Final Fantasy X-2
really isnít anything final about the Final Fantasy series.
With eleven releases in the series proper as well as countless
spin-off series, one couldnít be blamed for thinking, ďHoly cash
grab!Ē when it was announced that Square was going to release a sequel
of a sequel with Final Fantasy X-2.
Happily, the game is anything but, with solid gameplay and a
story that is far easier to stomach than its predecessor.
up where Final Fantasy X left off, players take control of Yuna and her
band of Sphere Hunters, known as the Gullwings, in search of the spheres
that have been scattered across Spira since the destruction of Sin,
while Yuna also tries to find her former beau, Tidus, after discovering
a sphere that suggest he may still be alive.
Though the storyís main thrust is the search for Tidus, its
underlying theme is the concept of change, as it shows how people are
trying to adjust their lives now that they no longer have to constantly
about being destroyed by Sin.
Itís presented in a reasonably thoughtful manner, not shoving
any sort of values down playersí throats or becoming overly
pretentious. The one aspect
of Final Fantasy X-2ís story that may get on playersí nerves is how
the three main heroines of the game (Yuna, Rikku, and Paine) interact in
a manner very similar to that which we saw in the recent Charlieís
Angels movies, which sometimes can get extremely cheesy and get players
cringing. But despite this
weak point in the gameís narrative it is still more enjoyable than its
predecessor, as this time the story doesnít, on the whole, take itself
nearly as seriously. There
are still awkward moments, but theyíre kept to a low roar on this
What isnít kept to a low roar in Final Fantasy X-2, keeping the title in step with the Final Fantasies before it, is the gargantuan number of battles players will get into over the course of the game. As usual you seemingly canít walk five steps without being jumped by a band of bad guys out looking for trouble. However, Square has made a huge improvement to the game to deal with this by making battles far more streamlined than they have ever been in the
fill faster, attacks are quick and to the point, and the whole overall
pace of the battles has been hastened, allowing them to be completed
interesting feature added to the battles is the ability to chain attacks
together as your party members attack.
If they all strike in rapid succession the enemy will take move
damage than it would if the attacks were more spread out. Battles have been sped up so much that for once I wasnít
filled with dread as the screen blurred and faded into the next battle
frequency of battles and their rapid completion also help to fully
utilize this titleís leveling up system.
Taking the Sphere Grid of Final Fantasy X and combining it with
the Job System that has appeared from time to time in other Final
Fantasy games, players are faced with a new way of powering up their
characters here called the Dress Sphere.
In this there are a number of different spheres, each
corresponding to a different character class ranging from warriors, to
the various mages, to thieves, to various other unique classes like
gunners and dancers.
Each class has its own skill sets that are unlocked as your
characters use the different classes more and more.
The easiest example would be to look at the Black Mage Sphere.
When a character is equipped with this they will act as that
class, and the more they use it the more spells and skills used by the
Black Mage are opened up. Making
things even easier is that more than one character can be the same class
at the same time. However, the party doesnít collectively power-up the
different classes, this leveling up for the different classes is only
relative to each character. So,
if Yuna fully levels up as a warrior it is only her that will be at full
power at it. Other
characters canít be at full power when they equip the Warrior Sphere,
theyíll have to get fully leveled up on it themselves.
On top of this there is still basic leveling up for each
character that provides some basic stat increases and improvements to
their hit points and magic points, but it is largely the different
spheres and armor that will augment character statistics.
players get more and more of these spheres they can be placed on
different grids, dubbed the Garment Grid System, with slots in them
where the spheres can be placed. These
provide a path players have to follow when switching from one class to
another in battle, preventing you from simply changing from a Warrior to
a White Mage on a whim (though players can change classes however they
like when not in battle). It
could take one or two turns to switch to your desired class in the heat
of battle, as you are forced to follow the path left on the card.
Because of this players are really forced to consider a number of
things as they work through the game.
Firstly, and most obviously, players will need to decide the best
way to distribute their spheres across the grid, secondly what classes
to specialize their characters in so they donít have to move too far
across the grid to change to a different class, and thirdly to be
prepared by being in the appropriate classes for upcoming challenges
before battle even begins. It
does require a lot of strategizing, and could prove aggravating to some,
but still increase the enjoyment of the game immensely as you learn the
ropes to the Garment Grid.
What may really knock players for a loop in Final Fantasy X-2 is how incredibly non-linear it is compared to previous Final Fantasy games, or even to console RPGs in general. The game is divided up into chapters that keep the game moving along, but players can go about as they please within each chapter instead of being taking by the hand from point A to B to C like in past Final Fantasies. The game gives you instant access to any region in Spira right from the start so there are tons of mini-quests players can go on at any given time instead of going from one objective to the next to complete the game. Itís all done in an easy to understand manner, as players will have no doubt as to what they need to do to keep the main quest moving forward, only that now they have a number of other missions that they can embark on at their leisure in each chapter if they feel like walking off the beaten path and learning more about how the world has changed since the passing of Sin, some of which cannot even be completed until going through the game a second time in Game + mode.
one area that hasnít improved in Final Fantasy X-2 over its
predecessor is its presentation, and understandably so considering that
it runs on the same engine as Final Fantasy X.
That being said itís easy to see that the engine hasnít aged
a day and it goes to show just how talented the team that developed
Final Fantasy X are in that Final Fantasy X-2 can easily stand
toe-to-toe with many current Playstation 2 titles in the Visual
Splendour department. The
visuals are just as crisp and full of detail as ever with smooth
animation, and some beautiful cut scenes to boot.
People looking for some eye candy will be quite pleased by what
they see in Final Fantasy X-2.
speaking, there is a lot to enjoy here too.
Despite some decidedly poppy moments, which wonít be for
everybody, there are quite a few catchy tunes in the game that add a lot
to the experience. On top
of this the ambient effects of the sound effects help to enhance the
game considerably. The
voice acting is an improvement over Final Fantasy X, largely due to
better written dialogue this time out and the way that the game isnít
overly serious. There are
still some points where the voice acting can get a bit rough, but by in
large itís a big step forward over its predecessor.
all of the skepticism and doom-saying that surrounded Final Fantasy X-2
leading up to its release that it would be a copout cash grab, it has
turned out to be a great game. Itís
refined battle system, the use of a job system, and a much more
palatable story make it well worth checking out for fans of console RPGs.
February 7, 2004
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