After Megaman X we get... Final Fantasy X !
Well, it's Final Fantasy X. After having some very great experience with other Final Fantasy titles, I wanted to play this too. I buy my PS2 only for this game (I have a couple of other games now, but this is the main one). And yes, it was worth is.
Final Fantasy X is very innovative. Battle are no longer ATB, but CTB - That mean turn per turn system. Each attack consumes time, depend of the attack itself and of the speed of the characters. So a quick character's turn will come more often, like in ATB, but you have all your time to set your commands, like in the original turn per turn system.
This new system add a lot of strategy, and make the game more enjoyable. It works very great.
Also, the level up system is kinda particular. It take places on a sphere gird, and your character can move from sphere to sphere and activate them to rise their stats and learn new attacks. Each characters have its default sphere range, but can also overpass it with key spheres and overflow in the whole sphere gird. This system, while not the best system ever seen in the series, is great, and make levelup very addictive.
The overkill system was a particularly great innovation. When you kill a monster with a brutal hit (I don't know the exact requirements, but you have to use a weapon or spell that is it's weakness or do a critical hit), the icon "overkill" will appear, and you'll got more EXP and items after the battle. So you see the extra challenge that is to overkill bosses, that often leave rare items. One flaw is that you'll get more EXP from weaker monster that are easier to overkill, but often easier monsters doesn't give enough AP even when overkilled to compete again stronger monsters, so that doesn't ruin the game by allowing the player to rise its levels with weaker monsters.
Overall, the game is a lot about game play. It's not one of those RPGs with great story, great graphics and boring battles. It is FAR of it.
By the way, the story. It is definitely a bit below the average Final Fantasy plot, it is a bit too linear. But it is still interesting. Sin, an enormous monster, is attacking the town where Tidus lives. Then, he'll wake up at a totally different place. After a while, you'll be rescued by people that make you figure that you town was destroyed 1000 years ago, and that looks to have much more experiences with that Sin. They're all about praying a god called Yevon in the hope to banish Sin forever, but it doesn't really work. You have to travel to figure the truth out. Also, this is strongly related to aeons, the summons of FFX. I'll let you discover more in the game.
One thing that take a great place in FF10 is the graphics. Square did everything to use the PS2 are wisely as they could. While fighting, each character is so much detailed, they all have their own style, and so you'll never be bored to fight monsters again and again. The magical effects are also soo well done.
There isn't any longer difference between cutscenes and gameplay. Yes, there is a few pre-rendered cutscenes, but most cutscenes aren't prerendered, because they didn't need to, the graphics are detailed enough.
Now there isn't only pre-rendered background like in FF7-9, but a mix between real 3D environments (large maps) and pre-rendered background (small maps). This works pretty well, and thank to the 2D plan on the upper right corner, you won't get lost.
The characters are all dressed up very strangely. But when you grow used to it, you'll eventually love them. They even talk while fighting !
This leads me to another stuff, the acting. It is welcome, while battling to have voice of the characters. Yuna and most NPC have horrible acting. Tidus and Rikku, while okay, could be a lot better. Auron, Wakka, Kimari and Lulu got perfect acting. I think the acting of characters is better in Japanese, so I don't really care to evaluate the game, that is from Japan.
Another thing I liked is seeing the spirit of the monster leaving its body when defeated through some light spheres. You'll see those "spirit light spheres" (not sure it's their official name) very often through the game.
Overall, adding the fact that the save points are called "save spheres", and among the sphere gird, the game seems all about spheres (there is also spheres involved in puzzles you have to complete through the game). This is kind of strange.
FF10 have a wide choose of great music, especially the battle theme. I think it is one of the best battle theme over the whole FF series, it won't get on your nerves are battle themes did in older FFs.
However, for the first time in the FF series, there is also a wide choose of horrible music. Not only Nobuo Uematsu
(the traditional FF composer) did the music, but Junya Nakano
and Masashi Hamauzu
too (these already worked on Front Mission - Gun Hazard
). The last two did a couple of great songs and a lot of horrible song each, while the first tend to keep his good old traditional style (well, he did some bad stuff too).
The "Song of Prayer" (aka Hum of the Fayth) is quite amusing, it was a great idea to input a such song in a game, and let it take a place in the gameplay. (in the case of you doesn't know, this is a song related to aeons).
The game is pretty challenging. It isn't too hard, while it can get hot on some bosses. At the beginning, it will see really really easy (that is until you reach Mi'hen highroad). After that it will be hard, but not ridiculously. Any beginner in RPGs could beat the game without suffer its lack of overall experience. However, there is a lot of side-quests. I've heard half of the game is about side-quest, if you do them all. I completed the game with practically no side-quests myself, so don't be afraid, the game isn't that hard. But if you want challenge, you cannot miss this title. It has some optional bosses that looks really impossible to beat, killing your party in one single attack. You'll need a FAQ if you want to complete some of the side quests.
While FFX has so called great graphics, I still have something to complain about. When fighting huge enemies in dark places, the camera will zoom in order to see the whole enemy, and you characters becomes so small, and adding to the fact that the screen is dark, you won't recognize them, and you'll mess up in your commands. That flaw is *annoying*.
The pseudo hardrock "Otherworld" steamed theme you'll hear at the beginning and during the final battle incredibly suck. The "Big Boss theme" is also a bunch of pseudo hardrock, but with no melody, only distortion guitar and bass chords, it also suck. And the normal boss theme isn't really bad, but too "dramatic". While the music is great, the theme isn't really appropriated to a boss theme. Overall, there is some unforgivable things about the soundtrack, considering its from Square.
And yeah, the characters have "real time facial sentiment" when talking. It sure is enjoyable a lot to see the character look close to real when talking, but a simple small mistake and they look totally ridiculous, and this happen several times through the game, especially to Tidus. Look at the beginning when he first got his sword, or latter he's fed by Rikku. Doesn't he looks absolutely ridiculous ? (those are just example I had in mind).
Also, they will sometime move in a way that looks great, and then after repeating that exact movement 3 or 4 times, they'll appear ridiculous.
Such things doesn't happen in battles, but on the field. I'll never repeat this enough, in battle, the characters looks perfect in all their movements, and also on most cutscenes on-field, that it is a shame that a little number of them are somewhat wrong.
Oh, yeah. It will sometimes happen to you to die after one hour of more of leveling up, and that is quite frustrating. Unlike in the Dragon Warrior games, you cannot keep your experience and items with half of money, and unlike Final Fantasy 4-9, save points are quite rare (because, if they weren't rare, it would allow you to always restore your health and mana, and then the game will become too much easy). If you played the 3 first FF on the NES, you'll be used to that, because it pretty much the same story.
Fortunately, there is a save point right before almost every bosses, so you won't have to level up AND fight boss while not saving, as in the first 3 Final Fantasy games.
Finally, there is a last flaw. You'll way to often get weapons (or armors) after battle, and you'll have easily 30 weapons per characters, additionally you often got poor ones (or strong, but not interesting enough). The game allow you to modify your weapons to get your own effects, that is great, but each random encounter will frequently give you useless new weapons. They better give *more* rare items
allowing to improve items (that would become less rare).
Those small flaws apart, there isn't really anything bad about FFX. And I could write much much more into "the good", but that wouldn't be very useful, since other people already did it.
The Bottom Line
YES, it's great !
You won't found anything bad except the few lines above, and you'll found much more fun that what I can say in some lines in "the good". It was one more great RPG experience to play this to me, and the game has all it has to be interesting : Originality, innovation, traditional stuff from older FFs, side-quests, challenge, great graphics, great music, nice storyline... What do you want better, after all ?
Thank you, Square !!