Final Fantasy X, produced by Squaresoft, will be the first title to in the series to be released for the Playstation 2 computer entertainment system. Previous systems include Game Boy, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and the Playstation in which the stories were told. The entire series has sold over 35 million copies worldwide and has been acclaimed by critics and games for gameplay, graphics, sound and story. The Final Fantasy series has been generally considered the benchmark / milestone of the RPG genre.
In Game Graphics
The game pushes the Playstation 2’s graphics capabilities to the edge. The graphics of the game are absolutely incredible, exploding with colors and detail bringing the game to life. Each character is enriched with high-polygon, motion-captured movements designed by Tetsuya Nomura, revolutionizing the standards of lifelike realism. Voice-overs are featured for the first time in the series as they utilize the “Facial Motion System.” Characters mouths actually sync with the dialogue spoken. The environments are so detailed, weather effects, fogging effects, debris from destroyed vehicles, and more play a crucial role in developing the general atmosphere of the game.
Full Motion Video
For those of you not using an S-Video cable, I believe its time to invest in one. The CG in the game is breathtaking. I mean literally breathtaking. Very first thing you’ll notice is how bright with colors each scene is filled with. The CG was directed by Hiroshi Kuwabara with past credits including movie and character direction for Final Fantasy VIII and movie director for Final Fantasy IX. Square has become known for their FMV’s due to the work of Kuwabara. The blitzball stadium FMV’s have some of the most incredible water effects. In one scene (minor spoiler) the stadium is filled with water before the game begins, looking through the water that’s already filled in the stadium, you can see the background slightly with the bending effects of water as one would see when looking into a swimming pool. Details in particle physics are accurate, for example a “real” flame at the end of the torch. The character effects are also quite astonishing. Expressions of characters are so detailed that you can “feel” the emotion of the character like that of a real person. In one scene Tidus expresses anger and from the FMV you can feel the intensity of his anger due to the detailed facial expressions. Scenes are filled with drama and action in which I do not want to spoil. Overall the FMV is once again groundbreaking, setting the benchmark of games to come. You have to see it understand where I’m coming from.
The admirable Nobuo Uematsu does it again, composing an epic score bringing the story of Final Fantasy X to life. He has been responsible for the sweeping, epic scores in the Final Fantasy series, spawning a successful line of soundtracks, as well as solo projects. Eiji Nakamura the Supervising Sound Editor for Final Fantasy X include past credits for the Final Fantasy series and Chrono Trigger. He is responsible for the sound effects of the game, such as the sound of walking or a sword clashing with another sword. The theme combined with the sound effects brings us that much closer to the emotion of the story. Final Fantasy X remains loyal to the series, in that the end of a battle still has the bits of the original victory fanfare and that the ending theme still contains the original theme of Final Fantasy in which the series began. To those that have played the entire series, the ending theme brings tears to gamers as they are so mesmerized by the nostalgic effect.
Evolution of gameplay, not demeaning storyline, is one of the most important factors in the sequel of a game. Final Fantasy X has changed a bit from its predecessors starting from the change in the map system. No longer are you just roaming aimlessly on a large map trying to figure out where the game goes. Rather the game now puts you in a somewhat linear path which gears you to spend hours and hours immersed in the story rather than hours and hours searching for the next part of the story. The battle system has changed a bit in the sense of strategy. There isn’t any guessing anymore to which member will attack next, a column on the right side of the screen keeps the gamer informed of the change of attacking order from spell casters and bonus effects. This gives the gamer the ability to actually participate on the outcome of a battle more closely. Development of the characters are based on a “Sphere Grid” in which the direction that you decide to develop the character can be changed to your liking. For example a mage can actually become an efficient physical attacker. The Sphere Grid basically allows characters to obtain the attributes of the other characters in your party. Tag Team in a battle allows a party member to switch with another party member in the heat of battle so you don’t have to rely on proper allocation of party members as much during the game, again giving the player to chance to focus on strategy of battle then, “who should I put in my party before the battle begins.” The addition of Blitzball, a minigame accessible at savepoints, gives games a chance to earn bonuses in the game. Aeons (esper/guardian force) are summoned into battle to take the heat off the party and can be issued commands like any other characters. The numerous new features and evolutions gives this game the edge on its predecessors.
The replay value of most RPGs are usually pretty low, but the numerous things you can do in Final Fantasy X, such as blitzball gives the replay value of an RPG a whole new prespective. The fact the game travels on a more linear fashion brings up the possibility of “missing” some items and side stories. Playing the game at least one more time thoroughly becomes a must as you will want to go back and talk to everyone and find everything in a game so well done. “Can’t resist the theme…. Must hear it again!”
The translation from JAP to US was admirable, but I must admit to the gamers, the Japanese voices were so much better. Wakka’s character was completely changed when h is voice went from a low - strong voiced person to a surfin beach guy. Yuna’s lost of emotion was a bit disturbing to me. Yuna sounded like she was on some depressants half the time. Overall the game’s general atmosphere remains true to the original JAP version. The text translations are also 95% accurate. Overall, great job..
The game is the benchmark for RPG’s to come. Square’s unique story telling ability and their magic to completely immerse us into a world of fantasy and awe gives this game the power to bring a grown man to tears and a crazed gamer to fall in love.