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Final Fantasy X-2 (PlayStation 2) artwork

Final Fantasy X-2 (PlayStation 2) review

"Having finally played and completed Final Fantasy X-2 after all these years, I find that it is neither as bad as its detractors have painted it, nor is it as good as its fanbase says it is. It's not as good as its predecessor, but it's far from being the worst entry in the series, as some would have you believe."

Having finally played and completed Final Fantasy X-2 after all these years, I find that it is neither as bad as its detractors have painted it, nor is it as good as its fanbase says it is. It's not as good as its predecessor, but it's far from being the worst entry in the series, as some would have you believe.

However, though I say X-2's detractors are somewhat unfair to the game, I honestly can't blame them for that. The game's introduction features Yuna, once a quiet, humbled person, acting like a pop idol. While it's almost immediately revealed that the person was not actually Yuna, it sets a certain tone for the game that is consistent throughout.

Even the tone the game sets isn't bad, but it is so distant from that of its predecessor that it is almost impossible for any fan of X to not be somewhat bothered by the difference. Those who aren't fans of X aren't going to be interested in X-2 in the first place. In short, X-2 starts off by upsetting the target demographic. This is, to put it nicely, not the brightest idea.

While I said the tone isn't bad, that doesn't mean it's very good. If it were to be summed up in a single word, that word would be "absurd." Much of the time, the absurdity is intentional. Leblanc and her henchman, a group of sphere hunters that serve as this game's Team Rocket, are moronic and weak. Rikku's brother, Brother, is constantly screaming, posing dramatically, and waving his arms. Rikku herself is... well... Rikku.

The problem with these elements is that they all feel fairly forced and can be somewhat grating. Leblanc and crew are not nearly as charming as other examples of the cliche. Brother is over-the-top, even by the ridiculous standards X-2 sets, and completely lacks any endearing character traits. Rikku is certainly a "Your Mileage May Vary" character, but, and I say this as a big fan of Final Fantasy X, she's always been one of the more poorly written members of the party.

Of course, there are moments where the absurdity is unintentional. These are moments that X-2 expects the player to take seriously, yet to expect such is to insult the player's intelligence. The best example of this is a concert the party puts on to help resolve a conflict that may soon blossom into full-on war. This episode takes up an entire chapter in the game's five chapter story and is played straight, as though the creators were unaware of the astronomical implausibility of such a thing.

This also shows the game's rather poor pacing. The main story is incredibly short, yet even that is filled with meaningless diversions that add very little to the experience. Time is wasted with meaningless, sidequest-esque adventures that serve only to update players on what's happened since Final Fantasy X and fill time until the game's eventual climax. Even the climax is delivered in a rather underwhelming fashion.

Of course, I can't talk about Final Fantasy X-2 without touching on the incredible laziness of it. So many of the character models and environments are recycled, even when there's no reason for them to be. A good example of this is Lulu. She's pregnant and going to be giving birth soon, but looks as thin as she ever did. The game even has Rikku point this out as a way of lampshading the fact that the creators were too lazy to redo Lulu's character model.

As harsh as I've been so far, it may seem odd that I started off by claiming the game actually wasn't that bad. I say that because, scattered throughout the disgusting muck that makes up the game's weaker elements, there are real gems of brilliance. Yuna is a much stronger, more interesting character than she ever was in Final Fantasy X, having grown tremendously since losing Tidus at the end of that game. In fact, her entire journey is motivated by her desire to see him again.

Yuna is a character who once committed herself to saving the world and went on a journey fully aware that, by its end, she would be dead. She had placed her fate in the hands of the religion she followed the the warriors who protected her. Now, however, she's in control of herself and her destiny and is a much more interesting character for it.

There's some really strong writing in the end game that's informed by Yuna's experiences in Final Fantasy X, too. She stands up for herself and her thoughts, much to the surprise of everyone else, and proceeds to really talk about how much she hates the loss she experienced and the guilt she feels over it. At that point, Yuna has far surpassed any potential she ever had in the original game.

One of the game's strongest points is its gameplay. The job system itself is fairly shallow, but the ability to switch jobs in the middle of combat via the Dressphere system adds a lot of variety. Each character has a lot more potential and players are able to adapt to the challenges presented to them without being trapped by what they went into battle with. While there are still a few minor flaws with the system, it's faster and far more fun than almost any other attempt at ATB combat series has seen.

