:: RPG Source :: View Review :: Final Fantasy X
|Final Fantasy X|
|First off, what's new to the series:|
-- Voiceovers for all of the main characters and some of the lesser characters.
-- The 1st ever Digital CD quality soundtrack in-game (Previous Final Fantasies used Midi or wavetable based stuff).
-- A new leveling system, that relies not on simple experience, but rather where you move around a board called a sphere grid.
-- New assortment of characters and locations, as usual.
-- The first truly 3D Final Fantasy. Everything is rendered in 3D, no more Pre-rendered backgrounds!
-- A very well made mini-game/sport called blitzball
The graphics are pretty much everything I have come to expect. This game is truly 3D, meaning all characters, NPCs, and environments are comprised of polygons, not prerendered scenes or sprites. To say it bluntly, the graphics are very nice, some of the best you'll find on your Playstation 2, and very competitive with Gamecube and XBOX games of similar calibur.
There are a number of different effects in the game, such as dynamic lighting, particle effects, diffusion, etc. that are worth checking out. Also, despite the supposed 'bottleneck' on the playstation 2 graphics hardware, concerning video memory, there's plenty of things. Sometimes you can see more than 10 very highly detailed people on screen. That of course, isnt no 300 or so like in Dynasty Warriors 3, but keep in mind the character on this are probably comprised of 5-10 times as much polygons, and their texturing detail is a lot more refined, personal, and colorful. The graphics are very colorful and vivid, unlike a lot of Playstation 2 games. 
As you should know, Nobuo Uematsu is the leading composer of this game, and if you are familiar with his music in other Final Fantasy games, you know what to expect here. It delivers. Not only that, but this is some of Uematsu's best work. There are a lot of deep tunes in this, and also some of the most ambitious music I've heard in a RPG. I can't say I ever heard a piano sonata or a grungy metal song in a Final Fantasy game before, which is just some of the songs you will hear, in addition to the usual symphonic pieces. To be all honest, this is some of my favorite game music, ever. It is so mesmerizing and memorable and heartfelt like older FF games, but throw in the fact that it's Digital CD quality compositions and not MIDI tracking, you can definently hear the difference when you play this game.
In the sound effects department, you get the usual Final Fantasy faire. Very decent sound effects, that aren't overly distorted or loud or annoying sounding or anything that's bad. Voiceovers, are well, I won't lie to you, they aren't gonna be giving you orgasms, or even a warm feeling inside. They are certainly serviceable, and the voice actors themselves sound great for their character. However, sometimes, the characters lack emotion and just sound 'cold' and other times, they are too melodramatic and emotional for what the situation calls for. Also, another big complaint I have is, that when they speak short lines (usually just a word or 2 long) it sounds all cut off, (like when Yuna says okay, as though she has a quarter-second to say it or the world's going to blow up). 
As you should know, a typical staple of the Final Fantasy games are some evil organizations, such as an empire or corporation are trying to seize the control of some sort of matter with magical properties to conquer the world. This holds true for practically all the Final Fantasy editions: 4, 6, 7, 8, etc. you get the idea. Final Fantasy X is kind of different; instead of a evil organization trying to conquer the world, they already own it o_o (sorta). In their world, practically everybody follows a religion called Yevonism. However, a bad time comes, as the bringing of a horrible evil creature called 'Sin' begins to terrorize the world. This is where the main character Tidus comes in. He actually comes from the past, so to speak, but this isn't time traveling of any sort. Anyway, supposedly, 'Sin' was formed as a way to punish man for forgetting his old ways and using technology, or 'machina'. However, after 1000 years of attacks from Sin, and people repenting, Sin still goes strong, stronger than ever, as a matter of fact.
Basically, due to a string of events, Yevonism falls under its own weight, and the people are left but with one hope: Yuna, the daughter of high summoner Braska. The purpose of a summoner is to be a hope for the people. However, in all reality, they basically sacrifice their life in the hope to destroy Sin, but all it does it makes Sin disappear for a while, only to return. Tidus is called upon by destiny to guide Yuna on her journey to collect the 'aeons' so that she can defeat Sin. However, as this adventure progresses, Tidus becomes attached to Yuna, and all her friends/guardians, and until shortly before the final stop, has no realization of Yuna's fate. I'll just leave it at that, but I will say that the storyline has a lot of surprises and thrills, and lots of emotional moments; it's pretty good stuff. 
