Final Fantasy X, Square (2001) PlayStation 2

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final-fantasy-x-front-cover

Final Fantasy X is one of the Final Fantasies that people tend to say is “the best”, everybody has a preference (my current is still FFVI), Reddit seems to favour XII, but X is one of the ones that is usually in the running. FFX also currently has a metacritic score of 92.

So apologies for the longer than usual post.

Story

Tidus is a star Blitzball player for the Zanarkand Abes, during a match, a giant fish lizard (Sin) turns up and destroys the city. Tidus wakes up 1000 years in the future and forms an alliance with a rag tag group of allies to take on Sin.

I like the story, and I am purposefully glossing over stuff, but the story is clear. There are no stupid twists, and the motivations are clear for each character.

OK, one of the twists is pretty terrible/stupid.

He couldn't possibly be a bad guy...

He couldn’t possibly be a bad guy…

Gameplay

I say this every FF review: Played an FF? You know what to expect.

Open World, random encounters, good story, turn based action, and, for the most part, a class system for your characters.

The thing that separates FFX from the earlier games is the live party swapping in battles, and the “Conditional Turn-Based Battle system“.  It means time pauses while your are making your move, and you get a visual representation of the move order.

Yuna's turn, then the monster, then Wakka

Yuna’s turn, then the monster, then Wakka

I’ll be honest, it took my 30 hours of playing the game to realise that the bar in the top corner meant the move order.

Returning are the “Limit Break” super moves. When you take damage, your “Overdrive” bar fills up, when it is full, you unleash a powerful attack. Later in the game you can change how this bar fills, and this does add a lot of depth and tactics to battles.

Learning the Overdrive nuances is critical for the end-game…

Summons

Because this is a Final Fantasy game, summons also return. This time, they are named Aeons, and only summoners can summon. Meaning you can’t equip a tonne of summons to everybody and steamroll. Instead, Yuna steamrolls. Aeons effectively work as Pokemon in FFX, you can have summoner battles, where you Pokemon dual the other summon, using magic/attacks/special moves, all while building up the Aeon overdrive which allows you to pull of the typical “summon attack” ie, Diamond Dust by Shiva.

Or, more commonly, your summon stands in front taking the damage against standard fiends, and dealing out PAIN in return!

When I unlocked Bahamut he was doing 12,000-20,000 damage for a move, at this point in the game Auron was only doing 6000ish. Once levelled, and Celestial Weaponed, they will max out at 99,999 damage. Anima does around 40,000 at point of unlock, so your summons are awesome.

The main downside to the main game is it is VERY linear, you have your hand held until you FINALLY get to Sin. At pretty much every other point in the game you are prevented from backtracking even a little.

There is no overworld map in the traditional sense, so while each section is 3D rendered, the world feels much smaller than any of the other Final Fantasy games I have played; including I and II. The world map is replaced by an actual map, and then a holo-projector thing on the airship.

The only large expanse is the Calm Lands, which is a little like running on a world map.

Characters

There is a small roster in FFX, but since you can swap party members out during battle, I found 7 was just about right. Any more would have been too onerous, so while 7 is fairly small roster, it is just right for the fight mechanics chosen.

ffx-cast

Tidus Douche, I don’t like Tidus. He is a whiney little gimp with daddy issues, even during the climactic sequences he sounds like a whiney teenager whose dad won’t buy him a new car. He is thankfully balanced out by Yuna though. He was fairly useless in my party until I got Celestial Weapons, where he became the primary damage dealer.

Yuna, is the driving force of the story, everybody else is just tagging a long for various reasons. Yuna is your White Magic mage, so is the healer/summoner, and while she has some pretty big issues to deal with (dead family, impending doom, fighting the fish lizard), she always tries to remain upbeat. She counters the almost oppressively whiney douchebaggery of Tidus very well. I like Yuna.

Lulu, met an angry goth chick? That is Lulu, grumpy, and fairly uninteresting. She is the Black Magic practitioner, so she is the one doing useful offensive magic for the first 40 hours of the game. Her “deep” backstory is a few people she loves have died, and it makes her a bit of a prick. FYI, this is a planet (Spira) with a giant fish lizard going round destroying cities and armies.

Wakka, has a cowlick hair cut, I also say “Waka Waka” (Fozzy Bear) every time he speaks. His attack, is… is… He throws a Blitz beachball at the enemy. He is a bit dim, and unquestioningly follows the Yevon religion. He is also VERY racist against the Al Bheds. He is alright though.

