Pros: Great characters, decent plot, easy to upgrade weapons and gil, has the FF feel, aesthetically stunning, excellent music
Cons: Too many vids, awkward levelling system, blitz ball
Favourite character: Seymour / Kimahri
So recently I have been on a huge saving obsession ready for my trip to Paris for People’s Con’s Spartacus event Rebels 3. Needless to say that has meant cheaper hobbies and the great perk of replaying the games of my youth. And I stumbled on an absolute gem – Final Fantasy X.
And yes, years later I can finally do the Jeckt Shot!
In all seriousness I am bias here because Final Fantasy stole my heart at a kid. So rather than judging this as a single game, because FF always wins for me, I’m going to compare within the sphere of Final Fantasy games.
*warning* this review is intended for people who have played the game and contains spoilers
Graphically speaking wow what a game! but that’s no shock from Square Enix. What really aesthetically gets me about this game though is the magic effects. The scene where Yuna preforms the sending has been embedded in my mind for years. As an art student I always struggled to capture that mystical glow.
I know final fantasy 9 was a far cry from these graphics, though for the time they were insane, but there is a remnant of that shock factor from them that something on screen could be so believable.
When this game came out there were a lot of complaints about it being too summons based, well I hate to break it to you honey but it’s game about a summoner and her pilgrimage.
That aside this one feels like, the also not so popular 13, which obviously I liked because if you got a wasp and dressed it as a chocobo I’d probably buy it. And I don’t believe it is the aeons exactly, but rather it has too much video. Both games have a lot of non play time and it gets a little pretentious. And Square Enix aren’t usually the ‘look at our graphics and forget the story type’ so I do feel like this is what they meant to do, but something was lost in translation.
On the first play through its great but some of it, it’s just not relevant. Seeing a mini cut scene every time I summon is just dull. And as my friends will tell you I’m one of these annoying, immersion seeking people who want to watch every bit and runs around in case I find an Al bhed codex – but even this has me hitting x to skip.
Other than the over video issue the storyline is quite good and a second play through adds a depth, especially when you listen to Tidus’s voice over. One moment in particular gets me, though there are lots, and that is when just after Wakka punches Sir Luzzu, he struggled to understand why Yuna lets him go to the suicidal mission against Sin.
Final fantasy games have never been amazing at an overarching message – it’s all ‘good wins in the end’ but the interlocking bios in X are beautifully done. I always found FF games to be a sort of DNA sequence with the strands weaving between character backgrounds and these are what we usually remember. For example, everyone knows Sephiroth’s background in VII but in all honesty he didn’t have that much screen time. In IX we all loved Vivi. The characters have always been what Final fantasy did well.
And the characters are great here. There isn’t a stand out person but each has a very really, multifaceted side. They have more depth in this game I feel. Previously each character had a thing – one thing, only the villain and protagonist has flexible roles.
If we take IX as an example, we have a healer, a pensive mage, a one track soldier, a Bandit (no shock I like him!), a villain, a token weirdo and they’re al a bit to the point (no critique, that’s my favourite FF). Everyone in X has more relatability in my view, just to look at Wakka as an example, he is torn between Blitz and being a Guardian. His feelings toward Lulu aren’t straight forward and on top of that he has problems dealing with the loss of Chappu. There may not be an icon but there are many well written characters to evoke inspiration.
Now onto another issue a few people have mentioned to me. The sphere grid system, again oddly similar to 13. Some people complained about this, and I think it could use tweaks but in general I like it. It’s easy to see where your character is heading and if you know you have a weakness you can aim for a node that can help.
My only dislike is that it’s quite hard to plan because you can end up with characters with the same skill sets easily and it takes a lot of grinding to go back. Even on this play through I’m struggling with the cross over. And the level keys just don’t do anything for me. I feel like maybe level keys would work if you wanted a different route? Say you had Lulu, she should be free to follow the black magic path but if you want to diverse into something that isn’t her base skill then you should have to put more work in or a key sphere. And I’m only playing the basic grid.
And there aren’t many creatures to grind on between levels – and no, non-gamers that isn’t a dirty joke. I really like that I can grind my levels up with a good visual example and see who I need to work on by how many moves they’re collected but the creatures are a little samey between cut scene. Not to mention they’re easy to beat once you level up a good fifteen minutes more than the basic storyline.
Blitz was a decent addition. Most FF games have a mini game or two which is popular. For me though the remake ruins this by forcing an achievement to it. It depends on your game tastes here, some would have loved this.
If I want to play a ball game though, I can go on Fifa thanks. I like the option to play it whenever but it definitely hasn’t got the quality of the golden saucer of XII. That remake also has a quick achievement set, no extended play time on a mini game if you didn’t like it.
Musically I was a very happy girl with this – especially the Zanarkand theme.
On a practical level the save spheres are very nicely spaced. And the map is well spaced for the amount of MP and HP on your characters. It’s nice to be able to refresh those aeons and Yuna’s white magic with the capacity to run between points and level up. You can probably tell Yuna is my most boosted character. It’s also useful to be able to jump on for a few minutes if you need to get your fix but have to go out shortly.
Also on a practical note, and some people don’t like this but I do, weapons and gil are so easy to come by! Liking spotting a blushing girl on an anime easy. Usually I’d find this a bit of a negative but it seems relevant. I mean your with a summoned of Yevon – of course people want to give her things, she could be the one to save their families. And above that all the creatures drop gil – awesome! With the option to make everyone learn the life ability, no need to spend on Phoenix Downs either!
It’s so easy to customise a character in this game and make them who you want to be! The weapons seem to have a lot of scope and abilities, so put this with your sphere grid (if you can use it better than me!) and you can make whoever you need – currently my Auron has a flame sword so I need Lulu’s magic way less which saves on saves and Ethers.
The last factor I want to look at it the Final Fantasy Feel. Most fans will know what I mean, and there aren’t words – FF games just have a certain continuity despite being in different worlds that pulls fans back and back again.
And X has a lot of the tiny factors that make this up. There’s the traditional fight system but with the addition of in battle character switches to begin. This sometimes gets criticism but I like it, and in fact this was something that put me off XII when they changed it.
When we fight there are some signature nasties which add to the feel. We have bombs, flans and chimeras which are a staple of this series. Though I do miss a regular moogle I must say.
Machine versus nature plays a big role as ever and X gives us a wide range of land types and pseudo-Japanese religions which just add to what gives us that nostalgia. And of course, there’s a guy called Cid.
So the long and short is, I love Final Fantasy and the storyline is always going to hold me, but game play wise this isn’t a game I could play twice without a big break. Like all FF games the music is stunning and there’s so many characters I love but in the end, it’s not the best.