"The Playstation II gave SQUARESOFT an entirely new oppurtunity. Instead of needing four discs to tell their stories, they could all pack it on one for Final Fantasy X, and with graphics to die for. Everything was looking up, and it seemed that SQUARE would one up themselves once again with the creation of the greatest Final Fantasy game yet... Too bad they fell a bit short. "
The Playstation II gave SQUARESOFT an entirely new oppurtunity. Instead of needing four discs to tell their stories, they could all pack it on one for Final Fantasy X, and with graphics to die for. Everything was looking up, and it seemed that SQUARE would one up themselves once again with the creation of the greatest Final Fantasy game yet... Too bad they fell a bit short.
Don't get me wrong, I do believe that Final Fantasy X was a great game. I was immersed in the gameplay and story immediately and my love for the experience never faultered. I spent hour upon hours doing simple things like leveling up, so I could take on the next boss. All of these simple things made this a great game, but there were a few shortcomings.
Of course, as any reviewer should do, you should establish the positives first, so the viewer can understand that while there were weakness, they were easily overshadowed by the greater good. Final Fantasy games have been known for the stories behind them, and Final Fantasy X is no exception. You play as protagonist Tidus, who is a champion Blitzball player (a combination of waterpollo and soccer basically). He has an old hatred for his father, and is very popular. After one championship game, he runs into an old mysterious friend Auron, and gets caught into a powerful substance known as SIN. This causes Tidus to get thrown forward in time and location. Throughout the rest of the game he is trying to find a way home once again, and to defeat SIN. However, not only does he work towards his final goal, the story is spent through his interactions with the many other characters. Overall it is a great story, but doesn't rank up to the past Final Fantasy games, because some characters are not greatly developed and the interactions are at times predictable.
The one thing that Final Fantasy X does that surpasses all its predeccesors is in the graphics department. It utilizes all of the Playstation 2 capabilities, to create an immense world with large skyscraper buildings, that look realistic, and character visages that show their every emotion. The cutscenes is were all of the graphics are at the best, and you will honestly feel like your watching a movie. That is a promise from me.
Along with the excellent graphics, is the music and speech department. Final Fantasy X is the first Final Fantasy game to use ingame voices during cutscenes. The voices all fit their respective characters, and surprisingly don't seem out of place. The main characters voices not only fit their people, but also show their emotions given their current feelings. Besides the voices, there is also the music which has immense musicals such as the Hymn of Faith, which truly should be not only listened to while playing the game, but downloaded afterwords.
Final Fantasy X follows a typical RPG style. It is turned based, and you pick whether to attack, use items, flee, or perform your special. You will also gain experience and gain the ability to level up from winning in battles. This is all fairly typical RPG functions, but there are a few innovations along the way:
First of all, while not truly an innovation, each character has his own special weapons and special tactics. These special tactics are distinguishable per person, however later on through leveling up you will be able to gain all of them (except the summons) for the rest of your characters. Along with the special skills, each character has specialty weapons. These are upgradable, and you can put special skills (such as inflict sleep) on them, along with specialty armor. These weapons are customizable, whcih gives you a little more control fo the game then past Final Fantasy's.
The other huge innovation in Final Fantasy X is the sphere grid (or level-up system). When a character levels up, he is able to enter the sphere grid. The Sphere Grid is a large screen full of adjacent portions to enter. Each level lets you move one sphere in the direction of your choice. Depending on your location you may gain abilities, strength, HP, etc. At first the system is confusing, but after you use it for awhile it becomes very simple, and even enjoyable. As earlier, the sphere grid makes Final Fantasy X more customizable then past Final Fantasy's.
However, despite the ability to customize battle tactics, the game itself is very straight forward. Until the very end you are only able to travel in one direction, and that is towards your next destination. There is basically no pointless travelling and exploring in this game, and while it makes the game more quick paced, it doesn't have the full RPG feel in that aspect.
Final Fantasy X is not a difficult game in most aspects. As long as you keep yourself leveled up, and use smart tactics against the bosses you run against, you should never get stuck for a long time. The dungeon areas sometimes inhibit annoying and difficult puzzles, but if all else fails you can just get a guide book or look up online, and that should truly be only considered at one or two points. The only thing is that the special weapons in Final Fantasy X are extremely difficult, and near to impossible, to find for the majority of the characters. However, if you do retrieve them, you will be unstoppable in the later stages making the game almost too easy. Despite those factors though, I find Final Fantasy X made correctly in the difficulty department for console RPG fans.
You should note that most of this review is dedicated to the positives of this game, because in truth their are very few weaknesses. Only a little repetitive and annoying gameplay, a tad weaker than normal storyline, and a scrambled difficulty at times. However when all is said and done this is a GREAT game to play, and don't let my slightly negative demeanor turn you away. While I don't think it rates up to some of the other games in this famous series, it is an excellent game and an excellent experience: One you definitely do not want to miss.
Community review by ratking (February 15, 2004)
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