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February 21, 2004
Final Fantasy X-2 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
13/2/2004Electronic ArtsSquare-Enix1G8+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
211KBDolby Pro Logic IIYesNoLargeNo

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There's certainly plenty to look at!
Well, it's been a long time coming but Final Fantasy X-2 is finally here. Square's Final Fantasy X-2 (essentially Final Fantasy 10, Part 2 for those of you not sure what it means) was released in Japan around a year ago now, and in America in early November and is essentially a continuation of Square's hit RPG series. What is unusual with this game is that this is the first time Square has provided a sequel to one of their Final Fantasy games. While Final Fantasy VII is still regarded as a favorite for many, a sequel to Final Fantasy X was more convenient due to the tools, character models and staff still available. Still, there is a DVD movie being released later this year called Final Fantasy Advent Children which is a sequel to Final Fantasy VII so keep your eyes out for that - it looks awesome.

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Traditional battle screens.
The best thing about the storyline in Final Fantasy X-2 is that, while it is a sequel, you need not have played the previous title to understand this one, but those who did play the previous game will notice some familiar people and places. Taking place two years after Yuna’s fateful journey to defeat Sin, the once chaotic world of Spira faces yet another challenge when it enters the “Eternal Calm”. The people of Spira now shun the teachings of Yevon and have opened their arms to former foes, the Al Bhed and the use of machines. The Machine Faction aims to propagate the use of machina in Spira, going as far as renaming “machina” to “machines” to remove the stigma. However, even with the peaceful life they now live there is emptiness in Yuna’s heart that is keeping her from moving on as the others have.

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Is that an Oliphant from LOTR?
One day, Yuna obtains a mystical sphere that contains images of what might be the Blitzball player she thought was gone forever, Tidus. Although Yuna isn’t certain that it is him or if he is even alive, she is driven to seek him out. Yuna needs closure to their unexpected parting, even if only to find out she will never see him again.

The first thing you'll notice about Final Fantasy X-2 is the slight change in tone. Not only are many of the main characters now females, but even the opening moments have a feel of the recent "Charlie’s Angels" movies as the characters are introduced. It's not dramatic, but it does signify a change in tone during the game. With Yuna, Rikku and Paine the three main characters in the game some people may be looking for some more mucho characters - but they aren't there. One of the most pleasing aspects of this title, however, is meeting old friends, some of whom have changed considerably in the two years that have passed since Final Fantasy X. As an RPG (Role Playing Game) things don't get much better then this and, as expected, Square-Enix, have taken few risks with this title, although there have been some small changes.

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Baralai is talking.. shhhh..
The battle sequences in Final Fantasy X-2 have seen the biggest changes from previous titles in the series. Using Square's new 'Active Time Battle System' the action now takes place in real-time, rather then turn based combat. This speeds up the action, makes you think more quickly and reduces the sluggish battles which occurred in past Final Fantasy games. Another new feature in the battles is the ability to change your characters class through the "garment grid". This opens up a whole new alternative as changing classes gives you more options to attack enemies, some classes are more suited to attacking some enemies then others, as they offer different methods of attack. The mage class, as you would expect, is extremely powerful with magic, while the thief class allows you to steal objects and currency from enemies and so on. Final Fantasy X-2 includes a leveling-up system similar to previous games. I won't go into it in detail here, you could write about two pages of information, but needless to say it works well.

During the missions you will encounter many, many mini-games. Not only are these numerous in Final Fantasy X-2, but also quite varied and extremely enjoyable. Some of them, such as Gunners Gauntlet are almost exciting enough to be games in their own right as you control Yuna running across a beach shooting enemies with the pistol. To "win" the game you must achieve a high score, which is pretty much only achievable by performing combos and not getting hit. Terrific. A lot of other mini-games as much more simple, and won't tax the brain while others are real brain teasers.

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Baralai is talking.. shhhh..
As you can probably see from the surrounding screenshots this game is very impressive graphically. The game starts with an ultra-impressive pre-rendered sequence where Yuna's band plays in a stadium. This is possibly the best looking pre-rendered movie ever seen in not only a video game, but also mainstream cinema. The impressive visuals don't end with the pre-rendered scenes, the entire game has some of the most detailed characters and backgrounds ever seen. In fact, many of the areas make a re-appearance from the previous game and have been ported pretty much perfectly - although modified to suit the passing of time in the game world. Given that Final Fantasy X is still regarded as one of the best looking games on PS2 it ensures this game retains that high quality. Animation is equally impressive with some wonderful character movements and facial expressions. Overall though it's a very good, but not quite perfect, package.

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Damn... she's so fine...
There are a couple of issues with the graphics in Final Fantasy X-2. My biggest gripe is that once again Square has failed to include a 60Hz mode. Ok, so there's not enough space on the disc, fair enough. But why the hell are there large borders in the 50Hz mode? If you (Square-Enix) are only going to provide 50Hz mode at least make it fullscreen! Another niggle is the occasional slowdown which occurs during the game. It's infrequent and not really worth mention but it is there. Finally, the lip-synching, or should that be a lack thereof. It appears that no effort has been made at all to change the lip-synching from the Japanese game to English, or even match the English speech to the lip movement - at times it's horrific.

Besides the lip-synching the sound in this game is terrific. Square have once again created some wonderful effects and music and while Nobuo Uematsu is no longer composing music for the game, as he has for previous titles in the series, however Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi do a very good job in his place. What you will notice, and this may upset some, is that the orchestral sounds have been replaced with pop styled music - I guess to fit in with the female lead characters. The speech is also fairly solid all-round, although some voices come across a little on the corny side. The developers included support for Dolby Pro Logic II which sounds terrific. If only they used DTS though...

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One of the character setup screens.
Personally, I loved just about every minute of Final Fantasy X-2, but I can see why some may object to the predominantly female approach which this game has taken. If you can get past that aspect you will soon discover that Square (and now Enix, although the game was programmed at Square prior to the merger) have lost none of their magical touch with some stunning graphics, audio, storyline and most importantly, gameplay. Unlike so many other games this will take you quite a while to complete - it's up there with the other Square RPG's (around 40 hours rushed, 100 if you take your time) and even though this is a sequel Square-Enix has made the story quite independent and accessible so people who missed out on Final Fantasy X need not worry. For RPG fans this game is an essential purchase, not doubt about it. For the casual gamers, well you'd better have some spare time on your hands, but it's worth the effort. Fantastic.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSThis is one of the most visually impressive games on PS2 to date.
SOUNDVoice acting and effects are excellent, music is good - but different.
GAMEPLAYSome may find this game a little easy, but it is fun throughout.
VALUEPlenty of mini-games to keep you busy, and 5 endings to reach!
OVERALLFinal Fantasy X-2 really is an impressive title. There are a couple of niggles - the lip synching can be horrific, and the story isn't Square's best, but RPG and Final Fantasy fans will love this title, guaranteed.

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