[FFX LOGO]



[THE DANCE]
 Console: PS2 

 Company: Squaresoft 

 Release Date: 12/01 

 Genre: RPG 

 Number of Players: 1 

 Save Feature? Yes!


Playing through Final Fantasy X for the very first time was truly a dreamlike experience. Everything about this game screams "perfection" and from start to finish, I was simply awestruck. The soundtrack is beautiful and diverse, the gameplay is incredibly engrossing and fun, and the graphics are truly unbelievable. FFX might very well be the best in the series and could even vouch for the title of "greatest video game ever!" We might not see another game like this for quite some time.

Overview: How can one begin a discussion of FFX without overusing terms such as "gorgeous," "awesome," and "superb?" Seriously, the tenth Final Fantasy game is the epitomy of everything that is right in video games today. It brings together everything that a sensible person could ask for in a Final Fantasy game and even manages to mix in a few surprises as well! What you get in the end is one of the most impressive and simply enjoyable video games that I have yet to come across. As you will see, while there is plenty of eye and ear candy to be had, the gameplay is what really brings it all together. That perfect balance between graphics/music and gameplay is so hard to achieve yet Squaresoft has been able to somehow accomplish this near-miraculous feat on more than one occasion (Chrono Trigger...possibly Chrono Cross, FFVI, and FFIX).

For one thing, Final Fantasy X was created over a span of about two and a half years which is a fairly long time for a video game! The effort was well worth it, however, as just about every aspect of the game seems to have that extra "umph" lacking in some of the more recent RPGs. I suppose that FFX has its predecessors such as Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VII, and Chrono Cross to thank for that as all three games took around three years to make and are all Golden Classics on this site (go figure). Whatever the case, a lot of heart and effort went into this game and it shows!

So what exactly is Final Fantasy X like in terms of gameplay you ask? Well, it's probably not as complicated as Final Fantasy VIII yet it doesn't feel quite like the more simple Final Fantasy IX. It's like your typical RPG really. Things start out incredibly simple and straightforward but once certain options appear that allow you to customize weapons and armor and add attributes to Aeons, all bets are off. It's the best of both worlds really. The gameplay is rather simple and fun and yet the countless abilities and options lying at your fingertips allow you to make the game as intricate as you want. Of course, being the perfectionist I am, I probably tend to make the game much more complicated than it was meant to be. :)

One somewhat unique tidbit that I really had fun with was the innovative leveling up system. As you know, in just about every other Final Fantasy game, your characters' attributes like HP, MP, Strength, and Magic increase by gaining experience and leveling up. However, in FFX, you actually get to choose which attributes you want to raise for a particular character by utilizing the Sphere Grid. In its simpliest form, the Sphere Grid kind of resembles a huge spider web packed to the teeth with little magic spheres. Some of these spheres are empty at first but most allow you to increase your characters' attributes! By defeating enemies and gaining AP, you are able to increase your sphere level which is really the same thing as leveling up. Each time your Sphere Level moves above zero, you are able to move at least one space on the Sphere Grid (as long as you are not blocked in by locked spheres but that's a lesson for another day). By moving on the Sphere Grid and winning different spheres in battle (e.g. Power Spheres and Mana Spheres), you will be able to learn these attributes! However, the cool thing is that, in order to learn an attribute (e.g. Strength +4 or Agility +2) or ability (e.g. Cheer or Steal), you do not have to be directly on that sphere. As long as the desired attribute/ability is on a sphere adjacent to the one where your character's sphere currently presides, you're in great shape! As a result, it is actually possible to learn 3 or even 4 attributes at once! Remember this! You don't want to find yourself wasting your hard-earned experience on unnecessary movements!

Don't worry if the Sphere Grid sounds a little complex at first. After you've played the game for a few hours and gotten your feet wet, it'll make sense. What I really like about the Sphere Grid is the ability to choose how you want to level up a character. Although every character has a general area of the Sphere Grid all to themselves in the beginning (I'm telling you; the Sphere Grid is huge!), there are countless areas where the Sphere Grid branches into two, three, or even four different directions! Not surprisingly, this is enough to drive the indecisive gamer crazy! Not in a bad way of course. The main point that I'm trying to drive home is that you play a much larger role than usual in strengthening your characters and/or customizing them to your liking. Stats don't simply increase on their own; you've got to be smart and make wise decisions in order to get the most out of your party. For instance, if you want to make the main hero Tidus stronger, send him down Auron's area of the grid which is littered with Strength and HP spheres. If you'd rather increase his magic and magic defense, Yuna's area is a winner. Later in the game, you'll start receiving some of the more valuable Lock, Teleport and Special Spheres that allow you greater flexibility. Overall, I just think that the Sphere Grid is a blast once you master the basics.

