Final Fantasy X is a truly enjoyable game. While the previous installment was much different, employing many aspects from previous Final Fantasy titles, FFX is original in almost every aspect. This is the first Final Fantasy title to use voice acting, the battle system is no longer the famous ATB (Active Time Battle), and even the way you "level up" is completely different and innovative. Square really could've messed up trying to do so many new things in this game but it pulls them all off quite well. Now on to the specifics.
You are Tidus, the star player of the Zanarkand Abes, a team of blitzball players(the only sport in this world). You are playing an important game, when suddenly a mysterious and large being known as "Sin" attacks your town
throwing it into chaos and ending the blitzball match. In your attempts to get out of harm's way, you run into Auron a man you've known for some time and mentor of sorts. He gives you a sword and you both have to fight your way through the city's horde of "Sinspawn."
Before long you run into Sin itself and you are pulled into it's vacuum along with Auron. The next thing you know, you are stranded and alone near some ancient ruins, and your troubles are no longer trying to win a blitzball match but how to get some food and keep from freezing to death.
This is just the beginning. Right off the bat it is a very intriguing story leaving many mysteries to be solved, and that really counts for something in my book. The story keeps at a good pace throughout the game, and the character interaction/development is better than most games. The reason I didn't give the story a higher rating is because there are a few holes in it, and many aspects of it are barely explained. Still though it is executed quite well and will keep you interested throughout the game's entirety.
Never a dull moment, the gameplay in FFX is magnificent and quite possibly better than any other Final Fantasy title. As I mentioned earlier, the old ATB system has been abandoned in favor of a new system called CTB (Conditional turn-based Battle) where time passes only when commands are executed in battle. Another feature of this system is that in the upper right hand corner of the screen it shows the turn order of all your allies as well as enemies; very nice for planning a good battle strategy.
Another very cool feature of the battle system is the ability to switch characters in and out of battle. You can only have a max of 3 characters in battle at any time, but during any characters turn you may switch in one of the characters on your "bench," and that character can act immediately. Believe me though, you NEED this feature. Along your journey there are many creatures that will be hard to kill for all but one (sometimes two) member of your current party. For instance, some enemies have a special kind of armor and can only be damaged well by
someone using a weapon with the piercing ability. Another example is that some fiends in this game are aerial and can evade most melee attacks with ease, but you have one character in particular that has a very high accuracy rating and pretty much never misses.
One thing that sets every character apart is Overdrive. There are many different Overdrive modes you
can set as your character learns them in battle, but everyone starts with Stoic mode which charges your Overdrive gauge whenever you are hit. When your Overdrive gauge is full you may use your character's own personal Overdrive attack. Some characters can get several Overdrives under different circumstances. It is needless to explain that these attacks are quite powerful, but there is a catch. Most of your characters' Overdrives require well timed button pressing or pressing certain button sequences within a set time to pull off a good attack, otherwise the Overdrive may not have the desired effect, i.e. being weaker or only attacking one enemy.
Only one character can summon in this game, though it is not an accessible ability on the Sphere Grid. There is a good reason, but I won't spoil the story for you. Summoning is done very differently from previous games, as is the trend with FFX. When you summon an Aeon, as they are called, your characters leave the battle and only Yuna (your summoner) remains to command it. Aeons have HP, MP, Overdrives, and abilities, just like a normal
character, and can even be given more abilities later on if you acquire a certain item. They are generally more powerful than a regular character for a good portion of the game, and are immune to almost every status
attack/ailment. Summoning requires no MP from Yuna, but since Aeons can take damage, and later on in the game many bosses can outright kill Aeons, summoning is not overpowered, and I feel it is an aspect of the game that
was done very well.
As you can see, each and every character you acquire is an important and useful part of the team and it is a very good idea to build them all up.
Speaking of building them up, I must now tell you about the manner in which they do this. Every battle which you complete without fleeing or dying yields AP for every character that participated in some manner (all it takes is one action). AP is not shared like EXP is in most games, every character who participates gets the max amount. When you have obtained enough AP, you gain a sphere level (side note: Aeons get stronger as Yuna gains sphere
levels). Sphere levels are used for movement on a grid called the Sphere Grid. You may move one space on the grid for every sphere level, and many spaces on the grid have attributes and abilities you can activate when you are on or adjacent to them.
