Saturday, September 02, 2000

Final Fantasy X | 10

Not having a lot of experience with the PS2 platform, I am less than jaded when it comes to comparing role-playing games on the PC to their platform-based cousins. Having only the PC version of Final Fantasy IX as a basis of comparison, I was amazed by the graphic richness of the new game. This is not just a matter of higher powered engines and CGI wizardry. It really springs from the artistic commitment of the staff designing and creating the game.

Character design still shows its heritage from Yoshitaro Amano, one of Japan's greatest graphic artists. In addition, the background and 'set' design is equally imaginative. Massive use of CGI work simply makes all this magic spring to life with movement and gesture. No less an effort has been spent on the game's sound and music, making the experience of the game intense, and sometimes even spellbinding.

Tidus, a young blitzball professional, is thrust, mid-catastrophe, into the world of Spira, where an incredible monster (Sin) is gradually destroying the world as punishment for its ecological missteps. He meets Yuna, who is a Summoner, capable of calling up Aeons as battle weapons. Yuna has begun a voyage from temple to temple, a quest that must end in a confrontation with Sin to bring peace to Spira. In typical RPG style, they and their companions follow a path of ever escalating monsters and challenges, culminating in a prolonged, exhausting final struggle.

The story and dialog are fine, with a few twists to keep player interest, but for the most part it is predictable. Since people come to this game looking for different things, the creators have tried to manage a difficult balance between narrative and play, and, for the most part, are successful. The dialog is sometimes silly and sometimes touching, but it is never unbearable.

This is an incredibly large game. It is possible to stick to the basic story line, minimum leveling up and barely make it through the game in 50 to 60 hours. A quick perusal of a good walkthrough quickly reveals that nearly half of the game is hidden from view, and that diligent playing can be very rewarding. My time using the walkthrough was 90 hours, and there were still possibilities left unexplored. Obviously, the game will stand up to replay.

I have to give the game five stars. I can quibble about storyline and some predictable gameplay, but there is too much that is simply outstanding. This will be considered one of the peaks of RPG gaming for some time to come.

No comments :