"Final Fantasy.... you may like it, or you may hate it, but the fact is that you've heard of it. No matter if your gaming habits are centered around consoles, or not, the chances are that you will have heard of the Final Fantasy series on number of occasions. "
Final Fantasy.... you may like it, or you may hate it, but the fact is that you've heard of it. No matter if your gaming habits are centered around consoles, or not, the chances are that you will have heard of the Final Fantasy series on number of occasions.
Now, bear with me just a bit more before I quit procrastinating. You came to read a review, I know, and not a rambling history lesson. But needs must.
It all began back in 1987, and it was never intended for the greatness it would eventually gather. It was the year a man going by the name of Hironobu Sakaguchi wanted to make one more game, one final project before he would retire and pursuit his destiny in other fields. The project's name was Final Fantasy, and from the day that the game was released into the stores... nothing would ever be the same again.
Now, let us advance the time line to the year 2001. Already many games with the name Final Fantasy have made their appearance, and every single one of them became an instant best seller, drawing more fans towards them. In that year, the latest Final Fantasy game, and the first one on the then new PlayStation 2 was released. Instantly, countless copies were bought, shrines to characters from the game were constructed, and an enormous quantity of money was piled up in the headquarters of Squaresoft.
So, you may wonder... why am I mentioning this game? It is this game, and this game alone that changed something in the Final Fantasy universe. For the first time, there was speculations of a sequel, but not of a Final Fantasy XI, but of an actual sequel that would follow to the story, a game that would further explain what happened in the mystical world of Spira and it's colourful cast. Fans rejoiced, and the CEO's of Square rubbed their hands happily again knowing that yet another shipment of green colored bills would soon overflow their headquarters.
And no more then 2 years later, it happened. The game was released, and played by the legions of fans that Final Fantasy X had already swayed over. Would this new direction herald in a carbon copy of what its prequel had brought?
Or, would it be something different?
If you've read all the way to this part, kudos. In any case, from this point, the real review will commence of this game. Promise.
This game follows the adventures of Yuna. Many will remember Yuna as a humble, shy summoner who filled the role of holy maiden flawlessly in the previous game. In this one...Yuna's changed. Yuna's changed a lot. It seems that it did not take much for her to completely alter her life style, and with that her attitude towards life. It seems that growing up among acolytes and priests for a large portion of her life did not teach her a lot about humility either, as you will see in her default outfit and countless others that show her... charms throughout the game. But let us leave Yuna alone for now. Who do we have in the character roster further? There is the always lovable Al Bhed thief Rikku, who seems even more light headed in this game then she was in the previous one. And of course, what RPG would be without a silent, brooding swordsman (in this scenario swordswoman), with a mysterious past? In this game, that character comes in the form of Paine, a newcomer to the entire crew.
Paine. Great name for the atypical angst-filled silent character, eh?
As the game progresses, you will find yourself interacting with many people whom many will recognise from their previous adventures from Spira. I should probably mention Brother as a special case from them all, as a reoccurring character who amused me with his antics and with his hyperactive personality, but also worried me with his romantic.... preferences when Yuna is in question. I must confess, that whenever I talked to him in the game, somewhere in the back of my mind I could hear a banjo playing as he made googly eyes at his cousin. In any case, most of you might feel good when you rediscover some of the non-playable characters that affected your destinies in FFX present; it's nice to have some closure on how things turned out for them.
Nostalgic twangs aside, let us speak of the otherwise lacking story. The entire game is segmented into chapters, these chapters then divided into missions. Missions that you have to do, and others which are present for the completion of the story. With each passed mission, and with each interaction with objects/people that you make, you rack up a higher completion percentage of the game. If you want to get the best ending, you will need to pass the game with a 100 % ratio, something that I will immediately tell you is impossible without a guide, simply because you can miss something which appears only once so easily, thus loseing your chance for the entire game.
