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Reviewed: Final Fantasy X
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: January 23rd 2002
Page: 2

Final Fantasy X is told a bit differently from the earlier works: through most of the game, cutscenes and dialog make it evident that the characters are in a flashback, playing through the events that have already happened.  Of course, this can reveal a few things early, which makes the plot much more engaging. The plotline, of course, has an ultimate bad guy called Sin, a gigantic entity that travels the world destroying whatever it finds.  The hook?  Tidus, the story's hero, is destined to fight and destroy it.  Of course, he has help.  

The fact that a game has good storyline, however, doesn't mean a whole lot unless the underlying gameplay is fun as well.  A good example of this would be Final Fantasy 8, much maligned by hardcore players.  Therefore it's a very good thing that FFX came to the PS2, and that it has a whole lot of innovations meant to improve the gameplay.

We'll start with the number of playable characters. Final Fantasy X has a grand total of seven, slightly less than the previous Playstation releases.  This is a stark contrast to the Chrono Trigger series and especially Chrono Cross, wherein there are far too many: players pick up three or 4, use them exclusively, and never develop the others.  The low number also aids the second innovation in the game: the ability to switch characters, in the middle of combat, to take advantage of characters' strengths.  Fighting flying enemies? Bring out Wakka, the character who uses a ball as a weapon.  Facing enemies with shields and tough hide?  Auron's your character.  Something vulnerable to elemental magic? Lulu is your best bet.

The leveling system is another change, meant to allow customization of characters: instead of every stat rising when the characters level, the characters travel along a "sphere grid", unlocking nodes as they go.  Each node has a specific effect, and the grid overlaps, so with ENOUGH leveling it's possible to have all characters with nearly every ability.  Then again, that would be ridiculous -- but it's entirely possible to load 2 or three characters up with abilities like Haste to improve the group's fighting abilities.  Of course, it also allows for some ridiculous effects, like Lulu the mage or Yuna the summoner becoming the group's best physical fighter.

On the graphics and sound side, FFX is beautiful, but that's a given since Final Fantasy titles have always pushed the envelope. The sound is great, with the possible exception of the cutscene voices that don't match the lip movements. This is explainable, however: the cutscenes look about right to sync up with the original Japanese voices, not the American dubbing job. Other than that, the score is nice, if not as memorable as the ones from previous games.  

Of course, the easiest way to illustrate this is to show it, so I've prepared a clip of the Bahamut summon and attack. Download it here, 21.8 MB.

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Added:  Wednesday, January 23, 2002
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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