Review by ZaleIsBackAgain

"A Fantasy to remember"

The world of Spira is under constant destruction under the reign of the massive monster known as Sin. Nothing gets in the way between Sin and its target, and its target is anything that is capable of suffering. Those that are ambitious about defeating Sin to end all deaths are trained from childhood, only to become tamers known as summoners. These summoners are capable of summoning Aeons (monsters) of their own. Their main objective, to obtain the final Aeon capable of defeating Sin! This is where Yuna starts her journey as a summoner. Yuna has several guardians that will journey with her in her voyage; Wakka, a soft Jamaican guy that would never hurt a fly; Lulu, the black magician that is very revealing; Kimahri, a silent little fellow that will guard Yuna like a dog, and later addition Rikku; a very excited, shy, cute and cheerful teenager that mainly specializes in mechanics.

The main character Tidus came from a different world that is much different from Spira; he came from the ancient city of Zanarkand that was destroyed a thousand years ago. Tidus decided to play a game of blitzball, a soccer/swimming type of sport that's dominated by his family line. Sin also made a decision of completely demolishing Zanarkand, where he takes Tidus and his closest friend Auron to the world of spira. Eventually, him and Yuna's group meet up with Tidus, a very excited and curious teen that has no family, and Auron; the know it all character that wields a gigantic sword. Together, this party of seven members will take part in an unforgettable journey that will change Spira forever.

Just like all Japanese related animations and video games, each character has a unique look to him/her. This especially applies with Final Fantasy X. The clothes and dresses on each character is glittering with extreme detail, you'll never notice the smallest ones until you start admiring the characters. To go along with their distinctive outfits is their distinctive personalities. Each character has a goal, if either its the same ones or different, it's what fuels these characters, which is what makes them so likable. When their origins and stories are revealed in a dramatic way, the sense of pity starts to hurt you.

X borrows some of its predecessors elements, combining them with gameplay mechanics of their own. The job system should be very familiar to a lot of veterans; every character is responsible for a specific job that is very distinct to themselves. Tidus is the all around character of the game, possessing many of his other party members abilities. Lulu specializes in magic, so it would be wiser to choose her as your spell caster. Auron is amazing in strength, and will be responsible for taking out the strong defensive monsters. Wakka does a good job in causing side effects among monsters, as well as with flying creatures and monsters. Rikku is able to steal the spoils of her opponents, as well as throw items and unused weapons at them.

Yuna has the most unique job in the entire series. Like the game's story, Yuna is able to summon Aeons, and unlike X's predecessors, Aeons don't play the role of another magic attack. Instead, Aeons are actual characters that will replace all the character's position on the field, and fight solo against the monster(s) that stray your path. These aeons are upgradable just like the character's themselves, using the same items that are primarily used to build up your standard characters, spheres. Yuna also plays the job of the healer.

For Kimahri, he doesn't specialize in anything specific, because with the game's innovative sphere grid system, Kimahri can be anything that his comrades are. The sphere grid resembles that of a board game, but plays more like a maze. You'll find that this grid is covered with different points that will raise a specific attritbute, such as strength, agility, hit points, magic, defense, while others teaches you new magic spells or special abilities. Every character will start at a different location within the grid, and their surrounding area will contain points that specialize in their job, like Lulu's path is heavily focused with points that increase magic ratings, learning new spells etc. These points are blocked off by different types of spheres, and the only way to gain these spheres is by gaining a certain amount of experience points, which will then reward you with a sphere or two. The certain point will then ask you for a certain amount of spheres in order to gain the ability or attribute raise. Some points are blocked off by higher level spheres which can only be unlocked later on the game, ultimately balancing out each the characters and the difficulty. Going back to Kimahri, his path is in the middle, while the other character's are branched out in the corners or sides of the map. Kimahri can go to anyone of his teammate's path and learn their abilities.

Borrowed from Final Fantasy IX, your weapons and armour can also be upgraded. You can add different traits to your weapons that can be used to your advantage. For some, different properties are already implemented within the weapon. You can add things to your weapons such as counterattacking, becoming immune to certain elements, infusing it with side effects etc. Each weapon and armour is limited to how much effects you can add, but you're also allowed to switch different weapons and armour in the midst of a battle just in case there's another weapon containing the effect you want.

