Final Fantasy X-2
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from X-2.1 really enjoyed Final Fantasy X, so, naturally I was eager to reenter the beautiful realm of Spira ...but would this return visit live up to the benchmarks established by its forerunner? Well, in a word—no. But it’s still awfully damn good. Plotwise, X-2 is a radical, intriguing departure from FFX. The overall story line is divided equally between giggly girl talk, Yuna’s deep soul searching, and a new subplot about warring political factions trying to control Spira. The cutesy bits can get annoying (like when the gals stage Yunapalooza—a rock concert to heal civil unrest), but a serious, compelling undercurrent keeps it from straying too far into goofy nonsense. In fact (without giving away too much), I found the nature of the game’s main antagonist to be incredibly interesting...it’s very different from the last boss you'd usually face in a role-playing game. Likewise, the developers had no qualms about totally rewriting the book of gameplay. X-2 offers only three playable characters—Yuna, Rikku, and newcomer Paine—but it gives them a wide swath of abilities with the ingenious new dressphere system. It allows your gals to master a variety of spells and maneuvers by merely switching costumes and doing battle. You’ll actually want to get in random encounters just to rack up mad combos and learn more moves. The most substantial shift in the game’s design is tough to explain—it’s an overall sense of freedom that offers unprecedented numbers of purely optional experiences. Unlike in past FF games, you now progress by tackling bite-sized missions. And about half of the game’s missions, cut-scenes, and dungeons are purely elective—serious players will love ferreting out every last bonus quest. Plus, X-2 features three different endings—a totally cool feature that’s never before been offered by an ffgame. Oddly, X-2 trips up in the one area where FF titles usually shine: presentation. Graphically, it’s a gorgeous game...but prepare for a wicked deja vu. Approximately 90 percent of the environments and enemies are lifted directly from FFX. Yes, this is the same world and all...but an effort to present these places in a new way would have really helped. Conversely, I wish they had reused more of FFX's haunting musical themes here—most of the overly bubbly new music sounds like 70s porno soundtrack leftovers. Luckily, the multifaceted story, deep character customization, and excellent battle system balance out the redundant visuals and cheesy tunes. Bottom line: if you dug FFX, you’ll also wanna play this. And if you like RPGs but somehow missed out the first time, pick ’em both up.
I know a lot of people have the wrong idea about Final Fantasy X-2.1 know the game’s got naughty outfits, bincy-bouncy pop music, and utterly silly plot twists (FF freaks will probably complain about the girl-on-girl back-rub minigame...well, some of ’em, anyway). I know it takes the sober tone of the world’s top console RPG series and turns it into Spira 90210. It doesn’t matter—X-2 is still the best thing going for RPG fans right now. Almost every deviation X-2 takes from the established Final Fantasy norm has paid off. The battle system has undergone a complete overhaul—the battles are in real time, and you can earn damage bonuses if you time your team’s attacks correctly. Instead of summons, you have dresspheres that transform your characters into fighters, mages, samurai, and pop singers, each with its own set of latent abilities. The result: The battles in X-2 are scarily engaging. Jiggering your attacks, rearranging your dresspheres, getting chain combos to work just right...it all works so naturally, and it’s the first RPG battle system in a very, very long time that didn’t put me to sleep. Combine this with a nonlinear story system that rewards multiple playthroughs (you’ll likely see only half the game on your first play), and you have a Final Fantasy that’s both hip with the kids and rewarding to RPG maniacs. Check your inhibitions at the door...and let’s party!
I’m sure a lot of Final Fantasy fans will struggle with this game for the same reason I did: I just couldn’t believe I was enjoying it so much. I mean, I knew I’d like it. It’s Final Fantasy, after all, with some of my favorite characters returning to a world I loved. But the new tone and the fact that it’s the first-ever true sequel makes it something altogether different. So here’s the deal: Don’t fight it. Get into the groove, and you’ll be treated to a raucous ride that’s certain to be some of the most fun you’ve ever had with a Final Fantasy. I love the story, I adore the addictive battle system, and I can’t wait to play through the game again to unlock an even better ending. Even Shane’s nitpick about repetitive environments didn’t bother me—and all because of those warm, fuzzy feelings I got revisiting those familiar yet drastically changed (machine in a Yevon temple?!?) environs.
Download Final Fantasy X-2
Hopes are running high for X-2, Square's first-ever FF sequel to continue the plot of its predecessor. We finally got to spend some quality time with the Japanese version, and we're quite impressed (if a tad shocked) by what we saw. Here are three things you should know in advance about FFX-2.
From the outrageous Charlie's Angels-meets-Josie and the Pussycats opening cinema to the glitzy Dress Up system, nearly every aspect of the game exudes a carefree, cuddly, and ultimately cute vibe that's guaranteed to eke a smile out of even the most misanthropic RPG fanboy.