Just a short bit about controls first. Since this is an RPG, don't expect anything different from the norm. It has the usual menu navigation and movement. The only thing that is really a break from anything else is blitzball, which follows a pseudo-real time structure. It plays in real time, but pauses during passes, shots, and tackles, to give you choices on what to do, instead of being like a regular sports game, where everything you do is determined by button presses and timing.
The gameplay is very solid, as to be expected from any Final Fantasy game. Movement both on the maps and in menus are relatively intuitive, and take very little time at all to master. In fact you can just pick it right up if you played other similar games. The combat mechanics have changed somewhat from the previous games, as it uses a CTB system. CTB stands for Continuous Turn Base, and is pretty much similar to say, the Final Fantasy Tactics battle system, without the movement and area effect stuff. You have as much time as you want to choose your battle actions, unlike ATB, allowing you to choose spells and such without worry. Despite this new setup, haste and slow still work as they are meant to. Your turns are decided by your speed rating. Haste and slow basically modify this rating, and the more Speed attribute you have, the more turns you have coming up in combat. The CTB system sometimes allows you to have 2 or even 3 turns simultaneously, or make you go a lot of rounds without turns, so be able to cast Haste often and dispel Slow and Stop, as Haste is really helpful in this. Also, something else is new: the fact that you can switch party members at almost any point of the game, even during combat! In fact, it's recommended to switch characters out in combat early and often, as it can give you a big advantage. For example, to get a good early start in a fight, put your 3 people with the highest speed rating in the party formation in between combat. If one of them is weak to a monster you are fighting, or has low health or something, you can substitute them out for one of your powerful, but slower people, like Lulu and Auron, to start off combat with a jolt. Also, everybody in your party gets APs during combat as long as they do at least one action in combat, which can be anything: attack, magic, special abilities, or item. Another exploit with this is that you can have a scan ability equiped to your weapon, you can pull somebody out and then examine the enemies HP and weaknesses, then pull them back out, if you like. They will probably address these issues for FFXII, since it will use a similar system, so enjoy these little exploits while you can. Finally, there's the new summon type system. This time, they are called Aeons, and unlike GFs or Materia, you do not equip them at all, and only 1 person is allowed to use them (Yuna). However, instead of just using 'a summon' and the creature making a single attack and then going back, your summon actually remains in combat, and fights in a manner not unlike Pokemon. The battle system remains the same, however, your party members and Aeon can't fight simultaneously; your party all subs out. The aeon has a variety of commands, like fight, magic, special abilities, and so on. They can even use Overdrives, which is pretty much the 'Limit break'. There is also a little strategic element about this, as you can increase an Aeon's overdrive gauge very quickly, by using the 'boost' command, but this increases the damage it takes in an attack. By contrast, you can use the Shield command, which lowers the damage it takes, but it does not gain any overdrive when hit. Learn to use these gauges to defeat other Aeons in aeon duels, where victory usually means very powerful items. And if your Aeon dies in combat, it will be resumed by your party members, and the Aeon will have to wait a few fights before it can come back. The systems for this game in general are very well thought out, and deserve a 10. 
In general, is a very good direction the series is taking, and is the one of the best RPGs we've seen on the new consoles. In fact, its one of my favorites in the whole series, and I highly recommend it for many reasons.
However, it's not smooth sailing the entire time. It seems like too much time is taking just getting to your goal. Once you get there, the game can be completed in a few hours. However, this is where a lot of the extras are earned to, is at the last portion of the game. Also, some of the chocobo type minigames aren't that good, the race is really challenging for example, but others, such as the dodging segment, leave something to be desired. Speaking of graphics, they were very good, particularly in the realism of the playable characters' models. It makes the game seem a lot more emotionally connectable. I love FF6 and the games before it, but I kind of find it hard to connect to a short cartoon styled sprite. That's about it folks. 
|By Ancient (20/10/2002)|