Review by Galactus21

"And the legacy continues"

The romance, the tragedy, the irony…

In today's gaming world when people speak of exceptional titles, one will hear titles like Zelda, Halo, and Final Fantasy. When people talk about long lasting series that have been nothing short of exceptional, one will hear series names like Zelda, Mario, and Final Fantasy. The fact is Final Fantasy has been so successful with its many incarnations that people associate Final Fantasy with selling systems. In fact, it is arguable that the Xbox did so poorly in the land of the rising sun because of the lack of Square-Enix support. Each Final Fantasy release is a phenomenon in itself. Final Fantasy is truly one of the legendary series that has and will always have a place in my heart. What can I say? I love the series and I feel it is the most consistent series in terms of quality. When people ask me what I love about video games, the first thing that I tell them is rpgs. Square has been the mastermind behind some of the best games around and without a shadow of a doubt, Final Fantasy X continues the long trend of excellence. So strap yourself in because rpg fans will more then likely love Final Fantasy X as much as me.

Before I owned a PS2, I borrowed my cousin's PS2 just so I could play Final Fantasy X. Let me tell you, I was completely blown away by the epic adventure that the game offered. Then with the release of Final Fantasy X-2 and the future installment dubbed “Final Fantasy XII”, I broke down and purchased a PS2. Now, I must admit that Final Fantasy X-2 was not quite up to par with its prequel, but I was still satisfied with the game. After playing some amazing games for the PS2, I decided to replay Final Fantasy X again and to my amazement, the game is still as fun as the day I first played it. After replaying it, I decided to share my opinion about this game with others, hence my review.

Tidus is your average teenager that one could relate to. He's the star on a sports team and he is well liked. Unfortunately for him, his life is about to change. This is the story; his story…his adventure. During a blitz ball game, Tidus jumps out of the water to grab the ball and as he is high above the sphere of water, he notices this gigantic phenomenon. This phenomenon is called Sin, which is the antagonist in the story. Sin came and once it left, the beautiful city of Zanarkand laid in destruction. Sin is an appropriate name for this evil and powerful force because people associate evil with committing a sin. Tidus, along with Auron entered this bright light and once Tidus wakes up, he realizes he is alone and a thousand years into the future. This is where the adventure begins.

A powerful and romantic story

Rarely have I played a game where the story is this satisfying and this amazing. This story is a powerful and romantic story that will leave you marveled at how beautifully crafted it is. The story revolves around Yuna a summoner who must rid Spira of Sin. Along with her guardians, which include Tidus, one will witness this amazing relationship build up. Watching the relationship between Yuna and Tidus grow is simply breathtaking. There will be numerous plot twists that will keep you guessing. The romance and the unbelievably sad ending is simply one of the finest points in any story and in any game.

Final Fantasy X utilizes a traditional turn base system, which through all these years still holds up quite well. While there are some who dislikes the turn base system, I actually find them rather interesting. Anyways, Final Fantasy X's turn base system is rather generic. In this case, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Characters will take turns attacking an enemy and vice versa. However, during combat, the player can switch between characters on the fly. This becomes important because the more you get other characters involved, then the more experience points your characters can earn. Like all turn base systems, the player will start out with a menu and the player can choose what he/she wants to do. From standard attack to magic or simply using an item, this system allows one to carefully and strategically fight an enemy. Some enemies are susceptible to magic while others are more vulnerable to others.

Each character also has a special attack, which can be utilized once a character's gauge fills up. This gauge increases when the character connects with an attack, takes damage, or successfully dodges an attack. Of course, some fill up the gauge more quickly than others. Once the gauge fills up, then one can use that character's special attack. Each character also has to perform certain actions in order to make this attack more effective. For example, Auron's special makes one press certain buttons consecutively, while someone like Tidus must hit a bar at the center of a gauge. Not only are these moves a nice graphical diversion from the intense fights, but it is also quite effective against enemies.

The path of a summoner is not an easy one

No one said saving the world would be easy, but for summoners their duty for Spira is long and enduring. Facing countless fiends and living with constant admiration from many. While it sounds great, the expectations of a summoner can have dastardly affects on the summoner themselves. Having the weight of the world on your shoulders is certainly stressful. Entering each Cloister of Trials are not only time consuming, but it is also thought provoking. Solving these puzzles in the trials requires mental toughness. However, I really loved how the developer organized the puzzle scheme and how each puzzle will gradually get harder. The Cloister of Trials is remarkable in a sense because the trials are spread evenly throughout the adventure that it presents a feeling of cohesiveness. Each trial will require the player to utilize spheres and depending on where one puts those spheres, it will determine the success of completing the puzzles in the trial.

Upon completion of these trials, Yuna will receive a powerful Aeon. Each Aeon is more powerful than the previous, but each one will play a critical role in the adventure. My main strategy with Aeons is basically to use them as a scapegoat. Whenever my team started taking heavy damage, I summoned the Aeons and used them to take damage, however, in all fairness; the Aeons would do quite a bit of damage themselves. Also, before a difficult boss, I would charge up my Aeon's overdrives and unleash it on a boss. However, with bosses towards the end, the chances are, your Aeon will probably only get one turn. That is why it is sometimes necessary for a player to charge up the Aeon's overdrive. One neat feature is like the characters, the Aeons can also increase their hit points and other miscellaneous things. Besides their overdrives, their attacks on normal are also pretty powerful. As one can tell, an Aeon can and should become an integral part of one's party.

