Review by shneepshnop

"Squaresoft, the once proclaimed RPG God, further digs its own grave, with another sub-par entry to the Final Fantasy series."

Like every Final Fantasy released since FF VIII, I bought Final Fantasy X the day it was released on US shores. I drove home, living in a small town in the middle of BF nowhere; it took me well over an hour to arrive at my house. When I finally concluded one of the most anxious drives home of my life, I entered my room and began my FFX experience. When it was finished, I was extremely disappointed. Thus I started to wonder if Squaresoft’s games had already reached their peak with FFT, FF VI, FF VII, and Xenogears, and I began to seriously question whether or not Squaresoft could still make a great game. 2 years have passed since then and I decided to give FFX another try. Here is what I thought...

Story - 6/30
FFX does not have the typical Final Fantasy feel, but after about 30 minutes into the game that becomes oblivious. The opening 30 minutes of the game are awesome. The scene created in Zanarkand, and what transpires are among the best I have seen in an RPG. I’d say it’s impossible not to get into this game during these first 30 minutes. The game strongly grips your attention for about the first 6-7 hours. You are shown interesting and fascinatingly detailed environments; like some abandoned ruins, a sunken city in an eerie atmosphere, a beautiful tropical island, a brush with death in the ocean, and the destruction of a small town. The opening hours to this game are marvelous. Unfortunately the beginning is the only decent part of the game. After that I had the feeling like I was reluctantly being drug along the most linear video game ever created, up until the final minutes. There are various plot twists, all of which can be foreseen, and will not surprise most people. Plus, almost everything that happens past the opening 6-7 hours is uninteresting. I got the feeling that the story designers had visions of what they wanted to do during certain parts of the game and no idea what they wanted to do during others. For the most part Final Fantasy X goes downhill for the whole game past the opening hours. It picks up briefly again towards the end, but not much.

The story is this: The world of Spira has lived the majority of their existence in fear of a large monster named Sin. Sin is Spira’s punishment for the crimes that their ancestors have committed. The people of Spira believe the only way to truly defeat Sin is through an ancient religious practice that involves a summoner and her pilgrimage to obtain The Final Aeon. Once the Final Aeon is cast it is said Sin will be defeated. You play the role of Tidus, who has been thrown 1000 years into the future. He accompanies a summoner named Yuna and her band of guardians on the quest to obtain The Final Aeon (a summoned monster). Guardians are people whom are hand-picked by the summoner to protect her along her perilous quest. That is the basis of the story. Not coming to you as a surprise I hope is that Yuna and Tidus fall in love. Their relationship is developed very weakly and I wouldn’t be able to tell that they had feelings for each other if I wasn’t told.

The other important aspect to RPG’s regarding the story, are the characters. The cast of Final Fantasy X is the 2nd weakest in the series. It is second only to Final Fantasy VIII. The only character that I could say that I remotely liked was Lulu. She reminds me a little bit of Cloud from Final Fantasy VII, except she’s a girl. The only other character that is reasonably interesting is Wakka. Yes his accent is annoying, but he provides some good comic relief without annoying me. The other characters are terrible. The main character Tidus reminds me of Leonardo Decaprio, with his immature comments, in his annoying expressions. Rikku is without question the worst character since Selphie was in FF VIII. She is not as annoying as she is in FF X2, but close. She’s like a little kid trying to get into an adult conversation. Kimahri is your basic anti-social loser who only speaks in cave man talk; for example one of his highly complicated chunks of dialogue follows, “Kimahri like Yuna. Kimahri protect Yuna. Kimahri go first.” Need I say more? It seems like game companies can’t think of another character personality so they throw in this poor and overused stereotype. Then there is Auron. He is your basic, “I am a badass, who speaks very little, but is very intelligent, and I have a mysterious past”. If this was my first RPG I would probably like Auron. In reality though it isn’t, and after seeing this “cookie cutter” character stereotype for the billionth time it leaves very little of an impression on me. This then leaves me at the most disappointing part regarding Final Fantasy’s characters; the main antagonist. I am talking about Seymour. He is the lamest, most uninteresting, and I have never been so unmotivated towards killing an antagonist as I was with him. Hands down he is a strong running candidate 4 the worst antagonist of all time in an RPG. Thankfully though Seymour is not the final boss.

Another thing Squaresoft brings to this game are facial expressions and voice acting. The characters actually speak, but their mouth movement does not flow with what they say. It is similar to the way the people speak in the Godzilla movies. The voice acting is equivalent to a “B Movie” at best. This leaves me with the facial expressions. Yes they are good, but Squaresoft goes way overboard with them. There are numerous scenes where characters will try to make others smile or show emotion. These scenes are not relevant towards the overall story, and were inserted just to show off what Squaresoft is capable of doing graphically.

