Review by Game Magician

Reviewed: 04/06/03 | Updated: 04/10/03

In my beliefs, no game is ever perfect, but FFX sure comes close!

The famed Final Fantasy series, one that all gamers bow down before, one that is revered by every sane gamer. Squaresoft, a name respected throughout the world, a name spoken in reverence and worshipped like a god. Why? Because Square came up with masterpieces of the gaming world. Almost every game that is worthy of being a classic credits Square and Square only, and Final Fantasy X is not a disappointment, it is not an exception to greatness.

Gameplay: Final Fantasy has a unique point, its battle system is turn-based. Although you are still allowed to control the moves of everyone of your character, you do it from an indirect point. Although you get to select their attacks and movements, the computer is the one that performs it for you. It might be surprising at first, but as you process farther into the game and get used to it, you will find yourself enjoying it immensely. Even died-hard fans that play for action will enjoy the turn-based battle system of Final Fantasy, just because it’s AI doesn’t mean it hampers that full, explosive potential beneath.

Team members, you have 7 party members at your prime. You start a battle with only three members out on the field, though, and you must substitute others in order for your main characters to get a break and for the replacement one to get a share of AP. Each member will have their certain weaknesses and strengths, so it’s always a good idea to find out what they are and exploit it to its fullest potential.

The Sphere Grid is a very important part of the game, it allows your party members to level up. As you fight battles, your enemies will drop certain orbs that will allow you to “activate” a certain area of the Sphere Grid. As you fight and defeat enemies, AP will be handed out to team members that participated in the fight. Note that they must actually attack in order to gain some AP. Because of that, it’s always very important to switch each of your member in for battles, especially the boss fights. As you gain AP, you also gain Sphere Levels, which allow you process further into the Sphere Grid. Each Sphere Level allows you to move forward one space, and up to 4 spaces backward. Each character will have their own, unique Sphere Grid, all except one, who must then mimic one of the others…

Your enemies also drop weapons, items, and money. As soon as you receive something new, you should always scan it to see if you should equip it or not. Note that you can only equip one accessory and one weapon at the same time. Money is used in shops, and can also be founded in certain chests or received from a certain character somewhere in the game. You can also use money to buy weapons and accessories, as well as battle essentials such as Potions and Ethers.
There are many different attacks you can employ against your enemies, and not all of them will be effective. Most of your enemy will be strong against one type and weak against the other. Some have hard shell, so you must employ a character that has a Piercing weapon. Others will be weak against a certain elemental, so you must send out a character who specializes in Magic.

Limits Breaks are rare, they happen only when your character has filled up all of his or her charge gauge. Charge gauges are filled up when your character takes damage during battle, and when it is full, he or she can execute a powerful attack. Limit Breaks are mostly manual, and require you to do a certain task, such as input a certain number of buttons or rotate the analog stick around and around. They depend on your ability to suit that certain requirement, and the better you do it, the more damage your character’s Limit Break will do. Limit Breaks, since they are rare, should only be saved for dire emergencies or boss battles.

But offense is not the only way to win a battle. There are also Special Abilities such as Flee, which allows you to escape from random battles, not boss ones, and Haste, which speeds up a character’s moves. If they are used correctly, they can prove quite useful and will aid you very much.
There are also Defensive Attacks, in which you can cure or revive a character, or cast a barrier shield around yourself that lessens the amount of damage done by an attack. Again, these are best used as support abilities, not as main ones. Few of your team members know defensive abilities such as this, so you should always send him or her in when you know your enemies are going to strike, and strike hard.

Did I mention that you can also summon monsters to aid you in battle? Aeons can be summoned by the summoner Yuna. When you summon an aeon, all of your party members rush off from the field, leaving only the summoner and the aeon, but only the aeon attacks. Your aeon also has a Limit Break, a unique one that only it can perform. Your aeon has two modes, Boost and Shield. Shield causes the aeon to defend, and it will take only one-quarter damage from both magical and physical assaults. Unfortunately, your aeon’s Overdrive (Limit Break) gauge does not fill up during this time. Boost causes the aeon to lower its defense. In that certain period of time, it will take much more damage from attacks, but its Overdrive gauge will charge twice as fast. The options above are all optional, so you can keep your aeon in normal mode if you like. There are 8 aeons, some you must get, some are secret ones in which you must do a certain quest in order to get.

You are able to save your game at Save Spheres. Whenever you touch a Save Sphere, you are given the option to save, and your character’s HP and MP are all restored to full. Saving as much as you can is a good idea, and even if you don’t want to save, approach it anyways. Your character will probably want the rest.

Your main objective is to travel from place to place, guarding the summoner Yuna and protecting the world from Sin, a terrible creature that destroys all in its way. You will encounter random battles, as well as boss ones, possible from Sin himself! You must also fulfill sidequests in order to gain an important item such as a character’s secret weapon or to unlock something.

Overall, Final Fantasy’s gameplay is pretty much flawless, there is no noticeable flaw, and even if they are, they’re all minor. The battle system is filled with suspension, even though it’s turn-based. That does not hamper the full ability of Final Fantasy X. But sadly, no game is perfect, and Final Fantasy X is no exception. It has holes, albeit minor ones.

Rating: 9/10

Graphics: Need I describe it? Final Fantasy X’s graphics are perhaps the very best on of the Playstation 2 console. Every single character, whether they be your team members or just regular people that aids you in your journey, is intricately detailed, with absolutely no flaw. The background is perhaps the most detailed I have ever seen, Square putted a lot of work into it. You can even see the Save Spheres in the background! The scenery is so real that you can and will feel that you are directly there, instead of just staring at it. Final Fantasy X’s graphics are stunning, definitely a real treat for the eyes. The lip sync is a bit off, but no one expects it to be perfect, and you barely notice it, anyways.

Rating: 10/10

Sound: Voice acting, a quality very rare in games. Besides the fact that you don’t have to read though bubbles anymore, the variety of sound is marvelous. Definitely some of the best I’ve ever heard in my entire life. You can hear everything, and I mean everything, including the sound of your sword smashing against your enemies, or water squirting into the air, or even your footsteps pounding against the soil.

Rating: 10/10

Music: I’ve always though differently of Final Fantasy X’s music. It can be soothing when you’re just walking along a beaten path, or get tense and exciting when you launch into battle. It is definitely very unique and fits the mood, although I suppose you won’t notice it much when you’re locked in a desperate battle, fighting for your life. No, but nonetheless, if you set aside some time, so will truly see that it is wondrous, worthy of being called a miracle.

Rating: 9/10

Replay Value: I suppose you’ll get tired of watching the same cutscene over again if you do play FFX again, but that’s if you play it for the fourth or fifth time. You won’t get tired of it anytime soon, definitely not, and well, what can I say? Play it again, you won’t regret it. And even in the very rare case that you don’t want to play it again, it takes a long time to complete, anyways, maybe 100 hours, so trust me, this category doesn’t even count, FFX is so out.

Difficulty: This game is definitely for the older people, because it is definitely hard to learn, maybe a 3 hour learning curve, not counting the basics that you learn later in the game, like how to operate the Sphere Grid or to imitate abilities. I’ll say Final Fantasy takes a while to learn, but the challenge only adds to the fun.

Overall, Final Fantasy X is definitely worthy of a buy. Don’t even bother to rent it first, unless you have serious doubts about the turn-based system or absolutely despises the Final Fantasy series, and in which case you shouldn’t be here anyway. This was my first game, and let me tell you, it did not let me down. I wanted to see what was so great about Square, it told all that, in one simple game.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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