"A Remarkable RPG Worthy of Playing"

Introduction: Well, after investing 120 full hours into this game I must say I was quite impressed. FFX was the first Final Fantasy I ever beat, as well as the first real RPG besides Pokemon. (Lol) If you are like me and this is your first-ever RPG, you've found the perfect start with X. This is one of the best RPG games I've ever played. The graphics in this game even though it being two years old as of now will leave your hungry eyes plenty full. You will become attached to the characters like they were your best friends. The story will capture the hearts of even the bitterest, most callous people. The music in this game...oh the music. Most importantly, the gameplay is easy to pick up, hard to master. All these elements weave together to create a game that will touch you like when you've just finished watching a blockbuster movie or just finished one of the finest books. This game is that good.

Graphics: The visuals will truly amaze you. While the in-game graphics aren't perfect, they surpass the standard set by the games of today. They aren't exactly Splinter Cell quality, but good. Summoning Aeons (aka Guardian Forces if you've ever played any of the PS1 FF installments) looks awesome. For instance, when you summon Ifrit, a wheel of fire flickering in visual beauty burns into the earth. Then, a great burst of flame erupts, and a savage beast roars proudly. You really must see the game being played to understand the visual level achieved by Squaresoft. (It was Squaresoft when this game was made. God I hate Enix...) The overworld graphics will astound you, such as when you're gazing into the ravine at the Calm Lands or examining the ruins of the holy city Zanarkand. The graphics capture the noisy, exciting atmosphere of Zanarkand at the beginning of the game. You can almost smell the dank air of the shadowy dark dungeons. (especially the Omega Ruins) My only quibble with in-game graphics is that the movements are a bit chunky when not in battle, but that is only a small stick in a vast ocean of sand. The cutscene visuals are where I really must applaud the makers. Seriously, cutscene graphics are movie quality. Square just goes over the top with their cutscenes. Think Toy Story's visuals, add effects from The Matrix, and multiply that times ten. Overall, graphics score a 9/10.

Sound: Whoa boy. For the least important aspect of any game (besides a music game, duh) they really reach out here. (I'm just going to combine Music and Sound in this section.) As with sound, it's not perfect but it's damn close to it. Dialogue is perfectly translated. You can feel the emotions the characters give off. It's one of the factors that bring you so close to them. With sound effects, it's pretty good. Characters don't cry or make some sort of grunt every single time they attack, which is good because that's what makes so many games annoying these days. (Take Zelda: Link to the Past, for example) Now on to the music. This is where the game really shines. These pieces are friggin Mozart-quality here. If you play this game for a good amount of time, you will remember these tunes for the rest of your life. (Especially the 'Someday the Dream Will End' and 'At Zanarkand' pieces) They really set the mood. I even remember once, at the end, (not giving anything away) when 'Someday the Dream Will End' was playing I actually started to cry. In a good way. If you are like me and love these songs, you will do like I did and download them off the Internet. :p Sound gets a solid 10/10.

