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Final Fantasy X is a role-playing video game developed by Squaresoft for the PS2 in 2001. The game marks a significant transition for the Final Fantasy series, moving from pre-rendered backgrounds to fully 3D regions and featuring voice acting. Additionally, Final Fantasy X replaces the older ATB (Active Time Battle) system with the innovative CTB (Conditional Turn-Based Battle) system.

This new battle system was developed by Toshiro Tsuchida, a renowned battle director who had FFIV in mind while creating it. The CTB system, unlike the real-time-based ATB, is focused on turn-based attacks that pause the battle during each player's turn. This allows players to fight without time pressure and features a graphical timeline on screen that illustrates the turn order and how different actions could affect subsequent turns. Each player can control up to three characters during battle, with a swapping system enabling character replacements as needed. The game also introduces a revamped special attack called "Overdrives," an updated version of the "Limit Breaks" attack used in earlier games. Many of the fighting tactics are interactive and require button input from the user to enhance their effectiveness.

The game follows the story of Tidus, the main protagonist, a blitzball star journeying through the fantasy world of Spira to defeat the evil monster, Sin, who destroys his home city of Zanarkand, located at the northernmost edge of Spira. Like previous versions, the game is presented in a third-person perspective, with town and world maps now seamlessly integrated. Upon encountering an enemy, the environment transforms into a turn-based battle region where enemies and characters await their turn to attack.

Differing from earlier versions, Final Fantasy X abandons the top-down world map perspective with miniature illustrations of expansive areas between towns used for long-distance travel. Instead, locations are continuous and seamlessly connected, without fading out from the world map.

The game's music was composed by Nobuo Uematsu, Junya Nakano, and Masashi Hamauzu, featuring three beautiful vocalized themes, including a J-pop ballad titled "Suteki Da Ne" (translated to "Isn't it Wonderful?" in English). Kazushige Nojima provided the lyrics, while Uematsu composed the instrumentals. Japanese folk singer Rikki performed this captivating song, which appears in an orchestrated version at the end of the game. "Otherworld," the opening theme based on heavy metal instruments, was sung by Bill Muir in English. The original audio track included 91 tracks across four discs.

Final Fantasy X boasts colorful and beautiful background textures, as the game's graphics engine has significantly improved compared to its predecessors. Field explorations and dungeons are fully realized in 3D, creating a lifelike environment. The game includes atmospheric effects such as flames or mist and multicolored particle effects that add beauty during navigation. Although character animations are generally excellent, there are occasional mismatches between animations and spoken dialogue in certain scenes. The game features a new summoning system that enhances gameplay, character maneuvering, and high-speed combat. The cinematic sequences and character models are highly detailed and visually striking. The game's visual style is reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII for the Sony PlayStation, which was the first installment in the series to showcase lifelike character appearances. The Sphere Grid's presentation is visually appealing, with various groups of spheres connected by linear paths. As characters progress through the Sphere Grid, they gain new skills, hit points, action points, spells, and more.

With a 40-hour gameplay and numerous side quests, Final Fantasy X appeals to both beginners and hardcore gamers. The engaging storyline, captivating characters, and beautiful soundtrack make this game a standout addition to the franchise.

Gameplay 4.5 / 5
Soundtrack 4.5 / 5
Replay Value 3.5 / 5
Storyline 4 / 5
4 / 5 Great!