If you play one RPG on the PlayStation 2, make it this game...
With a large collection of sequels and even a motion picture under its belt, the Final Fantasy (FF) series has established itself as the premiere console role-playing game. While the latest game in the famous series, FF XI, took a new direction and established the popular series in the MMORPG genre, Final Fantasy X and its quasi-sequel, FF X-2, still hold true to the principles of a strong stand-alone RPG that is fun for both longtime fans and newcomers alike. The PlayStation 1 and 2 are known for a wide selection of RPGs and if there is one RPG you play on either model, this is it.
As with the other popular sequels, Final Fantasy X begins a new story so gamers won't need to be familiar with the events of Final Fantasy IX. Veterans of the famous series will have no problem becoming accustomed to the turn-based combat system but any Final Fantasy newbies who have played RPGs on the PS2 or turn-based RPGs such as Knights of the Old Republic on the PC or XBox should have no problems adjusting either. The game is easier for Final Fantasy veterans but it does take a while to get used to some of the new concepts in the game. The story begins in an alternate future world with Tidus, a champion blitzball player and naive teenager. Not wishing to reveal too much of the story, let's just say that Tidus faces a rather unfortunate turn of events and is forever forced to seek a new destiny in the clever world created by the developers, Squaresoft.
If you're not someone who can remain patient while watching numerous cut scenes, I wouldn't recommend Final Fantasy X because it's full of them. Some of the clips are amazing CGI sequences that rival the CGI special effects in the Final Fantasy movie. If you can tolerate plenty of cut scenes, you'll find yourself fully immersed in the world presented on your television. The main characters all have plenty of life and like any good RPG, by the end of the game, you will start caring about your virtual henchmen. Unfortunately, like most Final Fantasy games, the control you are given over your character's actions are limited as FF X once again stays away from some of the detailed mechanics of western style RPGs such as in-depth dialog options and detailed inventory systems.
Another device that Final Fantasy stays true to are complicated secrets and other elements that most casual gamers will miss. If you want to make sure you're earning everything possible in the game, you'll need to read a walkthrough because a quick play through this game will miss many of the subtle additions inserted throughout the game. Also, if you enjoy spending time discovering in-game secrets, you may consider looking for the international version because it's different than the American version and contains a few more tricks.
Speaking of walkthroughs, you might find yourself going back to the cheat sheets several times during some of the boss battles in this game. Plenty of bosses are tough as nails and the further you advance in the game, the harder they get. Eventually you'll face bosses that can kill your heroes in one hit which can make for an extremely frustrating amount of reloads. (Press L1+L2+R1+R2+Start+Select for a quick reset instead of walking back to the console.) Many creatures can be difficult but it's fun for fans who appreciate strategic gaming because the monsters have specific strengths and weaknesses and a player is only allowed to control three characters at once in a battle sequence.
With all these factors, you'd think Final Fantasy X would be another memory card hog but it's actually quite conservative with its memory usage and a standard PS2 memory card can hold 100+ save game slots. Final Fantasy X has no online options. If you'd prefer to play a FF game that takes advantage of the PS2's online adapter, look for FF XI and the new hard drive. Also, FF X tries something new in the famous series because Sony actually released a quasi-sequel of sorts. No, it's not FF XI, it's FF X-2 which basically means it's the second half of the grand tale covered in the FF X saga. Although it hasn't been received as well as FF X it's still a satisfying play for fans of the first Final Fantasy X.
If you've never played an RPG on the PlayStation 2, Final Fantasy X is as good a place to start as any. Because of the PS2 and Final Fantasy's popularity, it's easy to find a copy of FF X at the Game Trading Zone. The game is also now sold in the PS2's reduced price "Greatest Hits" line of games. Through either buying or trading, you won't spend a lot of money, and you'll get a game which will last you for several weeks.