. Yes, the mouthing to the words is off, but this isn’t something people should complain about. The game was made for the characters to be speaking Japanese. It would cost too much money to reprogram the game just so the mouth fits. It’s a small problem that doesn’t need to be fixed. It doesn’t make the game any worse. There are even blurring effects to provoke the feeling of rushing wind. The FMV in the game is excellent. The characters look stunningly realistic with their marvelous animation.

The sound effects are also top-notch. There are tons of slashes and bashing noises presented in combat to bring life the pain of battle. There are also many impressive subtle noises such as Tidus’ necklace rattling while he walks or his soft footsteps. There are also a ton of voice-overs during combat to flesh out the intensity our heroes feel. The voices are a mixed bag. Yes, Tidus’ voice is annoying at first, but after a hour or two of gameplay, I was used to it. Auron has a nice throaty voice, Kimhari has a great booming voice, Rikku has bouncy cut speech, Wakka uses a cool Hawaiian accent, and Lulu has an arrogant way of speaking. The only character’s voice I don’t like is Yuna. She sounds too clueless the entire time. The voice-overs are audible and clear, and not fuzzy like some games (Shenmue). The music by Nobuo Uematsu and those two other guys that helped him are excellent. Many of the tracks bring about a valiant “let’s go get them” feel, while others may have a quiet sad tone. There were few tracks I disliked.

Without a doubt, FFX is the best Playtation 2 title out there. Its gameplay is extravagant, the story is wonderful, the music rocks, the graphics are impressive, and it’s a long game. Everyone that owns a PlayStation 2 should buy this game immediately. It’s a crime for RPG gamers to not have this game in their library. People new to RPGs should at least try out this amazing adventure.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 10/19/02, Updated 07/14/03

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