Final Fantasy. Chances are, you have played one. There is actually a very good chance you have played Final Fantasy X, but that isn’t going to stop me from reviewing it – Final Fantasy X for the PlayStation 2. The title was released in 2001 when the PlayStation 2 was barely a year old. Final Fantasy X brought the series full 3D environments and had visuals that only a handful of games could even hope to match for its time. But nowadays, a 2001 PlayStation 2 title’s visuals can do little to please. Once a game has aged, it is much easier to see the true quality of a game – not being gleamed by fancy visuals or gimmicks. So does Final Fantasy X really have what it takes to be a quality title, or is it just a faded painting
In Final Fantasy X you play as Tidus, a young super star BlitzBall player, whose game is abruptly interrupted by a large monster, called Sin, destroying the city. During the confusion, Tidus is sucked through a warp hole like gap that ends up throwing him 1,000 years in the future where Sin keeps humanity from progressing. While trying to get home, Tidus meets up with a gang of bros and hoes who are looking to defeat Sin. Tidus decides to hop on the boat to rid the world of Sin, which leads him to unexpected places.
Final Fantasy X’s story starts off as quite the interesting tale. But about halfway through the game, it is pretty predictable aside from a few twists thrown at you towards the end. It is an enjoyable quests to play through, and can often have you pushing through to the next save point just to see what happens next. The cast of characters are well rounded with a variety of personalities and set of beliefs they follow. Each time a curve ball is thrown at them, each character reacts differently. Although at times, some of the characters can fall in the shadows and then all of a sudden pop back out again when ever the story is relevant to them.
While not all the time, it certainly is not a rare sight to see some bad dialogue or some voice acting. It doesn’t exactly ruin the experience, but it does stick out like a sore thumb. Considering its a 2001 release, the main cast of voice actors do a good job. But as with most games, the sub character’s voice actors do a less than stellar job.
The battle system has pretty much exactly what you would expect in a Final Fantasy game. Overdrives, which are basically limit breaks from past Final Fantasys, are here along with your usual arsenal of abilities, spells, summons, and items. Surprisingly, Final Fantasy X drops the active time battle system found in Final Fantasy IV through IX in favor of a turn based battle system, but it doesn’t slowdown speed of combat. Characters act individually, so you aren’t giving mass commands at once. As soon as you pick an action, the action commences quickly, and the next character, or monster, takes their turn almost immediately. Aside from a few rare occasions, the battle is always flowing unless you need it to slow down.
One feature new to Final Fantasy X, which was a very nice addition, was the ability to switch out characters, basically, on whim. It allows for a more strategic gameplay style, and lets you fully utilize everyone in your party. At first, it is a bit strange to not have any penalty for switching party members, but it becomes clear that it would have just got in the way later on. Also early on, certain characters have very specific uses and aren’t very useful, but their uses expand as the game continues.
While it doesn’t do much to set itself apart from other RPGs, the pacing of the battles and the strategy of using certain characters for certain situations really keep the battle system going. If I had to nit-pick at anything it would be that it is a little difficult select a target at times. But with a turn based system, it never gets in the way of how you perform. The system is fun, fast, and simple.
Final Fantasy X does away with the level up system and replaces it with the Sphere Grid system. This system has characters following a grid path and using orbs dropped from enemies to gain stat boosts from special points on the grid. Characters can only move across the grid using skill levels, which are gained from experience points during battle. The idea of the system was that you could customize your characters by sending them in different directions on the sphere grid getting different stats. While that is kind of realized here, and eventually fully realized in Final Fantasy XII — the system is pretty linear. You can go off on different paths, but there is little to no reason to. The best course of action always seems to be sticking the character to their grid to fully realize their skills and abilities.
Outside of actual character stats, you can equip your characters with weapons and armor. Unlike most Final Fantasys, each piece of equipment doesn’t have built in stats. Instead they just have sets of attributes. Most of the time, you can customize exactly what attributes are on equipment yourself. But oddly enough, equipment feels more of an after thought. You can get stat boosts like +10% strength or change the element of your damage, but that’s about it. Because of this, it is really easy to just forget about equipment, since how your characters perform are more based off of their stats, rather then equipment. There are a few instances that the attributes seem useful in key situations, but sticking to the character’s base stats usually gets the job done effectively.
Occasionally, you get to take a break from battling thanks to dungeons called “Trials.” Instead, these enemy free areas focus on puzzles. The puzzles have players carrying spheres between slots throughout the dungeon. You place the right sphere in the right slot at the right time, and a new path opens up to you. Rinse and repeat until you get to the end of the dungeon. The puzzles are well thought out, but at times can get a little confusing. The areas are compact, so, after enough trial and error, the puzzles can be quickly bested. It is a nice a break from just having a constant barrage of enemies and cutscenes.
Final Fantasy X, like its previous entries, still makes use of random encounters. The encounter rate seemed like it might be a little high – discouraging exploration. But honestly, there isn’t much to explore minus a handful of paths for bonus treasure chests. Final Fantasy X, compared to most Final Fantasys, is incredibly linear. You are almost always on a one way track from point A to point B for a cutscene, and occasionally a boss fight. The linearity isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just don’t go expecting big sprawling overworlds like in the past titles.
As mentioned before, Final Fantasy X isn’t much to talk about in terms of graphics. It looks very nice for an early PlayStation 2 title, but that is about it. Most of the environments are in full 3D, but there are a handful of prerendered backgrounds here and there. Aside from a few rare instances, it is completely free of slow down. The characters models are decent, but it is fairly obvious when they switch models out for more detailed models. There are some major lip synching issues at times. But at the very least, their mouths continue to move as they talk. What didn’t age, though, was the sound track. Aside from a few out of place tracks, the sound track is lives up to Final Fantasy name. There is bound to be at least one track that will really stick with you.
Final Fantasy X’s main quest is a little shorter then most RPGs out there, but is still a lengthy adventure. It took me just under 40 hours to complete, and after there is plenty to do. BlitzBall is basically an entire game on its own, final weapons are to be found and earned for each character, arena battles require you to hunt down monsters to challenge, special cutscenes can be found, an entire alphabet can be learned, and after that, there is still more content. It is quite the hefty adventure, so those looking to 100% the game have a lot to look ahead to after the credits roll.
Even with dated graphics, you still have an awesome Final Fantasy game. A fast paced combat system that is simple, yet strategic, keeps the gameplay fun throughout. The story isn’t the best out there, but there are plenty of interesting plot points and twists that will keep your interest all the way to the end. Aside from the linearity, it is your typical Final Fantasy with a handful of improvements and changes. If you like the other Final Fantasy games, you will probably like Final Fantasy X. It is as simple as that. Just try to get over some of the spotty voice acting and dialogue.
- Fun, simple and strategic battle system
- Well developed characters with unique personalities
- Interesting story that keeps you engaged
- Excellent soundtrack, great visuals for its time
- Cons do little to hurt the game
- Sphere system didn’t reach its potential
- Equipment feels like an afterthought.
- Encounter rates feel a little too high