Final Fantasy X-2, the latest offering from Square-Enix (formerly Squaresoft) could make a seventy eight year old strung-out five dollar whore jealous of the pure level of suck it has managed to accomplish. Considering I actually enjoyed Final Fantasy X, playing the sequel is like feeding my massive wang into a meat grinder and slowly turning the handle for hours while pouring a mixture of salt and battery acid on the festering wound, then lighting the resulting chum on fire and serving the flambe to my mother for her birthday. Director Toriyama is apparently angry at the acquisition of Squaresoft by Enix, and has decided to subject former fans of the Final Fantasy series to excruciating torture in hopes they will abandon the series, thereby negatively affecting Enix’s bottom line.
Well, his plan has worked perfectly. Combined with the train-wreck that is Final Fantasy XI, the Final Fantasy series is as played out as Carrot Top’s comedy career. But that is a game review for an entirely different day. The crack in Japan must be of high quality to inspire the unsightly travesty that is Final Fantasy X-2. What sucks about it? The battle engine, the graphics, the voice acting, the staggering amount of tedious and pointless mini-games, and the asinine status effects.
Let’s start with the battle system. Earlier, I had described it as similar to watching a bum shambling down the street with DVDs and VHS tapes roped to his clothes, mysteriously learning new skills by osmosis. But that evaluation is entirely wrong. To put it more succinctly, it’s actually like a toothless hobo taking smashed DVD shards and random slivers of VHS tape, stashing them strategically in various thread-bare pockets, and learning new skills every time he gets busted for sucking cock to pay for his crack habit. Yes, the new fighting engine is engineered so spheres containing random, badly recorded twenty second clips of video are arranged in unexplained “grids” and then “equipped”. What’s more, having a sphere equipped will change the character’s clothes when they switch to a new sphere during battle! What fun! Now the aforementioned bum gets to strip to his mottled and filthy birthday suit in order to shimmy into a new and exciting outfit which imbues him with different abilities. New abilities like Resisting Arrest, Vomit Assault, and Panhandle, for instance.
But it won’t matter, because the graphics are so pixilated, my Atari is suing for patent infringement. Final Fantasy X was fluid, a beautiful testament to the power of the PS2. X-2 is exactly like its predecessor as viewed through a layer of sandy Vaseline. Everyone knows that sandy Vaseline is only good for playing pranks on friends on the night of their honeymoon, not as a graphics enhancing filter. But the nauseatingly revolting jumbles of pixels actually look worse when the game designers laughingly overexaggerate the pitfalls of recorded video. In FFX-2, all video spheres and video feeds replay with all the quality of a 1940’s test pattern, complete with flickering, rolling, and highly visible scan-lines. They really want players to know they’re watching a video, bashing players over the head with a bus full of pregnant nuns, in hopes someone will clue in a phrase similar to: “Wow, that must be a recording, and not part of the actual gameplay!” But that’s yet another cruel hoax; it is part of the fucking game-play! Multiple scenes require the player to squint into the hazy video-garble, fumbling with the controller in hopes of accidentally ending the scene.
But all of this graphical mayhem is actually a blessing in disguise, because it helps distract from the absolute lack of mouth movement and spoken dialog synchronization. It would be like watching a badly dubbed Kung Foo movie, except Kung Foo is actually fun to watch. I’ve been more entertained watching my cats puke on the rug after accidentally ingesting too much of their own fur. After playing this game, I’m constantly amazed at how the hacking sounds my cats make, and the movement of their jaws actually match up! It’s like magic! Ever see a stereo display pulse to a song? Apparently nobody at Square-Enix has. It’s almost as if they painstakingly hand-tuned each jaw movement with the audio itself. Except they completed this procedure while drunk out of their minds, and having wild sex-orgies with the money they were paid to actually write the fucking game.
That one single phrase will cause anyone who has played X-2 long enough to lunge for the nearest jagged object to eviscerate their own eyeballs. If no sharp implements are handy, cotton swabs are plentiful and just as destructive when driven into soft eye tissue in desperation. I enjoy escorting caravans, scalping theatre tickets and handing out balloons as much as the next guy, but I should be out killing monsters. If I wanted to do that kind of pointless shit, I’d go down to the local carnie and do it there. Games are supposed to be fun and diverting, not pointless busywork that’s less exciting than cleaning a prison bathroom with a toothbrush. It certainly isn’t difficult figuring out how hard the game designers were reaching to fill their quota of minigames passed down from management. I keep waiting to find the side-quest where you have to spank a platypus with a dead fish in order to make nearby monsters laugh, and you then have to steal their little monster babies while they’re laughing, and cook the monster babies in a hibachi to make the monsters cry, and while the monsters are crying, you then collect their tears and make a potion that makes people say, “You’re the cool guy.”
But that’s not all! While playing this wonderful game, players get to experience a slew of status effects that can cripple or kill their characters almost instantly, driving the players themselves into a such a blinding rage that even Gary Busey backs off in terror. We’re not talking enemies that employ tough strategies and deceptive feints, but the lazy fallback of inflicting poison, itchy, or literally instant death to your characters. What’s even more fun is that certain regions of the game contain creatures that completely span the gambit of possible detrimental effects. Even fairly early in the game, characters will be alternately poisoned, turned to stone, instantly killed, confused, or paralyzed - sometimes all in the same battle. This of course causes anger, confusion, rage, hatred, and temporary insanity in the player themselves. If valued loved-ones are nearby, consider shielding them with thick armor plating and arming them cattle prods to protect themselves from any induced explosive outbursts.
All in all, I can honestly equate playing Final Fantasy X-2 with being painstakingly sodomized with a rusty chainsaw while being forced to watch Rosie O’donnel have kinky sex with Oprah. But I can’t quit playing until I have crushed it under my iron boot of oppression, and showed it that it can’t make me rock back and forth in a corner crying again! I want this game to admit it is my bitch so loudly that people in China say, “Whoh, that game Shaun’s bitch. I not want to be that game right now.” Square will have to give me the best oral sex in the universe to get me to trust them again after this. Sure they might be desperate for profit, but that’s no reason to design a game purely to frustrate players into a hucking their game consoles at their TV and taking an axe to the surviving equipment, and then washing their bodies in sulfuric acid to once again feel clean. Now, excuse me while I take off all of my clothes and change into my pajamas so I can utilize my Go To Bed ability.