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Final Fantasy X
Platform: PlayStation 2
Publisher: Square Electronic Arts L.L.C
Developer: Square Co. Ltd.
Style(s): Third-Person 3D RPG
Synopsis: Square's acclaimed role-playing series makes its PlayStation 2 debut with Final Fantasy X. Players assume the role of Tidus, an athletic teenager who witnessed the destruction of his home city by an evil entity named Sin. While his life was spared, Tidus' contact with Sin opened a portal through time. Some 1,000 years have passed since the encounter, and Tidus now finds himself in a strange land with unfamiliar faces. As Tidus struggles to find a way back home, he will meet a variety of characters, including Yuna, a girl faced with the daunting task of defeating Sin. Final Fantasy X features a number of new features over previous installments. Backgrounds and characters are rendered entirely in 3D, with real-time facial expressions visible on each character. When characters are surprised, for example, they will raise their eyebrows or open their mouths in astonishment. For the first time in the series, dialogue has been recorded using professional voice actors. The U.S. version features voices in English, with optional English subtitles selectable from the menu screen. Refinements to the combat system include character-specific skills and abilities as well as the option to swap characters at any time during battle. While previous games involved playing with only three characters at a time, players can now manage a party by selecting three to fight and making substitutions as the battle wears on. This is possible through a turn-based system, allowing players to make decisions before initiating a move. As in the earlier games, players can use items, perform special attacks, cast magic, or summon powerful creatures to assist them. A popular mainstay in the Final Fantasy series is the inclusion of mini-games. Final Fantasy X features Chocobo Riding, where players guide the bird-like chocobos through a series of training courses, and Blitzball, an underwater sporting event. Blitzball pits two teams of four players against each other as they attempt to score points by throwing a ball past the goalie. The action is primarily turn-based, where ability points determine the accuracy of passes, shots, and tackles. By competing in tournaments, players can earn experience and prizes for their characters. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Package Contents: Registration Card
The color manual is short, but all of the main aspects of gameplay are explained in a clear manner. In-game tutorials flush out some of the more confusing elements, but it would have been nice to learn everything directly from the manual. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Those who have played Final Fantasy VIII will recognize the same style of artwork from designer Tetsuya Nomura. The characters are more realistic than those found in Final Fantasy IX, and their facial expressions convey true emotion. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Square's penchant for cinematic storytelling reaches a new pinnacle with Final Fantasy X, the first game in the series to benefit from the power of a 128-bit system. The result is the most visually impressive role-playing game yet released, with meticulous character models offering dynamic facial expressions and breathtaking cut-scenes seamlessly integrated into gameplay. While the graphics are the first notable improvement, the sound has also benefited from the hardware. All of the primary characters now feature voices, with or without English subtitles, re-recorded specifically for the U.S. market. Hearing a laugh after seeing the character's eyes light up is far more rewarding than just reading text. Characters also talk to each other during battle sequences, adding even more personality to the game. You begin to care for these characters because they seem real. A number of enhancements to the battle engine offer more strategy than past iterations. Instead of being locked into using only three characters in a battle, players can swap members in and out at any time (as if they were being tagged in a wrestling match). The shift from the real-time Active Battle System to a traditional turn-based format facilitates more thoughtful planning in combat instead of encouraging fast reflexes. Another benefit to the turned-based format is enemy movement. In an early underwater sequence, for example, a giant squid will retreat behind a structure before attacking again. Players can decide to replenish lost hit points by resting or to swim over and sandwich the creature from both sides. Each character also has distinct abilities that make battles more interesting. Lose Yuna, for example, and you'll lose the power to summon creatures to fight on your behalf. The summoned creatures, referred to as aeons in this game, are equivalent to the Guardian Forces in Final Fantasy VII and VIII. As in previous versions, the act of calling forth these creatures is one of the most arresting sequences in the game, with creatures bursting through the ground or emerging from the heavens in a dazzling display of swirling colors and bright light. Players can reduce the amount of time it takes to view the aeons if it becomes too repetitive. Overdrive attacks are another battle feature, which are patterned after Limit Breaks found in Final Fantasy VII and VIII. Whenever characters or summoned creatures perform specific tasks, their Overdrive meter fills up. Once charged, a powerful attack can be unleashed unique to the character performing it. Strategy comes into play when deciding how the Overdrives are charged. Healers can charge the meter by restoring hit points, for example, while stronger characters can have it charged by causing damage. Fighting battles in Final Fantasy X earns players Ability Points instead of experience. There is no "leveling-up" in the game, not in the traditional sense, as points are spent on developing skills and attributes. One of the first skills Tidus learns is Cheer, for example, which raises his party's strength and defense in battle. Finding various orbs and then using them on a Sphere Grid, selectable from the menu screen, can improve areas such as strength, defense, evasion, and mana. The Sphere Grid looks like a highly complex network of circles spanning several screens in length, but it actually makes sense as the game progresses. Players can decide on specific abilities to increase by choosing certain paths of interconnected nodes. By deciding which spheres to use, players can help mold the character to become proficient in the skills they feel most comfortable with. Each character has his or her own set of distinct skills, so finding a balance becomes important as the game progresses. While the battle system has improved for the better, traditional role-playing gamers won't enjoy the linear nature of gameplay. There's not much exploring to do in Final Fantasy X, as players are led from point A to point B with a mixture of random and boss encounters fought along the way. Conversations offer no legitimate choices to make and players must all follow the same path to win the game. This is the price for a having such an intricate story. Final Fantasy X offers a compelling drama, beautiful graphics, and voice acting that stirs the emotions. Battles are more interactive this time around and require some strategy instead of mindlessly pressing the attack button and waiting for the result. The inability to create characters, make meaningful decisions, and explore vast landscapes will turn off computer players, but loyal fans and newcomers alike will thoroughly enjoy what is the most polished game in the series since its 1997 PlayStation debut. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
A few side-quests present themselves as mini-games, including Blitzball, a version of water polo played completely under water. Unfortunately, Blitzball is boring, as players guide their team in a turn-based fashion instead of controlling the action themselves. While the replay value is hurt by the linear storyline, the graphics are so engaging that some will want to experience it all over again. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
The soundtrack covers a wide range of musical styles, and the voice acting is generally top-notch. Lead character Tidus has a tendency to whine a bit during the game, but it's no worse than a certain someone from a galaxy far, far away. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Those who would rather create a story by their own actions instead of following a scripted one should pass on Final Fantasy X. Everyone else will be pleased. While the game is slow-moving through the first five hours of play, it picks up steam once you meet up with your party. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
the game requires Joystick/Gamepad.