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Games Entertainment

Review: Final Fantasy X 256

Every Christmas season brings with it a storm of new game releases, just in time for the gift-buying frenzy. This year however, marks the release of SquareSoft's first Final Fantasy title for the PS2. I was lucky enough to snag a copy soon after release and spend some time with it. Read on for my first impressions.

I expected a lot from Final Fantasy X, if only because it's Square's first RPG outing on PS2. Within the FF series, every time the jump to a new console was made, it resulted in either better graphics or gameplay, or in this case, both. Although fighting a battle in FFX initially feels like fighting a battle in one of it's predecessors there's been a significant amount of changes to the combat system.

I'm not going to discuss much in the way of plot or characters, because if you're like me, you'll want to discover that part on your own, since the plot is what keeps console RPGs moving.

What's New?

Final Fantasy games have always been rather combat-heavy, and leveling up at different times had gotten mind-numbingly boring. In an effort to change that, there are many more options during combat. Characters can be swapped in and out of combat at any time, and they can perform moves as soon as entering the battle, so it's no longer a big deal when you have to fight the weak-against-magic monster and you forgot to include a magic user in the party. In the same way, summons (called Aeons this time around) remain summoned until one dismisses them, replacing the party in battle. When an Aeon's HP drops to zero, the party is brought back into battle, but the Aeon can also be dismissed before that. There's still random battles just like previous games in the series, but it feels like they turned down the frequency of the battles a bit, especially from last year's FF9.

What would be a new Final Fantasy without a new magic system? This time around, it's a little quirky, but it doesn't disappoint. Remember when I mentioned leveling up being boring? Well this time around there's no character levels. Instead, everything is determined by a large sphere grid, that the characters move on using points they accrue by fighting battles. At various points in the grid, characters can lay different types of spheres that enhance them with new abilities, increased character starts, or more max HP/MP. The result is a non-linear system which is more open ended than magic systems of the past, allowing for greater character customization. The trick is to guide a character to the places on the grid that will allow him/her to get the skills desired while using the least amount of sphere levels (which are essentially travel points). Backtracking on the grid is allowed, but is also counterproductive.

Now onto the most fun part of the game: the graphics! With the capability of the PS2 at its disposal, this is easily the best looking ever Final Fantasy title ever, and it's a beautiful world that's been painted. While walking around, the world really comes alive, as trees sway and grass moves as wind goes past. Many of the characters' facial expressions are done in realtime, and while the scenes aren't picture perfect, they are a far cry from the jagged polygonal models on Playstation as well as the two dimensional sprites from the earlier FF titles. The battle sequences look better than ever also, as characters move more fluidly, and enemies do as well. The already stunning realtime animations are augmented by amazing FMV sequences. My only small complaint here is that there's no way to skip the movies entirely. Since it's still my first time playing the game, I haven't wanted to skip anything, but I still feel sorry for the impatient. There is, however, a configuration setting to turn off the extended summoning animations, so there won't be a five minute wait for the huge Aeons enter from space.

Something else FFX features for the first time in a Final Fantasy game: voice acting! Although not every bit of dialogue is dubbed, the voices that are dubbed are done better than I expected. My only complaint is that the lips were synched to the Japanese dialogue, and never resynched during importing. However, that never stopped me from enjoying a Kung Fu movie, and it doesn't stop me from enjoying the game either. Given that the game was released two months earlier than originally planned, I'll let this detail slide.

What's the Same?

Although the magic system was overhauled, most of the spells are still the same. There's still three levels of elemental spells, and an Ultima spell, and so on. Also, it wouldn't be much of a Final Fantasy without chocobos, and they are featured yet again.

When Final Fantasy IX was released last year, it featured characters with the traditional Final Fantasy classes, like summoner, white mage, blue mage, etc. I think Squaresoft found that players enjoyed the return to these classes, and decided to continue the trend. Although each character is ultimately customizable into any class, they each start with suggest paths across the sphere grid that resemble one of the classes.


Well, if my synopsis of the game didn't sound glowing already, let me reiterate. This game is fun! I had more fun playing the first few hours of FFX than I have had while beating other games. After seeing the character designs for the game, I was worried it might degrade into a "Dude, Where's My Water Sword?" kind of angst-ridden adventure, but instead it's just been fun, and lots of it. On a ten point scale, I give this game a nine, and although it's a little early to call, it may be my favorite Final Fantasy yet. Battle is integrated well with the plot, and with the tutorials placed within the game itself, I'd even recommend this game for those who may not necessarily be RPG fans.

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Review: Final Fantasy X

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  • by dimator ( 71399 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @08:16AM (#2736847) Homepage Journal
    Gamespot's [], because I almost always agree with them.
    • The quality of Gamespot's reviews really depend on the editor. Sometimes I get the impression that they're just trying to be elitist, and other times it's like they're getting paid by the point they give out. Gamespotting rules, though.
  • ATB (Score:2, Interesting)

    by raindog151 ( 157588 )
    i'm still not quite sure why they removed the active time battle system from this one. generally speaking, the ff fighting system from 7-9 was easy enough to 'not die' in. the ATB system at least kept me on my toes.

    generally speaking (and yes, i haven't gotten to a decent boss fight as of yet) it would seem that 'this monster attacks for about 310 damage, this character will need to heal this character next round' now. seems a tad bit stupified.

    • Re:ATB (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nologin ( 256407 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @09:51AM (#2737034) Homepage
      Well, I've managed to get further into the game, and I can understand why they got rid of ATB.

      Some of the boss battles do require some intelligent choices, especially with regards to replacing party members with reserves during battle. With turn based, you have a better idea of when you want to do substitutions. If a character is in danger, you have a good idea if you should bring in a reserve or try to heal.

      It's especially useful when using Lulu (trying to avoid spoilers). She starts in a Black Magic area of the sphere grid. With a low HP maximum and no quick way to improve that stat, she nearly requires constant healing at the beginning of the game.

      So, while I can't gauge how much of a difference in difficulty it makes, I'm glad that ATB is gone. Especially considering that they removed the pause feature during a battle.
      • Re:ATB (Score:2, Interesting)

        by raindog151 ( 157588 )
        i did notice in the first underwater battle, the pincer attack on the squid thingy. that was an interesting feature to the battle system, but it's nothing that couldn't be done with the ATB.

        i haven't even tried doing substitutions yet. it might work out for the better in that regard. ATB was never a perfect system, but i do think that it really added a sort of 'quick thinking' mentality, as in me rushing to think what the heck to do before the meter filled up.

        i'm not really knocking what they've done, it's more of a lament for the feature that i've grown to love over all these years.
  • Final? (Score:5, Funny)

    by cstrommen ( 254974 ) <number1@ k d e . org> on Friday December 21, 2001 @08:26AM (#2736864) Homepage
    Isn't it about time they renamed it "Almost Final Fantasy" ?
    • Re:Final? (Score:5, Funny)

      by goodEvans ( 112958 ) <> on Friday December 21, 2001 @08:50AM (#2736899) Homepage
      • Penultimate Fantasy?
      • Numerically So High It May Seem There Can Be No Subsequent Fantasy?
      • Final Fantasy Till Next Time?
      • Oh God Not Another Fantasy?
      • Even More Final Than The Last Final Fantasy?

      Heh. What will the actual last Final Fantasy game be called? Final Final Fantasy? Final Fantasy: The Final Fantasy?

    • actually there is a reason for that name. The original final fantasy was made when the company was in serious economic was called final fantasy, because they thought it was the last game they'd ever make :P

      heh, talk about ironony...the seamingly neverending (but awsome) series is named after a game they thought would be there last.
    • It's probably called Final Fantasy because it never ends... well... until the money runs out anyway.
    • But it is the Final Fantasy.

      Have you ever seen a sequel to a Final Fantasy game?

      No - because they don't exist. FFX is not FFIX's sequel - it's a successor. FFX has nothing to do with FFIX, which had nothing to do with FFVIII, all the way back to FFI.

