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   Final Fantasy X-2 - Review  

What can I do for you?
by Steve Przestrzelski

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Medium-Hard
COMPLETION TIME
50-100 Hours
OVERALL

4/5

Rating definitions 

   "What can I do for you?" is what Yuna asks Spira's people after single-handedly saving the world from a never-ending cycle of destruction. After destroying Sin forever and saving Spira, Yuna embarks on a new journey of self-discovery in the first ever direct sequel to a Final Fantasy game. Sporting a new look, Yuna scours the world with her cousin Rikku and newcomer Paine, for clues surrounding a mysterious sphere that contains imagery of her lost love, Tidus, or someone who looks like him.

   The beginning starts with a bang. Set in Luca's blitzball stadium, Rikku and Paine are seen wandering around the halls and kicking butt while a concert is being set up. Yuna, the current High Summoner, reveals that she's the star of the show, and promises to give the audience the best performance of her life. Yuna walks on stage and gives the audience a first look at a "spherechange," switching from her FFX kimono to a more revealing blue number with a five-foot-ponytail. Is this really Yuna, the strong-willed heroine from two years ago, singing and grooving to a pop number? With a theme of "change," it is not surprising to see Yuna act differently than she did before. Yuna even has a chance to explore the environment more, with the aid of climbing using the circle button. Told through Yuna's eyes, the game is broken down into five chapters, each one comprised of numerous missions. Considered nothing more than a cheap stab at money, or a game directed at adolescent boys; this game has a lot of heart, and is very fun to play. Being mission-based, the game is far from the linearity that plagued its predecessor.

   In the previous game, the CTB battle system was introduced, and it seemed to fit the game like a gauntlet. However, the slower battles did not fit the mood of a mission-based game, so the ATB system returned once again, but tweaked into a way that it is all real-time. Battles are fast-paced, with enemies attacking continuously and relentlessly. Of course, the girls also have this advantage, and can deal out damage to even halt an enemy's attack. The setup of allies and enemies is completely random, and an attack that results in a miss can place the attacker or target in a different position on the field. Dresspheres revert to the job systems found in Final Fantasy IIIj, V, and Tactics. While equipping these spheres on a Garment Grid, FFX-2's equivalent to a mini sphere grid, the gals can change jobs on the fly anytime during battle. Garment Grids contain nodes that activate when a girl passes through one while during a spherechange. Some of these nodes grant resistance, skills, and even stat increases. Classic jobs such as White Mage, Black Mage, Thief, Samurai and Warrior make a return as useable jobs along with some obscure mixes of jobs from past games. For example, the Songstress is a combination of a Dancer and Bard, Alchemist combines Rikku's "Mix" Overdrive with a Chemist's job, and Gun Mage is essentially the Blue Mage of the group. Even with such diverse jobs, not all have the means to attack physically. Equipping accessories and Garment Grids can also grant abilities such as casting black magic, cutting down wait times, and even adding an element or status effect to one's attack. Another notable point is that Overkilling enemies is nixed, and instead, enemies can now Oversoul which increases their stats quite drastically depending on whether enough of that specific fiend have been killed for it to happen. Also, the Overdrives of FFX have been replaced with a Special Dressphere, one for each girl, that is usable once each dressphere on the Garment Grid has been changed to at least once. While each Special Dressphere must be found, a spherechange to one sends the other two girls off the playing field. The character that changes into her special dress sphere has her regular attacks replaced with special attacks and gains control of two additional appendages, provided by the sphere, with which to deal even more damage. Unlike FFX, these limit attacks are available until the player spherechanges back or is KO'ed.

   While Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano composed a beautiful soundtrack for FFX, Eguchi and Matsueda (of The Bouncer fame) make their debut in a Final Fantasy game. Change is the theme and the game's music is a great example of this. The music has more techno/rock/dance numbers, but they fit the overall tone. "YRP Battle"(s) 1-3 were very well-made in this sequel. With a rock base, each piece encourages players to fight against the enemy. Like FFX before it, FFX-2 boasts two vocal pieces played during the game, with Jade from Sweetbox providing the vocals. "real Emotion" is a techno/dance number that Yuna belts out during the concert in Luca. The idea of Yuna singing pop songs may seem cheesy, but the song provides a look into the past and present stories with its lyrics. It may be pop music, but music plays a large role in the overall story. "1000 Words" is the second theme song, and is a very soft ballad. Played during a performance on the airship, the US version was changed from the original Japanese in the form of a duet at the end instead of a solo. "1000 Words" actually plays an important role during the later part of the game and story. Instead of just background music, it is sung for the first time by a character. Two memorable piano tracks are "Kuon: Memories of Light and Waves," the soothing title track, and "Yuna's Ballad," a piece that is heard when Yuna's emotions come into play. Like its predecessor, FFX-2 allows for the buying of music spheres; however, one cannot get the full collection until you beat the game.

   Hedy Burress and Tara Strong return for their characters voices, and hit Yuna and Rikku's personalities right on target. During her two years of peacefulness, Yuna has become more open and vocal with her opinions, and even has some of Tidus's charismatic wit. During a conversation with some leaders of various factions, Yuna makes sarcastic remarks and even mocks her timidness on her previous adventure while talking in Bevelle. Gwendoline Yeo voices Paine, and matches her moody and sarcastic tone with great accuracy. Because of the decrease in playable characters, battle quotes and sayings are abundant with each and every battle. YRP (the acronym for Yuna, Rikku, and Paine) will make comments from the beginning to end of the battle, making references to past games as well as outside references.