Auron, IS AWESOME. When you get him, he pretty much single handily wins the battles for you. This is until you get the Celestial Weapons, where everybody overtakes him in damage (he needs low hp to do more damage, everyone else is better with full health).

Kimahri, he tends to be the one people think is useless, but I followed Auron on the Sphere Grid, so he was my 2nd best damage dealer. He fulfills the Blue Magic role, and uses Enemy Skills as his Overdrive. He doesn’t add much storywise, other than being sent to protect Yuna, and having his horn broken. But overall, he was useful in a fight.

Kooky Rikku, is the QUIRKY one, and while everybody in my party was doing 9999 damage (with capture weapons) she was hovering around 1000. She was useless, and is a thief. So she is the one who does the mug/steal stuff in battle. She is Al Bhed, so Wakka is racist towards her. She eventually becomes one of your primary damage dealers VERY late in the game.

Other than Yuna, there isn’t a particular stand out character, however, they do work really well as an ensemble cast, and they do all work well in combination of each other.

Maester Seymour, looks like a cross between Kuja (IX) and Sephiroth (VII). Has a massive scar on his forehead. Is so obviously evil it isn’t a spoiler to say, he is chief antagonist when fish lizard isn’t around.

Jecht, douches dad. Is an absolute arsehole. The brief glimpses you get through Auron sphere attempt to paint him in a better light. But you can see why Douche is so down on him, and this explains alot of Tidus’ whinyness.

Sin, fish lizard.

Sphere Grid

The leveling system is COMPLEX. You don’t gain levels in the traditional sense, you gain moves on the Sphere Grid. Each character has an optimum path to follow, but for end game, you are required to fill pretty much the entire thing for every character, which, at a stab is the equivalent of leveling to around level 300 in FFVI-IX.

Expert_sphere_grid

Click for larger version

For Lulu and Yuna, I could figure out where their endgame was. Head towards the -aga magics and Flare/Holy/Ultima type spells.

For the others I just pottered around. Auron went for his breaks, Kimhari followed. Douche, just went where ever I wanted, and only later did I teleport him to follow Kimhari once Auron branched off.

Rikku was useless and went after theify stuff.

Wakka I followed his path, but got bored and sent him down Auron/Kimarhi route.

You can send people whichever way you want, but this does require “Key Spheres” to unblock paths, and early on, key spheres are rare as rocking horse shit.

The characters start out with a traditional character role/job, but as you level, you are allowed to make everybody into a homogeneous do all character, except for certain key skills (basically the overdrives/summons).

This allows for great customisation mid-to-late game, but if you attempt it early game you’re pretty screwed. The option is there to do it, but as your base stats will suck too much to make Lulu a tank, or Auron the flouncey Mage he dreamed of, changing Sphere Path isn’t a viable option until MUCH later in the game.

You can choose an easy version of the sphere grid when you start, but I advise you choose the advanced mode, and get a guide.

Music

The music took me a while to get into, however, I have listened to Suteki Da Ne 27 times in the last 24 hours. And overall, it is a fairly solid soundtrack. Other than Suteki Da Ne, I don’t think there are any particular standout tracks, but overall it is a strong backing soundtrack.

I quite like the Hymm of the Fayth, and Zanarkand is OK. The battle music is more subtle than previous games, meaning it drills into your brain less than others…

I also love the metal like song that plays during the first Blitzball match, and the 1st final boss fight. It isn’t as epic as Dancing Mad, or One Winged Angel, but is pretty cool, and different to the norm.

Blitzball

BB is the main minigame this time around, and… I really don’t like it.

The first 2-3 matches, you might lose. Especially if two of those are against the Guado or Al Bhed teams. After that? I won 40 matches in a row. After 5/6 matches it stopped being a challenge, and most matches were ending up 4/5-0.

I tended to pass to one of my defenders, and just sit in my net waiting for the time to be up, and, that is a problem.

This is exacerbated by the fact you need to play around 40 games to unlock Wakka’s Celestial Weapon, the Sigil, the Crest, and his Overdrives are all tied to Blitzball. So, if you’re planning an endgame run, expect around 8 hours of solid Blitzball playing. I would rather laugh into the sea than play any more Blitzball.

Stolen from thewellredmage

A terrible moment in voiceacting history. Stolen from thewellredmage

Endgame

Endgame could be summed up as “grind on top of grind”.

