A variety of events have conspired to cause my playthrough of Final Fantasy X-2 to come to a bit of a premature conclusion. I no longer have a PS3 (or access to my saved game even if I had one) so my second play capped out at 63% completion. That's not the 100% needed to see the final special cutscene. Which means it's probably time to wrap up that little segment of my marathon and look ahead to the next game, whatever that happens to be...
I was really looking forward to playing FFX-2 when I started this marathon up 3 years ago. (Uh... Jeez, I sure have been taking my time, huh?) But it didn't really pull me in. I think part of it is being jaded with the RTB system. I really liked the updates they did to it the first time I played (I can still remember the first time I used a megaphoenix, had my last character die while the item was in the air, and DIDN'T LOSE because the system let the megaphoenix resolve and bring the character that used it back to life) but I guess they didn't hold up so well. The big thing I think is how terrible anything that isn't an autoattack ended up being because attacking has a higher priority than using an ability or casting a spell. So you could get juggled out of doing your thing by enemies that attacked fast enough. Or if you were the one attacking, you could juggle them out of their things.
Just mashing attack is a thing I used to like doing a lot in RTB games. But somewhere along the way I wanted to do other things. I can remember being similarly jaded with FFIV in this marathon for similar reasons. I think there's a problem when the thing I most want to have happen is to have my characters get berserked so I stop having to input the only relevant command. If all I'm going to do is attack then the game might as well do that for me, right? But then you get into a state like I got into in FFX-2 here where I never actually played the game after I got the catnip. Rikku went first and killed one enemy guaranteed, and by the time someone else got an action and I could input a command she'd kill a second one. So really I could play the game, or I could not play the game, and the same thing would happen. Rikku would kill everything with no input.
The game remains incredibly pretty. I still like the concept of live swapping in what class your characters are on demand in the fights. I like the wide variety of abilities you can access. I really like the costumes and the character combat chat. But going to a RTB system meant most of that stuff was just a terrible waste of time. Sticking with the FFX system or tweaking it a little could have been really, really cool.
I often like minigames and this game is in a very real sense entirely minigames. The actual core plot is nowhere near as detailed or as epic as a normal Final Fantasy game, which I think has to count against it. Minigames are a great diversion from an epic plot, especially when they come with ways to become more powerful. Here it mostly felt like you were doing things just to have something to do. A way to raise that counter up to 100% to get the good ending. Which I didn't get.
I still do want to get that, and it's certainly an idea running around in the back of my mind to just do a run on the PS2 version now that I've looked up what it takes. There's a route to do it in one playthrough. I'm thinking that may be a thing I could do as a start to streaming if the internet here ends up being fast enough.
It feels like I'm pretty down on the game, but I think a bunch of things sort of conspired to make it feel worse than it really is. Taking 3 weeks off to go to WBC this year instead of 1 week put a big gap in my playing that made it hard to get back into things. Then hurting my wrist so I couldn't play at all for a couple weeks (and only sporadically after that) was not the fault of the game. And then needing to return the console/move across the country... None of those things should actually lower my rating here. And while going back to a RTB system makes me sad, it's mostly being compared to other RTB systems, and it wouldn't really be fair to ding this one more than those ones.
The character design is great, but that's leeching from the characters of FFX. Should that count against this one? The one new character (Paine) is actually pretty interesting. The new comedic villain on the other hand is just annoying. I think the real big strike against it has to be the lack of an epic feel. I get that the world is recovering from the actual epic evil from the first game but it does lead to a bit of a let down feeling when it's 'just' a single super weapon that is pretty easily destroyed that's threatening the world this time around.
All told, I think this game fits in around Kingdom Hearts on the rating scale. Awesome graphics and characters, but not really original ones. Fun enough gameplay, but not as good as it probably should have been. And I definitely enjoyed Kingdom Hearts more this time around, so it's going to get the edge here. FFX-2 will get slotted in at slot #9, just ahead of FFIX.
Next up is supposed to be FFXI, but with the World of Warcraft expansion hitting soon there's no way I'm going to be playing a different MMO. Which means I should probably be playing the handheld game Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, which I actually just found in my move. I wonder if I can remember where I packed it...