Friday, January 27, 2012

Final Fantasy X journal - entry one

I'm really digging the pacing of Final Fantasy X. It's taken its time to set things up, but also introduced the party members in a most timely fashion. I'm honestly not sure where the story will go, but I'm far enough into the game to get a general sense of what might lie ahead. As the game seems to have confirmed, Auron has access to something that allows him to travel through time. I assume this is Sin, but how exactly he is able to move backwards is beyond me at present.

If I'm being completely honest, I was not particularly thrilled about having Tidus as the main character early on. He came across as rather obnoxious, decided to cop a serious 'tude when Rikku and her Al Bhed group came to his rescue, and somehow took to all his confusion and misfortune as being trivial the moment he saw Wakka playing Blitzball. He was stupid, brash and impulsive; even a bit whiny. Thankfully, his character has improved over the course of a few hours. Now that he's accepted the possibility that he might never return to Zanarkand, he's become a much more likeable character, and has presented a few moments of rather deep thought. I really like the way that I (as the player) am constantly exposed to two versions of Tidus - the version of him that is embarking on the journey, learning as he goes, and the future version of him who is reflecting on his travels with Yuna and company.

One thing that stood out to me after only a few hours of play is the fact that Final Fantasy X is, by and large, quite linear in its design. That's not to say that I don't enjoy it. It's just that I feel most criticisms about how linear Final Fantasy XIII is are unmerited, considering this is nothing new to the series. As of right now, Final Fantasy X's battle system is my favorite of the four core games I've played. While I like Final Fantasy IV's battle system, it can present some really tense moments as I try to balance offense and defense, knowing that the enemy can still attack while I choosing my moves. I've messed up more than a few times trying to beat the AI in FFIV, which, in some cases, cost me a lot. FFX's battle system seemed a little strange a first, but in reality it isn't too far removed from that of the original Final Fantasy. And it works really well, so I'm not complaining.

The soundtrack is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Some of the tracks may not be on as epic a scale of those in, say, FFXIII. But they certainly fit the atmosphere of FFX wonderfully. Though it is a 2001 release, the graphics and art style both look pretty good. In all honesty, I was never much a fan of the artistic direction Square chose for Final Fantasy VII. X has the right blend of realistic characters and stylized environments. The cutscenes are beautifully rendered as always, and the transitions between gameplay and cutscenes have proven surprisingly fluid. I expected the load times and transitional phases to be a bit longer, but the reality of it all has been a most pleasant surprise.

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