Review - Final Fantasy X
My first encounter with Final Fantasy X was when I picked up a copy of GamesMaster magazine and saw their review for it. Of course, I fell in love with the game, but my problem was that I didn’t have a PlayStation 2, and my parents certainly couldn’t afford one. I was in luck though - my friend Steph got it when it came out, and I was stopping over at hers for the weekend when she first played it. I was blown away! The graphics, the characters, the story, it was all so much more than I expected. Sadly, it would be some time before I could play it alone for myself. My parents bought me a PS2 for my 13th birthday and I managed to borrow FFX from another friend.
Over the years I’ve returned to the game, and I’ve completed it roughly eight times, although the quality of completion left a lot to be desired. I can vividly recall the weekend I first completed it - I spent a whole day and night on it, 24 hours. I only left my room to get food, drink and go to the loo! It wouldn’t have been so bad, but when I finished the game at 6am, I had to get ready for school. Let’s just say my Geography teacher wasn’t impressed when I fell asleep in his lesson. Neither was my dad when I came home and went to bed.
Anyway. Enough of memory lane.
Back in 2002, the graphics were astounding for the time. The FMVs were breathtaking and the in-game designs were amazing. Has it aged well as a game? Graphics-wise, not really, but that's to be expected from a game from that year. If you look at a game like Final Fantasy XII, and compare it to FFX, you can see the difference in a big way. The FMVs can still amaze though, I have yet to meet someone who wasn’t astounded by the scenes of the Sending in Kilika, or the wonderful scene between Yuna and Tidus in Macalania Forest.
The story of the game is a tale of epic proportions. Main character Tidus is thrown a thousand years into the future into Spira, a world far away from the techno haven of his home city Zanarkand. The malevolent creature that brought him to Spira, Sin, is the main antagonist of the game, a huge whale-like beast that is said to despise machina - machines - so Spira has halted in advancing. It’s here that Tidus meets Yuna, a beautiful summoner, with the job of taking the journey to the ruins of his former home of Zanarkand to obtain the Final Aeon to defeat Sin. Along with her guardians, blitzball player Wakka, Black Mage Lulu, lion-like Ronso Kimahri, Tidus, legendary guardian Auron and Al Bhed cutie Rikku, she takes this journey - but tragedy follows them at every point, and the final battle seems to not be just with Sin…
It’s an epic tale, and I loved every minute of it. It’s a relatively simple formula, which works well.
The battle system is turn-based, which suits me fine as I don’t like being rushed when making a battle strategy. Levelling up is pretty effective with the Sphere Grid system too, although I recommend you don’t use the expert grid until you’re TOTALLY sure you know what you’re doing. I gave up using it after an hour of gameplay because it was just so awkward.
Downsides. Voice acting. Okay, it was the first voice acted FF game, and given the excellent translations, you hope for something special with regards to the script. The only thing I will say is the laughing scene. Hopefully when FFX is remastered for the PS3.Vita, the voices might be remastered along with it, like in the Silent Hill HD collection. Well, I can hope anyway.
(I originally loathed Yuna's voice, which is disheartening as she is my favourite game character of all time. Since playing Dissidia 012, I feel that voice actress Hedy Burress has finally got Yuna's voice down perfectly, which makes me hope they remaster the voices when it comes to the PS3/Vita port.)
The boss fights are challenging but fair. Even Sin can be defeated without any of the special weapons or rare items, which is disappointing, but good if you're not a seasoned RPG player. If you’re looking for a challenge, take on the Dark Aeons at the end of the game. If you defeat all of them, then you’re presented with a secret boss that’s as hard as nails and near-impossible to defeat without a lot of work having been put into your characters!
Overall, I adore this game. I can find flaws in it as it's got older, but even so, it has aged well and remains one of the finest Final Fantasy games to date. The story is compelling, the characters are balanced and change along with the story, the sphere grid remains my favourite levelling system in any game, and I still cry like a baby at the ending.