Final Fantasy X-2 Review: The epitome of bipolarity

Final Fantasy X-2 Review: The epitome of bipolarity

Final Fantasy X-2, a sequel to the critically acclaimed Final Fantasy X, is a game that divides the fanbase. Some hail it for its innovative battle system and job mechanics, while others criticize its story and sidequests. In this review, we'll take a closer look at the various aspects of Final Fantasy X-2, from its battle system to its customization options, and explore what makes it a unique entry in the Final Fantasy series. Whether you're a fan of the game or approaching it for the first time, there's much to discuss about this polarizing RPG. Now without further ado, RPG Ranked presents... a Final Fantasy X-2 Review: The epitome of bipolarity.

Battle System - 9.5

Not only is this the best part about Final Fantasy X-2, but one of the best battle systems in the series. This is the pinnacle of the ATB system, at least in my opinion. It allows you to combo attacks enjoyably and uniquely, adding so much depth to a system we've seen countless times throughout the series. The ability to change jobs during battle was one of the most incredible ideas to ever grace an RPG, and I desperately need another battle system that allows for this. I spent multiple hours walking back and forth on Mi'hen Highroad, experimenting with different jobs and job combinations. That's how much I loved this battle system! The only reason this entertaining and innovative battle system doesn't get a 10 is because, quite frankly, this is one of the easiest games ever made in terms of battling. This severely impacts the gameplay, as battles are too easy to change jobs, making Garment Grids hard to utilize to their full, fun extent. If the game was better built around basically necessitating the use of Garment Grids, this game's battle system would be even more fun and strategic than it already is. Overall, this is an excellent battle system, so close yet far from perfection.

Story - 5

I did not mind this Final Fantasy X-2's more flamboyant and carefree tone—in fact, that was one of my favorite parts of the game. So, what's my issue with this game's story? It's simple—it missed following up on its predecessor. Sure, keep the whole pop singing vibe, but give us a much more emotional story showing the profound effects of Sin's defeat and much more of a reflection on what happened to Tidus, Wakka, and Lulu. Also, to delve deeper into the political unrest of New Yevon and the Youth League. However, as is, we get a disjointed story about Vegnagun, fake Tidus, and the infamous Noojie-woojie. While there were some solid ideas here, it was just so underwhelming as a follow-up to my second favorite Final Fantasy game. I would've loved to have a casual and open-ended story akin to Partitio from Octopath Traveler II, following YRP as they help the people around them and build Spira back up. While this does happen sometimes in this game, it hardly feels like it is the cornerstone of the game, and it uses the story to pile on more and more minigames. For this game to truly sell me on its existence, it must meaningfully convey the world-changing events of the previous game, à la Tales of Xillia 2 or Lufia. And that just wasn't the case. While I understand the difficulty of following up a masterpiece, this story just made me feel absolutely nothing... something even the original Final Fantasy gave me. Overall, this game does not have a good story, and it is a massive disappointment, even if there were some highlights here and there.

Music - 6

The soundtrack in this game is objectively fun and unique, and I'm so shocked they didn't just try to rehash the music from the previous game! It has a fun, jazzy, city-pop vibe that is perfect for this game! Two highlights include Zanarkand Ruins, one of the best songs in the series (especially when it is arranged for a piano solo), and the mission theme that plays aboard the airship that is the epitome of Final Fantasy X-2. While I love a few songs, there's just one problem with the majority of this soundtrack—I don't like it. I know it is good music, and I've tried to convince myself it is good, but to no avail. It's like blue cheese—I can understand why people like it, but it's not my cup of tea. The battle theme was especially rough, as the high-pitched instruments gave me a headache. Not that I hate the music, but I don't particularly enjoy it...

Art & Graphics - 9.5

This game is just as magnificent-looking as its predecessor, and still, to this day, is one of the best-looking games I've ever played. While I'd argue that the cutscenes and locales weren't as pretty as in the first game, the facial expressions and battle animations looked better here. Maybe it's just me, but that's what I remember thinking while playing this game. Also, Rikku was way hotter this time around because why not. Not that she could hold one-tenth of a candle to my girlfriend, but still, Rikku was pretty fine. Let's move on before anybody actually starts taking me seriously.

Characters - 5

I actually really loved YRP and their dynamic! I just loathed every other character in the game... okay, every other character but Lulu and Wakka. Leblanc, Nooj, and their two cronies made me want to rip every hair off my head. Shinra was a little piece of crap, and for all I care, Brother can burn in the fiery pits of hell along with those dreadful anthropomorphic frog creatures with their disgusting three fingers. I could ash on those characters for hours and hours, but for brevity's sake, I shall not do so. Instead, I want to highlight how Yuna, Rikku, and Paine have fantastic chemistry and could've been perfect leads if the game were much better. I loved the foil between Rikku and Paine and how Yuna perfectly blended those two. They just bounced off each other so well, and the game could've been so much better if the rest of the Gullwings were omitted and Paine knew how to fly an airship... it would've cut all the crap. This would alleviate some of the horrible characters on the ship. Again, centering the story on what I mentioned earlier would allow for removing the awful quartet of "villains" I previously mentioned and for more time with YRP. The main cast is incredible, but everyone else is horrendous. As a whole, this game was sad to me after loving the first game's cast... most of these characters just weren't for me.

Sidequests - 1

Yes. I just gave this category a score of 1. I hate to say this, but this game's sidequests are the most awful thing I've ever experienced in an RPG. Every single second of every sidequest, I just wanted to play any other game. I would've chosen Lunar: Dragon Song Phantasy Star 3, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, or even the CDi Zelda games before I'd ever play this game again... and that is because of these awful sidequests. The only reason this score isn't a 0 is because I loved the Gunner's Gauntlet missions. But otherwise, these dog-crap sidequests pissed me off and were absolutely awful. There were so many stupid minigames, Garment Grids that take hours and hours to find and obtain without an in-depth guide, needless fetch quests, and worthless items that only increase your completion percentage. And worst of all? It botches perhaps my favorite RPG minigame of all time: the addicting Blitzball. This aspect alone really ruined the game for me, and quite simply, no game this focused on sidequests (save The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask) has ever been good. Final Fantasy X-2 is no exception.

Dungeons - 2

Every dungeon in this game is either a less meaningful rehash of its version in the original Final Fantasy X or an incredibly frustrating and gimmicky mess. The Calm Lands Chocobo dungeon? It's a horrid and unclear mess of a dungeon that gives the player too little too late. The "Wall Dungeon"? A stupidly unfair dungeon that does little to mean anything is one of the worst dungeons in the series—and you have to play it twice. Den of Woe? It's a stupid place you must open with muissable Crimson Spheres. The final dungeon? You must complete it multiple times through every entrance for a completion percentage. Via Infinito? An unfun enemy gauntlet that doesn't come anywhere close to the highs of Paper Mario's Pit of 100 Trials, Tales of Vesperia's Necropolis of Nostalgia & Labyrinth of Memories, Final Fantasy V's Cloister of the Dead, Final Fantasy VI's Soul Shirne, or even the annoying Mysterious Unison in Eternal Sonata. The Fiend Colony? Yet another dungeon opened by awful Chocobo quests. The BEsaid Secret Cave? A password fetch-quest to open an uninteresting cave dungeon. The only two things that make this game not score a 0? The floating Zanarkand dungeon was solid. And the dungeon under Bevelle? It's a stand-out dungeon, one of the coolest in the entire series. Like with the sidequests, the dungeons here were horrible, in my opinion. I'd rather have had a point-and-click battle gauntlet like in Final Fantasy Dimensions II or a story format like the second half of Xenogears or, daresay, Epic Battle Fantasy or Soda Dungeon. I sure adored the battles in this game, but I absolutely dreaded the exploration gameplay loop.

Quality of Life - 0

I've never played a game so fundamentally flawed as this game. Almost everything in this game is missable, to the point most 100% guides usually only hit in the 90s. On top of the over-reliance on sidequests, these missable items with no signs of being missable are the nail in the coffin of this game. There are missable jobs, creatures, and even entire chapters of the game. The complete stupidity of the developers making these decisions is utterly embarrassing for Square Enix. I love you, Square Enix, but what were you thinking with this horrid stuff! But I digress. Yet again, there are still more flaws to talk about. The way jobs level up in this game? You can't usually attack or use items, or you won't earn points. This incredibly annoying and unnecessary feature makes me look back less fondly on this game's excellent progression system. There are also some very vague accessory and item descriptions, like an accessory that stops you from learning experience with no indication whatsoever. Overall, I've never played a game quite as frustrating and unpolished as Final Fantasy X-2.

Customization System - 8

I wanted to end this review on a high note... and dang, this is quite a high note. If there weren't dumb missable Dresspheres, convoluted leveling, and Garment Grids (and if there were difficulty settings), this would likely be a perfect 10 for me. Not only does this game have some very inspired costume designs and never-before-seen job classes, but it also has the fantastic Garment Grid. This remarkable system adds so much depth and fluidity to battle and allows for forming Special Dresspheres, a cool (albeit underutilized and underpowered addition). I want a game that can refine this into something that heavily encourages the use of Garment Grids instead of just cheesing everything... but I doubt that'll ever happen. If this battle system had much more refining and polish, it could be one of the best RPG job systems ever. It's unfortunate to see such an inventive Jonb system only appear in a mediocre game like this game instead of finding its way into a mainline game and allowing for polish )and likely the removal of the whole fashion system) and a more in-depth take on it. In summary, this is such a fantastic job system, but it is bogged down by the game's horrible quality-of-life issues seeping into its customization system.

The Verdict

Fun Factor: 3
Overall Score: 49%
Letter Score: D

Final Fantasy X-2 is a crapulous mass hidden in the golden sheen of the battle and job systems—like the Gilded Age of U.S. history. It is a two-faced game, a 10 out of 10 in many aspects and a 0 out of 10 in others. If you aren't a completionist in any way and you adore minigames? You might find some joy in playing this game. There's a reason it is beloved by many. However, just as many people despise this game as those who love it. And I unfortunately have to agree with the latter group.

While I don't like this game in the slightest, some people absolutely adore it. If you still want to give it a try after all I've said and formulate your own opinion (which all people should do... let's not jump on the bandwagon), feel free to support the website and buy the game below!

Final Fantasy X-2 (PS2)
FFX-2 Remaster (PS3)
FFX-2 Remaster (PS Vita)
FFX-2 Remaster (PS4)
FFX-2 Remaster (Xbox One)
FFX-2 Remaster (Nintendo Switch)

Primary Version: Final Fantasy X-2 (PS2)