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Final Fantasy X - Review

Yet another Final Fantasy

By: Vic


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 7
   Music/Sound 8
   Originality 7
   Plot 8
   Localization 9
   Replay Value 2
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

35-40 hours

 
Overall
8
Criteria

Title Screen
 

    There's a lot to be disappointed with if you're a Squaresoft fan right now. Final Fantasy XI is going online, Kingdom Hearts' development involves Disney, and their recreations of their classic games are being developed for WonderSwan. Amidst all these poor business decisions, its a relief to know that their first installment of their flagship title for PS2 hasn't gone horribly wrong.

   I wasn't exactly excited about the upcoming release of this Final Fantasy, for it sported realistic style graphics in a 3D polygonal world. While I've always been more of a fan of sprites and 2D games, I must admit the graphics truly impressed me, for they were the best thing I've ever seen on a console. I didn't exactly like most of the character design, but their images did well in reflecting their personalities. Although the cinemas were spectacular, I was more impressed by what they did with the real time graphics. Squaresoft did an excellent job with facial emotions which accompanied the surprisingly well done voice acting. The soundtrack was also truly excellent, good job Uematsu.

   I was also pleasantly surprised by the plot. I'd imagine that a game that heavily relies on voice acting wouldn't have much of a story, concidering voice recordings take up so much more memory than text. I guess I underestimated the power of the PS2. My interest in the story line lasted from the beginning all the way to the end of the 40 hour quest. My only complaint is that the game is very linear. I like to have a few choices that create multiple endings, although the linearity does keeps the story moving. I won't write anything about the plot, I wouldn't want to ruin anything, but I would like to mention that its refreshing to play a Final Fantasy game that doesn't have a lead character who's being driven crazy by a forgotten past.


Amazing emotions
Amazing Emotions  

    FFX doesn't play much like the previous installments of the series. First off, there's no world map, you travel around on foot. While this is not new to gaming, its new to this series, so I feel its worthy of mention. The towns, dungeons, forests, plains, and mountains are all integrated together. There is a small map on the corner of the screen (which is actually quite helpful) that shows basically where you can go, where you can't go, and where you should be going. The closest thing to the traditional world map is that once you get the airship, you choose locations from a map, rather than fly it around the world.

   The Battle system has also been drastically changed. There is no longer an ATB bar you wait to fill up. Instead, you have a list that orders each characters turn. When one of your characters turn comes up, you choose an action and its instantly done. No longer does everyone go as soon as possible, you have as much time as you need to choose an attack without fear of an enemy getting you first. A new addition to the battle system includes the ability to switch characters in and out of your party during battle, similar to Breath of Fire IV. This allows you to switch out someone who isn't skilled at fighting a certain kind of enemy for someone who is. While the battle system involves more strategy than previous FFs, it gives you more power to control the flow of battle, ultimately making much of the game too easy. The battle system is not completely changed, it still works under the same basic mechanics, as well as having overdrives (similar to limit breaks and trances) and summons, although summoning is handled differently in FFX.

   Just like previous FFs, you can summon various creatures (known as Aeons in FF10) into battle to assist you. There are returning favorites such as Ifrit and Shiva, as well as some new ones. What makes summoning different in FFX is that instead of leaving after making an attack, the Aeons stay and fight as the characters of your party normally do. Squaresoft was careful not to makes these beasts overly powerful as I thought they would have been. They fight alone, so they don't have any assistance from your party members. They may be able to topple over the monsters from random battles, but they stand little chance against a boss. Still, there overdrive attacks are quite powerful, and can do massive damage before they are defeated. If you feel the need to, you can also teach them new abilities, but for most of them, their normal attack and overdrive will work just fine.

   Increaseing your characters ability isn't done with traditional experience points, instead you use something known as the Sphere Grid. Spaces are interconnected on this grid creating paths. Each character starts at a different place on the grid. As you gain levels by defeating monsters, your allowed to move spaces on the grid. Each space will provide you with a different ability. You place spheres in each space your character is adjacent to to access that ability. It may be confusing to read about, but once you see it, its actually very simple. It allows you to develop characters in any manor you'd like. Although different, it's nothing special. It becomes time consuming and can get annoying to have to access it every time you gain a level to increase your abilities. Like most RPGs, you also have weapons and armor that increase abilities. If you'd like you can customize these items, but the games easy enough as it is, you probably won't need to (I didn't).


It's simple, really
It's simple really  

   As well as being an RPG, Final Fantasy X also contains a minigame called Blitzball. The developers obviously put a lot of time into it, for it is more complex then any minigame I've played before in an RPG. Its rather unique, its like some sort of underwater soccer-basketball hybrid that's menu driven. While I could explain it in more detail, it's really not worth it. While interesting for the first couple minutes, it quickly becomes boring. Luckily, your only required to play once to complete the game, and you don't even have to win.

While all around its a decent game, there are several other flaws within the game. For one thing, sidequests are limited to finding a few extra summons. Although its not a major flaw, since the games a decent length anyway. Actually the worst part of the game would have to be The Trials. Before obtaining a summon, you must go through a trial. Outside of these trials, puzzles are non existent, and the game would have been better off that way. No, I don't hate puzzles, it's just that these ones are neither entertaining or interesting. They're not very clever and are more frustrating than anything. Every time I got to one, it made me want to abandon playing the game, they just ruin the experience.

While Final Fantasy X isn't perfect, nor is it anywhere near perfect, playing it was still an overall enjoyable experience. Its flaws do at times make the game seem not worth playing, but its superb graphics, and excellent story will keep you hooked.





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