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Final Fantasy X - Review

And So Enters A New Era

By: Paul Johnson


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 10
   Interface 9
   Music/Sound 8
   Originality 7
   Plot 10
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 8
   Visuals 10
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

45-70 hours

 
Overall
9
Criteria

Title

   As the Final Fantasy series enters the double digits, as well as a new console, we, the fans, get to experience a great leap in gameplay not seen since FF6-7. And they fit it all on one disc, not 3 this time. Square truly outdid their selves this time around. 4 million copies and counting so far sold. Onto the gameplay....

   From the very beginning of this game it is completely and utterly engrossing. Final Fantasies have never been known as a game you play for an hour and then take a break, and this is especially so with this one. I found myself playing until midnight several times.

   The first thing you truly get to see is the graphics. The in-game graphics are phenomenal when compared to previous games. The only thing missing is the movement of the hair and some people's faces look relatively.... flat. Only unimportant characters for that however. The FMV sequences are absolutely breathtaking. You would never think of how clear and crisp they are. Also, because of the fact that the entire background is 3d, only an occasional pre-rendered one, there is camera movement. This greatly enhances the game itself. Only during FMV sequences in previous games did you ever get a close-up of the baddies, yet every encounter you have with them here treats you with great shots with good special effects, FMV or not.

   I really like what they've done with the battle system here. As previously said, it resembles Grandia alot, except for there's no movement. Basically it's the same system as in FF4-9, just now it pauses to give you infinite time to think during your characters turns and you can see who's up next and all. But that isn't the good part about it. There are some monsters out there that need to be killed with magic. Some that need to be hit with a weapon with the Piercing ability. Some are too fast for most people to deal with. Some can be dismantled with a single blow if hit right. Some must be hit by a projectile. Very few monsters are the standard 'Pound them with all you got' type, though it seems to digress to that towards the end of the game. In the end, what this does is makes every character in the game useful. Hitting a flying type is extremely difficult without using Wakka, for example. And armored types will receive pitiful amounts of damage without use of Auron's/Kimahri's Piercing weapons.


What’s the translating team up to now?
What’s the translating team up to now? 

   In addition to a nice battle system, there are some nice battle-related systems outside of battles. The most prominent system is the Sphere Grid. Using Sphere Levels accumulated through activity in Battle you can move around the Grid and activate the Spheres contained within that boost stats and acquire Abilities and Magics for your characters. Once you get Rikku in your team, you are allowed to ‘Customize’ your weapons, which is the use of items to add abilities to them. These abilities can be simple stat boosts like HP + 10% and STR + 20%, or they could be special abilities like ‘Piercing’ and ‘First Strike’, as well as auto-abilities that save you time like ‘Auto-Haste’, ‘Auto-Med’ and ‘Auto-Protect’.

   As in all of the latest FF’s, there is a powerful attack unleashed by taking/dealing enough damage. All they really did was take the ‘Limit Break’, add a special command to it that needs to be performed and then changed the name of ‘Overdrive’. There are, of course, different ways to acquire them with each character, usually maxxing out at 4 total. It seems like they got the damage curve a bit messed up, as the output at low levels is quite low and at high levels it does astronomical damage.

   I've heard several people mention that the musical score was not completely left up to Nobuo Uematsu. To tell the truth, I didn't notice one bit, as well as the fact that only Uematsu himself was listed under Music in the credits. Either way, the music is just a tad below FF normal, yet still providing the needed boost. There are some good tunes, and some normal tunes. As for sound effects, these are great. You can hear everything. From the clank of swords, to the dying cries of the enemies and them turning into pyreflies, to the sound of the Shoopuf's feet and the computer-ish noises made by Machina. In addition to that, there are random battle quotes. For example, if you have Tidus and Yuna in your party at the start of the fight then there's a chance of the following dialogue: "Yuna! Support fire!", "Yessir!". When Auron gets a limit break, he could say "Pray! Now!" (I especially like the voice he says it in, =).


Blitzball
Blitzball 

   The storyline is exactly what you’d expect it to be for a Final Fantasy; great, riveting and completely unexpected. As it mainly revolves around a journey through Spira, you learn of many things and places. There are many plot twists, about half of which can be expected before it really happened. The only thing this storyline lacks is a twist so big it makes so pause it and say “Whoa!”. It is also extremely emotional, especially towards the end. The voice acting simply enhances this.

   Normally I absolutely loathe voice acting. Your ‘Joe-average’ company sets off to add another level to their game and use people that don’t know diddly crap about it and it ends up terrible. Well guess what, Squaresoft isn’t your ‘Joe-average’ company. All of the voice acting is done extremely well and truly does enhance the gameplay greatly. However, there is a bad side to this as well. With the voice acting the lips also move, and because the original words were done in Japanese, some characters were forgotten to have the movements translated to English. This causes sentences to end while the people still seem to be speaking, making it quite annoying.

   The translation itself went quite well. Though I didn’t squeeze every piece of dialogue from the game, I never noticed a flaw. As for localization, I feel they could’ve done better with the FMV’s, as all the characters look extremely Japanese, with the exception of Auron and Kimahri (How could a beast-warrior look Japanese?). During normal gameplay the characters look perfectly American, though.

   As for originality, I really don’t see anything special here. Everything is half-and-half, half original, half unoriginal. The battle system is the same tried-and-proven method with new stuff, summons are mainly the same with the exception of the bonus ones (Am I the only one getting tired of Shiva, Ifrit and Bahamut?). Overall this isn’t FF10’s strong point.

   Once again, the menus are practically the same. Even the layout is the same. It uses the same menu system as FF’s 7 and 8, changing only in background and in the necessary sub-divisions.


Just look at those graphics...
Just look at those graphics... 

   FFX has a relatively moderate amount of minigames. There isn’t a minigame for everything from mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a presidential march, like in FF7, but it has just the right balance, methinks. The most prominent is Blitzball, a game kinda like an underwater version of soccer.

   I would definitely replay this game. I’m presently playing over as I speak, directly after beating it. I guess it’s just the level of immersion it contains, for there is no New Game+ option.

   With nothing but praise, why doesn’t this just get a 10? The difficulty, that’s why. For most of the game it is well balanced, but as the game tapers to a fine, pointy end it begins to fall. I spent a few days getting the Ultimate Weapons, Aeons and tech skills and completely and utterly pounded all of the final bosses. Tidus turns into and absolute powerhouse, especially if you walk him down Auron’s path, with the ‘Triple Overdrive’ ability on his Ultimate weapon and his tech skill Quick Hit. Using that you can get 4-5 hits in between each enemy attack, and with 4 hits he gets an Overdrive, causing him to do massive amounts of damage to enemies. I was very disappointed with the final battles.

   In the end this is a great game. It is clear to see how it’s sold 40 million copies. Definitely the first ‘real’ RPG on PS2.





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