      Final Fantasy is called "Final Fantasy" because it is the *world's* final fantasy - if you fail. The basic plot of every Final Fantasy is the same - somehow, something or someone is going to destroy the world, and you need to stop them.

      Yah, yah, the original post was meant to be a joke, but really - the name *does* make sense. At least, more sense than the "Final" Friday the 13th, or the "Final" Nightmare on Elm Street.
      • Actually, Final Fantasy is called "Final Fantasy" because Square was almost bankrupt, and it was going to be the last game they ever put out - except that it became hugely popular, put them back in the black, and started a new era in RPGs.

        On the other hand, your explanation is much more poetic.

  • Money for old rope (Score:2, Interesting)

    by slayer99 ( 15543 )
    I can't deny the the FF series have been visually stunning, moreso with every release but the constant stream of releases has, to me, meant the quality of game play has dropped considerably.

    Droolsome graphics don't /always/ win. :)
    • Yes, the Graphics are amazing, but i totaly aggree about the drop in GamePlay...I found the last few releases _very_ dull, and i had a hard time playing for more then 20 minutes or so.
  • FF Beauty (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Digitalia ( 127982 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @08:36AM (#2736876) Homepage
    Call me a luddite, but the most beautiful Final Fantasy game I'd played was FFVI. 3d just wasn't good enough to draw my attention away from the classical FF. But FFX may finally have succeeded and hopefully I'll be able to see the other FF games in a better light, now. The majesty of FFVI will not be forgotten.
  • Gamefaq Error (Score:2, Informative)

    by inerte ( 452992 )
    If you click the sphere screenshot link you will see this message:

    "Referer Link Error

    On every single HTML page of GameFAQs is the following request:
    Feel free to link to this page, but not directly to the FAQs.."

    So, go directly to
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I just don't think FF is all that compelling. Sure, its cute to see the cut-scene animations, but ultimately this is a board game with clever graphics.

    Pretty boring considering the games that make better use of a computer as a medium for entertainment.
    • Agreed. I have tried to play and enjoy games of this type since the days of the NES - but ALWAYS find disappointment, impatience and frustration.

      If I want to watch CGI I'll see Monsters Inc or Toy Story!
      • I know where you're coming from, but my defense of FF games is the same as my gripe about the FF movie: You're never going to get as involved with a 2 1/2 hour long story, as you are with a 100+ hour story. FF7 was by far my favorite title of the series, and it was also the one I played the longest. The characters simply become more "real," the longer you spend engrossed in the world.

        Besides.... who would you rather look at? Yuna, Lulu, and Rikku? Or Mike Wazowski and Buzz Lightyear?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm really failing to see what's wrong with a board game, though. *IS* there something actually wrong with a board game? I love a good board game. In fact, I think I'd rather play a good board game than just about anything else that comes out for computers.

      In honesty, the real options I see available are pointless driving games, mindless sports games, senseless action games, and the on-and-off release of yet another RTS game that is hailed as the next big thing but which, when looked at critically, is basically Command and Conquer with a different interface (which is itself Dune 2 with a different interface). Compared to this pile of tripe, even the most repetetive CRPG is at least mildly interesting. Exciting ones, like The Legend of Dragoon, are nothing but stunning.

      Ugh...I'm rambling. The point is that I don't mind a board game. Managing a Final Fantasy combat is far more mentally engaging than a lot of the garbage in computer gaming, and I won't deny the "board game" analogy. Most of the enduring board games are mentally engaging, fun, and constantly interesting. Given that FF is now the longest running CRPG series ever, I think that's a sign that it's obviously a damned good board game.

      (Although it's still not nearly as much fun to play as, say, Kessen or Kessen II)
    • by frunch ( 513023 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @10:01AM (#2737067) Homepage
      No way, man! First of all the gameplay system is amazing! There's a totally new, revamped magic system in which your magic meter tells you the same information but in a different way. Oh, and magic isn't called magic in this one, it's called mana, or moglee or mechlo, or something like that. Anyway, it's TOTALLY different from magic. And the fighting system? It's been completely revamped with new camera angles and magic animations that are over 1/2 an hour long!

      And wait until you hear the plot! It's totally mindblowing!!!! Supposedly, it involves an evil boss who wants to control the world, and you have to stop him. (the big secret is that evil boss 1 is actually being controlled by a bigger and MORE EVIL evil boss 2!!!) Who knows... I've even heard rumors that there's a REALLY BIG, REAAAALLY EVIL evil boss 3 controlling them all, who wants to destroy the world!

      And supposedly, there's a great back-story about your character where you learn that about the mysterious background of your character!!! And I thought he was just a simple cyber-hyper-techno ball player!! Who would've known!!

      (sorry if I've given away too much of the plot!)
    • could say that about the Game Industry in genreal. Vusuals != Great game.
  • What the...? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @09:06AM (#2736931) Homepage
    • Given that the game was released two months earlier than originally planned

    And in other news, our weather reporter mounted on a flying pig advises all you denizens of Hell to wrap up warm, because there's a cold snap coming on.

    Actually, it's not that surprising. I'm about to embark on a port of some software for the Japanese market, and I've been told to multiply my estimate by 3. I mean, pad it as much as I usually do, then multiply by 3. The Japanese market habitually underpromises and overdelivers, in stark contrast to marketing driven North America and Europe. How quaint!

    • It was obviously released early to get it out int time for the holiday season......they would of been pretty dumb not to......
    • that sounds like the episode of ST:TNG when they find scotty and he is advising geordi of how to really become an awe-inspiring engineer. something along the lines of (heavily paraphrasing from distant memory):

      scotty: why did ya tell the cap'n it would take 1 week?

      geordi: because that is about how long i think it will take.

      scotty: (sighing). i know, but ye tell the cap'n 2 weeks, and when you finish it in 1, they'll think yer a genius.

  • by SDrag0n ( 532175 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @09:09AM (#2736939)
    Personally, I liked the older Final Fantasies. The new ones seem like punching buttons through a movie. In the old ones (FF, FF2, FF3 or FF, FF4, FF6) They had some much more interesting puzzles and even if the characters are 2D, I think the game was more fun to play.
    • I have to agree totally. The older titles played much better and had IMHO a better graphical style than even today's 3D versions. FFII and FFIII are the highlights of the series (US releases anyway), and I still play them to this day on good ol' SNES9x. Fantastic!
      • by Jaysyn ( 203771 )
        Final Fantasy Anthology for the PSX is very sweet. The cute, blocky characters that we grew up with combined with the newer FMV Movies (that replace the original scripted cutscenes). It rules!! I got my copy for $25 from a used media store.

        • FF Anthology, FF Chronicles, and the individual Japanese PSX re-releases of these games are great, but there's nothing like playing the originals on SNES/SFC. The tracks for these games were _made_ for the SNES synth, and the PSX just can't deliver the same effect. Oddly enough, the SNES audio hardware was designed by Sony.

          < tofuhead >

    • by jmu1 ( 183541 ) <`jmullman' `at' `'> on Friday December 21, 2001 @10:32AM (#2737178) Journal
      It has a lot to do with the fact that it is on a movie system, not a gaming system. Playstation 1 & 2 are both riddled with games hidden within movies. This mainly comes from the fascination with 3D realism and whatnot that game development shops have gotten into. It is a shame to see it happen, but perhaps there is hope with Nintendo's GameCube. They have always been a minimalist shop that believed that the game was the most important thing, and the stories/graphics were supportive to the whole, not the whole in and of itself. An exception to the rule: 'sports' games. For instance the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series is a great deal more entertaining than hitting the x button to get past all the movies/transition scenes. Really, is it worth our while to have to watch the hero in SoulReaver 2 open and close doors, or can he just open and close doors during game play? "More matter, less art" -- Gertrude to Hamlet
    • I concur and want to throw Chrono Trigger into the comparison as well. There's something about every FF including 7 (which was still pretty good) that seems like a thinly veiled new age storyline. Nobuo Uematsu's music is definately best when he's futher left of Japanese pop culture aspects.

      Final Fantasy 2 is my favourite to date.

