Our first review, by “Evan”

Final Fantasy X, the first Final Fantasy game on PlayStation2, and let me say it used all of the abilities of PS2 has to offer and then some. I didn’t actually play this game until maybe a year later and other fantastic games had been released for the PlayStation2. But I’d have to say Final Fantasy X is still up there with some of the best PS2 games released. One word to describe this game: beautiful

Now before you get all teary eyed on me, let me explain. Very rarely does a video game come along that actually opens the eyes when looking at screen shots, or intrigues the mind enough to wonder: “Why is she on water?”. My point is, that just by looking at the screen shots of Final Fantasy X you can tell that alongside great graphics, is great scenery. Something that can sell a game faster then lemonade on a hot summer day.

Final Fantasy X starts you out as Tidus, STAR of a major blitz-ball team (I‘ll get into detail about that later), everyone seems to love him and nothing can go wrong, right? Hah, it wouldn’t be a Final Fantasy game if that were true! No, sin, a big flying whale type thing from what I can make of it, comes and destroys the town of Zanarkand. Tidus, meanwhile is transported through Sin to a land he has never seen before. Here he meets up with the Summoner Yuna and vows to help her defeat Sin and save all of Spira.

Sounds familiar if you ask me. Yes, Final Fantasy X seems to follow the same “We’ve got to save the world from mass destruction by a horrible force” theme as previous Final Fantasy’s, but rest assured there will still are many bumps and “shocks” along the way.

Some of the characters might also seem familiar as well. Tidus is the outgoing, happy, egotistic kinda guy. Meanwhile Yuna is shy but courageous. And the “enemy” just won’t seem to die, no matter how much you hope to never see him again. Similar to characters from Final Fantasy 7 or Final Fantasy 8.

One small step for Square, one giant step for Final Fantasy: A feature finally brought to the Final Fantasy series. Voices. Yep that’s right, they speak in this game and I couldn’t be more happy. The voices add a lot to the game and gives the characters actual feeling to the words and to themselves as a character. Not to mention the fact that the voices sound like what you would think the characters sound like. One thing that was a big negative though, was some times they’d talk too much and you’ll start feeling you’re watching a movie instead of playing a video game. And the fact that you couldn’t skip through only made it worse.

And as far as sound goes besides the voices, well it was just there. Not much to say about that really, though the music would actually define the surrounding environment.

The battle system was pretty much normal, you can have three people out and you wait for the meter to fill up then attack. Booyaka. Though I must say that the very fact you can switch users while in battle was pretty cool and makes things a bit easier. Yuna is the only one that can summon out Aeons. They take the whole teams place in battle and you control them to fight for you. Aeons can do basically the same thing as regular users, attack, use special abilities, black magic, white magic, or even over drive if they get hit enough times and their “Over Drive” bar fills up.

There’s also a new way to gain HP, MP, and learn new skills and magic. It’s called “the sphere grid”. You get “spheres” from battles, and depending on what type of spheres you get you can unlock abilities, gain HP, MP etc. You’ll still get AP from battles which allows you to move to certain spheres, so it still sits with the same concept. It’s pretty complicated, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to just sit down and try to status up your characters.

Final Fantasy X also has an impressive mini-game which you can access from any save point. It’s called “Blitz-Ball”. Basically you swim around in a large sphere and try to score with a ball. Yeah kinda broad huh? But it provides for a lot of enjoyment and the more you play, the more you’ll find yourself getting into it.

The game wasn’t too difficult, sure the puzzles involved a bit of work and the monsters got to be a bit of a pain in the ass after awhile, but all in all that’s what you expect. The game wasn’t very lengthy (though the talking scenes might make it appear otherwise) and it didn’t really feel like an RPG. I can’t remember one time where I actually got to choose what I wanted Tidus to say.

The one thing to keep in mind about this game is that despite a lot of the negatives, it is a great game simply because the positives are more then just good, they’re excellent, and excellent is what make this game a game in my opinion.

Likes:

The graphics, amazing
Did you hear that? Because I did; they talk
Honorable Mentions:

Story line, it might have repeated, but not bad.
Characters
Sound
Dislikes:

Too much talking at points
No skip button (though this is remedied in Final Fantasy 10-2.
Could have been a bit longer
Overall: 8

Final Words: I can’t wait to see the series develop on the PS2

by Evan

Our second review, by “malakian”

Final Fantasy is a series with a reputation for outstanding games, and with a nine game series already under Squaresoft’s belt, its remarkable to see that they are still capable of producing games that have can rise to the eminence of their predecessors. Boasting fantastic graphics, deep and involving characters and gameplay which has more than once revolutionised the RPG genre, Squaresoft do not fall short of their ever-rising targets in their latest offering.

