Saturday, 12 November 2011

Final Fantasy X - The main review

(Yes, I know this has taken me over a year to finish)

The year is 2003. A teenage Scias sits with his family on Christmas day, his hands clasped together with boyish excitement as he unwraps his brand new Playstation 2. Only one thing could improve this day - the latest instalment in his favourite console RPG series. Final Fantasy X. As he gazed upon it in all it's glory, he had no idea how he could possibly not enjoy the game. He ran upstairs, his eyes almost watering with excitement, plugging the new console into the television in his bedroom as fast as he could. His hands shook with joy as he inserted the disk and started a new game - not even pausing to watch the intro cut-scene, lest it spoil some element of the plot. And then, he heard it. He heard the line that forever change his life for the worse. The line that would haunt his dreams not only to this day but likely for the rest of his life.

Listen to my story...

"Listen to my story..." The opening line of the game. Said in Tidus' big boy voice. You see, throughout the game, Tidus narrates what's happening in an irritating attempt at trying to sound like the same character but older and wiser (Though, in reality just coming off even more smug and whiny) and, my god, is it irritating. Not only is it irritating, it also adds to the weakness of the game's exposition. Do we really need Tidus to explain everything that's just happened? I mean, we just fucking saw it, do we really need someone to then explain it? Jeez, Square really think the plot is a lot more complicated than it really is. Unfortunately, the time of Final Fantasy games weaving their exposition into the gameplay and story is now gone and Square have resorted to the "I'M NEW IN UR WRLD LOL" method of exposition. This method involves throwing a character into your setting who is completely pointless and the story would happen without him and, in this case at least, probably be a better story, to avoid having to make any effort in telling the tale of the world. Instead of allowing us the ability to find out about the world around us, Tidus say "WATS DAT??" and we're given a few minutes of dialogue explaining said aspect of the world of Spira.

My biggest problem with this game and "reviewing" it is that I don't even know where to start. The best thing to do would be to talk about what's good in the game because, I'll be honest, it won't take long. Final Fantasy X is a large game. A very large game that was released in a time where games were ever shrinking in size to the point we're at today where a 4 hour game is seen by publishers to be an acceptable £44.99-full-price retail release. I see this as a good thing - I love long, detailed games and, for all it's flaws, Final Fantasy X is a very long and extremely detailed, intricate game and had certain aspects of the story and some characters been different or removed and a Japanese dub option (Or just better voice acting) available in the western release, it could have been a great game.

The gameplay in Final Fantasy X is, for the most part, pretty damn good. The combat system is turn-based - a nice departure from the real-time systems used in almost the entire series previously and is done very well - I actually did really enjoy my time grinding experience to take on the game's higher difficulty optional bosses, just because the combat system is done so very well. Some other aspects of the gameplay - Blitzball and the other mini-games - have been criticised by other internet reviewers because they were seen as unnecessary, tedious and ridiculous and, to an extent, I'd agree with this. However, I have to hold my hand up and say when I first played through Final Fantasy X, Blitzball was by far the thing I enjoyed most outside of the battle system. I had a lot of fun exploring and finding new Blitzball players for my team and so on and Blitzball is probably what drove me to keep playing a game that had so many things I hated about it. Despite that, I can understand the criticisms of that particular sub-quest but at the same time, it is a side-quest and there's not really anything forcing you to do it so I have very little to criticise it for, especially as I enjoyed it (At least, I enjoyed it more than the game's story or characters).

The production values, as you'd expect, are also very high. The game looks and sounds fantastic, even by today's standards, the game still looks pretty good compared to some things that are being released now with horribly rushed and basic visuals (Brink, anyone?). One criticism of the game's visuals that I have to mention is that things are animated extremely poorly and look very wooden and robotic throughout the game - this might be a technical limitation of the technology used to make the game but it does still subtract from otherwise very good visuals. The soundtrack in particular is very strong and the music does a great job of setting the mood in the right places - a far better job than the storyline and dialogue manages to do - and is probably the stand-out part of the game for me, I'll happily admit to owning the soundtrack.

That's basically all the good things I can think of now and.. in honesty, do you really need me to list the bad things again? Probably not. It also took me a long time to write this. I'd rather write my next review on something I love too.

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