   In FFX, Yuna was on a quest to save the world from the beast, Sin. After conquering the menace and restoring peace to the people, she retired to her home on Besaid Island. In the Eternal Calm, a 20 minute movie featured on an OPM demo disc, Yuna's life without Sin is revealed. Rikku comes to visit and brings along a sphere that contains footage of someone who looks like Tidus imprisoned somewhere. Yuna decides to kick back a little, let down her hair, and search the world for a chance to see her love again. FFX-2 is lighthearted and has a fun storyline. However, like other Final Fantasies, it has a deep meaning that explains some of the mysteries surrounding Tidus and Yuna's meeting. Once again, Yuna is off to save the world that she once thought she would have had to die for.

   The visuals in this sequel have surpassed those found in FFX. The in-game graphics have been improved, and clipping isn't evident as it was in FFX. The real-time facial expressions have also been improved, as well as the in-game models. While Yuna's kimono skirt had a tendency to stretch out and ruin the floral pattern, her new side skirt sways (along with her ponytail) realistically as she runs, walks, and climbs. Her in-game earring has also been fixed so the colors are the same from ingame to FMV, and it does not jab into her chest like it did in FFX. The only graphical problems occurred during battle. When using the Gun Mage's "Scan" ability, you have the option to rotate, zoom in and zoom out of the character a la FFVIII. However, when viewing some outfits, then some parts of it stick straight down, not forming to the body's shape. This is most evident with Yuna and Rikku's Gunner dressphere, where the side skirt will cut right through their legs, and Rikku's Samurai, where the sleeves will automatically extend straight. One complaint is that Yuna's facial and body graphics in the Songstress dressphere do not get the same high quality attention that her Gunner does out of battle, even when at important parts of the storyline where a close-up is required. The dresspheres themselves were creating controversy, with some players referring to them as "too revealing" and even complaining about Yuna's new look. Sure, the FFX Yuna would never wear that, but during her travels with Tidus she learned how to open up more. Besides, Rikku picked out her outfit to make people less aware that Yuna was journeying again. The Gunner outfit is something people would least expect her to wear out in public. Rikku sheds most of her clothing to accompany her cousin, but she's also strayed from her tomboy life and has gotten in touch with her feminine side. Yuna's ponytail and Rikku's longer hair are not natural to grow within the few months after the Eternal Calm side story, but they are relevant of Garment Grids and dresspheres' mechanics.

Caption Yuna's showing her emotions

   While it seems confusing at first, the first couple of missions actually take you through a tutorial of sorts. The battle speed can also be changed to "wait" for the weak hearted. With the job system back, battles take on a strategic feel as you change between mages, fighters, and support jobs. Bosses from the previous game also show up as random enemy encounters along the journey. Especially with an optional mission in Chapter 5 involving a 100 floor dungeon, the battles become increasingly difficult as you press on.

   The game can be beaten quite quickly if you do all the mandatory missions. However, doing so may cost the player the chance to see some other endings. If someone really wants the absolute perfect ending, they shouldn't be surprised to sit and play over 100 hours of this game hunting down hidden missions and examining everything.

   The menus are very simple to navigate. The Garment Grid option allows players to customize each grid with the spheres they have collected so far, and can even remove or add all at the drop of a hat. Those not wanting to use up items can use the White Magic option to heal any wound the party may have. Of course, the White Mage dressphere must have been acquired to open up this option. The Dressphere choice just allows you to see which dresspheres are in the player's possession, and gives a little description about them. Configuration is where one can set up the Wait or Active aspect of the battle and other features that fit the player's style. Equip is where most of the time in the menu takes place. Equipping accessories, Garment Grids, and current dressphere all take place in this option. With so many combinations of possibilities with the dresspheres, it's easier to be able to change Garment Grids and accessories all in one stop.

   Localization is excellent, to say the least. Translation errors are nonexistent, even with tons of previous FF and outside references. Everything from item descriptions to battle phrases are translated perfectly, and the humor isn't lost in the process. The inclusion of the edited Thunder Plains concert in the North American version adds a nice touch for an overseas release. Final Fantasy X-2 International: Last Mission was released soon after the North American release with the inclusion of this change as well as a side story after the events of FFX-2, but only as a Japan-only release.

Caption "Bring it, punk!"

   Final Fantasy X-2 is unique with its take on the job and battle system. Being from Yuna's perspective adds a different feel to the game. Sure it's the same world with same characters, but it feels so different at the same time. Sin is no longer a threat, so Spira is in a state of the Eternal Calm. People are rebuilding their lives, and rebuilding a new Spira where Sin's threat is nonexistent. Instead of some big bad villain, people are divided based on their beliefs. Politics threaten to divide families and friends, and everyone is unaware of a grave mistake that occurred in Spira 1000 years ago under the same circumstances.

   People generally dislike the game because it dares to be different. Some people complain about the music, and others about the costumes. It's an extremely addicting game that finishes up a beautiful story. After one finishes the game, there's a chance to start again with all items, dresspheres and abilities, and Garment Grids in the player's inventory. It just has an air to it that makes it so fun to play. The battles are great, the music is awesome, and Yuna proves to people that she can handle her own, even with two pistols in her possession.

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