As hinted at earlier, the story revolves around Yuna's travels across the world of Spira, a world that is still recovering (although I must say, its inhabitants are quite the cheerful lot) from the evil known as Sin. In her travels, she became a «Sphere Hunter», and is a part of the group called The Gullwings, a group formed by Brother. As you travel, more and more of the story will develop and new characters will arise. In the end, you will once again face a danger that threatens to destroy the entire world of Spira. Original, huh? The story, as I said, is poorly done, and the new characters that are introduced lack both the charm, and the capabilities that the vital characters in the previous installment had.
But again, I fear I stray; let us progress onwards. The sceneries in the game, plus the animations in battle, are just as you would expect from a Final Fantasy game. Fluid, and most enticing for the eyes, the girls will change into countless garments which offer them special abilities, helping them battle against enemies who are just as well defined as they were in the previous game. However, a criticism comes on this account as well. No matter how good the sceneries are, or how good the enemies might look, a very large portion of the scenes used in the game is just copied from FFX. I guess that the programmers felt rather lazy, and just recycled the same sceneries they used in the previous installment.
Also, connected with the graphics, I might comment on the gameplay. This game's battle system is a mixture between a turn based system, and the popular ATB system -- interesting to say at the very least, because it will keep you on your toes all the time, whilst giveing you more then enough time to plan out your future actions. Definitely the most important thing to mention here is the dressphere system. The entire concept of battle is based around the spheres which, when you equip them, give your character a whole new persona. Whether you want Yuna to perhaps become a formidable warrior or an enraged Berserker, or go against the grain and make the default badarse Paine something like a White Mage or a Songstres, is completely up to you. This choice, and the huge range of the dresspheres that one might equip, definitely make this game that much more interesting.
Each dressphere that you equip has a set number of skills that you can learn, and by learning those skills (through battle experience of course), you can continue to grow more and more, learning new special techniques that may well save your neck on a number of occasions. This entire concept is the most praiseworthy one in the entire game, simply because of the number of combinations that you can make are often a joy to explore.
The opposite of this joy would be the plain fist-clenching awfulness that your ears must absorb. Sound is a rather painful topic in this game, because it has been altered drastically and altered for the worse. Let us start off with the voices of the characters. Although most of the voice cast remained exactly alike as in the previous game, it seems like most of the characters just lost the touch that they had with the characters from the previous game. Be it with Wakka, who now sounds nothing like the cheerful, rhythmic character the previous installment presented, or to O'aka, whose antics are not half as hilarious now in this offbeat voice which is offered. Not happy with just this, the music was slaughtered as well. Long gone are the excellent rhythms and adrenaline pumping melodies that Nobuo Uematsu brought to the game, the music that had that atmosphere that only the Final Fantasy series can bring. These melodies are far more mainstream, a mixture of dance/pop which, although it has it's fans, has no place in the spiritual world of Spira.
Now, I will come to the point which I really did not want to believe before I played the game and understood the sad truth. Many might say that this game is the «Dead or Alive» of RPG games. Although the obvious appeal to the teenage males is not on the level that one might think it is, that same concept is more then there. Be it from the risqué cut scenes that you can see when changing your garments, or the various similar snippets in the game. For example, take the 'hot springs' scene (because, you see, when on an important mission it's most important that during it you take a stop and bathe. A mission can be completed any time after all, but only if you're clean), where the girls compare their....attributes and who has it «going on». Scenes like that might make you interested even more in the game, or you might find it a blatant way to slip in a little more fan service then necessary.
It's a shame, really; this game is not by any means a bad game; it's not a great either. Although you can feel that this is still a Final Fantasy, and you can rediscover Spira in an entire new way, there is still something lacking. The spirit of Final Fantasy that Hironobu Sakaguchi brought to this series still runs strong, but significantly less so in this game.
Community review by darketernal (April 21, 2005)
Occasional reviewer of random stuff.
If you enjoyed this Final Fantasy X-2 review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!