You play as Tidus, a blitzball player, “star” of the Zanarkand abes (pfft, overrated). It all starts In a cutscene. We see tidus in his futuristic erm, dressing room (?). some heavy music kicks in and the room opens to reveal the enormous blitzball arena, with thousands of people cheering. At this point I’m thinking “woah, the graphics!” cos they are in a word fantastic, almost on par with the animations from the spirits within. Okay, so after this the match is underway, and unknown to Tidus the place is being attacked by a big monster called Sin, the games main bad…thing. Later on you get thrust into the future find out that Zanarkand (the place that you were at seemingly minutes ago) was destroyed 1000 years ago. You soon get involved with Yuna and her guardians on their quest to destroy Sin, and that’s where your journey really begins to take shape. Okay, it’s not Final Fantasy VII deep, but it works. The main characters aside from Tidus are Yuna, a summoner among those setting out on a quest to destroy the entity known as sin, which is attacking towns across the world. Right… Tidus gets caught up with Wakka, a guardian who is the captain of a blitzball team that has never won a game, snooty mage Lulu and beast-like Ronso warrior Kimahri amongst others.

One of the most obvious changes to the Final Fantasy formula gameplay wise comes in the form of the battle system. The previous installments worked on an active time battle (ATB) system, the new system is turn based, meaning the battles only pause while you choose your next attack. Final Fantasy X also adds the ability to change characters while the battle is taking place, which is quite an advantage, which you can do with weapons and armor also. The annoyance of random battles still stand (lame…) but the fast paced battles fly by, in sometimes less than half a minuite, where as before you’d be waiting at least triple that. Nothing like being hit by a monster and springing a slash of your sword upon them before they can even step back into there original positions. The leveling up system is totally revolutionary aswell. Instead of the traditional exp system, this game works around something called a “sphere grid”. Each player has an empty grid at the start of the game. When you defeat enemies you get AP and spheres which you use to gain new skills, magic, power-ups etc. As you progress through the sphere grid and unlock new parts better upgrades become available to you at a higher sphere/AP cost. It may sound (and look) confusing, but trust me its not as complex as you first think, and it’s a very intuitive way to shape your characters exactly how you want them.

Summons in this game are known as Aeons. Where previously a summon would be a short animation, but here the summons (albeit there isn’t too many) actually become playable. A nice little feature which makes unleashing terror with the firepower of Ifrit or the energy of Bahamut so much more fun than in the last games. I also welcomed the first PlayStation 2 installments new system of 3d characters against 3d backgrounds, its predecessors having pre rendered 2d backdrops. The soundtrack, as with most Final Fantasy’s, is again a work of art, with stunning pieces of music to match the mellowest and the most aggressive parts of the game. The games main theme, Suteki Da Ne, stands out as one of the best pieces of the entire series. This is cool, because the last two games soundtracks were in the most part appalling. Oh my god, voice overs. This is a fantastic feature that makes the game so much more enjoyable. Where as previously you get a player standing waggling his arms and a box pop up, this time the guys speak. The lip-sync isnt perfect, with the occasional moment of silent lip movement which may bring back bad memories for players of xenogears.

Ahh the mini-games… no Final Fantasy would be complete without mini-games and sidequests would it? Well, theres plenty here, such as a whole new sport, blitzball. Square must have thought “why have a story with a sport in the background if you cant play it?” This could even be a separate game its so big. there are tons of techniques, skills and bonuses to earn through this and an entire game world full of people you can draft onto your team. There are plenty of decisions to make, tactics, shoot, pass, the list goes on. The game is held in a huge sphere full of breathable water, much like a hybrid of basketball/football/the little mermaid. As good as it is, I never mastered it. Its very difficult.

Chocobo racing is another addition (think its impossible to get an overall time of 0:00:00? No!), dodging lightning bolts in succesion (oooh boy that gets tedious) and even a coliseum type place for your people to get killed by the big guys! Overall this is a good game. It isnt as revolutionary as expected, it has its odd glitches and the story weakens in places but its well worth the money and will easily consume a good 40 odd hours of your life. (Then theres the blitzball…)

+it’s the return of Final Fantasy! +nice graphics +sounds good +the cutscenes! +good voice acting +intresting changes to the battle and levelling up system +Blitzball! –I suck at blitzball -sphere grid can get weird -why take the flyable airship away?

by “malakian”