    • I also liked the older ones, although I do find myself playing FFVII now and then. However, with my lack of patience for the battle system, I probably look more like I'm playing "Track and Field" on the old NES than any RPG. Having to sit through the summonings is brutal. Can't there just be a MAIM spell and get it over with?
    • A GREAT quote from the message column on

      Absolutely. FFIV's cinematic elements were always the main reason it stood out. (Seeing such an involved plot in a '91 video game was unheard of.) That used to be my argument in the once-endless old-skewlers/newbie debates. Ever felt like you were watching a movie instead of playing a game? Sounds like FFIV, the only game in the FF series in which your party is pre-determined at all times for the sake of the story, and the only FF game to give the player no control whatsoever over the characters' development and abilities. Holding up FFIV as an example of gameplay-over-cinematics is as ridiculous as heradling Chrono Trigger as an untainted classic from before the invasion of painstakingly-drawn flashy graphics, three-character parties, and total lack of difficulty.

      Very well said.

      -- Dr. Eldarion --
  • BLIZTBALL bugs?! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I love this game, but how the hell are you supposed to control the blitzball team? My guys completely suck. That action menu to pss or shoot doesnt open when I hit square and i have to wiat for an encounter to shoot. Is this a bug or what?
  • Grrrr (Score:3, Funny)

    by Malorian ( 520615 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @09:12AM (#2736945)
    By the time FF X is released in the UK, you lot will have played through 'Finished Fantasy I'...
  • If you are not a graphics whore, the earlier FF games are just as good, if not better and free as in beer if you can find an emulation site. plus you get to play them on your PC (and hack your stats when you get bored.) The story line of FF4 and the incredible set of character in FF6 will never be matched. Save your money and play the games when they were about the epic story telling and not the eye candy.
    • by Dimensio ( 311070 ) <> on Friday December 21, 2001 @09:50AM (#2737029)
      The earlier FF games are not "free", as the copyright is still owned by Squaresoft and in fact the three Super Famicom incarnations of the Final Fantasy series were re-released and still available for purchase for the Playstation console. Stop encouraging people to commit software piracy and steal Squaresoft's well-deserved revenue you filthy thief.

      By the way, do you know if the latest translation patch for the Japanese Super Famicom FF6 has been released? I've been dying to patch my ROM image with it so I can see a more faithful translation of the dialogue.
      • Re:Old school (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I beg to differ. You yourself are no different than the gentleman of the previous post in that you say 'stop stealing from squaresoft'. Then you turn right around and ask for a translation for your pirated FF6j ROM.

        You sicken me.
      • I love the original Final Fantasy, the only game I STILL OWN for nintendo. (MY GOD it's 11 years old!) Problem is, I don't own a rusty old nintendo.

        Solution: Emulation. Since I actually own the game (the monster chart is always cool to pour over) it is legal, and save state on the PC has helped me time and again. Plus infinite Game genie codes, so you can triple your Black Belt's luck, and good old OOTPOV (32768 exp after every battle).

        Cheers mate, emulation isn't stealing, it's playing roms you don't own. Just like making MP# files from your CDs isn't illegal. I just don't happen to have a nintendo rom dumper sitting around so I rely on others.

  • by Talez ( 468021 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @09:17AM (#2736956)
    While I'm not denying Squaresoft's ability to write one hell of a story, the problem is that I play these games based on how well it battles as a primary trait rather than a bullet point on the box.

    ATB has long been the bane of PSX FF games. It was a relic of the limited integer processing capabilities of the SNES's processor and should be left firmly on that platform. It's about time they ditched it altogether and went for something more plausible like Grandia 2.

    If you've ever been lucky enough to be graced with this game's precense, you wont be sorry until you complete it, roughly 30 hours later. For those who'd rather get back to the old school days where battling was the game rather than watching an FMV-athon (FF8 ugh!), I'd heartily recommend this game.

    The battle system works by having a bar. At the left, you have WAIT. About two thirds of the way across you have COM. On the very end, you have ACT.

    The time between WAIT and COM is about as close as you get to ATB. From there, all hell brakes loose. The time between WAIT and COM is purely based upon character speed. The faster your character, the less time until it gets to choose its move.

    At COM phase time all time stops. You get a menu of possible actions.

    Combo attacks are quick to ACT but also require positioning, a swing and then a retreat. This can take much longer than a well powered special move and may not be appropriate for every situation. On the plus side they do between 2-4 hits depending on items equipped by the character.

    Combos will also keep a character pinned. Their icon on the COM-ACT bar will stop momentarily while being slapped down. Yes it is technically possible to keep a bossed pinned using normal attacks until you can Cancel them. More on that in a sec.

    Cancel attacks work by basically dragging a character back in the COM-ACT bar. The further advanced along their attack is, the greater amount you drag them back into the WAIT-COM portion. If you hit them before COM you will drag them back about 10-15%. Many a time it has been nailbitingly close to cancelling someone right after they get into COM. They are slower than combo attacks and only hit once so be careful how you use them too.

    Both these types of attacks can also Counter. If an enemy is at ACT phase and about to hit, a character can counter that enemy by using a faster initiative attack. Using something like a combo attack on an enemy about to dig into your healer is not only a brilliant way to save the healer but it also does extra damage! If you can time it perfectly, you can even cancel them, not only doing extra damage, but dragging them right back into the WAIT-COM phase.

    Last but not least is the special attack. These take the longest to charge but instantly start when you get to ACT. Some specials may even cancel. One of the cheapest moves in the game is to power up Ryudo to max ACT and then use his Tenseiken Slash to cancel a boss attack in process. This actually happens in under a tick when you have enough act and 5 star special. Specials also include magic so theres no need to explain that.

    While I havent begun to scratch the surface on the underlying mechanics of the special and magic egg system, I hope that this little explanation will tempt you to go out and grab it. With Dreamcasts being as cheap as they are, you could probably grab one and Grandia 2 for maybe $80 if your lucky. Even less second hand.

    Anyway, it'd be nice to see some alternatives reviewed rather than just overrated mainstream hype machines (IMHO anyway, but then again, I live for the battle so YMMV). Oh well, I hope that FFXI will outshine G2 and FFX by a long, long way.

    Also, if you are planning to complete this game, it take a few hours from getting the final weapon to seeing the last of the ending. Plan for at least 2-4 hours depending on how well you are along. I must warn you, the final boss is sheer endurance. He has an insane amount of hitpoints >:)
    • You know, for my roommate who hated how complex the junction system was in FFVIII, that sounds like hell on wheels to him. He plays the games for the interactive movie aspects and sometimes I think would prefer a return to the simpler battle systems of old.

      Personally, I'd like to see the following. When given a command (like attack) your characters run up to the enemy and start attacking, whittling off HP as time goes on. Enemies do the same. Your spellcasters can either automatically cast heals as necesarry, or you can micromanage them. Summons would appear in the battle like they do in FFX, but your party would stay around too. If someone hits the monsters with an area attack spell while another character is attacking, then that character takes damage as well. This is in my mind, the ultimate RTB system. You can naturally select any character at any time and have them do something else (like run away from melee with a monster so your mage can cast FIRE-3).

      It would also be neat if the magic system worked like it does in Niven's old Magic Goes Away universe. There would be magic rich and magic poor areas (and using too many flashy spells will start to deplete the magic from the area). There would be no "magic points" per say, so mages will be expected to use their magic pretty much constantly (spells would be not much stronger than swords though) in battle.

      Of course my caveat to the above is that my roommate would hate that battle system, since it distracts so much from the story.
      • It would also be neat if the magic system worked like it does in Niven's old Magic Goes Away universe. There would be magic rich and magic poor areas (and using too many flashy spells will start to deplete the magic from the area).

        Square did one better with Chrono Cross (the best PS1 RPG, IMHO) — every person and every "spell" (they called them Element Attacks) were assigned a color. The battlefield was made of circles, and for every spell that was cast, the low-level circle changed to the corresponding color of the spell. When the next spell was cast, the first color moved up one level. There are three levels on the battle field, an on the fourth spell, that color disappeared.