Celestial Weapons, each character gets an ultimate weapon, and these are called celestial weapons. When you get the weapon, it is a bit useless, and only contains a “No AP” buff. To power it up, you need to do a series of things. The crests, are usually found in easily accessible treasure chests. But the sigils… Christ:

  • Tidus. The Sigil is fairly easy to get, 10 minutes or so doing Chocobo sidequests.
  • Yuna, The Sigil is easy to get. But you need to have all the Aeons, and then beat them in Pokemon battle. Takes a few hours, but is a fun distraction.
  • Wakka, play around 40 Blitzball matches. Have to unlock all your overdrives (BB Prizes for league and cup wins), then win Sigil from more BB. This takes too long, and should have been halved. As mentioned, you’re looking at 8 hours minimum of BB to get this.
  • Lulu, you have to dodge 200 lightning strikes in the Thunder Plains. This took me about 3 hours. I would  do 20-25 dodges, write it down, pause, take a 10 minute break, come back and repeat. This was pointlessly long. It isn’t difficult, it is just so mind numbingly dull, that you will fail a number of times because it takes so long for the lightning strikes. It requires constant screen watching and precision timing. This in long periods results in a bit of eye burn. Like BB, it should have been halved.
  • Auron, capture all fiends in 10 areas for the Monster Arena. Easy to do, but takes a few hours. Decent enough side quest at first.
  • Rikku, you have to do a fairly fun minigame capturing Cactuars. Only issue is, you have to do this 10 times. I felt 5 was the perfect amount, after that, it was a massive chore. With “No Encounter” equipped and a guide, this took 50 minutes of schlepping.
  • Kimahri, you have to do a butterfly collecting minigame. You have 30 seconds to catch 7 Blue Butterflies (twice). Hit a red, and you’ll lose time and have a fight. Hit one (red), and you’ll fail. I found this the most frustrating one, it is fairly hard, but it is hard because it is a little broken. The hit boxes for the butterflies takes getting used to. You need to hit the pixel they spawn on, not where they are. This is really annoying, as some have a fly around animation. It will take a lot of practice runs, and twitch reflexes. This took me 2 hours, and I had to change the TV I was playing on, as some of the red butterflies are utterly invisible on one of my TVs.

Monster Arena, starts out as a nice distraction, but again, it takes too much time to get anywhere. Capture all enemies from an area, you get to fight some ultra hard thing, capture a set number of a type of enemy, get a super hard version of that.  I put 30 hours into leveling up, and I reckon I would need another 20 to be able to make any serious progress into it. Probably 30+ more hours to get to Penance stage.

Omega Dungeon, I killed Omega and Ultimate Weapon in about 15 minutes combined. Including the dungeon. It was fun, but too easy. The step up from Omega to Dark Aeons is brutally unfair, worse than the difficulty spike in Shaolin Monks!

2016-03-27 18.25.47

DIE OMEGA, DIE!

Dark Aeons, you can go and fight ultra hard versions of your Aeons. I can beat the first. And that was by giving 3 million gil to Yojimbo to one-shot the it. You can do this to beat them all, but I feel that is cheating. But to be honest, I am not putting another 40 hours in grind to be able to beat them.

Penance, is the ultimate boss, and frankly is a joke. You need to complete the sphere grid, have the Celestials, and beat all the Dark Aeons. You then have a rather dull 40 minute fight, where Penance doesn’t actually do anything. He has a move that, because you have done the Sphere Grid, only does a 6000 damage move to you every 10 turns. It is REALLY boring getting there, and it isn’t an especially interesting fight, unlike the ones in VII, VIII and IX.

All of these features are nice, but they are too unaccessable. The amount of hours you are required to put in put this on a par with World of Warcraft grinding. At some point, you have to admit it isn’t fun.

Conclusions

If you bother to level up for attempting to do endgame stuff, it makes the final sections of the story too easy. I was 3-4 shotting the final forms of Seymour, and actually swapped to worse armour/weapons for the final set of fights.

The story, while well written, and coherent, is far too linear for me. Mixed in with overly tedious endgame, means I just didn’t enjoy FFX as much as I wanted to. The entire time playing I was waiting for the game to open up. When it did, I found the content to be way too grind heavy.

I beat all the other ultimate weapons in every other FF game around level 50. Having to grind to the equivalent of level 300 to beat a 45 minute boss isn’t my idea of fun.

So, is Final Fantasy X a good game?

Yes. Yes it is. But it is very flawed, it is better than 1/2/8.

Is it as good as my 3 current favourites, 6/7/9? No. I found it too much of a chore at times to warrant a really high score.

Pros: Good story, well balanced cast, Suteki Da Ne, Sphere Grid

Cons: Linear as hell, grind heavy, end game is a chore, Blitzball, final bosses fights, something about a dream .

82%

 

douche

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