Gameplay: The real meat of any game. If you've ever played any of the PS1 FF titles, you know how tedious the random battles are. But no more with this game! A completely revamped battle system really adds some spice to the FF soup. (I'll try to keep the similes to a minimum from now on, hehe) Strategy plays a key role in battles. Take fighting a flan, for instance. You've got all your characters leveled up on strength stat. ''Aw, look at the wimpy flan.'' you say. But then you attack and watch as it resists your blows like some arcade nerd punching Steve Austin. ''Uh-oh.'' you say. Yep, that's what happens if you play one-sided in this game. You can't rely on one method all the time - you've got to try out all the abilities each character has to offer. And that's a good thing. This game makes you use the switch feature, where you switch any party member for another during battle, very effectively. The summons got a battle overhaul as well. They can now be used as playable characters that can attack, cast magic, and level up! You know you've always wanted to control the shredding claws of Ifrit, right? Also, the riddance of standard 'leveling up' brings forth the Sphere Grid. You can customize your characters any way you want, pretty much. This brings a whole lot of depth to this FF installment the other games didn't have. Your characters start out on a specific point on the massive grid. You then win 'spheres' from defeating enemies and such and use them to activate nodes that increase your stats. You see how much free will you're given here? That's one of the things that make this game such an innovative leap for Square-Enix. (*gag*) With battles aside, I was a bit disappointed with the minigames. Some of them were actually fun (for example the Cactuar minigame) while others took the term 'tedium' to a whole new level (dodging lightning strikes on the Thunder Plains, for instance *rolls eyes*). It's so sad how you're forced to complete these boring exercises just to get special items (that REALLY help later on, trust me). And while some may disagree, I actually found the game Blitzball to be fun. You might've heard a lot of heat directed at this minigame, but give it a chance. It gets better the more you play. (By the way, if you want Wakka's World Champion you're going to have to play it. And you WILL want the world champion.) Give BB a chance - you might like it. Take a bit of soccer, swimming, and football and you've got yourself Blitzball. It sounds corny, I know, but it's actually addictive. I found myself playing for a straight three hours on it once! The sport's a bit limiting and too easy, though. It can also get a bit confusing if you don't take the time to watch the tutorial. So watch the tutorial. It's really the only tutorial you need to watch in this game, because everything else just comes on naturally the more you play. On a last thought, when you get to the end of the game...it's too easy. That's all I'll say to prevent spoilers. The gameplay alone can keep you hooked to this game, but because of some of the lackluster minigames, gameplay gets a 9/10.

Story: RPGs must have a good story to be worth playing. FFX does not disappoint in this category. You play as Tidus, a spiky-haired whiny Blitzball star whose life takes a big lurch when he's sent 1,000 years into the future by a force known as Sin. He arrives at the *surprisingly small* continent of Spira. He meets a group of Al Bhed, a religious-ethnic-whateveridunno group. After that, he is washed away to the bright, sunny island of Besaid. There he meets Wakka, a Blitzabll captain; Lulu, a cold-hearted but sexy black mage; Kimahri, a quiet Ronso guardian (A Ronso is like a man-shape blue tiger with a horn...go figure.); and the summoner Yuna. Yuna is on a pilgrimage to the city Zanarkand to vanquish Sin and bring about the Calm, a time of peace. On the way, she must visit Yevon (the religion people follow in Spira) temples to call upon Aeons to assist her. Going with her are her ''guardians'', dedicated people who protect the summoner from harm. (Yuna's guardians are the characters described earlier.) They leave the island, and from that point on you're hooked. You want to know what happens next as Tidus gradually starts to have feelings for Yuna. The story in this game is far better than many novels I've read in my life (the Chronicles of Narnia, for instance. *cough*). This game has Hollywood-quality production values. I won't give too much away. My only gripe with the story is about the main antagonist, Seymour Guado. He's not nearly as deep as oh, say, Sephiroth from FFVII. Other small quibbles, the dialogue sounds cheesy some times and the overall plot can get a bit confusing. But once you get really into it, these problems don't matter a whole lot because of how the story grabs you in its claws and doesn't let go until you've finished the game. Once you get to the end, you will have feelings for the characters. Story gets a 9/10.

Replay: Well, RPGs don't deliver a lot of replay anyways. They aren't made like that. But, this game will be in your PS2 for a while when you're spending hours leveling up to tackle some of the Monster Arena bosses. The only bad part is that once you've played it for a while, the Monster Arena enemies are the only real challenges in the game. The regular enemies just become 1-hit-KO material. Anyways, you will likely spend over 100 hours on this game if you're a casual gamer, and around 150 hours if you're an RPG hardcore nut. (Like me) Overall, replay gets a 7/10, which is good for an RPG.

Buy or Rent: Whoo, that's a hard one. (The answer is 'buy', by the way.) If you haven't picked up this game yet, pick it up now. It should be pretty cheap, probably only $20 since it's a Greatest Hits title now. And it is, truly, one of the greatest hits of the PS2.

Overall Score: If I ever review any more games, it will be extremely rare to see a 10/10. A 10/10 means the game is PERFECT. This game isn't perfect, but it's as close as a game can get to perfect without actually being it. Overall, Final Fantasy X gets a 9/10. So the review's over. What're you waiting for? Get out and buy this game!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/14/04

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