        So, what does this do? Well, if you had a character whose color was red, they were stronger in red circles (attack, defense, even magic) and weaker in blue circles (the opposite color). The Bad Guys were the same as well. Also, you could only use summons if the the entire battlefield was the same color as the summon element.

        Sounds kinda silly, and hard, but quite powerful when you had to be careful what colors the battlefied was and you just couldn't cast the same spell over and over again . .

    • ATB's a moot point now -- FFX went back to turn-based.
    • Wow. That was very long and thought out.

      Too bad it has no bearing on FFX. The Active Time Battle system was ditched for what they call a "Conditional Turn-Based" system. What that means, is that it's turn based, but there are things you can do to shift around character's positions on the timeline.

      Timeline? Yeah, you can see in a bar on the right the next ten moves.

      It's incredible, adds a lot of strategy to the game, not to mention alleviates that WAIT from the previous games with the ATB.
  • FFX aka... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @09:18AM (#2736958) Homepage
    • Final Fantasy 10: Now With 25% More of the Same Old Same Old
    • Final Fantasy 10: Purchase is Mandatory
    • Final Fantasy 10: Hey, If It Works For Microsoft...
    • Final Fantasy 10: Made from 90% Recycled Code.
    • Final Fantasy 10: The Muzak of Magic

    Don't get me wrong, I enjoy FF, but it really does seem like a candidate for an annual subscription and "Software as a Service"... ;-)

  • by Xerion ( 265191 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @09:18AM (#2736959)
    I may very well get flamed for saying this on slashdot, especially this thread, but I NEVER PLAYED a single FF game, NEVER.

    I bearly watched someone else play... total time logged watching = 13.3 min. I played RPG's before, both console but mostly PC-RPGs. I definitely go for the story more than anything. Well, under tremedous peer pressure, and the desire to join the majority, I've decided to start playing FF. But I have the following concerns, and hope some of you can help me out.

    1) Since I have ZERO knowledge of FF (did watch the movie tho, and it's below my expection), I dont know which one I should start with. Should I start with FFX, or is there any chronological order to the series (Ultima comes to mind).

    2) Which FF is the BEST, in terms of
    a) Story
    b) Character development
    c) Original Gameplay (magic/combat systems, etc.)
    d) Total enjoyment / amount of time needed to beat game. (Important ratio for someone with little free time)
    e) Graphics

    3) And which is the WORST FF game? I heard FF8 sucked due to its real-time rendering. So is there any FF that I should NOT touch?

    Hope someone will give me a start on the FF serious.

    And please dont flame me, or I might just to buy "Summoner" instead.
    • Personally, my favorite is FF6 (FF3 in the USA), but the original and 2 were good too. 7 is weird, 8 is okay. I'd go with one of the first 3 released in the US although they are for NES or SNES. Emulators work well for both of those systems though.
    • 1) Get ZSNES and get FF6. You wont be disappointed.

      2a) FF4

      b) FF6

      c) Draw between FF5 or FF6. Fanboys exist for both camps.

      d) Get all of the SNES versions on an emultator and just quit your school/job for a month or three.

      e) FFX

      3) 8. Don't touch it.
      • what is your vendetta against ff8?

        i bought ff8 on it's release date, and i will admit, i hated it. hated it so much i put it on a shelf to collect dust about a week later. just last month, i decided to give it another shot (after beating 6, 7 and 9 again) and really got into it. in fact, as far as battling and magic systems go, ff8 really does beat down the other, imho.

        ff8 is probably the only one in the series where the battles take any actual strategy. granted, the card game and item collection can get tedious, but square throws that stuff in for the fanboys.

        i will concur that ff6 is probably the best in the series, but please do explain what you didn't like about ff8 (without comparing story lines)
        • Without comparing storylines, I didn't like the storyline of FF8 period. It wasn't that the other FF games had "better" storylines, it was that FF8's storyline bored me -- I had no interest in the characters nor did I have any interest in furthering the plot after destroying that metal walker thing.

          It and FF2 (the Japanese version) are the only Final Fantasies I've not completed (well, apart from FFX, but I'll probably do that one). Further, I'll probably go ahead and play through FF2 sometime, I just never got around to it.
        • The Card/GF thing just didnt feel right... I'm sorry for such a sucky and troll-like answer but for me it just didn't click. It's different... but just not different in a good way... Its not like how FF5 went from classes to FF6 espers in a good way...

          I've played and enjoyed many different battle systems. Some of my personal favourites are the FF5 class system, FF6 Esper System, Shining Force 2 semi-strategy system and Golden Sun's Djinni system. FF8 just doesn't strike me like a battle system I enjoy does.

          • the card thing really didn't feel right. i'll agree with that. it's all M:TG syndrome, the rich kid with the great cards usually wins.

            ff8 reminded me a lot of the battle system from ff6 in a lot of ways, especially with zell's limit break vs/ the blitz.

            anyway, enough posts from me today.
        • ff8 is probably the only one in the series where the battles take any actual strategy.

          They didn't for me. Just draw 100 of every new spell you find, junction it to boost whatever stat you want at the moment, and then proceed to tear enemies apart. At the beginning of the game all you have to do is summon GF's over and over and over. By the end, Squall's normal attacks were doing 3000+ damage, so all I had to do was just use normal attacks constantly.

          In fact, I would daresay that FF8's system has a horrible flaw in that enemies get stronger as you level up; in fact, I found that many enemies improve at a faster rate than you do, meaning that it's now *bad* to level up. And that's added to the fact that it always takes 1000 XP to go up a level; with a bit of time and patience, you could be at level 100 right at the beginning of the game, because enemies there give about as much experience as you can get at the end of the game.
    • Try FF8. It doesn't suck as you may have heard. It was actually my first FF game and I got my head around it fast enough. Before that I played Zelda on my good ol' Nintendo.

      It felt very linear compared to Link's adventures but it's a very different game. The first time you play through it you can get lost and caught up in the story... If you want to. Graphically it's no longer stunning, but the CGI is still worthy. I'm playing it throught again and it still appeals to me.

      Don't play just because of peer preassure from Slashdot. PLay because they are worthy games. If they sucked they wouldn't be as popular as they are. Games usually don't make it as far as the tenth installment if the idea is stale and the play flawed.

      Go on, join us... You don't need to sleep for a few weeks...

      Another reccomendation: find a Snes emu and play FF3/FF5. A truly epic experience...
    • When looking at the Playstation generation of Final Fantasy games, here's what I have to say.

      FFVII - Good for your average teenage gamer. Some plot depth, lots of action and bad ass characters.

      FFVIII - Good for older gamers who enjoy a deep and meaningful storyline and aren't overly concerned with action and being a bad ass. Get this if you're not afraid to get emotional during a video game.

      FFIX - A good mix of styles. It's got the old school action of Final Fantasy games and is set in a more medieval atmosphere (like the original FF games), but has a really compelling storyline that's very touching at the same time.

      FFX - Not quite sure yet, but from what I've seen it looks like it's more along the lines of VII as far as storyline goes (which is disappointing to me as I HATE VII). I've heard from most people it's more like VIII, but I have yet to see that.
      • Don't know about FF8, it didn't really pull on my emotions much, it was just too... strange. Squall really goes from seeming to like Rinoa, to being indifferent, and then *really* liking her in very sudden changes. And when he is liking her, it really seems to be shown very corny. Even FFIX made a better love story, simply because it wasn't so much the focus that it got hammed up too much. FF7 on the romance end is more allowing adolescents to endulge in delusions of "pimp-daddiness". Of the SNES games, I've only made significant progress in FF5, and there is a complete lack of Love story. In fact, FF5 feels kinda flat all around in terms of story.

        On the other hand, other emotional aspects change things. When it comes to the plight of the characters/people of the World, FF6 and FF7 have thus far held me the most, FF5, again, seemed too flat. FF9 came close to that level too, but with FF8, I just found the characters to be too affected to identify with. In general this is the case, but it seems worse in 8, either becasue the game tries to take itself more seriously than others (which is why chocobos just seem *so* out of placee), or because maybe they are more affected and exagerated, I'm not sure.

