| The Good
Voiceacting and music are top notch
Revamped experience and battle systems are a joy to
| The Bad
Inconsistent character models and animations
Promising to make huge changes in the Final Fantasy series
for the series' first appearance on the new console, Square
has given gamers something totally new to experience in both
graphics, gameplay, and audio all topped off by an excellent
story. The story revolves around Tidus, a famous blitzball
player from Zanarkand, who during an assault on his city by
the being known as Sin, is transported to the world of Spira.
After getting away from monsters and the Al Bhed, Tidus comes
across Wakka, a fellow blitzball player who befriends him.
Tidus comes to find out that Wakka is also a guardian of the
Yuna, a summoner and daughter of High Summoner Braska, whose
duty is to both fight off attacks by Sin and to perform the
"sending" rights for those slain by Sin, lest their souls
become fiends, or monsters. Without revealing to much more,
the story is filled with wonderfully written twists and turns
that will leave you asking for more.
Square has managed to utilize the power of the PS2 in creating
Final Fantasy X. Instead of using prerendered backgrounds,
they've built a fully polygonal 3-D world slopping over with
detail and great looking textures. Visual effects are well
utilized to augment an already excellent looking environment.
The little things are what really make the visuals of this
game stand out: grass blows in the wind and fire and water
both look extremely good. Character design and models are
also well done. Scenes where the characters carry on conversations
and you can see their facial features are really impressive.
It would be foolish not to mention the CG FMV (full motion
video) which is topnotch, easily bypassing anything else that
has come before it. Overall, the graphical presentation is
far and above superior to any other RPG available and has
easily set a benchmark for others to surpass.
Breaking from tradition, Square has decided to drop the normal
experience system and go for a system in which characters
earn AP towards Sphere Levels. Each Sphere Level allows the
character to move along the sphere board to earn new skills
and stat bonuses. The sphere board does require the player
to keep up with their character development, but in the same
token, it allows them to develop characters as they please.
In this Square has finally managed to find the middle ground
between character individuality and personal customization.
While characters like Yuna (summoner, white mage) and Wakka
(fighter strong in flying creatures) are initially focused
on what they do best, through the use of the sphere board
the player can give them abilities and bonuses to augment
them (such as teaching Yuna black magic by moving her into
Lulu's portion of the board).
This time around, Square has given Toshiro Tsuchida (of the
Front Mission series) free reign to build the new combat system
and it shows. Combat is now turn based and the player can
switch out character on the fly. There is more focus on certain
characters being stronger against certain types of monsters:
flyers can be handled by Wakka; ground based fiends can be
taken out by Tidus and Auron; magically weak fiends can fall
to Lulu and Yuna's summons. Also, summons now stay in combat
until they are defeated or dismissed. There is also a larger
focus on elemental weakness and strength. You will find yourself
using elemental attack and defense magic more in this game
than previous Final Fantasies. Overall, combat now is less
about hitting the attack option over and over again and more
about actual strategy and planning.
Unlike most rpgs, the audio portion of Final Fantasy X
is well worth the time to listen to. The music is excellently
done and is a fresh change from previous games. While there
are a few familiar themes here, the music introduces newer,
deeper sounds, especially choral arrangements and even a heavy
metal track that plays early in the game. The voice-overs
are far better than I would have thought they had the right
to be. In fact certain characters (Wakka, Auron, Lulu) are
done exceptionally well. Where the voice-overs may falter
is in small parts where the script itself delivers cheesy
lines. Considering the sheer volume of lines that are delivered,
I was impressed with what I heard.
It's obvious that Square finally listened to what the fans
had to say. You can turn off summon animations in the menu
and the spell animations are quick. Also, the random encounter
rate is lower and certain dungeons have puzzles that need
to be solved to get special weapons. While the puzzles may
not be too difficult, they do break up the monotony of the
average dungeon. Final Fantasy X is filled to the brim
with extra things to do and find: there's Chocobo Racing,
Blitzball (which can be tedious to some, but eerily addictive
to those who enjoy menu-based action), hidden monsters, ultimate
weapons and lots of things to discover if you take the time
For the most part, Final Fantasy X is a linear, story
driven game, or at least until late in the game. While there
are opportunities to level up and look around, there are equal
times where if the player goes onto the next cutscene, they'll
lose the opportunity to grab an item or talk to a specific
character. In the graphic department, the character animations
are inconsistent. Sometimes they're clean and believable,
while other times the characters feel jerky and robotic. In
playing Final Fantasy X, I get the feeling that certain
portions of the game were built by different people, mostly
due to the inconsistency in the character models and animation.
Sometimes, the facial features are well detailed and other
times it looks like the cutscenes are being played out by
the battle models.
With all of this being said, Final Fantasy X, even
with the minor complaints, is still leaps and bounds above
any other RPG available for the PS2 and will set the benchmark
for games to come. If you can get past the linearity, you'll
find a game that's got a lot to do and most of which is new.