Cidolfas's RPG Reviews: Final Fantasy X (PS2)
You Are: Tidus, a blitzball player from Zanarkand, questing with a young summoner named Yuna, and her other guardians.
Your Goal Is: To try to get back home, essentially.
General System: Good old RPG style. It's 3D, but with a fixed camera. There's no world map, which makes for a more realistic world. Also, save spheres refill all your HP and MP. (You can also play a blitzball mini-game at them.) Characters don't "level up" normally, but each character is placed on a big Sphere Grid. You raise Sphere Levels by gaining AP from winning battles, and you can move around the grid activating nodes that raise stats and teach abilities. Later, there are special spheres that let you teleport around or activate remote nodes.
You can customize your equipment in the game, which is kinda neat; except that really good abilities require incredibly rare items. Also, there's no way to turn abilities back into items and free up slots on equipment. You can also teach abilities to Yuna's Aeons (summons) by using items; you can raise their stats similarly.
Each character has an "Overdrive gauge" (read: Limit Gauge) which lets them do something cool in battle. The way the gauge fills depends on your overdrive mode (e.g. every time you take damage, or attack, or heal, etc.). You learn more modes as you battle (e.g. if you heal a lot, you'll learn the Healer mode).
Battle System: Throwing away the hallowed ATB system, battles are more similar to FFT. Each move you do takes a specific amount of "recover time" and changes the order of moves. You can also replace characters instantaneously in battle. (In fact, if you want all characters to raise sphere levels after a battle, they'll each have to take at least one action.) You can "Overkill" enemies by hitting them really hard for a final blow, resulting in more AP and items.
Summons are treated differently this time round; when Yuna summons an Aeon, it replaces your party and you get to fight as it. It has various abilities (some specific to it). It's also immune to (almost) all statuses and has all Overdrive modes activated at once.
Graphics: Really nice. The characters' expressions are variable (sometimes really fake, sometimes really good). The environs are really detailed, and overall it's quite immersive.
Music: A lot better than some of the recent FF offerings. There's a few great tunes, and most of the rest are quite tolerable.
Story: Deep and very interesting. There are some big plot twists, and the introduction of voice acting really lends a whole other dimension to the characters. These aren't 2D stereotypes, they're real people, many of them with real faults. Yes, Tidus is a shrill, annoying teen, but don't you know a bunch of people just like him? 8-) Yuna's voice acting really got on my nerves, though. Wakka's probably my favorite.
Challenge: Easy/Medium or Very Hard (depending if you want to beat all the optional battles)
Length: About 40 hours, or WAY more than that if you want to do all the side stuff
My Thoughts: This is a very enjoyable game. I can't say that I like the characters as much as some of the other games I've played (FF9!), but they're nice enough to keep you interested and not get bored. Battles are interesting (each character really does have something specific to offer to battles). However, most of the side quests are just really tedious and/or ridiculously difficult. I'm on my fourth playthrough and I'm still having fun. 8-)
Overall Rating: 8.0/10