Final Fantasy X, an iconic entry in the Final Fantasy series and a beloved RPG worldwide, beckons players with its blend of captivating storytelling, memorable characters, and intricate gameplay systems. As we embark on this journey through Spira in this review, I, Brighton Nelson, will explore the game's rich narrative, delve into the depths of its character development, and uncover the nuances of its customization options. Now, without further ado, join me in revisiting the world of Final Fantasy X and discovering what makes it a beloved classic among RPG enthusiasts in today's article... a Final Fantasy X Review: I know it sounds selfish, but this is my review!
Battle System - 9.5
This game, Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon... I'm obsessed with the CTB system! This game has some fantastic additions to the series, from Overdrives having different modes to switching characters during the battle, from each character being viable for most battles because of the number of enemy types (other than Kimahri..) to visibly seeing the turn order? This battle system is close to perfect. The only thing holding this back is the only characters who participated in the battle get AP. This is annoying, even if it makes logical sense, making the battles more Tidus. See what I did there/ Well, hopefully not because it sucked. Giving the other characters at least half AP (for witnessing the battle, because life does indeed provide you with experience when you watch things) would push this score up to a perfect 10, but as-is, a 9.5 is a fitting score.
Story - 10
When boiled down to the most basic gist of the story, this isn't anything too special. Valiant heroes go on a pilgrimage with a summons to defeat evil. Many games have done this, especially Tales games, so what makes it so unique. First, every character is alive and unique, even if sometimes cringe. Second, the world is gorgeous, significantly adding to the game's world-building. Third, Seymour and Sin are both very captivating villains—Seymour omnipresent and Sin looming over the party, never knowing when he'll strike. Fourth, there are many fantastic plot twists about Tidus, Yuna, Auron, the antagonists, and the journey in general. Fifth, this game tackles interesting questions about religion, love, race, decisions, etc. While I acknowledge Final Fantasy IX as the best story in the series, Final Fantasy X is my favorite. It captivates the player and emotionally connects them to the story no matter what because each character has relatable qualities that allow you to really walk in the shoes of the characters. Some people call Tidus annoying or stupid, but I feel like he is one of the only Final Fantasy protagonists that could be a real person.. that makes this story so much better for it. In summary, this is one of my favorite RPG stories of all time.
Music - 10
This is my second favorite soundtrack in the series! Sure, it repeats the motifs of To Zanarkand, Hymn of the Fayth, and Suteki Da Ne, but that ends up making this soundtrack better because, quite frankly, I could listen to that fantastic trio of songs all day. Other standouts include the Mount Gagzet theme, a beautiful and haunting track that is my favorite song in the game, and Via Purifico, an enigmatic and atmospheric tune. From Tidus's and Auron's Theme, two absolutely banger character themes, to the plethora of great tracks in the Calm Lands areas. These songs are so incredible to me that I can recall almost all of them, even when I haven't listened to them for many months, and that is just a testament to the beauty of this game's music. Also, the battle theme is the third-best in the series, and I'm pretty sure that is just an accepted fact at this point. Just kidding, I'm not an Internet troll; everyone has different opinions. But I digress. Overall, this soundtrack is perfect in every way, and these songs resonate with me so much.
Art & Graphics - 9.5
I hated how the PS2 version looked. I can't do PS2 graphics for some reason... I can't explain it. Luckily, I am not reviewing that version of this game, but I am reviewing the HD Remaster, one of the most beautiful games ever. Look at this game for three seconds, and you'll instantly love its vibrant colors and immense beauty. While I still only give 10s to games that reinvent art in some way or another (like, say, Persona V), this game is one of the best and most realistic-looking games ever made.