        In any case, FF8 really didn't grab me that much. In addition to the story issues, the graphics disapponted. The FMVs were some of the nicest of the series, but the realtime graphics aimed too high, and delivered some really good textures and geometric detail, but the geometry level was still insufficient to pull off the "realistic" look they were aiming for and also the number of polygons and how small things were allowed to get looked horrible at PS1 resolutions.
    • I haven't played FFX yet, so it's excluded from all my opinions.

      Best story: FF7. I enjoyed this game far more than any other the others, because the story is complicated and engaging. It's still got some stupid cliched parts, but that's to be expected if you're playing a console RPG.

      Best character development: FF8. This game has the best characters in any console RPG I've played. Some people don't like it, but that's because the characters are more realistic and not perfectly heroic as they would like.

      Best gameplay: FF8. Most console RPGs can be won be alternating between attacking and healing until you level up enough. This won't work in FF8, the enemies level up with you and gain stat boosts faster than you. It's actually good to avoid levelling up in this game. The junction system gives you a lot of options for customizing your characters, and the battles are not too slow as long as you don't use summons (which are a waste of time anyway, limit breaks do much more damage).

      Total enjoyment: If you've never played a FF game before DON'T start on one of the pre-PSX games. You'll probably never truely enjoy them unless you played them at the time they were released. I most enjoyed FF7, but it has inferior gameplay to FF8 and now I probably wouldn't have the patience. FF8 is also slightly shorter, which is good.

      Graphics: FF8 by far. FF9 had better FMVs, but that's a minor part of the game and doesn't make up for the deformed and stupid looking character designs.

      Worst FF: Worst of all time is the first FF game. It's the most repetitive and boring RPG I've played. Worst relative to the standards of other games at the time is FF9. This was a major disapointment after FF7 and 8, it's just a big nostaligia trip for all the fans of the old games and you won't enjoy it. The battle system regressed to even worse than FF7 quality, and the characters returned to the idealised heroic type I find so irratating. Don't play it.
    • I'd say play them in order. Not because of any of the reasons you want to know about, but because older = cheaper. Obviously if you aren't concerned about playing classic games, then the older graphics won't bother you. The FF collection was released not so long ago that has just about all of the earlier FF releases if I remember correctly. I bought FF7 4 days ago for $20. By the time you finish these in order, 8-10 will probably be on sale too. That way if you are disappointed in a game, you won't be as dissapointed in how much you paid. But then again I'm cheap.
    • by dark_panda ( 177006 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @11:25AM (#2737391)
      This is a long, long post.

      I've been playing FF games since the original came out in, like, '87 or so (I think it was the first or second NES game I ever owned, way back when), and I've played 'em all (yes, I even bought FF: Mystic Quest the week it came out), so I guess I'm as qualified as anyone to opinionate. I'll try not to include any spoilers (or what I think are spoilers), but if I do, know that you've been warned.

      1. Each FF game is totally separate in terms of characters, story, world, all that jazz. Things like magic spells, monsters, character classes and parts of the battle system have carried over from one to another (for instance, the Black Mage class in FF 1 makes its return in several of the games in the series, the most memorable being Vivi from FFIX), and a certain "Cid" character has cropped up in every game since 2, but other than that, the games are totally separate. No chronology whatsoever. You could just as easily start with FFX as you could with any other game in the series.

      I've only played FFX for a few hours, so I'll save judgement 'til I'm done. Personally, I've got the softspot for the 2-D games (1 through 6). Things were just simpler back then. The 16-bit FF games, for their time, had amazing graphics, and especially sound -- FF4 and 6 have some of the most memorable soundtracks in video games history, and still sound good today. My pick of the 2-D games is probably FFIV (II for the SNES, part of the FF Chronicles set for the PSX). That's totally biased, though, 'cause I love that game to pieces. It's a quick one compared to the rest. I can't get through it now in 8-12 hours or so, but it probably took about 20-24 the first time through. Most FF fans seem to prefer FF VI. (III on the NES, available as part of FF Anthology for the PSX.)

      For the 3-D games, if you have a PS2, obviously go with X. If you've just got a PSX, IX is amazing, especially if you've followed the series from the beginning. (I couldn't believe I heard the Marsh Cave music from FF I almost 13 years later in a cave in FFIX!)

      2. These questions are all pretty subjective, so no matter what I say I'll probably get flamed by somebody, so I'll try to remain at least partially objective. I'm not far enough into FFX, so I can't comment it on it yet for anything but e)...

      a) FF VI probably has the best storyline of them all. It covers a lot of characters and in some spots is even kind of non-linear, since you don't need all of the characters to get through game.

      b) Unfortunately, the overload of characters in FF VI means character development leaves a bit to be desired. (It's not that bad, but there are quite a few characters...) I really liked FF IX in this department. Vivi was especially cool.

      FF VIII is a total mess in character development. You have this main character, Squall, and from the opening sequence 'til the end of the game, he's a prick. He doesn't mature at all, from beginning to end. He's annoying at first because of his apathy and attitude, but you figure he'll eventually grow out of that towards the end. Guess again.

      c) FF IV seemed like a real departure when it first came out in terms of the battle system, because when it hit the US in the form of FF II, it was so different from FF I. It's still the only FF game that lets you use 5 characters in a party, which is pretty cool. I still like it's combat system.

      FF VI probably has the most balanced battle system out of the lot. Four characters, lots of skills and abilities that we individual to each character. (Some of the other FF games, like IIIj, V, VII, etc. let you customize characters, making them all pretty homogenous.)

      d) I can usually plow through these games in short order, so I'll adjust the time to beat accordingly. Whenever a review site or somebody tells me "at least 40 hours", I always beat it between 25 and 30 or so. So, For each game:

      FF I (NES) -- simplistic, but still fun. This one still takes quite a bit of time to finish, but the story along the way is minimal. (Bad guys threaten world, four warriors set out on Quest.) Don't know how long it would take me today, but it's gotta be up there, just 'cause it's a bitch to level up. Say 20-30 hours at least.

      FF II (Famicom, get an emulator and a translated version) -- more of a story over FF I, and the battle system has been improved. Starts out with a bang (very first scene is a battle) and starts some of the long lasting traditions of the series (Cid, etc.). The level up system is way different vs. other games in the series and is more like Chrono Cross or the SaGa series. (Or the FF Legend series on the GameBoy.) Haven't a clue how long it took me on this one, probably at least 20+ hours.

      FF III (again, emulate) -- the crystals deal from the first game is back. This one was kind of the basis for the job system you see in FF V and FF Tactics. Makes for some cool combinations of classes, like a summoner crossed with a knight and such. Best of show for the 8-bit games. 25 hours or so should do.

      FF IV (II on the NES, see FFC on the PSX for the "hard" edition) -- I absolutely love this game. Maybe it's nostalgia, or something, but I love it. No job manipulation like in FF III, but a lot of cool characters. The story is pretty decent, although nothing complicated or never-before-seen. Kain ruled. Probably 25-30 hours for a newbie.

      FF V (emulate, or see FFA on the PSX) -- half decent story -- asteroids hit earth, contain visitors from another planet, your planet in danger. The job system from III returns. Overall it's pretty mundane, actually. 30 hours.

      FF VI (III SNES, FFA on PSX) -- probably best of show overall for the 16-bit games. Lots of characters, good story, great villians. (Especially Kefka, of course.) Loved Locke and Shadow. 40-45 hours or so, I would think.

      FF VII (PSX) -- first of the 3-D games. The story was fscked up at times, especially near the end, but overall, it kicked much ass at the time. Borrows a bit from FF VI in terms of the ability management system, what with the summons and such. Second best of the series on the PSX. 40 hours or so.

      FF VIII (PSX) -- Squall is an annoying prick. Most of the characters aren't overly interesting, and the "Draw" system is ridiculous. Basically, you can "Draw" spells from any enemy infinitely, equip them to boost character stats, or cast them. The summon spells are absolutely ridiculous and if you overuse them, you'll go insane. It wasn't the "real-time rendering" that made the game bad, because it doesn't have any (well, except in fights, I guess), it was the ridiculous battle and management systems, the characters, and that stupid fscking love song near the end. 40 hours or so. It's not 100% crap, but compared to the others on the PSX, it leaves MUCH to be desired.