Regarding linearity ("Linearity?!"), Final Fantasy X does a wonderful job of giving you the best of both worlds. For the most part, the game is actually very linear; probably as linear as Final Fantasy IV for the Super NES. However, once you obtain the Airship very late in the game, everything opens up like a gorgeous flower on a warm spring afternoon. Seriously, the game makes a dramatic switch from being strictly linear to becoming completely non-linear in the blink of an eye. Believe it or not, this actually works! Not only are you able to explore all of the areas previously encountered but a plethora of new locales, passwords, and additional secrets become "unlocked" as well! As if that wasn't enough to cause involuntary drooling, most of the previously explored areas will now have new goodies and/or sidequests!

[THIS GUY NEEDS HIS BLOOD PRESSURE CHECKED!]

Of course, any review of a Final Fantasy game would be incomplete without a detailed description of the battle system. After all, if fighting swarms of beasts, bugs, blobs, and other vermin isn't fun, who cares about the rest of the game right? Anyway, the battle engine in Final Fantasy X closely resembles the one in Final Fantasy IX...with a few important catches. For one thing, in FFX, you have an indefinite window of time to select commands and use items without enemies acting. In other words, battles play a lot like the old-school RPGs in that enemies can not attack or do anything until their turn comes up (i.e. it's a turn-based RPG...gosh, it takes long enough for me to spit out a simple sentence!) As a result, you have all the time in the world to prepare your strategy. I imagine some FF vets might miss the excitement of active battles but overall, I was actually quite pleased with the way everything was set up. By the time you reach Dream's End, you'll have so many weapons and items that you'll need the additional time to weight your opinions and decide how to go about attacking the enemy.

However, while FFX is a turn-based RPG, it is important to keep in mind that the battle order is not sealed in stone; it can change depending on the commands you choose. For example, if you're doing something basic such as casting Cheer or using a High Potion, the battle order will probably stay the same. However, if you cast Ultima or use an Overdrive...especially a summon's overdrive, you probably won't get to act again anytime soon (unless of course you casted Haste or Hastega earlier in battle). Thankfully, there is a small bar on the right side of the screen that allows you to easily keep track of the battle order. Always keep close tabs on this bar; especially in big battles where ultra-powerful attacks by the enemy are not uncommon.

As cool as the ATB is, the sweetest aspect of FFX's battle system might be the completely new ability to switch characters in the midst of battle! This was just so revolutionary for the time and makes it actually possible for you to use all seven main characters in any particular fight (save for a few of the underwater battles). Trust me; you'll love this new feature as it allows virtually unlimited flexibility and gives the game a strategic element foreign to the other games in the series. Besides, it will undoubtedly prove to be a lifesaver on multiple occasions. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed being able to bring in a "fresh" character for one with low HP and negative status effects.

[JUST YOUR TYPICAL BATTLE]


Another enjoyable aspect of the game's battle engine has to be the overdrive system. While overdrives look identical to the Trance system found in FFIX at first glance, there really is a difference. First of all, you are not forced into using your overdrive abilities when the gage reaches its peak. This should bring a collective sigh of relief to those of you who had the misfortune of always going into trance right before a major boss battle in FFIX. Instead of being able to save that trance for later, you would be forced to waste it on a pitiful enemy in some meaningless battle. Well, that is no longer the case because, in FFX, you can save your overdrive as long as you want! Isn't that cool? I can't tell you how ecstatic I was when I discovered this. As a result, going into a major battle with at least three or four characters in overdrive mode isn't as farfetched as it may seem.

