Final Fantasy X - First Impressions

Same but Different

By: Andrew Church, Freelance Contributor

Occasional RPGamer contributor Andrew Church is in Japan, and thus in the fortunate position of being able to hurl himself into Final Fantasy X already. He took some time out from his frenetic gaming schedule to give us his impressions of this hot-cake of a game.

Final Fantasy X

   "Final Fantasy X has lived up to its role as the first PS2 Final Fantasy, at least in terms of graphics. Even the walkaround scenes beat anything seen on the original PlayStation, but the story scenes, which are done real-time, not rendered, and thus include all story events, are done in even greater detail, along the lines of the stuff seen in the TGS [Spring Tokyo Game Show] demo. The automatic camera work is, if not perfect, at least usable, though the ability to adjust it manually as well would have been nice. One minor flaw in the graphics system is that if there's too much on screen at once, the game slows down, but it's only a minor detraction.

   As is presumably well known now, the game features voice acting; this is actually the focus now, instead of text. The configuration menu has an option to turn the text off, but not the voices. Nonetheless, it's fairly well done and doesn't interfere with the game (at least in the Japanese version). I haven't heard much of the music yet, but so far it's on par with Final Fantasy VII or Final Fantasy IX. Good, certainly, but not great.

   The game itself seems to be well done, though, without more playing time it's hard to say one way or the other. One of the most unusual things is the "level-up" system; there's a huge "grid" of ability-up points that you can move around on as you gain levels, allowing you to choose just how you want your character to grow. Other than that, Final Fantasy X seems to share a lot of things with Final Fantasy VIII, from Overdrives (Limit Breaks) that require timing and/or button presses to activate, to a single weapon and armor for each character, to being able to teach abilities to summoned monsters. It's still too early to say how well they all work together, though.

   An interesting tack is taken with the story: it's all depicted as in the past, told from (present) Tidus' perspective, and Tidus of the present occasionally jumps in to narrate. I'm not sure quite how much I like this. Incidentally, the two scenes shown at the TGS are also incorporated near the beginning of the game itself, though in the island scene Yuna only has Valfare, not Shiva and Ifrit as well."

Final Fantasy X was released in Japan on July 19th, and was greeted by massive support by the populace, selling a whopping 2.1 million copies on the first day. Needless to say, the collected mutterings of desire from the throngs of occidental fans will crescendo at the painfully distant North American release. Keep checking RPGamer as we uncover more of the specifics of the localization of the game, which is slated to reach these shores in early 2002. Until then, keep up to date by checking in with our dedicated Final Fantasy X page.

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