Final Fantasy X
PlayStation 2
Reviewed: 12/12/2002

Console role playing games have been around a long time, but didn’t technology didn’t play a huge part in them until long after their beginning.

From the early/mid 80’s till the mid 90’s, console games in general made slow progress in their graphical evolution (not that graphics are any indication of quality–they aren’t), nor were there an overabundance of truly enthralling stories, save some elite titles. But from about ’95 on, the RPG genre has taken off as much as any other, and Final Fantasy X is a shining example of their tremendous progress.

The 10th addition to this prestigious series innovates in many ways, and uses more PS2 power than a good number of games before it, with its jaw-dropping effects and full voice acting. Final Fantasy has almost always been a go-to series to visually lead the RPG genre, but even the most avid fans could not have been expecting the awesome visuals brought forth in this game. Additionally, full voice acting was a series first, and it was done quite well. Tidus’s non-narrating voice can sound overly whiney sometimes, but the others are pretty good.

One giant flaw holds this game back — and boy do I hate it: the linearity. For much of the game, there is little or no real exploration possible. And forget backtracking, as you’ll be halfway through the game before that becomes a thought. My eyes were delighted to see the vast areas of splendor, but I couldn’t choose where to go in them, as the dungeons were often just paths. The only exceptions were the Temples of Faith, which were nicely done. Still, backtracking wasn’t possible until way too late in the game.

The world map makes a rather delayed appearance, on top of its overall weakness. I don’t know about you, but I hold exploring the overworld an engaging and important part of Final Fantasy games. Few such pure-and-simple things in FF’s 6 through 9 invoked a more powerful feeling than running across the world map and listening to each game’s main theme. That was an awesome experience in those games, but it’s been taken away in FFX.

But shaking off those flaws, FFX does deliver a worthwhile experience. The game’s story is pleasing (though not quite up with some previous games) with an excellent ending to boot, and the battle system is unique enough to keep the player quite involved in this one till the very end. The sphere grid seems to be a gimmicky growth system for the first few hours, but once you really get it to open up, there’s a lot of customization that becomes available. FFX gets pretty addictive in that regard, since the sphere grid can make leveling entirely too fun.

There’s a lot different in this game than previous Final Fantasy titles. Maybe this was to be expected, since X represents the series’ transition to a new generation. Some things do kind of disappoint, but the game is great in other ways. The aforementioned good battle system, as well as the enjoyable cast, marvelous graphics, and cool growth system all work in its favor. If you’re ready for a different kind of Final Fantasy, check out FFX.

-Heath Hindman

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Good
Story Great
Graphics Legendary
Sound/Music Excellent
Replay Value Below Average
The Verdict: Great