Much of the game's adventure is based on the Summoner, which is Yuna in this case, and how she goes from trial to trial to earn an Aeon to face Sin. Along the quest, one will face many dangerous and unworldly creatures. These creatures are dubbed “fiends”, who like the name, is a dastardly and somewhat frightening name. Like all rpgs, the enemies in this game will gradually get harder as one's party levels up. Most enemies are reused in some degree when traveling from place to place. However, this is secondary when compared to the exceptional display of what a great rpg should be. Some enemies are more susceptible to certain types of attacks. For example, Lulu is more effective at attacking elemental fiends, while Auron is better off attacking enemies with a thick hide. Of course, Yuna is the wielder of white magic and therefore she is better used as a healer and applying other different forms of white magic. As one gets deeper in the game, one will get new moves that are quite devastating. Like most rpgs, one's abilities will increase as the game goes on. Hit points, magic points, strength, speed, and other things will all increase through experience points. Experience points can be gained by defeating enemies. Some enemies are of course tougher than others and depending on the difficulty, the party members will gain a certain amount of experience points. Leveling up is an important part of an rpg because here one will determine the strengths of one's characters. However, unlike your typical rpg, Final Fantasy X uses a sphere grid system. This sphere system is quite unique because with one's experience points, then one can use it to move in this sphere grid. Also through certain spheres and certain spots on the grid, one can use mana spheres or ability spheres to gain more things for their characters.

The sphere grid system in itself is an amazing and refreshing approach to an rpg. After each battle, as mentioned before, characters will gain experience points, and once these points are accumulated, the characters will get a number that will indicate how many places one can move on the grid system. Of course, if a party member does not partake in a battle or dies in battle that player will not receive any points. This system is the bases to how a character grows over time. Also keep in mind that the characters can also go into other characters grid, which allows other players to utilize other characters skill.

Another important aspect of an rpg is interacting with other characters. Not only does this fill you in on clues and sometimes important information, but sometimes characters will give you items that will help you on your journey. Also talking to characters will sometimes initiate cut scenes that will continue the story. Also when talking to average folks around towns and such, one will realize how dire the situation is and how so many loves depend on the job of the summoner. It is really a powerful portrayal of grief, sacrifice, and ultimately love and bravery.

Traveling the world of Spira can be a harsh and consuming journey. It would be a shame if one has a misstep and one loses its game save. However, luckily for you, the game has a good amount of save icons that are spread throughout. Every time one saves, not only will one save the data, but one will revitalize the whole party. It's nicely spread apart, so that one will never get overly frustrated with dying and repeating it over until one accomplished one's goal.

While the game has plenty of positives and very few negatives, the fact is, Final Fantasy X is by no means a flawless game. For example, the game is very linear. In fact, for the most part, the game has a map with an arrow that shows the player were to go. While, one can explore, it sort of detracts from it in a small manner. The game also starts off a bit slow. It is not surprising that the game picks up when the story picks up. Random encounters can cause a bit of problem if one is trying to get somewhere. However, if the player is patient enough and can overlook some of these issues, then one will realize that Final Fantasy X is a game of epic proportions.

Being a first tier PS2 game, Final Fantasy X actually looks quite good in comparison with most games. The character models still hold up exceptionally well even though it has been released for so long. The FMVs are absolutely gorgeous. Every time I watch one of these breathtaking scenes, I can't help but be amazed at the incredible job that Square did in crafting this game. For the most part, the characters have an Eastern flavor look to them and for the most part they reflect the style rather well. There is a lot of variation to the characters, which prevents repetition. Also the world of Spira is filled with vibrant colors that just bring the whole world to life. The game runs exceptionally smooth, but there are a few instances were the frame rate dips a bit. However, this is a minor issue when comparing it to the rest of the graphic engine.

One of the most well done parts in the game is the sound department. The voice work is exceptionally deep and brings out the emotion of the gamer. Now, I must admit, the voice acting can be a bit cheesy at times, but that is due more to the dialogue rather than the voice actors themselves. Sometimes, even though the voice acting can be a bit cheesy, it brings out a light and humorous mood behind it, which is a bright positive. I really liked characters like Wakka and Auron, whose voice acting was done to near perfection. They brought this flavor to them that portrayed their character well. Someone like Auron seemed to contain chivalrous characteristics. For someone like Tidus and Yuna, one can sense from their voices that they were a bit immature and were people who needed guidance. It reflected their characters well and I felt it brought out a lot of emotion, especially towards the end. The musical score in this game was also very well done. It fits the mood well and for the most part, the game has the right tunes at the right times. The music was simply beautifully crafted and had a very soothing melody.

Final Fantasy X offers countless hours of gameplay and an epic story that is very well told through FMVs and cut scenes. On my first play through, I beat the game in a little over 60 hours and I didn't even finish all the side quests or max out my characters. On my second time around I beat the game around 40 hours. Final Fantasy X is a game where someone can literally invest hundreds of hours. This game is simply brilliant and one of the better games I have played. The game is well worth the money and provides countless hours of pure entertainment.

Final Fantasy X presents itself quite nicely. For the most part, the game has a very nice balance of gameplay and FMVS. I enjoyed leveling up and watching my characters develop. The game, while having some dark moments, did have a light hearted story, which I found very appealing. I really loved the story and the characters that were presented in this game. The fact that Final Fantasy X remains as one of the best PS2 games after so long is a testament to Square-Enix's long lasting talent.

The continuation of a legend

In the end, Final Fantasy X is one of the best games on any current system. In fact, it is one of the best games of all times in my eyes. From the story to the grid system, the game features some of the most appealing aspects that a game can have. Final Fantasy X is a game where it will be remembered for years to come. Final Fantasy X continues the long trend of excellence. Square has produces a long line of superb titles and like its predecessors, Final Fantasy X is no different. Final Fantasy X offers hundreds of hours of fun and it is well worth the money. Any PS2 owner that does not have this game should be ashamed of themselves. And non-PS2 owners should definitely consider getting a PS2 for this game because it is simply breathtaking.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 06/14/05

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