Developer(s) – Square
Publisher(s) – Square Enix & Electronic Arts
Director – Motomu Toriyama
Producer – Yoshinori Kitase
The first direct sequel to be developed in the history of the series, Final Fantasy X-2 was created with the intention of presenting players with a much more positive atmosphere within the universe of Spira, departing from the darker and more serious vibe that the original game gave off. It certainly lived up to that, as most of the main characters are much more carefree than in the previous game, which presents a few problems in the storyline, but nevertheless, it plays out very much in lieu of Final Fantasy tradition; arguably, more so than its predecessor.
Graphics – 9.5/10
From a technical standpoint, there were a few minor improvements made departing from Final Fantasy X; most notably in the facial expressions of central characters. A couple of the locations within the game have also been re-designed, with a few new locations within familiar ones thrown in for good measure, such as the dungeons of Zanarkand and the floating ruins atop Mt Gagazet. Although the majority of the open world in the game is taken directly from the original game, which some players may criticize it for, I look at that as being both practical and realistic.
Gameplay – 8/10
The basic premise of gameplay works pretty differently from most other games in the franchise. It involves the main characters taking many different missions throughout Spira, with the options of choosing where they may go from the beginning; eliminating the initial sense of linearity synonymous with most main entries in the Final Fantasy series. In addition, the combat also has a few changes, with it relying on the active time system to determine which character attacks next. Character classes also work much differently, swapping out the sphere grid in favour of giving the player the option to make character swap out their class at will, making it easier for each character to become a jack of all trades. Though I prefer the sphere grid system from Final Fantasy X, this system worked particularly well, and to me, was the last great Final Fantasy combat system before Square Enix changed it for the worse.
Controls – 10/10
Despite the new take on combat, it is still particularly simple to get to grips with, and otherwise, the rest of the game plays out more-or-less identical to the previous game, with which there were also no problems.
Lifespan – 8/10
Though it can’t be made to last over 100 hours like the original game, it can still be made to last a particularly long time; around 50 hours or so, which is still adequate for an RPG. At first, I though of it as being underwhelming for a game, which had open world exploration available as an option, but for a game that took merely 2 years to develop, it’s quite the achievement.
Storyline – 7/10
The story of Final Fantasy X-2 follows the female lead of the last game Yuna, as she has since formed her own team of treasure hunters called the Gullwings, along with former party member Rikku and a new character called Paine. Yuna formed the team after she found a sphere seemingly containing footage of her love interest and the male lead of the last game, Tidus. Believing he may still be in Spira somewhere, she also resolves to find him. Though the story starts as being much happier than Final Fantasy X, it does eventually develop into something much more darker and convoluted, which keeps the sub-series fresh. But it’s also marred down during the first half of the game for the fact the dialogue between the main characters much more cheesier than in the previous game, as the Gullwings give off a vibe very reminiscent of Charlie’s Angels.
Originality – 7/10
Though the game follows very many tropes of the series that many players will be familiar with and at this point even accustomed to, it still makes for one of the standout experiences on the PlayStation 2. It gave testament to how innovative the original Square team could be before the merger between them and Enix, and then, in my opinion at least, the Final Fantasy series was left to stagnate. Commercially and critically, it continues to do exceptionally well, but I’ve never been captivated by any of the newer games in the same capacity that I have with most other entries in the series prior to Final Fantasy XI. This, in my opinion, has been the last Final Fantasy game with any positive innovation attached to it.
Overall, Final Fantasy X-2, whilst not having the same sense of longevity as the original game, is nevertheless a very worthy sequel and worthy of the attention of anyone with either a PlayStation 2, 3 or 4. Despite the sometimes cringe worthy dialogue, the story does eventually evolve into something better, and has many other elements keeping the series positively fresh at that point.