Final Fantasy X‘s ending while excellent and very cinematic, left a lot of us wondering about Tidus’ fate. Yet, when I finished that game around two years ago, I felt that its ending had been a great one, and that as much as some people wanted a sequel, I was satisfied with FFX as it was. Yet, Square Enix, who after FFIX turned itself into a money over quality Company, decided that it would be profitable to make a sequel. And so, here we are with Final Fantasy X-2
I must mention that most of the key staff that worked on FFX, and in other FFs has gone missing. Uematsu’s score is no longer present. About the only thing that has not changed is Nomuras artwork and that is because game is still set on Spira and with the same set of main characters, with the notable exception of Paine.
Sakaguchi was not deeply involved in this game. I hear that FFXII will feature even less of the stellar staff that has made the past games so great. So its fitting to say, that maybe, FFX-2 signals the end of the Final Fantasy series that we have come to know, and love.
Graphically, FFX-2 does nothing to improve upon FFX. In fact, both games run in the same engine. So, if you played FFX, this game looks exactly the same. Some of the characters are animated slightly better, but that is about it. I dare say, I liked FFX more because at least it had more FMV cinemas, and they looked marginally better than they look now. Sometimes these cutscenes are on par with FFX’s but sometimes Yuna has an odd plastic look to her.
There are new areas to explore in FFX-2, but the graphic engine seems dated now after playing X for so long. I am still pissed about the fact that the game doesnt feature a free roaming camera. In case you havent played FFX, what you will find in FFX-2 are sharp textures, individual blades of grass in most areas where there is grass, and flat water with no ripples except in one of the forests that features some cool looking water effects. The character models still look better than characters in any other RPG on the market.
Music wise, there is not much to report. Suikoden III sounds better and FFX’s soundtrack kills this score easily. FFX-2 had only three memorable songs, and two of them have vocals in them.
Uematsu where are thou when you are needed? The only thing that saves this game from plummeting into average land in the sound department (a rare thing for a FF title) is the voice acting, with is good and plentiful. Returning actors actually do a much stronger job than they did in FFX. I think I was a little to hard on the music its just that Matsueda and Eguchi are a level below Uematsu and Mitsuda. I think Suikoden 3’s composer out performed the duo too.
Gameplay wise, is where FFX-2 greatly separates itself from its predecessor. There is no more Sphere grid to level up your characters. Instead, the party levels up as it was traditionally accustomed in previous entries, by gaining levels from EXP points gained after battle. What changes in the leveling up system is the introduction of Dresspheres. These are spheres used when they are equipped in a garment grid, which consequently must be equipped to a character. The Dresspheres can transform a character into different fighting classes like, Thief, Black Mage, White Mage, Dark Knight, Warrior, Gunner etc. These Dresspheres have different sets of skills that must be used in battle. The more you use a particular dressphere in battle, the more skills you will master in that dressphere with AP points.
When there are no more skills to master in a dressphere, that means that you have mastered the Dressphere. It is very important to master some of the most useful ones like the White Mage and the Dark Knight Dresspheres. You can change dresspheres while in battle or on the menu.
Of course, some of these dresspheres are handed to you, but if you want to get your hands on some of the best ones you will have to complete side missions and side quests. The battles are fought in the usual traditional style, except that now, when you choose a special attack or a spell, you have to wait an extra turn as another gauge fills up in order for the character to perform it. Since you only control a party of three gals, you obviously only have three characters available in each battle.
Exploration wise, the game does not feature the same linear pattern of FFX. Instead, you get an Airship straight from the get go, and you can go virtually anywhere by chosing from a menu with the different area names. However, I found it very useful to just travel to each location in each chapter in order from the top to the bottom. Of course you can skip all them and go into the “Hot spots” that are marked on the map (These are the spots where the crucial story moments happen), but if you do this you will miss on a ton of story material and useful accessories and Dresspheres. You will also – probably – be outclassed by some of the bosses if you dont take your time to go through the many side missions since they usually provide enemies to fight and level up with.
