May 14, 2001
Final Fantasy X - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players Price
17/5/2002SonySquare1$99.95

Click To Enlarge Image
This is the prettiest game ever.
When it comes to RPG series' only Enix's Dragon Quest comes close to the popularity of Final Fantasy, in Japan at least. Outside Japan Final Fantasy is the biggest RPG on any console, as well as PC. In Japan alone Final Fantasy VII sold over whopping 3.7 million units while Final Fantasy VIII has managed almost identical figures. Worldwide figures for the entire series are now approaching 30 million units, with many more being sold each day, especially with Final Fantasy X being available in Japan and America for some time now. Final Fantasy X is the series' first outing on the PS2 and it looks hot, not only for the graphics, but also the story, new features and the brilliance of Square.

Final Fantasy X takes place in the world of Spira - a land under constant threat from a mysterious entity known as "Sin". Sin emerges without warning to cause mass destruction, leaving communities devastated and lives ruined. In this land of constant fear, there is hope in the form of the Summoners - gifted individuals with the ability to summon aeons, powerful sprits of yore.

Click To Enlarge Image
One of the battle scenes.
The lead character, Tidus' world is turned upside down on the day he is violently thrust from his home world into the alternate future reality of Spira. Thus begins his - and your - journey of destiny. Your travels will take you through new and wondrous lands where along the way you will meet many new friends. Among them is Yuna, a beautiful young Summoner whose fate seems to be entwined with Tidus's.

Of course Final Fantasy wouldn't be true to itself without foes. In Final Fantasy X you will fight a vast array of despicable monsters of varied strength and sizes. The game features a turn-based battle system, allowing time for strategic thinking, and is enhanced by the ability to switch characters during battle. In order to survive each new challenge, Final Fantasy X introduces the Sphere Grid - a brand new system which allows greater control over how you develop characters. Mastery of the Sphere Grid and battle techniques is essential if your characters are to succeed in their quest.

Click To Enlarge Image
Typical Square graphics brilliance.
As you can see from the surrounding screen shots the graphics in this game are absolutely stunning. The facial detail, backgrounds and everything is just exceptional. Square have returned to a more realistic look for the characters instead of the super deformed style seen recently, especially in Final Fantasy VII. This should broaden the appeal of the game to westerners who are still unsure about Japanese styled characters in games, be it super deformed or anime.

So what is so different between this game and previous versions? Well apart from the obvious improvement in graphics thanks to the Playstation 2 there are three other main areas of improvements. The first and most noticeable area of change will be the voices. Yes, Square have finally decided to add voiced characters in the game. No doubt this decision has come about due to the higher data capacity of DVD discs, which will also allows several languages on one disc in Europe. If Final Fantasy 8 had of been fully voiced the game would more likely have been 10CD's in size. Another area that has been dramatically improved is the facial motions and animations. Characters all now smile and frown in reaction to the happenings around the character. It's a great addition that makes the characters so much more realistic. The final improvements are with the games maps. These have been fairly standard SNES Mode 7 styled since the Super Nintendo days and Square have enhanced them considerably (in 3D) for Final Fantasy X.

To top off the release, and as a partial gift to PAL Playstation 2 gamers our version of the game, which is the slightly expanded International version which was recently released in Japan, also comes with a second DVD choc full of extras. Here's what to expect on the bonus DVD:

    Click To Enlarge Image
    The party all contemplating.
    Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within original theatrical trailer
    Final Fantasy History (V through to IX with preview of FFX footage)
    Final Fantasy X trailer 1 (FMV + gameplay)
    Final Fantasy X trailer 2 (FMV + gameplay)
    Kingdom Hearts Tokyo Game Show 2001 preview (FMV + gameplay)
    Kingdom Hearts E3 2002 Preview (FMV + gameplay)
    Interviews with the development team:
    Producer - Yoshinori Kitase
    Character Designer - Tetsuya Nomura
    Event Director - Motomu Toriyama
    Battle Director - Toshiro Tsuchida
    Scenario Writer - Kazushige Nojima
    Sound Producer - Nobuo Uematsu
    Executive Producer - Hironobu Sakaguchi
    Interviews with voice actors:
    James Arnold Taylor (Tidus)
    Hedy Burress (Yuna)
    Gallery:
    Yoshitaka Amano profile
    Storyboards, 16 Image boards (original character design, original background design, concept art)
    Music:
    FFX Theme song 'Suteki da ne' promotional music video featuring Japanese pop star Rikki

There can be no denying that Final Fantasy X will sell by the truckload when it is released on May 17, the same day as Gamecube strangely enough. This could be the series (Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XII are also in the works for the PS2) that swings consumer favour back to Sony in the console race with the Gamecube and XBox. One thing is certain, with the amount of time and money that Square have invested in this title there is little chance of this game being mediocre. In fact, I can guarantee it's a winner.