When it’s all said and done, the story in Final Fantasy X is sub-par, very sub-par. It, in no way, is up to the level of the usual Squaresoft stories. There are spans in the game that have nothing to do with the overall story, and would have been better left out. The characters are all repeats of prior Final fantasy personalities, just in a different body.

Gameplay - 15/20
I have come to the understanding that RPG’s nowadays will probably be more resembling of movies than actual games. This worked in Xenosaga because the characters where interesting and the story was worth understanding. However, in Final Fantasy X the characters are boring and the story is uncompelling. This aspect may have doomed Final Fantasy X from the start.

I think I’ll start off with the positives: the battles and the leveling system. The battles are no longer time based. There is a long narrow box in the upper right hand corner that shows when each character/monster will act out their turn. Doing different things may make you have to wait different amounts of time between turns. Like attacking with an Ultima spell will have a longer turn recovery time than simply using a potion. In battles you can only use 3 characters at a time, but you can sub other characters in. For example, if you are Lulu and you need Yuna’s white mage skills, you hit L1 and select Yuna, who then replaces Lulu and gets to act immediately upon entering the battle.

The leveling system is completely different. There are no longer levels, you still gain experience after battles, but it is now called AP. Your characters gain stat upgrades and new abilities through a sphere grid. Basically the sphere grid is this big connect-the-dots grid. Each time your character gets enough AP’s he can make 1 move on the grid. Almost every dot contains either a skill/ability or an upgrade to a random stat. Your characters are almost completely customizable based on your preference.

Now for the bad parts. First off let’s talk about the random battles. There are many of them, too many. You’ll finish a fight, take 2 steps then get thrown into a random battle once more. Or you will finish speaking to someone, and once you regain control of your character you will encounter an enemy before you can even conclude 1 step. The random battles are almost as bad as they were in Xenogears. Another con regarding the fights is found through being able to substitute your characters into battle for each other. Your characters only gain AP if they partake in the battle. So if you want to keep all your characters up to par with each other you will have to sub in each character to take a turn per battle. This may not seem very annoying but look at it this way. Instead of quickly killing of a hoard of fiends with three turns you will have to take seven (1 per character). This makes every battle about 2 minutes longer. So instead of fighting 1000 10 second battles you will fight 1000 2 minute battles (you can do the math for yourself if you care enough to see how much longer this takes). Sure you can choose not to level up all your characters, but unfortunately you will struggle to finish the game doing this. The fighting is built around using different characters to expose different weakness or strengths.

Another part that is inconsistent is the difficulty. It took me over 30 hours before I died once. Then all of a sudden Squaresoft decided to turn up the difficulty and not in a fair way either. The later bosses will have attacks that do unavoidable damage to your whole party that can kill everyone instantly. Or enemies will cast death on your whole party at once. Death, only working about 60% of the time when I use it, of course will flawlessly kill all my guys with little struggle. There are more elements regarding gameplay but it will take up too much space to get into.

Funfactor – 9/15
The fighting is fun. Fighting every 2 steps is not. Watching lame characters babble endlessly about nothing of importance is not fun.

Graphics – 15/15
If you question the graphics in FFX you are an idiot. It is that simple. They are marvelous, and during the time of FFX’s release they where state of the art for console graphics. The environments look great. They are detailed up to the last leaf, water fall, etc. Unfortunately you cannot move the camera around to give you a better view of your surroundings. Squaresoft creates wonderful environments but doesn’t give us the privilege of completely exploring them.

Music/Sound – 15/15
FFX contains some of the best music ever in a video game. The To Zanarkand theme may be my second favorite theme of all time, second only to Terra’s theme in FF VI. The battle theme is not only tolerable, but enjoyable. There are a lot of great tracks, but there are also a lot of average ones. I don’t know why I keep labeling this category as Music/Sound. No one gives two craps about sound in games. Therefore let’s not talk about it!!!

Controls – 4/5
Everything is fine except for the analog stick. It is difficult to use because it doesn’t allow the level of control available through use of the D-pad.

Replayability (Bonus) +2/5
This is the most linear Final Fantasy ever created. You may not want to play it again. However, there are a lot of side quests and extra goodies to get, so you may want to try and get everything again.

Conclusion - 66/100

What is with Squaresoft lately? They have been infecting the RPG genre with sub-par, crappy games that are nothing more than eye candy, thus containing little substance. The last decent game they released was Chrono Cross. But when was the last good game released? Hmm Vagrant Story I suppose, but that was well over 5 years ago. And with the release of FF-X2, FFTA, and FF XI it is safe to say the future isn’t looking too bright for them either. Hopefully things will improve. Only play FF X if you are a die-hard Final Fantasy fan. If you are not, just ignore it.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 04/24/04

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