Another cool aspect of the overdrive system is that, over time, your characters will learn new methods of raising the overdrive gauge depending on what they do in battle. For example, if you defeat enough enemies, the Warrior and Slayer overdrive modes become available. What this means is that, if you switch that particular character's overdrive mode to Warrior or Slayer instead of the default Stoic (the gage fills when you take damage like in FFIX), that character's overdrive gage will fill when it damages or defeats an enemy respectively. By experimenting a little and having your characters do different things in battle, you'll learn a whole plethora of overdrive modes! For example, if you have the summoner Yuna heal other characters during battle, she will eventually learn the Healer overdrive mode which causes her gage to fill when she heals others! Other overdrive modes include Ally, Victor, and even Dancer (increases by evading attacks). This really adds to the game's strategic factor (i.e. Which overdrive mode will allow me to increase the gage the fastest?) in addition to wiping out the somewhat bland Trance system of FFIX where every character essentially had a Stoic overdrive mode.

Some of the overdrives are as awesome to behold too! Seriously; we're talking eye-popping stuff here! Some of the attacks are just too cool and make you want to fill up the overdrive gage just to see them again! One of my personal favorites has to be Tidus' Blitz Ace attack. This cool manuever begins with Tidus unleashing a series of slashes (not unlike FF7's Omnislash actually) and finishing things off with a dazzling Jecht Shot (His father's famous blitzball move.) Auron has some incredible overdrives as well involving his sword and that mysterious cantine gracing his overcoat.


[BAHAMUT IN ALL HIS GRANDEUR] [THE STOLEN FAYTH YOJIMBO] [THE ELECTRIC IXION]


The final aspect of the game's battle engine that I want to briefly cover is the usage of summons. Simply put, those of you who have loved using that summon command to death in previous Final Fantasy installments (FF8 anyone?) will feast on this game because you can actually control your summons in this game! Seriously! All you have to do is select Yuna's summon command and before you can say "Diamond Dust," your aeon will land on the battlefield all ready to kick some serious you-know-what! ;) You can simply fight, use special abilities and magic, and even shield yourself like an ordinary character! As the game progresses, you will learn how to teach your summons new magic spells and even go as far as to being able to manipulate their stats like HP and Magic! Hey, didn't I tell you this game was amazing?

Battles and "linearity" aside, even the mini-games cook in FFX. Like just about any Final Fantasy game out there, FFX is full of little games strewn about to give the gamer a much-needed break from the action. There's the strangely addictive assortment of Chocobo racing games where you either have to race a competitor to the finish line or simply avoid all kinds of trash flying in your direction all while trying to somehow make it to the finish line intact. Heck, the most basic game simply asks you to "steer" a Chocobo to the finish line (not as easy as you'd expect). All of these games are fun although it still pains me to see ole' Choco getting drilled by beach balls and birds. The realistic sound effects don't help either.

Another mini-game that really stands out has to be blitzball. For sports fanatics that have been dying to see a Final Fantasy game somehow incorporate a sports event into the actual game, this game's a gem! Although it can be rough at first, blitzball is actually a blast to play once you get the hang of everything! Basically, blitzball has a similar feel to soccer except that: 1) The game is played in an underwater sphere. 2) Full body contact is not only allowed; it's encouraged! What it amounts to is a fun and surprisingly inspired gameplay experience. Not only is blitzball a lot of fun but you can win some pretty sweet items by winning the League and/or Tournament! You can also recruit blitzball players from around the world to join your team (just go up to someone and press the Square button) and if you're lucky, you can even "steal" away some of the better players on other teams! Blitzball really is amazing because, quite frankly, the game is complex and intuitive enough to have been its own game. Now that is saying something considering it only qualifies as a mini-game!

Although it may seem at this point that I am writing a book about Final Fantasy X, the amazing truth is that I've simply scratched the surface. There is just so much meat to this game that it would take me days to discuss everything with you. However, I'll just leave all that to the good people at Gamefaqs.com. I'm just trying to give you a nice overview of one of the most incredible video games ever made. Anyway, without further ado, let's talk about the graphics!

[TIDUS & CO. TO THE RESCUE!]

Graphics: From the very first time I fired up Final Fantasy X through the game's incredible ending sequence some 110 gaming hours later, I was simply enthralled by the lush, inspired graphics. Squaresoft always seems to outdo themselves in this category and FFX is no exception. The fact that FFX was an early-generation PS2 game speaks volumes as well. It seems that, no matter what the video game console, Squaresoft is always able to get the most juice out of whatever machine they use. Simply amazing.

Simply put, Final Fantasy X is as wonderful and magical a gaming experience as anyone could ever hope for and the graphics are certainly one of the many reasons for this. Everything from the realistic movements and facial expressions of the characters to the simply gorguous scenary scattered throughout the world of Spira is outstanding! In all seriousness and cliches aside, you truly feel like you're in this game. Everything from the tropical paradise of Besaid to the crystal-littered Macalania Woods looks incredibly real! Not only that but even the characters themselves take on a whole new level of realism. Like in any great RPG, you really feel an attraction for the characters and as the game wears on, don't be surprised if you find yourself cheering for them zealously! The wide range of personalities and fun chemistry also make the characters in FFX stand out from the pack.

Maybe it's just me but I found the attention to detail to be absolutely stunning...even for a PS2 game. I would found myself stopping in the middle of the road just to see little things like grass gently swaying in the wind or clouds slowly passing through the sky. I was amazed that Squaresoft would go so far as to add those minute features here and there that hardly ever get noticed. Man, I tell you what; it makes you wish that Squaresoft would take 3 years or so to make every game! They truly gave a 110 percent effort with the FFX project.

Not surprisingly, the battles themselves also feature very realistic, inspired graphics. Everything is crystal clear, the character/enemy animation is fluid and varied nicely, and the abilities, spells, and summons are more impressive than ever! The summons themselves stand out as being truly awe-inspiring! It's like seeing old favorites like Shiva and Bahamut along with the new aeons Yojimbo and Anima in a new light. The first time I used Bahamut's Mega Flare overdrive, I was practically going "ga-ga" in my chair. Honestly, I really have nothing bad to say about the game's graphics.


[YUNA'S FIRST AEON: VALEFOR]


The numerous FMVs that play throughout the game won't disappoint either. Not only are there a ton of movies in this game but all of them are done so well! Granted, some are too short to really consider as full-length FMVs but some of the longer ones like "This is Your Story," "The Dance," and "The Spring" are just too cool! They give the Final Fantasy series a more "movielike" quality than ever before and, along with the in-game graphics, help create the wonderful atmosphere that pervades this game throughout. The movie where Tidus and company glide from the airship into Bevelle is one of my personal favorites because, not only is it incredible to see (gotta love Tidus' airborne flip!), but it leads into the next scene perfectly. I could go on and on and gush about how impressed I was with FFX's graphics but, for the sake of my time and yours, I'll move on now.

Music: Wondrous, adrenaline-pumping, at times full of sorrow and others ripe with hope...the beautiful Final Fantasy X score runs through the whole gamit of emotions in epic fashion. It has to be one of the most inspired (there's that word again!) efforts that I have come across in terms of a video game soundtrack. There is just so much feeling and beauty throughout the many songs that play throughout the game.

Like usual, our old friend Nobuo Uematsu is up to his old bag of tricks in his record tenth Final Fantasy score. However, for the first time in the history of the regular Final Fantasy series (Nobuo wasn't involved in the Final Fantasy Tactics project), he was not alone as the two aspiring composers Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano contributed greatly to this project! Remember these names; they could be the future of video game music. I don't know how they were able to do it, but even with three different composers with experience levels all across the board, the game's soundtrack flows very smoothly and the overall quality remains at a very high level throughout the duration of the game.

Several things are worth mentioning about the soundtrack. First of all, I thought that the main theme was quite possibly the best one Uematsu has cooked up yet. While "Eyes on Me" from FFVIII and "Melodies of Life" from FFIX were beautiful tracks in their own right, "To Zanarkand" just seems to have that extra beauty and feeling for some reason. Not only that, but it fit the game like a glove as well. As expected, there are several variations of this main theme that play throughout Yuna's epic journey. "Yuna's Theme" was a nice "homey" version of the song that felt a little like something out of Final Fantasy VIII. "Sprouting" plays during a few areas around the middle of the game and for some reason, I just really liked its unique melody and somewhat forceful/heroic feel. It was simply pleasant to the ears. "A Dream Which Will Someday End" was wonderful as well with its unique background sounds and additional feeling. And of course, there's the fully orchestrated "Ending Theme" which is so beautiful and touching that it has caused many a teary eye.

[PREPARING FOR THE FINAL BATTLE!]

While the main theme was a big hit in my eyes, some of the ambient music was surprisingly good as well. I say "surprisingly" because I'm not generally a big fan of ambient music. Just give me beautiful melodies man! Anyway, a few of my favorite tracks in the game have to include "Wandering Flame" and "Deep-Sea Ruins." The first song is slow-flowing and quite thought-provoking with its aura of nostalgia. This track plays during many of Tidus' flashbacks and a few of the more somber areas of the game. The second song is also superb with its incredible background sounds and rich, watery atmosphere. In my opinion, it was the best "water" theme since Aquatic Ambience in Donkey Kong Country. It just fit the atmosphere so perfectly! Another great track is the aptly-named "Ominous" which plays in that eerie area right near the beginning of the game (after Sin attacks Zanarkand). It is very suspenseful and the background voices/creaking sounds were a nice touch. I also enjoyed "Besaid Island" a lot; it was simple yet wonderous and beautiful; perfect for the game's "home" area if you will. The snow theme "Illusion" with its wintery sounds was a real winner as well.

Of course, this review would be incomplete without discussing the battle/boss music found in the game. While the battle theme isn't anything out of the ordinary (although it's still quite good), I was very impressed with the intro battle theme "Run." It doesn't really go anywhere but it's upbeat and perfect for the situation. Definitely one of the more adrenaline-pumping tracks in recent memory. Speaking of adrenaline, the main boss theme ("Enemy Attack") is just plain awesome! It begins upbeat and gradually leads up to an incredible chorus of voices that would bring a sentimental tear to any Lord of the Rings fan! It is just too perfect and plays a lot throughout the game which is wonderful! Every single time I hear this theme, my adrenaline goes sky high! That's what a boss theme is supposed to do, right?

Another battle track I really liked was "Raid" which plays when Tidus and company fly to the rescue of a friend (note that one of my favorite FMVs plays during this scene as well!). I don't know; I just loved the upbeat nature of the song and the obvious heroic connotations. It's kind of interesting to note that it was sandwiched between two of the more serious tunes in the game as well ("Marriage Ceremony" and "Tragedy") and that it actually plays during another very important battle late in the game. "Seymour Battle" was another great battle track as well; a typical Uematsu offering really with its seriousness blended with a heroic melody. Like usual, the final battle themes don't disappoint either. "Summoned Beasts Battle" has to rank among the all-time greats with its wonderful synchronization of melody and voice. It brought the best of the "Song of Prayer" (religious song that plays a lot) and "Enemy Attack" themes and merged them into one heck of a track! Strangely, I thought that the track that follows ("Final Battle") was actually quite anticlimatic. It was okay but it sounded too whimsical and even bordered on being silly after the previous piece. Oh well, no one's perfect I guess. At least the beautiful and emotion-filled Ending Theme made up for it. I'm telling you; you won't be disappointed. The song that follows ("Suteki Da Ne") is surprisingly pleasant as well.

Okay, I'll admit that I've made the FFX soundtrack sound perfect. Although it truly does come pretty darn close, there's always going to be a few forgettable tracks. Nothing really strikes me as being annoying although the "Room of Trials" track could get a little testy at times. And although "Otherworld" is very appropriate and is quite impressive coming from Uematsu, nothing is ever going to make me a fan of the heavy metal genre. It definitely fits perfectly though. I was just too busy laughing at the voice (the typical screaming voice that's barely coherent) at the time.

Alright...I've written a novel about this game's music and I haven't even gotten to the voices yet! Anyway, Final Fantasy X is actually quite the revolutionary Final Fantasy game because it's the first one to actually include audible voices! After playing superb games with terrible voice acting like Mega Man 8 and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, I'll admit that I had my doubts about this. However, my fears were soon quelled after playing through the game's opening scene. I don't know about you but I thought Auron and Wakka's voices were perfect! The other voices weren't half bad either. Tidus' was outgoing and confident, Rikku's friendly and somewhat cutesy personality was brought to life nicely, and even Lulu and Kimahri sounded okay. Yuna was a little iffy at times (she didn't always seem "all there" if that makes any sense) but I thought overall, she was okay. Not only was the voice acting impressive; I thought that the chemistry between the characters was extraordinary; probably the best since Final Fantasy VI. Also, I liked how other characters beside the heroes could talk. Enemies, shop keepers, blitzball players; let's just say that you'll hear a lot of audio in this game! How Square was able to compact everything into one disk is beyond me.

