SummaryA fun, beautiful, exciting slap in the face of the "real-time only" game religion
The GoodI loved the fact that, despite the then-prevailing trend to make RPG combat a twitch-fest, the combat is turn-based with interesting tactical choices. I loved that you could switch team members during each fight so that everybody got experience - one of the bad traditions of console RPGs is presenting you a palette of interesting playable characters but forcing you to concentrate on only a subset. The "grid" for character development was original and interesting, but very confusing at first. The subgame was interesting but optional, both as it should be. The graphics were very pretty, the storyline interesting (if as predictable and over-foreshadowed as always in console RPGs).
The BadLike the other FF games (and really, nearly all console RPGs), the plot is too linear and you are more-or-less forced to follow a specific path. The only choices of path involve whether to pursue optional side-quests that become available late in the game.
The story is not in the league of Grandia or Breath of Fire III, but nor is it as unsubtle and formulaic as most of the genre.
The Blitzball subgame is an interesting idea; in actuality it's basically a soccer game, which fails to live up to the interesting 3D game it's supposed to represent. OTOH, a good interface and implementation of that 3D game would be hard to learn and use, and occupy way too much space for a subgame.
The Bottom LineOne of the best console RPGs I've ever played, ranking right after the classic Grandia mostly because there are no surprises in the story, and because while there are at least as many meaningful character development decisions, they only become available very late in the game. Most of its flaws are common to the genre, and it's a lot of fun.