shakewell's Final Fantasy X-2 International + Last Mission (PlayStation 2) review

Final Fantasy X-2 Review

In Final Fantasy X-2, Square-Enix attempts to continue the amazing plot that its predecessor, Final Fantasy X, had. It is now two years after the events of Final Fantasy X, and you now play as Yuna, who is accompanied by good friend Rikku, and new friend Paine. They, along with the Celsius' (their airship) personnel, form the motley crew known as "The Gullwings".

The Gullwings are full-time Sphere Hunters. These spheres play an integral part throughout the game. They provide vital information in the form of small video clips that contain tidbits of information. The spheres are also responsible for the journey's beginning. In FFX-2's prologue, Yuna has found a sphere showing someone who looks as if it's Tidus, himself. The sphere, however, is of poor quality and she isn't able to tell who "he" really is. Following her heart, she bets on the fact it is the real Tidus, and wants to know more. She then finds herself hot on the trail of clues and spheres leading her to this man, whoever he could be. Some spheres, contrary to the ones that hold information, are for use in Final Fantasy X-2's renovated combat system. These are called "Dress Spheres". The dress sphere system in Final Fantasy X-2 is a revamped, but more flexible version of the classic job system. Each dress sphere allows you to cast different spells and unleash variant attacks on enemies. Unlike the old job system, however, the characters can actually change from one dress sphere to another in the midst of battle. Naturally you'll have a variety of jobs to choose from. These include the Black, White, and Gun Mage, Gunner, Alchemist, Berserker, Dark Knight, Lady Luck, Mascot, Samurai, Songstress, Thief, and lest we forget, Warrior. Although it would be great to be able to use them all from the get-go, you must earn/find them on your own.

Each Gullwing (Yuna, Rikku, or Paine) get their own special Dress Sphere as well. To use them though, during battle you'd have to have done more than just have found and obtained it. You must go through each Dress Sphere assigned on the grid before you're allowed to access the special one. In FFX-2, your spheres are assigned to certain grids, also found in game, each of its own use. Some boost your magic, while others add strength and/or defense. If you're anxious to use Yuna/Rikku/Paine's specialized dress sphere, you'll want to tend the use of smaller grids, as they are all different in size (in terms of how many spheres can fit on one).

Along with a creative battle system come your imaginative enemies, each just as appealing, as the next. That’s not mentioning the beast you get to tame when the time comes. Final Fantasy X-2 also provides stellar visuals in and out of game play. The cut scenes give the great sense of realism, and each location's (Besaid, Calm Lands, Mt. Gagazet, etc...) a look of authenticity. Each place, just by their looks, gives an accurate description of what is to come, or expect. For instance, looking at Mt.Gagazet you expect to see people of the Al Bhed race, or the Machina Faction (group of Al Bhed who use and build machines) hard at work, striving to advanced their technology.

Unfortunately, in Final Fantasy X-2 you learn to take the good with the bad. Final Fantasy X-2's game play is less than entertaining, and not as fun as you'd expect from a Final Fantasy title. FFX-2, this time around, is more mission-based. How far you are into the game depends on what missions you are able to choose from. When aboard the Celsius you use the 'Mission Select' screen to choose which area in Spira you would like to visit. While you are not bound to going certain places, there's usually nothing better to do anywhere else, if there's nothing in it for the player (i.e. spheres).

Places that are important and may contain spheres crucial to the plot would already be marked and identified on the map as a "Hot Spot". Each 'Hot Spot' leads you to a quest, which most of the time ends up in the Gullwings receiving a sphere. This almost becomes repetitive as some of the quests seem like Square-Enix just wanted to give you something to do, instead of just letting the game hand the sphere over to you. Some of the quest are, in fact, fun and may break the chain of drab game play. For instance, I had a great deal of fun creating a team and playing a game of Blitzball. The game does have its high points, but the rest just seems, dare I say, filler. Seriously, why was I giving LeBlanc back rubs just to infiltrate her dysfunctional organization (The LeBlanc Syndicate)? FFX-2 has a lot of moments that would leave asking you, "Why did I just do that?" or "What was the point of that?"

The sweet sounds of Yuna's singing should help numb it though. Aside from the usual sound effects of guns popping, and monsters roaring (which sounded great), the game was about as easy on the ears as it was on the eyes. At times the dialogue seemed more like "Sweet Valley High", than Final Fantasy, but it was...alright. Some of Brother's (pilot of the Celsius) speech seemed a little too boyish though, more annoying than humorous. Other than that there couldn't have been anymore complaints. The music playing in the mist of the background was, at times, soothing and released the stress of hours of searching for that one sphere. Also, at just the right times it seemed all sound, but Yuna's footsteps were removed giving the game an audible depth. In essence the sound is a key ingredient, to the game.

I wouldn't say the game has much replay value to it, or that it is up there with the some of the best RPGs out. It failed in the most important element of creating a great RPG, and that is game play. I touched on it earlier and the game play was just too repetitive, leaving no desire to play it over. It seemed it tried to make up for it, almost, in every other aspect of the game, but the FFX2 just didn't do it for me. It wasn't what I was expecting. Final Fantasy X-2 was just, overall, disappointing.

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