There is one last tidbit worth mentioning. You probably won't hear this very often in other reviews of FFX, but I thought that the sound effects were outstanding in this game. It's almost too bad that the music and voice acting overshadows the unheralded sound effects because they are among the best that I have ever come across. From Tidus' running on grass to the plethora of clangs and clashes during battle, everything sounds amazing.

Play Control: Finally! Something that won't take a whole book to discuss! ;) As can be expected, the controls are very straightforward and easy to use. Everything feels like it did in FFIX although the controls might be slightly more rounded along the edges in FFX. You can use either the D-Pad or the Analog Stick which is a major plus. I actually alternate between the two using Analog whenever I move in the overworld and the D-Pad for battles and navigating menus.

Although there isn't a whole lot to report in this category (after all this is the tenth game in the series), mastering each character's overdrives requires more action skills than you would think. For example, with Auron's overdrives, you have to successfully input several button sequences in a row in a pretty short time frame (e.g. up, left, L1, X, O). Tidus' overdrives require you to push the X button within a split second's notice and Lulu's overdrives involve rotating the right analog stick repeatedly. Like in some of the more recent Final Fantasy games, there are countless mini-games and key sequences throughout the game where you have to learn something new in terms of the controls. For example, timing really is everything in the Thunder Plains where you can avoid lightning strikes by pressing the X button at just the right moment. Learning the Jecht Shot requires lightning-quick reflexes as well (no pun intended). And the Chocobo and Blitzball mini-games are actually quite intricate and give the Final Fantasy expert something new to chew on. I thought that FFX did a nice job of adding new goodies without allowing the gameplay to become too complex.

[AURON]

Challenge: Although Final Fantasy X probably leans ever so slightly on the easy side due to the fact that you can switch characters in the heat of battle along with the new uber-summon system, it still contains plenty of difficult bosses and taxing sidequests to keep even the most experienced RPG fans on edge. FFX does a great job of mixing things up in terms of mini-games and boss battles along with throwing the occasional curve ball. In order to survive, you'll have to adjust on the cuff; thankfully, this game allows you to change your equipped weapons/armors in the midst of battle which helps a lot! I wish that all RPGs were like this actually. Anyway, I don't know how Square did it, but there were a few bosses in FFX that threw something totally new at me! For example, there's this one boss battle late in the game that involves each character standing on one of six pillars with the boss lurking in the center. Although you can fight like normal, you are also given the option of moving to a different pillar each turn. What makes this battle unique is that, 1) Each time you attack the boss, it will retaliate by striking the three pillars that it is facing & 2) Every once in a while, it will unleash KO bombs on several pillars that result in instant death if one of your characters is caught on one when the bombs explode. Simply put, strategy and timing are crucial here. There are several other battles like this which is remarkable considering the series' 15 year history.

As I have previously mentioned, the replay value is where this game really shines in terms of challenge and intrigue. I can't recall ever coming across a game with such a vast amount of secrets, mini-games, and optional sidequests! Seriously, as of right now, I've clocked nearly 110 hours of gameplay and I still haven't found a lot of stuff! Heck, I haven't even been able to get Anima yet!! (one of the two secret summons) Trust me; there is a reason why Final Fantasy X has remained in the Top 10 FAQs at Gamefaqs.com for so long. It's simply an enormous game!

Storyline: Although it probably doesn't have the most intriguing story ever, Final Fantasy X is still able to captivate its audience with a wonderful atmosphere and an amazing chemistry between the seven main characters. It definitely reminds me of Final Fantasy VI in this area. That game also had a delightful atmosphere and simply watching the characters interact was so fun.

