Final Fantasy X-2
Square-Enix’ Final Fantasy games are probably the most popular Role Playing Games (RPG) on the market. Every new episode in the series has given us a new story and new characters to play with. Until now, that is… For the first time in history Square-Enix made a direct sequel of one of their Final Fantasy games. Did they make the right choice? Read on!
Final Fantasy X-2 starts about two years after its predecessor. Ever since High Summoner Yuna defeated the evil Sin, the world of Spira is experiencing the “Eternal Calm”. Yuna herself teamed up with her friends Rikku (the beautiful thief from FFX) and Paine (a skilled warrior) and they joined the “Gullwings”, a group of Spherehunters –treasure hunters- that tries to find out more about Spira’s past.
After the amusing intro sequence, where you can see Yuna sing some Japanese pop-songs in front of a huge crowd, the game starts at your flying home base, the airship Celsius. From that moment on you are free to do what you see fit. You can follow the main storyline (the “hotspots” in your mission menu) but nothing prevents you from taking another approach and fulfilling some subquests first. This type of completely non-linear gameplay separates FFX-2 from other games (and RPG’s). The story unfolds differently according to your actions. This really adds to the replay-value of the game. Some less experienced gamers will first feel surprised and somewhat hampered by the enormous freedom the game offers them but after just a few hours of game time, they too will be fully captivated by FFX-2.
When comparing FFX-2 to its predecessor some changes really stand out. First of all the battle system is totally different from FFX. Instead of being fully turn-based, all battles take place in semi-realtime. You still give orders to your party but your enemies won’t wait until your turn is over to start attacking. Luckily Square-Enix included an option to make the battles fully turn-based and thus more strategic.
The Sphere Grid from FFX has totally vanished and has been replaced by the Garment Grid, combined with Dresspheres. Dresspheres give your characters unique stats and abilities, depending on which one you wear. There around 20 different ones, varying from Gunner or Warrior to White Mage. Later in the game you will also discover the extremely powerful Special Dresspheres. With these things battles are just a walk in the park.
The storyline in FFX-2 is very profound and the many quests offer a lot of variation. The many cutscenes really drag you into the world of Spira. The wonderful voice acting only emphasizes that fact. It is clear that the developers hired talented actors, instead of your average Joe. Unfortunately not all dialogues are spoken, but only the unimportant conversations are written. The lipsynching is also slightly awkward; the movements of the characters’ lips most of the time isn’t corresponding to what they say. This can be blamed on the translation from Japanese to English. This is just a minor fault.
The graphics in FFX-2 are simply excellent. The magnificent level-design, the detailed textures, the stunning lighting and particle effects and the unsurpassed movies all look equally superb. This game really shows the potential of Sony’s PlayStation 2 console.
The soundtrack and sound effects are great, just like everything else in this game.
Good games can be found easily but a true miracle like Final Fantasy X-2 is hard to find. This game has it all: excellent visuals, wonderful sound and music, a captivating storyline, addictive, non-linear gameplay and to top it all off, the game offers you more than 50 hours of fun. Highly recommended!