Final Fantasy X and X-2 Review: To Zanarkand, The Land of Dreams

Posted: 12/22/2012 in Video Game Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

by John Groom

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Tidus, the game’s main character

Zanarkand, a world of technological heights and excessive materialism like no other. Spira, a world with little care for materialism and has little technology in existence. In the world of Final Fantasy X, these two worlds are one in the same. Final Fantasy X begins like no other Final Fantasy game; with a head banging hit written by none other than Nobuo Uematsu himself. From there, the game only improves.

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With the introduction of characters like Lulu, Yuna, Auron, Kimahri Ronso, Rikku, and many more, the game development team brought upon themselves a large challenge in the form of creating character development for each and every one of these characters. Yet, the job of legendary character developer Tetsuya Nomura became infinitely easier as a result of the addition of voice acting to the game series. Thankfully, Square moved on from their most recent attempt at voice acting at the time (Remember “The Spirits Within?” No? We wish we didn’t too) and worked on building a solid team of actors and actresses to portray each of the characters. The team behind the script writing kept the new addition of voice acting in mind and took things to an entirely new level as a result.

Built up from the addition for voice acting, they also began using some more of the technologies they practiced in the creation of “The Spirits Within.” The team made the shift from 2D backgrounds to 3D backgrounds with the game, creating absolutely stunning visuals for the time of the game’s creation. These modeled backgrounds created a more realistic vision for the player, allowing one to be fully immersed in the game more than any Final Fantasy game before it. The characters, voice acting and realistic 3D renders combined with Nobuo Uematsu’s stunning score for the game (co-written with Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano) allowed the game to be called by many the most tear-inducing game of all time. The music ran from the typical Final Fantasy music to J-pop ballad “Suteki Da Ne” recorded by Rikki to the heavy metal track “Otherworld” recorded by vocalist Bill Muir. The 91-track soundtrack was so beloved that groups such as Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy, The Black Mages, and countless dojin albums have all featured multiple songs from the soundtrack where most Final Fantasy games are lucky to have a single track featured.

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In terms of gameplay, the battle system of Final Fantasy X does something that the series as a whole had not strayed from dating all the way back to Final Fantasy IV. Instead of using the Active Battle System introduced in IV, they used a new system called the Conditional Turn-Based System. The CTB is a modified version of the original Turn-Based system of the original three Final Fantasy games. In the CTB, there is a system of ‘priority’ shown in the upper right hand corner of the battle interface showing which character would be attacking next. This system allows for a very smooth play of the game, where the player can see how each turn affects the flow of gameplay and can see the manipulation of order caused by their actions. Beyond that, the game begins with a fairly streamlined map that expands as the player continues, ultimately opening for a more free-roam gameplay after completing most of the storyline. If you ask me, the advancement as far as areas go is flawless; they chose the perfect moments for unlocking new areas and did an even better job at selecting when the map opens up for free-roam.

With all of these features, between the music, the new graphic style, and the battle system (combined with the storyline and the beautiful character development), Square truly found gaming perfection. While this game is a perfect 10/10 for me, umm…well… keep reading below for Final Fantasy X-2..

In Final Fantasy X-2, we see a different character come to the center stage, Yuna. With this being the first Final Fantasy game to be a direct sequel, Square Enix held nothing back in creativity department. They began by taking Yuna, one of the main characters in the previous game, and turning her into a superstar. She becomes a character somewhere between a J-pop hit and a common thief, however. You see, between the first game and this game, she had not only mastered playing Blitzball, but she had also begun a group called the Gullwings. The Gullwings were a group of three sphere hunters that included Yuna, Rikku (also from Final Fantasy X), and a new character, Paine. These three lovely ladies find themselves collecting spheres from around the world of Spira in order to uncover the mysteries behind the history of Spira.

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The gameplay of this one calls back all the way to Final Fantasy III and V, in which the characters were able to change their class such as in Final Fantasy III, but Final Fantasy X-2 keeps the ATB from Final Fantasy V. In Final Fantasy X-2, the trio changes classes by equipping things called dress spheres, which give them not only a new outfit but also an entirely different set of powers based on the class associated with that outfit. Personally, I love this feature. The characters get to take a whole new level of personality to the player based on what outfits the player gives to them, and the more free-roam nature of the game allows the player to role play more than most other Final Fantasy games. Your actions as a player actually change the storyline and can give you an alternate ending to the game.

Beyond the gameplay changes, the music takes on a whole different style. In this game, the music is mostly focused on the J-pop stylings that made the primary theme songs from the previous couple of Final Fantasy games. Personally, I think this makes the game more accessible to a female audience, where in the past, most Final Fantasy games have been more male-audience driven with high-action scenes driven by strong male leads. Graphically, the game follows essentially the same models from the first game with a few tweaks, which, considering how close the two releases were was not a disappointment.

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Just a few of the job classes available for Final Fantasy X-2’s sexy trio

While the free-roam nature of the game is fun to experience, the balancing of the game is thrown off by bosses placed in areas accessible long before you can achieve the experience necessary to defeat them. Beyond that, well, the ending did not bring the closure that the fans were promised to the end of the Final Fantasy X saga. This game is definitely worth the buy and play through though, especially for fans of the Final Fantasy series as a whole.

Score:

Final Fantasy X: 10/10

Final Fantasy X-2: 8.5/10

John Groom is a writer, musician, artist, and future educator from Coraopolis, PA. He is currently attending Slippery Rock University studying Secondary Education English and Secondary Education Spanish minoring in Writing and pursuing a certificate in Latin American Studies. He runs a blog at http://mrawesomeman24.wordpress.com/ which includes lesson ideas and webquests to use for educational purposes and also functions as a forum for displaying his art in whatever form it may come in.

Comments
  1. Reblogged this on mrawesomeman24 and commented:
    A review I did for thosereviewguys reviewing Final Fantasy X and X-2

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