Of course, that's not to say that FFX has a subpar story because that is hardly the case. It's just that you'll be noticing the more artsy aspects of the game like the graphics and music over just about everything else. Still, there are elements of the story that I found very thought-provoking. For one thing, a whole lot of stuff is thrown at you during the first 15 to 20 minutes of the game. Don't expect a slow start (ala Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VIII) or you won't know what the heck is going on! Basically, the game begins with a huge game of blitzball being played between Tidus' team and some other team (Who cares about them right?) However, all hell breaks loose when the mysterious being called Sin attacks Zanarkand. Thankfully, a mysterious man named Auron fights alongside Tidus during this time and the two manage to escape...sort of. Before you can say "Blitz Off!", the two disappear into some strange vortex and Tidus later wakes up in a totally unfamiliar place with spooky music playing in the background. Yeah, I didn't know what the heck was going on either.

The story really gets going once Tidus lands on a beach (after yet another choatic meeting with Sin) and meets up with another blitzball star and native to the tiny island of Besaid, Wakka. From there, he meets the black mage Lulu, the reserved ronso Kimahri, and another main character: the summoner Yuna. Later on, the young Al Bhed girl Rikku along with Auron himself join the party. Basically, the main story revolves around Yuna going on a pilgrimage with her guardians (i.e. Tidus and the others) in order to obtain the Final Aeon which has the power to defeat Sin. However, like in any truly epic story, plenty of complications arise along the way. For one thing, everyone talks about Tidus' Zanarkand being destroyed some 1000 years ago! That's enough to spoil his lunch eh? There also seems to be some mysterious connection between Tidus and Sin...almost as if Sin knows Tidus. Plenty of other characters, both good and evil, are encountered by Yuna and company along the way. The Maesters Seymour and Mika play a key role and even Yevon itself appears somewhere down the road. Of course, I'm intentionally omitting a lot of key information...I just couldn't spoil this game for anyone. If you want to know how the story ends, you'll just have to play it yourself! :)

Alright, I guess that the story is actually very good after all. Like I said before, it's just that the overall atmosphere gets to you more than the actual story if that makes any sense. For some reason, I absolutely love the feel of this game! Perhaps it is because it really doesn't have the medieval or technology aspects that have been so prevalent throughout previous installments. Personally, I loved simply wandering through tropical islands, winter wonderlands, and mysterious forests. FFX proves that you don't need enormous castles or advanced factories to have a great story.

[YUNA THE SUMMONER]

Funfactor: Even with all of the wonderful visuals and glorious sounds, it's the incredibly addicting gameplay that puts this game over the top. I can't believe how much fun I had played this game for the first time! For nearly two and half months, I simply couldn't put this game down! The characters are delightful, the battle system is virtually flawless, and the replay value is off the charts. There's just so much to see and do that I actually felt somewhat overwhelmed at times! It takes quite a game to offer too much fun! (if that's possible) Sometimes, I would just kick back and play a few blitzball games, talk to people and try to find everything in a particular area, or simply visit the Sphere Theater and listen to music or FMVs that play throughout the course of the game (every game needs an option like this!) Of course, there were times when I'd be itching for some action and give the enemy-infested Arena a go.

Whatever the case, you just couldn't ask for anything more than this. In all honesty, Final Fantasy X makes just about every other game out there look second rate. It truly is the second coming of Chrono Trigger in terms of pure fun. Kind of makes you eager in anticipation about the upcoming Final Fantasy XII release doesn't it?

Negatives: The Laughing Scene! Man, my fake laugh is terrible and it still somehow manages to be more believable than this ridiculous scene. Still, I can't watch it without laughing which I suppose is its one saving grace.

Seriously, there's really nothing negative to say about this game. You could argue that a few of the voices (e.g. Yuna and Kimahri) weren't all that great but the game really is superb in virtually every area. Although I have high hopes for future RPGs, we may never see another Final Fantasy X again.

Note: Thanks so much to the folks at Final Fantasy Shrine for allowing me to use your wonderful FMV screenshots for this review. You guys are awesome! :)

Ratings: Graphics: 5.0* Music: 4.8 Play Control: 4.6 Challenge: 4.6 Storyline: 4.5 Funfactor: 5.0* Overall Score: 28.5 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Golden Classic!!

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Last Updated: January 5, 2008
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