Final Fantasy X
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
Square EA
Developer
Square EA
Genre
RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Awesome graphics
• Voiceacting and music are top notch
• Revamped experience and battle systems are a joy to use

The Bad

• Fairly linear
• Inconsistent character models and animations

 
Grade
A-

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.

Graphics:
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.

Sphere Board:
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).

Battle System:
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.

Audio:
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.

The Good:
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 to look.

The Bad:
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.

- - Kinderfeld

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