While the pacing and sidequest bloated nature of Final Fantasy X-2 is problematic, it is also worth praising the variety it presents in terms of what players can spend their time doing. In a longer game, as even X-2 is by most gaming standards, variety is key to making sure the experience doesn't grow dull and repetitive. While the execution of these many diversions isn't as good as it ought to be, their presence makes the game as a whole much stronger.

All things considered, Final Fantasy X-2 is a decent game. It's far from being the best Final Fantasy, but it is pretty decent by jRPG standards. The combat is great and there are some very good ideas throughout, even if the general tone of the experience is rather irritating. It is a "pretty okay" game, and, for what is essentially a glorified expansion pack for Final Fantasy X, that's perfectly fine.


SkylerBunderson's avatar
Community review by SkylerBunderson (January 28, 2012)

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zippdementia posted January 28, 2012:

Great review. Been a while since I've thought of this game. I keep wanting to go back to it and try for 100% completion, especially because the combat is (as you say) really fun, but then I remember that FFX-2 is essentially an officially endorsed fan fiction. Wakka bangs Lulu! Neither of them have changed clothes in eight years! Here's a new obligatory emo chick, with a really creative name (sarcasm)!
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SkylerBunderson posted January 28, 2012:

To be fair, I think Paine is more interesting and more developed than Rikku. She reads less "emo" to me and more just far more serious than anything else in the game. In a game as ridiculous as X-2 is, I think a character like Paine is a necessity.
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jerec posted January 28, 2012:

I like FFX-2 but it really is a lazy game. Any new areas in the game are pretty dull, visually, especially caves. And Lulu was pregnant for the duration of the game, and gave birth at the end, but she never showed any signs of it. Was a new character model for an NPC really that hard to make?
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Roto13 posted January 28, 2012:

Final Fantasy X-2 is one of the very few games I actually find embarrassing to play, which is too bad because I really liked the battle and job systems.
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zippdementia posted January 29, 2012:

Roto, you capture my sentiment exactly. I literally turned beet red the first time one of my cousins walked in on me playing the game. It was like he'd caught me masturbating (that may have been less awkward, actually).
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Genj posted January 29, 2012:

One of the things I really hated about X-2 was it mars one of the better Final Fantasy stories. FFX's ending was great because Tidus actually died instead of being saved by some nonsensical deus ex machina at the last minute. I wasn't predicting that; especially since that happened in VIII & IX. X-2 kinda ruins that by having Yuna go on a wacky adventure and some ghosts revive Tidus because Yuna was totally bummed about him being dead and all. But only because she defeated the evil organ player. I actually thought the game's 'bad' ending was better written (where Yuna is comforted that Tidus' "soul" or "spirit" has been watching over her or something). I guess that's what happens when you make sequels to games that really shouldn't have one.
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espiga posted January 29, 2012:

Final Fantasy X-2 actually did nothing wrong. A lot of the confusion stems from one little phrase muttered in the ending of FFX-1. As some of you might be aware already, the localization team that translated FFX did so without modifying the mouth and facial movements of the characters, who were synced with the Japanese language voices. That being said, the localized script was modified so that it would fit the Japanese facial movements. This means that a lot of the script, while technically "correct," is missing a lot of the nuance and meaning that comes accompanied with Japanese speech.

In the Japanese ending, Yuna says to Tidus, "Thank you," as opposed to the "I love you" in the English version.

Final Fantasy X-2 is not about Yuna trying to resurrect Tidus, it's about her trying to find him again so that she can tell him the words she never did in FFX... But all of that was lost because of the localization team trying to make the English script match the Japanese face movements.
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zigfried posted January 29, 2012:

That's the kind of awesome revelation that could make fans' worlds turn upside-down.

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zippdementia posted January 30, 2012:

Still doesn't change the fact of the evil organ player. Or all the pop concerts. Or Rikku saying "poopy" every chapter.
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Linkamoto posted November 04, 2013:

Great review, even if it spent an overly large amount of time discussing the characters. If it wasn't Final Fantasy, I'd have gotten bored of it quickly. I, too, recall being embarrassed by the game's over the top glitz and pop crap, and as a result, never finished the game.

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