Characters - 9.5
There are a few misses in the character department here—that one disgusting rival summoner and that annoying maester being dishonorable mentions—but the main cast and antagonists here are perfection. The main protagonist, Tidus, whose cringiness gives him impeccable charm, energy, and optimism, making him a fantastic character to follow. And while it really is Yuna's story, which Tidus can't seem to accept, I love games where we follow someone who's just a friend of the hero (like Lloyd in Tales of Symphonia or Maxim's descendent in Lufia). It adds a self-insert vibe to the story, and Tidus makes the game much more immersive. There's Yuna, the story's hero, whose calmness and gentleness contrast her to Tidus. She's lovable, endearing, and dedicated, and her relationship with Tidus by the end of the game is adorable. Next is Wakka, a questionable and annoying character who grounds the games in themes of balancing religion and semantics and provides social commentary on the effects of racism. Lulu is a reserved and mysterious character who helps the game not just feel like a cast of silly teenagers. And then there's Rikku, who is basically a foil to both LUlu and Wakka, being the target of Wakka's racism and an opposite personality to Lulu. She has Tidus's energy but is more of the happy, quirky type than the cringe anime type. Then there's the badass and intriguing Auron, who has terrific plot twists and story moments. Braska and Jecht are also both phenomenal characters that mirror Yuna and Tidus, respectively, and they add so much to the plots that now I desperately want a Final Fantasy X-0—a prequel to the game starring Braksa, Auron, and Jecht. And, of course, as I said earlier, Sin and Seymour are notable villains. In summary, the characters in this game are fantastic.
Sidequests - 8.5
Let's get it out of the way now—the lightning bolt quest and Chocobo Racing are two of the worst things in gaming. But I couldn't put the score too low because, quite frankly, this would be a 10/10 without them. From experiencing the past with Jecht Spheres to Al Bhed Primers that give the world more flavor and add some replay value; from the Celestial Weapons, the majority of which are fun to find even if some do suck, to the three hidden Aeons; from the phenomenal Monster Arena that single-handedly and ironically doubles how much I like the gameplay in this game, to Blitzball, not only my favorite Final Fantasy sidequest but one of my favorites of an RPG. Overall, the sidequests in this game are fantastic, but there are some stinkers here.
Locations - 7
On the one hand, Final Fantasy X has amazing locations like Luca and Guadosalam and the Calm Lands... on the other hand, it has some really annoying ones like the Thudner PLains, as well as literally not having any semblance of a world map. While I am okay with linear games like this, especially in games like Lost Odyssey that open the game up near the end. While I'm okay with not having a world map and many hidden locations, I won't pretend this game deserves a high score. However, there are some beautiful locations here, and the on-rails gameplay makes sense with the ideas of the pilgrimage here. Overall, this game's locations are solid but not the best in the series.
Customization System - 10
This game has not just one incredible customization system but two. Or kind of three, in a sense, if you count Aeon customization. The Sphere Grid perfectly gives the character's stats and abilities, giving everyone their distinct skills yet allowing for infinite customization by entering other people's grid regions. This allows for customization of how you level up... and that's absolutely brilliant! Also, being able to infinitely customize weapons's Auto Abilities? That's so awesome! This game perfectly progresses the player along, teasing things that will come later once you get different lock nodes, making progression much more enjoyable. Also, the number of different nodes you can use to activate things on the sphere grid in this game is excellent, allowing you to do much with your leveling. Overall, Final Fantasy X is infinitely customizable, yet it feels like something other than a game where every character can do everything (like in Final Fantasy VII), a gaming trope I do not particularly enjoy.
Quality of Life - 8
Alright, there are some annoying things here. Backtracking for Jecht Spheres, Blitzball being unoptimized, unfair sidequests, long and unskippable cutscenes, et cetera. It isn't like any of these issues break the game, but I dearly wish these were fixed and not ignored in the most recent remake. However, as a whole, this is an exceptionally polished game, and I'm really not complaining all that much here...
Fun Factor: 9
Overall Score: 91%
Letter Score: S+
Final Fantasy X is a radiant gem in the RPG landscape, offering a captivating blend of storytelling, unforgettable characters, and deep customization. While it may have minor frustrations like some horrible sidequests and some less-inspired locations, these are overshadowed by the grandeur of its world and the intricacies of its gameplay, particularly the innovative Sphere Grid system. The narrative, driven by the endearing relationships between Tidus, Yuna, and their diverse companions, explores themes of love, sacrifice, and hope in a way that resonates deeply with me. The soundtrack, a symphonic masterpiece, enhances every emotional beat of the story. Despite some hiccups, Final Fantasy X remains a testament to the enduring power of storytelling in gaming, making it a journey well worth taking for RPG enthusiasts and narrative lovers alike. And in the end? It is my second favorite Final Fantasy game of all time for a reason.
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Primary Version: Final Fantasy X (Xbox One)