The Never Ending Realm
Final Fantasy X-2 Review by Samuel Rivera
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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 some two years ago I felt that it was great ending and that as much as some people wanted a sequel, I was satisfied with FFX as it was. Yet Square Enix who has after FFIX turned into money over Quality Company, decided it was profitable to make a sequel. And so we are here with FFX-2

I must mention that most of the key staff that worked on FFX and in other FFs has gone missing. Uematsus score is no longer present, about the only thing that wasnt changed was Nomuras art work and that is because game is still set on Spira and with the same main characters, with the exception of Paine. Sakaguchi was not really deeply involved in this game. I hear 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 as we have come to know it and love it.

Graphically FFX-2 does nothing to improve upon FFX, in fact they run in exactly 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. In fact I dare say I liked FFX more because at least it had more FMV cinemas, and they looked better than they look now. Sometimes they are on par with FFX's but sometimes Yuna has like a 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. The character models still look better than in any other RPG on the market.

Music wise, not much to report, Suikoden III sounds better and FFX's soundtrack kills this easily. FFX-2 had only three memorable songs, and two of them had vocals on it. Uematsu where are thou? 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 very good and plentiful, returning actors actually do a much stronger job than they did in FFX. I think 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 them 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 they level up as it is traditionally accustomed 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 all 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 you have mastered the dressphere. It is very important to master some of the most useful ones like the White Mage one and the Dark Knight one. 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 chose a special attack or a spell you have to wait an extra time 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 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 areas 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 also 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 in to 5 chapters, all are pretty much equal in length and unfortunately if you miss stuff on one chapter chances are you won't be able to get it again when you get to chapter 5. So I recommend that if you want to see at least 90% of the game you must 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 feature too although not as useful since while you get to keep your items and dresspheres your levels are reset to one. Oh well you cant expect perfection from square these days any waysamazing it took them almost a decade since Trigger to include this feature on a game.

FFX-2 officially has the most sidequests and minigames in any FF to date, you even get to raise chocobos, even though FFVIIs chocobo game kills this games chocobo system by just staring at it.

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. The plot is nothing short of disappointing. Do not get me wrong, the games story does a respectable job of illustrating Spiras progress since the destruction of Sin. The game also features an intense amount of humorous moments, and has a Pop feel, guys sporting flashy hair do's, girls sporting tight jeans and wearing bikini tops. This is the kind of world where everyone is cute and flashy, so 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.

However nice hair do's and bikini clad chicks dont exactly do much for the plot. 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 Yunas 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 a hold on me, however only because I expect something interesting to happen, in which the real Tidus would appear, but he never did. So after 50 hours you can imagine my disappointing when I realize that Tidus was not going to return I must say I only saw the average ending since there is 3 maybe I missed something in the other too. However having three endings is no justification, because with out a gameshark, or 100s of hours of play with a guide in your hand you will not see the Perfect ending. In the end FFX-2's story feels like I was fixing the political world of Spira by completing missions, and at the same time clearing up the mystery, of Shuyin who looks just like Tidus. Maybe it had something to do with the fayth, I will never know since the game never explained to me why the resemblance between the two. But you know what I dont care anymore, 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 also I believe interfered greatly with the fact that the plot seemed weak and pointless. So to all of you who want freedom and an incredibly strong plot, I say this: It cant be done, when you split a game with three endings and let players tackle the story in any order, there is no control of anything, and the writer can only do so much.

Maybe Square decided to change what was expected of the plot to surprise players. Well to me all they did was disappoint them. I would be lying if I say that I didnt like the gameit was entertaining while it lasted, and is one of the better RPGs in 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 didnt happen so in retrospect the game seemed to me like a big, somewhat fun waste of time. I was honestly expecting more out of this games story.

If you finished FFX, play Suikoden 3, if you finished that too, then there aint much choice but to pick this one up. It's Fun until disappointment sets in at the very end.

Gameplay: 8.0- solid gameplay as always, however I found the mission based system tedious.

Graphics: 9.5-It's still the king in 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 a masochist.

Overall: 8.0- It barely makes the cut to the 8s, if only because it is still entertaining.

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