You'll be amazed by how much the new battle system changes the flow of the game--the girls move with lighting speed, monsters don't wait for you to "take your turn" before attacking, and the load times before and after encounters are pleasantly brief. Combat can be over in as little as 20 seconds.
IT'S WIDE OPEN
The mission-based gameplay allows you to choose your own path through the game, so you can take the adventure at your own pace. It's the first Final Fantasy to offer multiple endings (at least five), depending on your route through the game. For example, that optional girl-on-girl massage mission may lead to a "happy ending."
As you read this, legions of Japanese gamers are already enjoying Final Fantasy X-2, the first-ever direct sequel to an FFgame. Lamentably, we're still a good six to eight months away from its U.S. release (due to translation time, English dubbing, global market positioning, yadda yadda), but now that it's out somewhere, at least we finally know more about X-2 than "Yuna looks mighty good in those daisy dukes."
First off, fans desperately want to know what's up with the plot. Here's the scoop--two years after Tidus, Yuna, and Co. defeated the world-destroying beast known as Sin, the realm of Spira has begun to heal its physical, spiritual, and social wounds. Yuna, however, has yet to fully recover from Tidus' uh...mysterious disappearance after trouncing the monster (how's that for spoiler-free?). Luckily, all hope isn't lost. After finding a magical sphere hinting to his whereabouts, Yuna sets off with cousin Rikku and a mysterious new friend named Paine to find more spheres and, hopefully, her missing boyfriend.
Just as Yuna's put away her old summoner's robes in favor of frolicsome hip-huggers, the developers bravely steamrolled much of FFXs established game-play for this sequel. First off, X-2 is mission based. Instead of going about the quest in a purely linear fashion, you can now tackle a large number of miniadventures in any order you choose, thanks to the gals' globetrotting Celsius airship. The overall narrative remains intact, but what you see along the way to your ultimate goal is completely up to you. Also, Square has revamped the combat system, bringing back the classic Final Fantasy Active Time Battle con cept (where enemies will continue to pummel your characters while you make your choices). The end result: faster, more dangerous combat. Yuna also sees more action while scampering about the field and dungeon screens. Now, she can jump and pull herself up onto ledges. Don't worry, she's not going all Lara Croft on us, but it adds some excitement to the previously uneventful walking bits. Finally, FFX's Sphere Grid character customization system gets trashed in favor of the all-new Job Wheel system, a melding of Final Fantasy t/'s beloved job system and playing dress-up (see sidebar).
The one area X-2 hasn't changed much from its prequel is in its graphics. Since it takes place in the same world as its forerunner, you'll visit many of the same locations, only updated with two years of renovation. You'll view previously unseen areas of Spira as well, so it's not merely a nostalgic geographical retread. As expected, Square also includes a healthy dose of brilliant CG cinemas and ridiculously over-the-top spell effects. The music, however, might blindside you. Longtime series composer Nobuo Uematsu isn't involved at all. Instead, The Bouncer's sound team delivers a mix of pop, R&B, and other styles you'd never expect on an FF soundtrack. But change can be a good thing, right?
We, as gamers, have been given a unique gift in FFX2, the gift of a real, actual, sequel. Continuing the events from FFX, you'll take up the role of three unique female characters; Yuna and Rikku, whom you know from the original, and a new character, Paine. Noble adventurers on a quest just like any other Final Fantasy game, the experience you'll direct them through this time is far from ordinary.
First things first, we'll get the basics out of the way. The engine, CGI, and many gameplay elements are virtually identical to FFX, especially given that much of the scenery, character design, and overall production elements have been reused. While there is original material to look at, it feels at first unusual for a Final Fantasy game to repeat like this. However, that strange feeling fades quickly, and with the similar makeup of the game, you'll be playing the storyline immediately.
The most rewarding elements in this title were its new gameplay mechanics, freedom of travel, and new ability system. You'll start off the game with an airship, giving you the ability to visit any of the places from the FFX, any of which could contain a side quest or new info that'll help you on your main quest. Combat is similarly open, with a character acting instantly once you use their command, with a special bonus given if you can manage to attack opponents with multiple combo'd attacks.
As for the new abilities, they're somewhat like the job system from previous FF titles. You equip Dresspheres, putting your characters into different costumes, all of which vary their special abilities and actions. The songstress cannot use the attack command, but can bust out some hardcore magic, whereas the warrior has no innate dance abilities like the songstress. With garment grids adding another element, you can equip each character with a different grid, specializing them to your favorite style of combat. When you switch costuming on the garment grid (which can be done in the middle of combat, btw) you can pass through special areas of the grid that add certain benefits, like the ability to cast Cure, or a +5 to your Magic rating.
All in all, while FFX2 could've been better, as it does rely significantly on the design of FFX, it's still a top notch title. It can be a little too 'pop' music style, but once you get over that, it's just as dramatic as any other FF game.