      FF IX (PSX) -- best of the PSX games, easily. Likeable characters, good story, lots of stuff borrowed from the other games, a useable management system (eat it, FF VIII), and a return to the series' roots over VII and VIII. (Fantasy, not sci-fi.) Probably tied with FF VI as the overall best in the series as far as I'm concerned. 40 hours or so.

      Can't comment on FFX yet, except that to answer e), yes FFX does have the prettiest graphics, but that's always, always secondary to fun, gameplay, storyline, etc.

      3. Overall, FF II for the NES is probably my least favorite, not VIII, but yes, VIII sucked large for the reasons mentioned above.

      Hope that long, long post helped even a bit.

    • I may very well get flamed for saying this on slashdot, especially this thread, but I NEVER PLAYED a single FF game, NEVER.

      Which FF is the BEST?

      First off all, I have only played FFI (US NES release) and FF Tactics. I've watched my friends play FFVII and FFIX. Final Fantasy Tactics is by far my favorite.

      The plot can only be described as epic. It leans more into intrastate and intraregional politics, but the plotline is very well-written and paced. There are few funny moments. It's a pretty serious story. I don't know much about this in other games these days, but when well-known characters die, especially in unexpected ways, you sit up and pay more attention. The characters themselves are the expected typecast heroes...but they aren't stale. The minor dialogue screwups in the translation fix that. :)

      The battle system is also one of my favorites, almost as good as Secret of Mana's. It takes the tradional Job classes, adds a few, and as you gain levels in each class, you can select abilities from each class and "equip" them. This way, your mages don't have to be wussies in physical combat. They might even last a round or two. *grin* Everyone has a Zodiac symbol (Cancer, Aries, etc) which if exploited correctly, can result in higher damage and hit rates. Combine this with manipulating and taking advantage of the Faith and Brave attributes. There are a ton of items to equip, and the best are stashed away in some very tough places. The menu system is straightforward and quick to learn and use. The actual battle locations are on contoured terrain there the environmental context of the character can make a difference in attacking or defending. It's more of a chess board kind of battle than the "bad guy(s) in the center, we attack all at once from the front" FF stereotype.

      The music is absolutely awesome. Some very inspired orchestral pieces that only get old after the 3rd or 4th replay. j/k Really, the music is great. My friends sure did get sick of the Formation screen music though. I have the BGM soundtrack 2-disc CD set and listen to it often. The sound effects are a curious mix of modern synth and old NES analogue sounds.

      The graphics are quite good for it's time. They weren't there to dazzle, but to keep yor attention focused on the battle. The magics are animated with a lean towards minimalism (except for a few like Meteor, the lvl 4 spells, and the Summons, of course). There are cut scenes, but they're animated the same way the battles are.

      I've played FFT many times all the way through over the last two years. I've never gotten tired of it. I have no idea how long it takes to beat it, but if I sit down and spend a few hours each day and not fight a ton of "power up" battles, I bet I could beat it in a week or two. Note that you can easily spend a half hour on a single battle. It may be because the fight is hard, or you may want to drag it out as long as possible in order to level up faster. You can set yourself a leisurely pace and not worry about it...although the plot's twists may take a refresher to get back into. A lot happens as the game progresses.

      Essentially, I love FFT because it is so different from the other FF games out there. No, I haven't played any of the recent releases. But with the AD&D style statistics, the logical progression of the Job classes, the chess-like way the battles are fought, the depth one can take in character modification, and the seriousness of the story all make FFT into one of my favorite games. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to kick Gafgarian's ass on the other side of that castle wall again.
    • by cje ( 33931 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @11:40AM (#2737446) Homepage
      My opinion (and I stress that this is my opinion .. if you annoy particularly sensitive FF fanboys you run the risk of having them come after you with machettes) is that Final Fantasy VII is the best of the bunch, but I haven't played FFX yet.

      My allegiance to FFVII is probably because it was the first FF game for the Playstation platform, and it represented a quantum leap forward in terms of technology. I remember playing through this game for the first time, watching wide-eyed in near-disbelief as the "camera" panned over such surreal sights as the floating city of Midgar, Rufus' airship, the mountains near Nibelheim, and the missile launch at Rocket Town. Sure, we take intricate FMV sequences like this for granted now, but this was 1997 and nobody had seen anything quite like it before.

      I really liked the magic system (materia) in FFVII. It wasn't all that complicated, and it allowed you to experiment with spells and abilities and elementals and combine them in all sorts of fun and interesting ways. It is far superior to the absolutely dreadful "junctioning" system of FFVIII. Thankfully, Square went away from that and back to a more traditional system for FFIX. The combat system in FFVII is simple enough to get a handle on it quickly, and it works well enough to carry itself through the rest of the game (as long as you're prepared for a lot of combat!)

      FFVII also has (again, IMHO) among the best music in the series. (Sound of machettes being unsheathed.) This is a subjective observation, of course .. excellent music has always been a hallmark of the FF series, and pretty much all of the games have their share of it. The melodies from FF7 just happen to have stuck with me longer. The haunting theme from Cloud's dream sequences, the throbbing drumbeats at Cosmo Canyon, the whimsical tropical theme at Costa del Sol, the grandiose rendition of the theme music that is played on the World Map .. all are far above par for video games of this type.

      I think that FFVII's biggest selling point, however, is its replay value. All of the games (particularly the later ones) have a certain amount of "side quests" that are not necessary to complete in order to win the game, but FFVII has a lot more than any of the others. There are two completely optional characters that you can get in your party and develop (with storylines and quests of their own.) There are lots of "in-game games" that you can play, such as the attractions at the Gold Saucer. You can embark on a career of Chocobo raising with the eventual goal of raising a Gold Chocobo that will allow you to visit every corner of the planet and unearth some magic materia of unspeakable power (Knights of the Round, anyone?) You can take some time at the end of the game to try and defeat the all-powerful Ruby and Emerald Weapons. And that's just scratching the surface.

      FFVII is also not without its weak points. The storyline, while easy to follow on a broad scale, is often confusing and muddled when the details are revealed. The story is not as good as the one in, say, Final Fantasy IV, but it definitely holds its own. The main character, Cloud, is maddeningly obstinate and at times you wish you could reach through the television and give him a good clean punch to the gut. In many places, the combat is far too frequent (though this is not just a complaint about FFVII!)

      At any rate, that's my take; I like FFVII the best because of the nostalgia and the fond memories of how much it captivated me the first time I played through it. To a large degree, it continues to do so. The bottom line is that all of the games in this series have something to recommend them; this one just happens to be my favorite. Your mileage may vary. Please put your machettes away. Thank you.
      • Agreed. Without knowing anything about FFX, FFVII is certainly the best "modern" FF, and a highly recommended start point for the person who hasn't played them before.

        That being said, if you like old-school console RPGs, FFVI is considered by many to be the best of the bunch, but it has some of the problems you'll find in most old RPGs. I'm not just talking about graphics-- game design has really made some strides since it was made. It's still lots of fun, and it was rereleased for the Playstation if you need it.

        FFX sounds really good from what I've read, so it might also be a good starting point. But please-- do NOT start with VIII or IX. Some die-hards still love 'em, but they're an acquired taste at best.
    • I'd say to play FF6 for the SNES (which is Final Fantasy III in the us release). Different people will tell you different things about which is the best (I think FF7 is, personally), but FF6 is probably the middle ground of the series.

      1. There is no chronological order, so play in whatever order you feel. The only things that really connect the games in the series are elements that are in every game (certain creatures, certain music, the fact that the world is generally pretty muched @#$%ed).

      2. a) Probably FF6 or FF7. If a fantasy setting is more important, FF4, FF5, or (maybe) FF6 would be a better choice.

      2. b) FF6.

