Great "Next Gen" Debut for a Long Running Series
A combination of likable characters, surprising plot twists, fantastic music, and a consistant bitter-sweat tone made Final Fantasy X a completely satisfying (Final Fantasy) game experience. Far superior to the previous "next generation" debut title, Final Fantasy 7. I felt consistent empathy and compassion for the main characters, something I had missed since Final Fantasy 6.
The narrative is hurt by weak voice acting (understandable considering this is the first fully voiced Final Fantasy) which dampened my interest in the characters early in the game. The dialogue itself is also an issue, but no worse than many anime translations, and the sincerity of the characters overcomes the awkwardness with which they express themselves.
The combat is and exploration are standard, perhapse a little simple. There is no "world map", and I did not miss it. As a result, this is the most accessable Final Fantasy game since 4, requiring no grinding, straightforward equiptment and items, and no complex combat tactics.
The only gameply depth comes from the stat and ability development mechanic. Characters start with individual skill paths that offer few options, but eventually all skill trees become availible to all characters. This allows players to customize each characters mix combat abilities (offensive and defensive magic, special attacks, etc), but requires carefully planning out paths accross the skill tree (called a sphere grid in the game).
The game is as linear, as are all Final Fantasy games, with side quests adding only additional challenges rather than fleshing out the story. I appretiated this, you don't miss anything by just playing through only once, and the story (and story telling) is definitly the reason to play this game.
Give it a shot if you have a backwards compatible PS3.