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Final Fantasy X
Review By:  Christopher Coey
Developer:  Square
Publisher:  Square EA
# of Players:  1
Genre:  RPG
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  4-8-02

The first thing you'll realize when you begin playing the latest entry into the fantastic, best-selling Final Fantasy franchise is how immersive the game is. It really draws you in. The story, which itself is both complex and
beautiful, unfolds slowly, but the intrigue begins in the first ten minutes. You want to keep playing to find out what happens, not just to get to the next level.

These days, there are a lot of misdirected people who claim video games have destroyed the attention span of today's youth. That, because of television and the Internet, they no longer have the patience for reading novels or any form of literature. That's not really a valid argument. If anything, the results that TV, the Internet, and video games have had on today's youth is that they process information quicker. Show any platformer game to most parents and they can barely process what's happening on screen, it's coming at them too fast. It's not that kids today don't have the attention span to read novels, they simple are not interested in the novels that their parents read. If you want evidence of that, check out the sales of Harry Potter, or even current sales for Lord of the Rings.

Our culture has changed as we move further into the digital age. The need to escape reality, and immerse ourselves in another world still exists; we just have more options now. Some still choose works of literature (I know I do),
but a good many others now choose video games. The latter choice is quickly becoming as intricate and compelling as the former. And often as deserving of the term 'art'.

The next generation of systems have, and will continue to demonstrate, what today's digital artists are truly capable of. Final Fantasy X is a stellar example of those capabilities. At the heart of the story is the amazing, in-depth character development. Characters with personality, who grow and emerge throughout the length of the game. The story itself is exactly what fans have come to expect from the Final Fantasy name. It's full of epic adventure, spiritual journeys, complex relationships, and the power of courage and friendship. At times it's cheesy, at others poignant and moving. But it IS a good story, if not a tad linear (although near the end of the
game, it becomes very much not linear.) Of course, I don't expect it to be made into a movie anytime soon. For the same reasons the actual Final Fantasy movie followed an original story rather than one of the game plots. The action points, and plot-twist in a game are often too extreme to transfer to any other medium. In a game, if a huge creature suddenly attacks a major city right in the middle of the championship blitzball game, it's believable. A legitimate plot-twist. In a Hollywood movie, the same scene would be viewed as being too odd or unexplainable. As an RPG, it needs no explanation.

The music is perfect, and varied. This is the best score I've ever heard in a game. Over 60 some-odd tracks ranging from classical music to chanting monks. In Japan kids and adults often run to record stores to buy soundtracks for games. I'm probably not going to run out and buy this, but I can finally see why people might. The sound effects are also top notch. For me, great sound effects in a game are more than just finding the right sound for the big explosions or battles. It comes down to the little things. Often background sounds, or usually overlooked nuances. I won't bother going into a listing of all the bits and pieces, but needless to say, a lot of time and effort was put into making FFX just right.

Speaking of nuances, there was one part of this game that blew me away: the dialects. The game designers actually created and worked out specific dialects for each of the various races and homelands. The people of Besaid, for instance, all use the same verbal mannerisms, and have their own slang. Meanwhile, the Ronsos, who speak their own language, each have a similar accent when attempt to speak English. And far and away the coolest, and most intricate thing in any recent gaming memory is the new language of Al Bhed. Created specifically for this game, the language consists of words manipulated through letter substitutions from English words. The resulting
new words then create the new language, which has it's own proper pronunciations. The effect is pretty cool. All this work for something that barely effects the gameplay, it's simply an added touch. A superbly written and crafted added touch.

So, here I've gone on about many aspect of the game, and I have yet to mention the thing most associated with the last few Final Fantasy games, the summonings. After all, an RPG is nothing without a fantastic story, and tight combat system. So what really sets the good games from the great, are the creature effects. Gamers often joke about the extended creature
summoning animations that happen in FF games. How they seem to last forever, and get really tiresome after the first few times. Not that they aren't spectacular the first time, but you later want to skip them, and often can't. Well, in FFX you DO have the ability skip (or shorten) the
animations, but I still never did (which should give you a perfect sense of how cool they are).

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