Final Fantasy X-2 - PS2 - Preview 2
It all begins innocently enough - a rock concert that will amaze any who happen to see it. Flashy lights, musicians on flying platforms and a song that fits neatly in with the current trend in young female vocalists.
But things are not what they seem. Pain and Rikku are in the crowd and soon a tussle breaks out with security - which more or less displays their fighting talents. Then they are on the stage with Yuna, seemingly at odds. Not so - in fact, this trio are the protagonists of this adventure set in Spira and founded in the styling of the Final Fantasy series.
Final Fantasy X-2, a Square Enix release for the PlayStation2, purports to break new ground in the series. It is billed as the sequel to FFX, and is the first FF title to have all female leads. The game also returns to the Active Time Battle system, is mission-based and has non-linear gameplay.
GameZone.com was invited to step into the world of Spira and journey on the latest FF adventure in this preview build.
The game features a battle mode but it is the storyline that is most intriguing. This tale takes place two years after Yuna defeated Sin in FFX, and the world of Spira has entered a phase known as "Eternal Calm." But Yuna still pines for her lost love and when she finds a mystical sphere, her hopes of reuniting with her love become the basis for these missions.
Teaming with her cousin Rikku, and the new character - Paine - the trio form the Gullwings, and embark, with a little help, on a mission to recover more spheres and thus find their way to Tidus, Yuna’s boyfriend. But this isn’t a jaunt through the park. Each mission takes the girls to hotspots around the world.
But Spira is anything but peaceful. Each hotspot have a host of monsters and other obstacles. The game does feature an in-built rating system to let you know just how challenging each area is. But don’t expect this game to take is easy on you.
The ATB system (Active Time Battle) is a welcomed return to the notion of ‘turn-based’ combat. While you will have to tell each character what she must do, and there is an options menu, you don’t have time to think about it. If you hesitate, you stand a good chance of losing the fight. You have to tell the characters what to do in turn, but the battle continues to flow.
The game also feature new job classes, has diverse looks for the female leads, and has an enhanced character development system.
The control interface is simple to use.
In this build, the graphics are a bit of a mixed bag. The principle characters are incredible to look at, but the secondary non-playing characters seem a bit flat and two-dimensional. The environments are lush, and bright. The game does have a fair amount of cutscenes, but they blend flawlessly in with the game play. The special effects are very well done.
The animation at times leave a little to be desired. The running model for Yuna is an arm-flailing contradiction to her athleticism. And the camera angle is fixed, not always providing the best look at the game’s action.
The sound track is also a bit of a mixed bag. From strong performances by the principals, the game also features a few less convincing vocal characterizations. Paine is a bit more serious and straightforward in her manner of speech. Rikku is an effervescent teen-age spirit, and Yuna is more on the indecisive side, looking for answers. The music evolves with the story and is upbeat with a pop feel. Special effects go from the gentle hum of electronics to the clomping of feet, akin to a Clydesdale on pavement.
This game does not bear the mark of an FF game with strong, self-determined characters, but rather these three young women are human to a big degree and run the gamut of the emotions befitting their age.
But while this game has a few faults, there is little doubt that it is a wonderful bit of eye candy that's enjoyable to play. Final Fantasy X-2 may not be the FF sequel fans have been waiting for, but the game does have some strong game play elements and is a challenging foray into the evolving world of Spira.