Did I mention chapters? Yes. The game is divided into 5 chapters. All are pretty much equal in length, and unfortunately, if you miss stuff in one chapter chances are you won’t be able to get to at chance at getting it right again when you get to chapter 5. So, I recommend that if you want to see at least 90% of the game, you visit every location in every chapter. Now, there also about three endings I have only seen one so I can’t speak much on that.
In my last review I praised Chrono Triggers New Game+ mode, and the irony in here is that FFX-2 features this convenient feature too, although it is not as useful here since you get to keep your items and Dresspheres, but your levels are reset to one. Oh well, you cant expect perfection from Square these days.
FFX-2 officially has the most sidequests and minigames in any FF to date, you even get to raise chocobos. It must be said that FFVII’s chocobo game remains vastly superior.
The mission based system is good, but it gets tedious and it gets in the way of a strong plot.
Ah yes! The plot. The reason every one who finished FFX will buy this game is the continuation of Tudus’ and Yuna’s story. The plot, however, is nothing short of disappointing. Do not get me wrong, the game’s story does a respectable job of illustrating Spira’s progress since the destruction of Sin. The game also features an intense amount of humorous moments, and has a Pop music feel.
Guys sporting flashy hair do’s, girls sporting tight jeans and wearing bikini tops are a common theme. This is the kind of world where everyone is cute and flashy. In other words, the game has a refreshing “cool” feel that seems to be missing in today’s American society, it is good to know that the Japanese are still cool, or at least that’s what the game wants you to think.
However, nice hair do’s and bikini clad chicks do not exactly a good storyline make. As stated before, the reason we bought this game is because we want to keep following Yuna and Tudus’ love story. Unfortunately, we are left with a love story that follows another couple.
Spoiler alert: We are forced to follow Shuyin and Leene’s story from a thousand years back, it seems like Shuyin wants to destroy Spira because Leene was lynched along with him by Yevonites 1000 years before Yuna’s time in the Machina war. This story, while mildly interesting does nothing to explain why in the hell Tidus awoke in the middle of nowhere at the end of FFX. In fact, there is almost no reference to Tidus in the game at all. Of course the story was good enough to keep me playing, however, only because I expected something interesting to happen, in which the real Tidus would appear, but he never did (I got the normal ending). So after 50 hours, you can imagine my disappointment when I realized that Tidus was not going to return. I must say I only saw the normal ending since there is 3. I missed the ‘Good one’.
However, having three endings is no justification, because with out a gameshark, or dozens of hours of play with a guide in hand you are not likely to see the Perfect ending.
In the end, FFX-2’s story felt like I was fixing the political world of Spira by completing missions, and at the same time clearing up the mystery of Shuyin who curiously looks just like Tidus. The game is just a shadow of what FFX was, and I still believe that FFX-2 was not necessary at all. Spoiler End.
The mission based system, I believe, interfered greatly with the fact that the plot seemed weak and pointless at times. So, to all of you who want freedom and an incredibly strong plot, I say this: It is difficult to do. When you split a game with three endings and let players tackle the story in any order, there is little control of what happens, and the writers can only do so much.
Maybe Square decided to change what was expected of the plot to surprise players. I would be lying if I said that I didnt like the game. It was entertaining while it lasted, and it is one of the better RPGs on the PS2. However, while I was entertained with the game, most of my entertainment came from the fact that I was expecting a strong ending, and that didn’t happen. In retrospect, the game seemed to me like a big, somewhat fun waste of time. I was honestly expecting more out of this game’s story regardless of the endings.
If you finished FFX, play Suikoden 3, if you finished that too, then there is not much choice but to pick this one up. It’s fun romp, but not a great game worthy of the game that came before it.
Gameplay: 8.0- solid gameplay as always, however, I found the mission based system tedious.
Graphics: 9.5-It’s still the king of PS2 RPG graphics.
Music: 8.0-The vocal tracks save the score.
Story: 7.0- The main plot is weak very weak, however, the writers did good job when writing all the side stuff that goes on in the game.
Addictiveness: 5.0-Play it once and never comeback to it again unless you are really after that perfect ending.
Overall: 8.0- It barely makes the cut to the 8s, if only because it is still entertaining, and it has an interesting character progression system. The game’s good ending provides a satisfying conclusion to the saga, even though I was perfectly fine with the way that Final Fantasy X ended.
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