      2. c) I won't touch that with a ten foot pole, but I can describe (some of) them. In FF1, you choose your characters, and are heavily restricted by their class. You buy magic. In FF4, the characters are chosen for you. In FF5, your characters can changes classes. In FF6, classes are irrelevant, and you can use equippable items that allow you to learn spells (espers). FF7 is similar to FF6, except how many items (called materia this time) can be equipped depends on your armor, and you have to have the item equipped to use the spell (you don't really learn it). FF8 is really weird, though not in a bad way. I just got up and don't really feel like describing it. Or trying to remember it. I'll move on.

      2. d) If you just want to get through one really quick, I'd say to go for FF4. That goes by really quick. FF6 is niftier, though.

      2. e) FF6 is the best looking SNES FF. I'm personally fond of FF7's graphics on the PSX, but I'm probably the only one. Don't listen to me at all. :)

      3. FF8 doesn't have real-time rendering... But anyway, the worst one depends on what you like. If you want a more "interactive movie" sort of experience, I'd go for FF6, FF7, or FF8; leaning toward the former two. If you want gameplay, FF5 is probably the best. FF8 has a lot of potential in it's battle system, but it's so easy that it doesn't matter much. And FF1 will just piss you off (Tell John to attack Monster 2 and tell Jack to attack Monster 2; John kills Monster 2; Jack strikes at the empty air where Monster 2 was and whines at you: "Ineffective"; Sensless violence directed at the Nintendo Entertainment System ensues). :)

      And despite how much praise you'll probably see it get, FF4 is the bastard son of a thousand maniacs. The gameplay is actually good, but (and I've only played the original--crappy--SNES transplation) the story sucks the big one, IMHO. I've seen a lot of FF fans say it was great, even story-wise, but they all seem to be in the catagory of people who can look at it nostaligcally. It's not a bad game, and if you want to get the gist of the series it's a must at some point, but probably not the best choice for trying to decide if you like Final Fantasy or not.
    • But so much the better. I did a multimedia presentation for a class a couple years ago based on the Final Fantasy series. These are my thoughts:

      1. Start with Final Fantasy. As in, the first one. Download an emulator and find the ROM. It's an 8-bit NES game, so it would appear dated by todays standards, but it has elements that none of the other games do- it's still one of my favorites. It's also turn based. The series has no chronology or "order" to it, unlike Dragon Warrior. Each FF is a complete story without ties to the others.

      If you can't find it, then get your hands on FFVI - six is easily one of the best RPGs ever, and has possibly the best translation/story of them all. It's also the last "traditional" FF - after that, they *really* started to experiment with things.

      2. In order:
      A. Six.
      B. Six.
      C. First, then Six. Though if you value prettiness over actual gameplay mechanics, then Seven or Eight. A good friend of mine swears by Nine, but IMO it's like comparing War and Peace to PeeWee's Playhouse in terms of graphic design.
      D. SIX. In a heartbeat. The only final fantasy to suck up more than 70 hours of my time.
      E. Eight.

      3. The HARDCORE are going to tell you that FF8 sucks wang. They are wrong. FF8 isn't really so much a Final Fantasy as it is its own animal- aside from parts of the battle system and the title, it bears no resemblance to any other final fantasy game. This is not a bad thing- people simply fear change and were likely expecting another Six with better graphics. Had they called it something other than "Final Fantasy VIII", it would have done gangbusters. Since Square DID call it a Final Fantasy, it has to measure up to 6- and doesn't. It's still really cool..... but it's *not* a final fantasy. It's in the same category as the movie, which isn't really a Final Fantasy either- both of them are really missing the "Fantasy" bit to some extent.

      In terms of enjoyment, I'd rank 'em as follows:

      1. FF 6 (still have the box and manual!)
      2. FF (I own two copies, because you can only save one game on the cartridge)
      3. FF 8
      4. FF 5 - if you liked Tactics, this is where the Job System started.
      5. FF 4 - the only FF with a cheat code.
      6. FF 7 - I really cannot adequately explain the derision I have for 7. Mainly because, in my opinion, it took everything GOOD about the previous FF games and took a shit on it. There aren't enough challenging or difficult enemies, which makes your characters difficult to build. Cloud is an apathetic little bitch, which makes him impossible to really care about- which is even worse, as this is the first FF where you're stuck with him as lead for most of the game (technically, FF2 as well, but you could change your screen icon to whatever member of the party you preferred). The Materia system strips characters of the things that made the FF6 cast so unique- special abilities like Steal and magic casting became portable. Not only that, but with no way to skip a summon spell, I stopped using them in favor of regular magic. I like 8 in terms of story, but the summons in that game are five times WORSE - it was the first thing I asked about and the answer sold my playstation to the highest bidder.
      7. FF 9 - being a person very much preferential to both 8 and Parasite Eve, I was inclined to view 9 as a venture into a childish, Barney / Telletubby aesthetic. Every FF previous to this one hooked me on graphics, story AND gameplay. I didn't realize just how important the graphical look and feel was until I played a sample of this and realized the cartoony crayola approach was making me sick.
      8. FF 2 ( NES, played a Japanese ROM of it. No fun if you can't read Japanese)
      9. FF 3 (Ditto 8)

      I haven't played X and have no plans to do so- not only do I not have a PS2, I can't afford one and after VII destroyed my expectations for the series, I got out of video games and became a spectator for 8 and 9. I was a serious conniseur of video games throughout my teen years, and am firmly of the opinion that Square- and at large, the entire industry- simply doesn't have what it takes to make another game as >complete as FF6, and divested myself of my playstation on the strength of that conviction.

      Take it from an ex-fan: Final Fantasy 6 is not only the best in the series, it's likely one of the best RPGS *EVER*.

      Peer pressure is the worst possible reason to get into anything- you should only make the time investment in these games if you're into RPGs or think you might be... then look over plot synopsises of the titles in the series and start with the one that resonates with you the most. From my standing, The Majority spooged in their pants over FF7, which was an inferior waste of my time compared to FF6, adding fuel to the conclusion that the majority of people are retards and easily cave to advertising and trends. FF7 was so goddamned hyped that it didn't HAVE to be good to sell- just like Star Wars Episode One.

      The earlier games were vague enough, flexible enough, and broad enough for any RPG enthusiast to have fun with them. FF6 came out and tightened this down a bit, but maintained a large cast of interesting and well developed characters. Then FF7 tried to continue the tradition... and character development went flat. The characters lost their "life", for lack of a better term, and became polygons. Square is becoming progressively more and more focused on character driven stories as opposed to concept-driven stories- FF6 being the transition point, in that it had enough of a variety to offer something to everyone.... something the proceeding games lost. I didn't like Cloud, Barret or Red 13- hence, it's next to impossible to actually LIKE FF7. My issues with 8 were entirely with the battle system. 9 was too childish in design to get my interest in the least.... and everything I've seen about X points to it being a story that really doesn't interest me. There was a point where RPGs were still games- these days, they're interactive movies and novels.

      I like the games. If you do as well, then play the earlier parts of the series, as you're likely to enjoy them much, much more.
    • I decided to plop down $19 for a used copy of FFIX last weekend. I'd never touched an FF game before then and had only watched maybe 5 minutes of someone playing FFVII before that.

      I'm completely hooked ... I put in about 20 hours so far and have only owned it for 6 days. I realize that is piddlin compared to how much time some people put into gaming around the old 'dot, but for me that is pretty extreme.

      I've had a PS2 for almost a year now, never having owned a console before except an Atari 2600 in the very early '80s. This is the first game that has made me sit down and play my PS2 for more than an hour at a time without getting bored.

      Generally speaking I'm an RPG'er ... I've played all of the D&D titles that have come out on the PC going back to the original Pool of Radiance to the new Pool of Radiance (that spans about 12 years if I guestimate) and have done plenty of MUDs, MOOs, etc.

      FFIX has been a breath of fresh air ... not completely easy (I've been killed 3 times so far, not alot, but proves the game isn't -completely- simple) but not hard. I don't know if I'll invest time going back to the previous ones, but I'll definitely hook up for FFX when it comes out.

