Final Fantasy X: Final Thoughts
I really enjoyed Final Fantasy X. I finished the whole game in a week and a half. That's the fastest I've finished any game in the series. It hooked me and I was engaged enough to pick up the game every single night.
Overall, my initial impressions still stand. This is a great game with wonder characters that interact in a well realized world. The story is strong and drives the whole game. It's not too difficult and very friendly for new players. This is where I'm going to direct Final Fantasy newbies if they ask me where to start the series.
Compared to my initial impressions I did have a change of heart about the sphere grid. I thought it was simply a gimmicky replacement for leveling up. At low levels that's still true. That changes when characters start to break out of their primary sphere grid path near the end of the game. They get the option to cross over into other characters' paths or even teleport to the opposite side of the sphere grid. It makes for some fun customization. For example, Rikku's intended break out path is to go over to Lulu's section and start picking up black magic. Instead, I teleported her over Auron's path and made her into a heavy hitter. I thought it was hilarious. She has this tiny attack animation and now it does massive damage. I had fun with it.
Let's talk about a couple stylistic choices in the game. These aren't objectively good or bad but they are worth noting.
In the Vita version there is a quick heal option. Swipe the screen while walking around and a touch menu comes up with the option to heal via magic or items. Touch the button and the game will automatically heal the party in the most efficient manner. I love this feature. Now I want it in every RPG ever.
There is no camera control in the game. Even though this is the first Final Fantasy with a 3D world you are never able to look around freely. You get to see what the game wants you to see. It allows the developers to frame up excellent looking visuals but it does take away some agency from the player.
This game is linear. There are a lot of corridors that obviously only lead one direction. There are some paths that branch off and there are cities to help break up the linearity but there's no open overworld to explore. Even after getting the airship there is still no traditional overworld. The airship is just a menu with location names to pick. It feels efficient, but it never truly gives a sense of scale to the world.
After getting the airship there are some optional sidequests to complete. The problem with them is the length. They are either too short or too long. There are a handful that are basically go to a location and open a chest. Those take almost no time. There are a couple that are go to a location and kill a boss. Those are still super short. The other kind of quest is too long. Things like kill ten of every monster in the game while equipped with specific weapons. I know those long quests will appeal to some people, but they're definitely not for me.
Those are just some observations. I have my opinions about them, but none of them are obviously bad. Things that bugged me, like sidequest length, will appeal to other people.
Taken altogether what does this add up to? Well, Final Fantasy X is easily the most friendly game for new players in the Final Fantasy series. If you've always wanted to try a Final Fantasy game but you've been intimidated by the size of the series you owe it to yourself to try Final Fantasy X. It is my number one recommendation for Final Fantasy newbies.
When it comes to personal preference it doesn't quite win top spot for me. Final Fantasy IX still holds that place. There is nothing I can point to and say Final Fantasy IX is better because of x, y, and z. Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy X are such different games that they're hard to compare. This is especially true because of the jump between console generations. After replaying Final Fantasy X I'm sure it's the favorite game of many people, but my heart still belongs to Final Fantasy IX.
Final Fantasy Ranking
Total Completion Time: 34 hrs 10 mins