You can't just activate spaces on the grid for free, though; it takes special spheres won from most random battles. To activate a Strength + 4 space on the grid you would need a Power Sphere, to activate the ability Firaga you would need an Ability Sphere, and so on. Each character starts at a set place on the grid and has a general
path they'll have to follow for some time until he or she can unlock certain locks placed on the grid. The general paths you have to follow at first are well suited to that particular character, so for a long time each will play their specific roles in battle. Once you can start unlocking the locks on the grid, though, you can get more creative with your characters and can make a character normally only suited to melee attacks, a very good magic caster.
Overall the Sphere Grid is an awesome system of "leveling," and I have yet to see anyone complain about it.
One thing that may bother many RPGers is that FFX is very linear for a good long portion of the game. There is no overworld, you are just kinda forced to journey from one specific location to the next, and while there is a reason for it, once again I will not spoil this particular aspect of the story.
Unlike the previous two Final Fantasy installments, this game does not have a card minigame, it has a game called, as mentioned before, Blitzball. Blitzball is a game that is played by two teams within a hovering spehere of water that is somehow created in an arena with techonology/magic. Apparently in this world people are capable of becoming VERY good at holding their breath, as the Blitzball players use no breathing apparatus while playing underwater.
There are 6 players in the sphere on each team, a goalie, and 5 Blitzers. While I won't go into the
specifics of how passing, shooting, and breaking is done since I would be typing forever, I will say it is a very well done system. Your players get better at the game as they play, and can learn techniques from other players by studying their moves. It is unfortunate that at a certain point in the game you are forced to play this game with your team, the Besaid Aurochs, and it is near impossible to win. You CAN go out and recruit some better players apparently, though this isn't explained in the instruction book. I found it left me with a sour taste in my mouth because it was so incredibly hard, but if you work at it, Blitzball can be a very rewarding mini-game (it's a sidequest of sorts yielding good items and even some overdrives for a particular character).
Squaresoft did a magnificent job creating a game that is just good fun to PLAY, kudos.
It's obvious if you've seen even one screenshot, the graphics are amazing. The in-game graphics are so good in this game that Square barely bothered using FMV cutscenes, since it isn't a major improvement (it's noticeable, though don't get me wrong). As mentioned before, characters now talk and have voice acting, and their mouths move as they talk. I can say this is well animated, though there is a problem which I'll wait till my Sound/Music review to explain.
It's just a beautiful game, there's not much to say. I could complain that, save the Aeons, most spell effects are lackluster, but they also aren't time consuming. You truly get drawn into this world as it is quite realistic, save the fact that it is far more beautiful than our own world. Many people may complain that the color scheme used is
often too soft and bright, I found it lovely. Seriously though, no complaints here, graphics are amazing.
I will explain the voice acting first since it is a new feature in the FF series. The voice acting is quite good. Sometimes Tidus sounds corny, and Wakka's accent can get on your nerves, but overall Square of America did a nice job giving the characters voices. The one problem I have is the dubbing is quite poor many times, as the words that are said don't match the character's mouth at all, but it's the only flaw really.
The tunes in this game are wonderful. From the battle music, to the general mood music as you travel, and my particular favorite, "The Hymn of the Fayth", it is all quite good. This is one of those games that you may very well walk away from with a tune still stuck in your head.
The sound effects such as sword slashes and magic spells are all also equally good. This game sounds great in every aspect, I can't really see anyone complaining about it unless they didn't like the voices for some reason.
There's not much left to say. This game is amazing. Right after I beat it I started up a new game (now I'm gonna use a trusty strategy guide for all the secret stuff). It does something that many people complain is lacking in RPGs and gives you a game to PLAY, and is worth playing. Overall fun, great experience, will live in my memory until I'm senile and can't control my bladder. Go buy it.