The story this time concerns Tidus, a blond-haired star of a sport called Blitzball. While he is playing in a match, Tidus' city is attacked by an evil force called Sin, and everything is destroyed save Tidus and his guardian Auran. The adventure begins as they are somehow transported to another world. From here on, it's standard Final Fantasy gameplay: fight battles, manage experience points, learn new powers and recruit a motley crew of non-playing characters to join your quest.
The graphics, however, take things to a new level. They are amazing not only for their realism, but also for their imaginative art and design. The world these heroes inhabit is breathtakingly beautiful, flowing and full of inventive surprises. You haven't lived until you've surfed cables high in the air, or ridden a graceful airship through the clouds. There are stunning effects on display when you use magic in combat, summoning gigantic monsters, fire-columns and more to devastate your foes.
One new element is voice acting. The innovation yields predictably mixed results: it's wonderful to have spoken dialogue rather than subtitles, but as with most games translated from Japanese, the acting is mediocre and sometimes unintentionally hilarious. Still, the game's new graphics engine and solid gameplay are sure to please fans of the series waiting to see what Square has in store for them. While Final Fantasy X doesn't offer much innovation, it also doesn't disappoint. And fortunately, with Final Fantasy XI already in development, the title is still a misnomer. --Andrew S Bub