June 13, 2002
Final Fantasy X - Review
When it comes to RPG's (Role Playing Games) there is one series that stands above all others, Square's Final Fantasy. With sales of over 30 million sales for the previous 9 games, there was certainly some anticipation for the first Playstation 2 version. Unlike Final Fantasy XI which has just been released in Japan this game is not online compatible, but given the current problems with the eleventh game that's probably a good thing.
|Square's CG - second to none.|
As with previous Final Fantasy games this storyline is totally seperate to the other games in the series. 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.
The lead character, Tidus' world is turned upside down on the day he is violently thrust from his home world of Zakarand 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. While not as emotional as the storyline in Final Fantasy VII it is very solid nonetheless and will have you continualy wondering what is around the corner.
|The familiar combat screen returns.|
Anyone who has played any of the previous Final Fantasy's will know what to expect in terms of gameplay. Your party travells from location to location to unravel the mystery. Along the way you can talk to pretty much anyone you come accross, most of whom will give you hints of where to head next. Along the way you will often be attacked by enemies at random. Unlike most newer games where you can see enemies you can't see them in Final Fantasy X making the battles a lot more random. It's a little annoying, especially when you're low on supplies, but it is what we've come to expect from a Final Fantasy game. The more battles you enter, however, the more Gil, or money, you earn. Likewise, these battles allow you to build up experience and magic points.
|Realtime graphics, not pre-rendered.|
As with any Final Fantasy game you must 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. This is one major addition which will be discussed further at a later stage. Final Fantasy X also introduces the Sphere Grid - a brand new system which allows greater control over how you develop characters with upgraded abilities. Mastery of the Sphere Grid and battle techniques is essential if your characters are to succeed in their quest. It's and interesting addition to the game that actually, although bewildering at first, works quite well indeed.
|Some of the breathtaking visuals.|
As always magic plays a major part in the Final Fantasy universe. From the most simple fire and ice spells to summoning the largest Aeons (as they're called in Final Fantasy X) everything looks spectacular. It's not uncommon to be battling a single large enemy for over 30 minutes. As previously mentioned the biggest change during battles is the ability to change the active character with one not in the battling party of three. This is a great addition in that if standard attacks aren't working you can switch to a member with more magic abilities of vice-versa.
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.
|Valefor can be summoned for help.|
Despite it's overall brilliance there are a couple of disappointments with the graphics. Firstly there is no option for a 60Hz mode as Square couldn't fit the graphics onto a single DVD. (Whenever you include a 60Hz mode the graphics have to be save in both 50Hz and 60Hz modes.) While I can forgive them for that I can not forgive them for the massive borders in the game. It's like playing the entire game in widescreen. Surely this could have been optimised prior to release, especially given the 6 month delay from the US release to record the voices.
One area of this game which has undergone the biggest change from previous versions is the inclusion of voice acting. No longer do you have to read pages of text, now you listen to it thanks to the vast storage space on the DVD. For the most part this voice acting is pretty solid, although it still has some dodgey phrases, especially from lead character Tidus. Poor timing, or pauses between phrases, are evident while the game, somewhat expectedly, also includes very poor lip synching. The music is as atmospheric and epic as you would expect from a Final Fantasy game while the sound effects are also likely to impress.
|Yuna is quite nice to look at.|
One of the great things about waiting for Final Fantasy X is that in PAL territories we have also been given a bonus DVD choc full of extras. These include trailers for Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy The Spirits Within (the movie) and a great look at Square's upcoming game, Kingdom Hearts. The disc also has many interviews with the key people who developed Final Fantasy X as well as the voice actors and finally a gallery with artwork for the game. It's an impressive package, and equal to that on Konami's Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty bonus disc.
|Upgrade through this sphere screen.|
There really isn't too much bad to say about this game. The random battles still annoy me like made. I would much rather see the enemies and sneak around them at times, but that's what we've come to expect from a Final Fantasy game over the years. The graphics ans sound combine brilliantly to make this a terrific feast on the eyes and ears and the CG work is just as impressive as that in the recent movie. If you like RPG's, or have never even tried one, then this is a brilliant game as it showcases everything that the Playstation 2, talented developers and a terrific imagination can do together. Final Fantasy X is a winner.
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|GRAPHICS||Stunning cut scenes while in-game graphics are just as impressive.||92%|
|SOUND||Voice acting is good, sound effects very good, and music brilliant.||91%|
|GAMEPLAY||Story isn't as solid as some Final Fantasy games, but better then most.||90%|
|VALUE||Over 40 hours solid gameplay, and plenty of sub quests. Great.||97%|
|OVERALL||Final Fantasy X is yet another quality game from Square. The storyline isn't as emotional as Final Fantasy VII but is engrossing enough. The game is an absolute joy from start to finish. Original, not really, but brilliant, certainly. Add it to your collection now.||94%|