Long Live the Fantasy that is Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy has built it’s legacy not just on the gameplay, but on the story and Final Fantasy X continues that long standing tradition. You are Tidus, a star Blitzball player and somehow you have traveled through time where you find that your home no longer exists. It is your mission to get back to your home, to get back to Zanarkand. However, along the way you encounter many a friend and foe which lead you to an epic showdown with the cause of everything, Sin.
Character development is perfectly setup, especially in terms of Tidus. When you go into the future after spending a little time in Zanarkand, you know no more and no less than Tidus when it comes to what exactly is going on. As you progress through the game, you grow, you learn and you mature as Tidus does.
The story is well laid out and easy to get into. The characters you associate with, both playable and non-playable help you throughout your journey. They teach you everything you need to know so that you can get home. The character interaction is simply spectacular, by the end of the game you will have a strong love or a strong hate for almost every character that played a major roll in the story.
Final Fantasy X features the same addictive gameplay as it turn-based predecessors. However, with the inclusion of the Sphere Grid, this tradition Japanese Role Playing Game has expanded upon a simple formula and managed to drag it’s players into something that is a lot deeper than the standard role playing game. You level up as you gain combat experience from battling various monsters; these points are used on the Sphere Grid to improve your abilities. It is like a puzzle, all characters appear on one sphere grid, but start in completely different areas. The value of this is simple; you can cover every end of the massive Sphere Grid and thus have each character designed for doing something different. Some may be used for destroying the high defenses of Sin and other monsters through brute force while others may be used for magic, defense and so on. The graphics are beautiful to look at, they aren’t overly ornate and thus don’t over impose themselves on the player. Instead, they merely sit in the background and add to an already amazing game. The summons (monsters that can be called into battle by Yuna) are absolutely beautiful as are the cut scenes. The highlight of the graphics is Yuna’s Kimono when she performs the sending (Sending away dead spirits to the Far Plane which is basically like a graveyard where they are protected from becoming monsters) as it flows just as her body and spirit do.
The background music is excellent as it fits nicely with the boss battles, Blitzball games and everything in-between. The voice acting is quite well done; the only problem is that most of the time you’ll be forced to read somewhat lengthy dialogue due to speech outside of cut scenes. It is not the end of the world that not everything is given to you orally as the text is easily read, but it would always be nice to be hear all the words since it allows for players to be further drawn into the game.
The ‘game within a game’ featured in Final Fantasy X ties in with the main character Tidus. He is a star Blitzball player and game featured is of course, Blitzball. It becomes available for play shortly after you start the game and will prove to be a huge factor as you shape your journey. The story of Final Fantasy X may be extremely linear in it’s essence, but there are many ways you can go about it to create an unique game experience. The biggest customization feature is your Blitzball team, you travel the continent in search of the best Blitzball players, you hire them and deal with their contracts. Your players level up as does your team all in the name of becoming the best Blitzball team, ever.
There are multiple modes in which you can play Blitzball; Exhibition, League Play and Tournament. In each mode you take your team to the arena in hopes of earning new skills, money and items that will help you in your quest which is ever present in the main storyline. However, playing Blitzball isn’t an essential part of playing Final Fantasy X. Nevertheless it is a great game that will keep your attention for dozens and dozens hours.
There are many unlockables as each character has their own secret weapon that you can unlock throughout the course of the game. There are also the extremely rare items and of course, the Jecht Shot, a powerful Blitzball move. These unlockables generally take a back seat to other aspects of the game, but nevertheless they further enhance the gaming experience.
Final Fantasy X is an amazing game for both hardcore fans of the series and for first timers. It provides tutorials on how to do everything from using the Sphere Grid to playing Blitzball and everything in-between. The best part about these said tutorials is that they are informative, easy to follow and do not disrupt gameplay. In short, Final Fantasy X lives up to the expectations players have of the Final Fantasy Series as it manages to provide an entertaining and unique experience for all players.