The overdrive system started being used in Final Fantasy VII, which was known as the limit break. Since then, Square decided to constantly change the name of it for some unknown reason for future Final Fantasy games. In Final Fantasy X, it was called overdrive. The overdrive system is basically a superior physical or magic attack with a twist to them. You'll find that each character's overdrive abilities correlate to their main strengths.

A very familiar and mixed feature here in X is the ability to switch characters in between battles at any given time. While the field is only limited to having three active members fighting it out, you actually have seven that can be easily substituted. Many Pokemon fans will recognise this feature, but there was a difference between the two games and how they worked. Replacing a Pokemon with another can be costly, because each trainer was limited to having only one active Pokemon, while in Final Fantasy X, there are two other active members that can easily make up for that loss turn, making Final Fantasy X a little too easy. While you are able to switch between characters, they can't be swapped when they are knocked out or petrified. This new feature has only made Final Fantasy X a little too easy.

The Aeons only make the game easier. Some Aeons are pathetically overwhelming in power, making you reliant on these monsters. As said before, they play like a party member, but all your other party members will be sat on the side while the Aeon does battle with the monsters. That means they have their own statistics, magic spells, attacks, special attacks, overdrive technique, etc. Throughout the entire game you'll be using Aeons as much as you are battling with your standard party members, not only because they have a great look to them, but also because they are strong.

Minigames are becoming very popular among the genre, and Final Fantasy X has delivered the largest mini game of all, blitzball! I'm not very fond of this sport, but from what I've experienced, its a worth attempt of a sport. Blitzball is simply a soccer/swimming/football sport of the world of Zanarkand. Blitzball is the source of entertainment, which is why everyone is so fond of it, except for me. Learning how to play the game is so painstakingly boring and long; there's around 10 tutorials to go through, all of which last 10 tedious minutes. When you've entered the water sphere playing grounds, you'll notice that the sport is driven by a series of menus rather than real time action. So everytime you encoutner an opponent, menus will pop up, giving you a variety of different options to choose. Winning games will get you items, and defeating the more stronger teams will get you rare items.

For a game that has been released early on the generation, Final Fantasy X features some impressive graphics even to this date. The water effects are possibly the most beautiful anyone can ever lay eyes on, the character models and clothing are both sophisticated and very unique, and the environment is quite detailed and crisp. The cutscenes are even better; the graphics are obviously much more smooth, and the water effects are simply much more astonishing. The environment around you gives you a very calming mood that everything is secure, and the magnificent musical score adds to that relaxation.

Thanks to Nobuo Uematsu, one of the biggest video gaming franchises is blessed with the most beautiful soundtracks that had ever been endowed on this earth. Listening to the soundtrack on your freetime, especially during a stressful time works brilliantly. While the sounds are pretty much mediocre and used, the songs and game themes are just so fantastic and inspiring. The voice acting shouldn't be new to anyone, but new to Final Fantasy veterans. There's nothing I have against the actors, except for Tidus, because there are various moments in the game where Tidus tends to screw up. One particular scene has Tidus suggested to sream at the top of his lungs, but instead screams like a little girl. Other than that, the voices seem to fit the character's perfectly.

Many Final Fantasy veterns might get upset with how linear and easy Final Fantasy X really is. With no overworld map, the essence of exploring and talking with every civilian within the town is taken away, and training for long periods of time is not necessary anymore thanks to the game's incredibly strong Aeons. Also, scattered throughout the entire game are frequent save points that will fully replenish your party's HP and MP, as well as curing all status disabilities. Things only get worst when a bar tells you the precise order in who strikes first, ultimately making the battles easier.

The game is still difficult at some points, just not in the same caliber of its predecessors. The only thing that isn't linear are the insane side quests of taming the strongest aeons and wielding the most powerful weapons. The story would be the only reason why one would want to play this game, so there isn't much replay value here, but nonetheless the first time experience is a blast to play. Veterans of the RPG genre should definitely check this out, and newcomers will find equal enjoyment.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/15/04

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