It’s been over a decade since Square-Enix released Final Fantasy X onto the Playstation 2. The game introduced many new things to series and remains one of the most beloved titles to grace the system. You play as a teenager named Tidus who, after a high adrenaline opening, is stranded alone in a foreign world known as Spira. Throughout your journey you are joined by many allies with unique abilities, including a Summoner named Yuna. The end goal is trying to return Tidus to his homeland of Zanarkand, which also happens to be the city that Yuna must travel to to obtain her Final Aeon (summon) and all the other summons along the way. The reasoning for the summons is to defeat Sin, a giant flying beast that is pretty much indescribable and is basically all of the peoples of Spira’s wrong doings, or sins, personified.
The story will throw curve balls at you whenever it can get the chance and hit you very hard with some of them. I remember multiple times that my jaw dropped my first time through. Many of the characters even have a pretty good back story. Kimahri (Blue Mage/Lancer) is a Ronso (almost like a beastman) that was shamed and left his tribe on Mount Gagazet, Yuna is the daughter of the last Summoner to defeat Sin (oh yeah, it always comes back) and Lulu (Black Mage) is an old friend of Yuna’s who treats her like a sister. Wakka is like your archer but he fights with a ball instead of bow and he is the captain of a horrible blitzball team. Auron is your powerhouse warrior that has watched over Tidus since he was young but also played a much larger role in the world. Rikku is your thief and she is an Al Bhed that saves Tidus at the start of the game and is also trying to stop the summoners from completing their pilgrimage.
Each character has very unique abilites and skills. Rikku is tooled more for speedy actions but is not a real powerhouse, Auron can take down many things in his path as long as they’re not fast, and Wakka can take down fliers with ease. Tidus is quick with moderate damage and can take down enemies like wild dogs and lizards fast as hell. Lulu is pretty self explanatory and Kimahri can absorb monster’s abilities to use against them. While Yuna is an awesome summoner, she can also double as a pretty badass white mage for your group.
The most interesting thing with this game is the leveling system. Gone are the classic level ups, now you gain Sphere Levels for use with the Sphere Grid. The sphere grid is a giant, you guessed it, grid that is littered with nodes that are activated to increase your Strength, Magic, etc and also teach you new skills and magics. The most interesting thing about the grid is that it is used by all the characters and doesn’t really make you take any specific path. The game leads you on a path at first but then basically says do what you want. Most characters are locked to their paths via special Lvl Lock nodes but the crystals to activate them are somewhat easy to get. This means that you could end up having your characters double or triple up on what jobs they can do, although they will always be the best at their intended class. Eventually, if you work hard enough, you can have everyone be able to do everything other than summon.
The battle system is hands down one of my favorites for the series. The game uses what they call a “Conditional Turn-based Battle System,” or CTB for short. Time only passes when commands are used and your turn order is displayed on the right. Depending on what command you use (even down to which skill if you use one) the turn order of the battle will change. This means if you are not careful you could end up having 3 enemies with like 6 attacks in a row or if you are strategic, having your 3 party members destroying them in that way. You are also able to switch out any living characters whenever it is their turn. Say Tidus is badly injured, pull in Yuna by switching out a different character and heal him. You can also go the other way and just switch him out for another fighter. There are also Overdrives which charge in different ways (you can set how they charge in the menu). Overdrives are similar to Final Fantasy VII’s Limit Breaks as in they are very powerful attacks that can turn the tides of battle. Every time you execute an overdrive, however, you must follow the on screen prompts to successfully use it, almost like a quick time event.
A very neat and helpful addition to the game is the ability to customize your weapons and armor. Each weapon and piece of armor has a certain amount of open slots for customization. Say you want a weapon that has Sensor (allows you to see enemy info), Strength+10 and Deathstrike, you can make it as long as you have the correct items in your inventory. This comes in handy as you can imagine since you don’t have to rely on shops to have specific weapons other than for bases to customize.
Blitzball is my least favorite part of the game. It is most easily described as soccer mixed with football in a giant pool. Honestly, it would have been a great part of the game if it hadn’t been so damn hard to control. On top of the awful controls, unless you somehow become an amazing BB player, the AI is incredibly tough and completely unforgiving.
One of the biggest and funnest side quests in FFX is the Monster Arena. Once you unlock the arena, you can obtain weapons that have the skill Capture. This means, whenever you kill a monster it is sent back to the arena to be fought infinitely. Your goal is to capture every monster in Spira. That’s not all as whenever you collect all the monsters in an area(s) you unlock an Original monster. The original monsters aren’t too awfully hard at first but once you get into the higher tier monsters they can really give you a run for your money, even with a maxed out party.
Graphically speaking, this game is absolutely gorgeous. The characters movements are generally very fluid and the facial expressions work great to drive in the emotions, though sometimes they do fail slightly and look silly. The cutscenes are, to this day, some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen and are virtually flawless.
The games soundtrack is definitely notable as Nobuo Uematsu did an amazing job yet again. The battle theme is very memorable and “Suteki Da Ne” and “To Zanarkand” are beautiful songs that will be with you for life. Final Fantasy X’s soundtrack is hands down my favorite in the series so far. Another great thing to note is that this is the first time in the series that characters had voice acting.
Final Fantasy X was Square’s first step onto the Playstation 2 and the hardware that could do more than the Playstation 1 could ever hope to. That power wasn’t taken lightly either; the game is a beautiful journey that will keep you engaged at every turn. Whether it is the stellar graphics that reel you in, the exciting changes to the Final Fantasy battle system, or the great story, Final Fantasy X will stay in your memories forever.
- Engaging story with memorable characters
- Beautiful graphics
- The CTB battle system is fantastic
- Blitzball is annoyingly difficult
- Facial expressions can look a little silly at time