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Final Fantasy X

Publisher: Square Developer: Square
Reviewer: Vanguard Released: 12/19/01
Gameplay: 90% Control: 90%
Graphics: 95% Sound/Music: 93%
Story: 80% Overall: 87%


I was very skeptical about buying this game. I hadn't played a Final Fantasy title since number VIII so I was going out on a limb and revisiting a series that I thought had lost its magic. Luckily, I was far from disappointed.

The game opens with the star Blitzball player, Tidus, getting ready for a big game in the city of Zanarkand. The crowd is really excited, there's grinding heavy metal to accompany this introduction and the game's just beginning. Unexpectedly a water-like creature attacks Zanarkand and from here your quest begins with you fleeing the city.

The gameplay is very smooth, everything is connected and flows very well. Navigating the menus (which load instantly) is easy using the D-pad and exploring the current area with the analog is just as easy. Also included is a little mini-map of the area you are currently in near the corner of your screen. This was a good addition but it took away a lot of extra exploration for me.

The battle system has also been updated, no more ATB, instead you can take as long as you want enter your commands. Also, instead of leveling up normally, your ability and stat upgrades take place on a grid called the sphere grid. After winning a battle you gain AP which levels up your sphere for that character. From here you can change your current position on the grid by using your levels you have gained in battle. In order to gain abilities or better stats you have to use Speed, Magic, Power, Ability and Luck Spheres to activate these different points known as nodes. There are other spheres that can be awarded in battle, found in chests or given to you too.

This game's graphics are amazing. Every environment is detailed and the character designs are just as good. Also battle scenes look good for the first time in a while, no more ugly backgrounds, and the summon animations are a delight, although a bit long, but for those want to skip them there is an option to cut the scenes which will shave a lot of time off your battle.

The CG is what you'd expect from Square, just as clear and as breathtaking as ever. People who want awesome graphics will enjoy this part of the game as it's probably the best looking console RPG out right now.

The story is where I have two different feelings about it. I absolutely love it for how small it makes your task seem but also hate it because it doesn't give you that epic quest feeling that I got from the other Final Fantasies. However, it is told very well, you're provided with history, motive to push on (for the most part) a cause to fight for what you believe in. For once a FF title didn't drag on too long, from the beginning of your adventure you know your foe, you know your path and all you have to do is walk down it. The history really helps put the 'save the world from the foreboding menace' in its place. The thing about having all this history is it's really a double edged sword, I won't reveal why because that could just ruin the game for you.

The music is very good. I found myself stopping in some areas just to listen to the track. Every note played really fits the mood of the game. One thing I did not like about it was they scrapped a few of the classic Final Fantasy tunes, although the new ones easily make up for it. Soundtrack collectors will definitely want this in their collection.

The sound effects are very good too, just as good as the music. One thing new in this game that's absent from the previous Final Fantasies is the voice acting. I was excited to hear this about the game cause if voice acting is done right, it adds a lot to the characters. For Squares first North American attempt at this, it is a good one. In the more important scenes it really shines but in the casual conversations with your party the lips don't exactly match what they're saying, which wasn't a big disappointment but hopefully the next time it will be corrected. Sometimes the dialogue is clunky or stressed tthough, especially the laughs, they just seemed too unnatural and manufactured to be believable.

Final Fantasy X's control is fine, not a pain to use at all. One thing that would have been nice though is a way to alter the camera angle or a first person mode for when you're searching for those hidden chests or items. Other than the occasional awkward camera angle, it is very good.

I was very pleased with this Final Fantasy installment, I played this game to completion in under a month, which is very fast for me, and believe me, I enjoyed every minute of it whether I was training for that big boss fight or pacing through the story. It's great for veterans of the series or newcomers to the genre looking for a way to pass the time. It was definitely worth my $50 and I strongly suggest you give it a try.

Vanguard

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