      Given that the game was meant for PS1, it's very pretty ... the sounds leave a bit to be desired. I would like to see changes and improvements in the game, but the fact that I can use my PS2 in the living room instead of my PC in my office (I work from home, so it does make a difference to me) means that I'll finish FFIX before I find any other PC games to play.

      I'm actually pretty worried that FFXI is going online ... while that may be fun, I would sure like to see more games like FFIX and FFX out there for the PS2 ... any recommendations on other titles that I should look into?
  • I haven't enjoyed a FF game since FFIII (US). They are too linear for me. It's not that I don't like an interactive story, but I'd like some control over how the story goes. That's just my opinion, but I'm obviously in the minority. I just never understood the popularity of the FF games.
  • *Most* of the graphics in FFX are amazing. One problem I have with the game is the player character graphics. When the camera is within 10 feet of them, they look absolutely beautiful. Get any further away than that and they look worse than the player characters in a PS1 Final Fantasy. They end up being all jagged, pixelized and blurry.

    Also, there are a couple times when you get too much action going on around the screen and the system lags for a split second. Not much of a problem because it doesn't last long, but I've already seen people complaining about it.

    On an off-topic note, I have to say I'm very disappointed with the introduction to the blitzball mini-game (tiny spoiler ahead for those who haven't gotten past the first blitzball game). Why would a game designer introduce a mini-game by using a version of the game that is almost impossible for the player to win? Do they think that makes me want to keep playing the mini-game throughout the rest of the game? Luckally I think blitzball is kind of fun, so I'll end up playing it from time to time. I still think it's bad design.
  • I wasn't sure, but what the heck, after reading your review I will give it a try.
  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @09:51AM (#2737033)
    It is truly a beautifully done game. It does suffer from one huge problem: aliasing. Most all PS2 games have this problem worse than Gamecube, X-Box, and even Dreamcast games. I do wish Sony had provided some form of Anti-Aliasing. PS2 can certainly push the polygons, put the polygons are just too low res. Particularly with how much FFX pushes things, at distances things become really jagged, and if a textured surface is in movement, I don't know the world for the effect, but the texture kinda flickers as pixels of the texture move between viewable, non-viewable, and viewable again between pixels, if that makes any sense.

    Nonetheless, it is a truly remarkable game, really engaging story and the graphics are really detailed in terms of both texture and geometry, but the available resolution and lack of AA unfortunately detracts from the otherwise stunning game. It's better than the PS1 FFs in this respect, (except that shimmering effect I notice...) but with that level of geometry it becomes more disappointing..
    • The word is "aliasing". Hence "anti-aliasing". :-)

      • I knew that, I was refering to the second sort of shimmering phenomenon. I know I've heard a technical term for it, but it escapes me (pixels on textures slip between renderable pixels and back in, making small details of the texture disappear and reappear quite rapidly...)
    • I do wish Sony had provided some form of Anti-Aliasing. PS2 can certainly push the polygons

      The PS2 can push the polygons, but not with aliasing. The PS2 DOES indeed have anti-aliasing, but game developers never use it. It seems that any usage of the feature tends to drag the entire system to a crawl - to the point where it's never really practical to use it. Which is why Sony recommends that game developers try to avoid high contrasting colors (light and dark) next to each other so that the aliasing isn't as noticable.
    • Actually, the PS2 can do AA. But most developers decide to not do it due to the major processing that it takes. There are a few tricks of the trade for designing for the PS2 which can "fake" AA, but I rarely see it done.

      In any case, I've never had any problem with "jaggies", it's when developers over do anti-aliasing that really sucks (read anti-aliasing and low-rez textures, ala N64).
  • Final Fantasy 10, eh? I bet the crew that named this series never expected it to have so many sequals ;)
    • Re:Nice... (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually when the first one was created, the folks at Square thought that it *would* be their Final Fantasy. They were in financial straits, and after some not-so-popular releases they were in danger shutting down. After they saw the popularity of the Dragon Warrior series, they decided they would try their hand at the genre of RPGs, and after it was done they named it "Final Fantasy", since basically their entire future rested on that one single game's success.

      Good thing it took off, eh?
    • They never expected it to have any sequels - if FF hadn't rocked so much, it would have been Square's last game.

  • My biggest problem with FFX is that so far, I've played about an hour and a half into it and I've had maybe - four battles. An hour and a half into it and I've been in control of the character maybe fifteen minutes. I like pretty CGI as much as the next guy, but this is suffering from Metal Gear Solid 2-itis so far and it's irritating me.
  • The FF games have been slowly getting more non-interactive, and FFX is the culmination of that trend. In the first hour of gameplay, you have control of your character for maybe 20% of the time, and that's being generous. Sometimes you go for 10 minutes just watching movies. The combat sequences--the actual game parts--are much less impressive than the non-interactive sequences. The parts where you have control of your character are almost completely linear, and you just walk forward much of the time.

    Bottom line: Amazing visuals? Yes. A game? Sorta, leaning toward no.
  • Yes, I live in Hongkong and was lucky to grab a Japanese release a few months ago. I'm a big fan of FF since FF I, but FFX was a great disappointment to me. The graphics were stunning, the music was emotion-tearing, but the flow of gameplay? Sucks. Every an hour or so a cut-scene pops up, yes, you'll say 'wow' when you first saw one, but after 10 or so, you'll feel fed up. And each cut-scene is about 5-15 mins. long, gave me a feeling that 'Hey, who the hell is playing the game? Me or the characters themselves?'

    Maybe Square wants to redefine RPG-- Roles Plays the Game, not you ;)

    And I resold my copy after about 15 hrs. of gameplay.
    • Re:A disappointment (Score:2, Interesting)

      by fifthchild ( 443035 )
      Have you noticed? It's been like that since FF8, by my reckoning. I personally don't have a problem with it, it adds a real theatric sense to the whole experience, but if I was rearing to get going killing things I'd get kinda pissed. I guess that's what Final Fantasy has become, more of an interactive movie than a hack 'n' slash RPG.

      The only gripe I've really ever had is the linear feel of the games, you're dead right it feels like you're not controlling it. But then I reached the conclusion if was the style of the thing - I'm fairly easy to please, you see. And the stories appeal to me. The interaction means you literally get inside the characters and you're feeling the story as it goes... The plot's probably not that good at all, but it's a context, remember?

      Disclaimer: I like the Final Fantasy movie, too.
  • How can you make a single player role-playing game?

    What's the point in acting (yes, that's what you are supposed to do in a RPG...) alone? And no, character development != levelling...
  • I wanted to like FFVII and FFVIII, I really did. They had some really nifty effects, some interesting character design, and some really cool gameplay elements (Chocobos!).

    Unfortunately, interesting character design and nifty effects only go so far. The cool gameplay elements are really few and far between, and more often than not turn out to be less fun than you'd think. After thirty hours of step, fight, step, fight, step, fight I just got bored. Well, more accurately, the games each got to a point where I wasn't entirely certain what I was to do next, and I didn't really get the opportunity to find out because of all the freaking battles I was getting sucked into.

    Then again, Chrono Cross didn't have that problem, and I pretty much got tired of it after a while, too. Maybe it's just the formulaic gameplay. With the rare exception of a handful of puzzles, these "RPGs" seem to consist entirely of nearly-identical battles broken up by cutscenes that present you with excruciatingly long chunks of bland melodrama. And the game goes on forever in this manner. I have incomplete savegames for each of the aforementioned titles.

    That really sucks, too, because the Final Fantasy games are always so pretty. I'll actually probably end up buying FFX just so I can summon me some badass Ifrit or something. Sigh.

  • 2 player battles (Score:2, Insightful)

    by huh_ ( 53063 )
    Does it have 2 player battles like some of the previous FF's? Where the second player can control some characters during a fight?
  • FFX isn't actually a game. It's a(n at least 12 hour long) movie. Sometime you get dumped at the end of a corridor and told to run to the end. You get to the end and then it's back to the movie. Have I missed something. Where's the game?

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"