Recently I bought a PS2, mostly to catch up on JRPG games I had never played, sticking to Xbox in the older days. I instantly bought Final Fantasy X for it but never really got hooked, so I looked further. When I saw this title in someone's list of favorite JRPG games for the PS2, I started checking out video's and reviews, and despite the sometimes less than enthusiastic comments on the game, I kept being drawn to it. Critics claimed that many characters did not have enough depth, that there was cringy voice acting and that the story was not always interesting.
But I love this game and I think it's much better than FFX. I've been playing it for at least 10 hours in total now and it's got everything I appreciate about JRPGs:
-music that grows on you;
-complex but fun battle system;
-over the top special attacks;
-breathtaking cut scenes;
-vulnerable, flawed non-macho characters;
-numerous ways to tweak and optimize your group and gear;
-slow pacing of the story where you don't have to pay attention to a hundred things at once like in some games, where you at once need to read text quickly AND listen to someone filling you in on your mission AND watch a quickly edited cut scene at the same time.
Another nice thing about the game is that it introduces platforming with puzzle elements, requiring smart usage of your "photons" and a good eye for the environment.
This is a hardcore RPG that requires you to study every aspect of the game in order to keep winning your battles and the gameplay is not one that is easy to master. Many battles are needed to climb the learning curve. I was warned that the rewards for all this hard work were not always substantial enough so it is definitely recommended to use a walkthrough with good pointers, but I am looking forward to this. Finally a game where you don't just go through the motions but must concentrate and make the smart decisions. There's still some button-mashing but it's definitely not a hack'n'slasher nor a horribly slow turnbased game.
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