Final Fantasy X-2 Review
When it's at its best, Final Fantasy X-2 is every bit as poignant, endearing, and engrossing as its forebears.
After more than 15 years, the Final Fantasy series has practically become a genre in itself, complete with its own distinctive gameplay elements, rules, and traditions. One of those traditions states that every game in the series stands alone as a self-contained story with a unique setting, plot, and cast of characters. So the release of Final Fantasy X-2 is notable and novel not only because it's a sequel to a sequel (oddly enough), but also because it is, in fact, the first time Square has broken its custom and continued the storyline of an entry in its most hallowed RPG series. This venture into sequel territory isn't the only way FFX-2 diverges from the norm, and though some of its breaks from tradition aren't as well done as you might hope for, the game is still a very solid and entertaining RPG that any fan of the genre should play.
Many words have already been written about Final Fantasy X-2's rather interesting, new tone, but it's such a strange shift that the topic bears repeating yet again. 2001's Final Fantasy X had a very typically Final Fantasy flavor--subtle and a little melancholy, with a story that focused on love and loss as much as on saving the world. X-2, on the other hand, comes roaring out of the gate with an upbeat concert sequence starring everyone's favorite summoner-turned-pop star, Yuna. Pop star? Indeed, Yuna's character has undergone a bit of a rewrite in X-2. It's two years after the defeat of Sin, and the fabled Eternal Calm has come to Spira. Though the constant threat of attack is gone, this newfound peace is made uneasy by competition between rival factions, each vying to bring Spira's new era under its own control. Amid these circumstances, Yuna is still as thoughtful and introspective as ever, but she's traded in her robes and staff for short-shorts and a pair of pistols by joining the Gullwings, a trio of 'sphere hunters' that includes FFX alum Rikku and a tough, new fighter named Paine.
Together, the three girls are scouring the land of Spira in search of spheres, which are video-recording devices that document the history of the world. Sphere hunting is all the rage in Spira, so the Gullwings will have a fair amount of competition right from the beginning of the game. In true Final Fantasy style, the storyline soon grows to encompass a world-threatening danger, and you'll get caught up in the political turmoil between competing factions. FFX fans will mostly find the liberal references to the previous game's story and characters heartening rather than hokey, and by the end of the game the story will come full circle and link up with events seen and described in Final Fantasy X.
Probably the single most interesting thing about Final Fantasy X-2's gameplay is the decidedly un-RPG-like way that it unfolds. You start out aboard the Celsius, the Gullwings' airship, and you're immediately given access to just about every area in the game (most of which will be familiar to FFX fans). The game is broken into five chapters, and every area contains at least one interesting task or story piece to experience per chapter. FFX-2 is sort of a make-your-own-RPG in that you can go just about anywhere in any order you wish. You only have to complete a handful of missions to advance to the next chapter, and the areas with relevant story goals are denoted by a "hotspot" label on the area select screen. This setup effectively makes the majority of FFX-2's content optional, although to ignore the side missions is to miss out on a lot of items and some rather significant pieces of the storyline.
Unless you've got a strategy guide on hand, determining what you'll find at a given location at any point in the game is a crapshoot. Some of the missions will provide you with important dialogue scenes that help your understanding of the plot or pay homage to the previous game, while others come off as downright silly and a bit tacked on. FFX-2's free-form approach to game progression is novel, but it lacks the singular narrative thrust of FFX or other typical RPGs, and the storyline can feel a little nebulous and disjointed as a result. Consequently, you'll feel compelled to visit every area in every chapter in order to get a firm handle on the game's plot. Though it's possible to blow through the game in about half the time of many RPGs, players with a serious interest in the storyline and obtaining the best items will find that FFX-2 is about as long as its predecessor. In short: The importance of the "optional" content in the game can't be overlooked.
- Player Reviews: 614
- Game Universe:
- Final Fantasy XI (PS2, PC, X360),
- Final Fantasy XI: Chains of Promathia (PC, PS2),
- Final Fantasy VII (PC, PS),
- Final Fantasy VIII (PC, PS),
- Final Fantasy II (NES, GBA, PS),
- Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Urhgan (PC, PS2),
- Final Fantasy XI: Wings of the Goddess (PS2, X360, PC),
- Final Fantasy XI: Vana'diel Collection 2008 (X360, PS2, PC),
- Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, X360),
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (PSP)
- Number of Players: