The times, they are a changin'. Square Enix has created their first true sequel to a Final Fantasy game. Oh sure, the games number up XI these days, but FFX-2 is truly the series only real sequel. With the phenomonal success of FFX, the PS2's first FF game, and strong characters that gamers fell head over heals for, Square Enix knew a good thing when they saw it. Why take a chance on introducing a new storyline and new characters when FFX was still riding the crest of popularity two years later? Hence FFX-2, a love letter to all of the fans of FFX.

What fans may not be ready to handle is the tongue and cheek, campy style of the story and the all female lead characters: Yuna, Rikku and newcomer FF Diva, Paine. At first it doesn't make sense to make an all-girl fashion squad the focus of a male dominated genre….or does it? Well boys, just take a pill. Once you overlook the overall girlishness of FFX-2, I'd say you guys are in for a treat. Just after the halfway mark the game kicks off the sillies and decides to get down to business and that's when you'll discover that there is far more here than meets the eye.

From the moment the game kicks in, you'll really feel that two years actually has passed. Yuna and Rikku have come along way since the Sin days. They've grown, just like you and you'll want to get started out and find out what you've missed out on. You won't even miss whatstheirnames from FFX…. Once you see Yuna jump you'll know this is a new step in the right direction. The first time she jumped and platformed her way up a mountain I was in awe. If you know anything about anything, you'd know that traditional RPG heroes and heroines, DON'T jump; it's just not done. But she does and it's very cool.

The battle system and the overall structure of the game has been altered to move everything along - sorry no Aeons here. It looks like FFX but it speeds along like supertrain, almost always moving at a frenetic pace which is a really welcome addition. My biggest complaint with RPG's is the monotonous backtracking, but FFX-2 foregoes that genre tradition for the most part just to keep things in the groove. The party of three makes powering up a thing of beauty and streamlines the action because there is just so much to go around. Not having to level up characters you don't care about while instead making Rikku, Yuna and Paine as functional as possible is the only way to fly. There are an abundance of job classes that the girls can learn and powering up these tough women means combat is a like a rock and roll ballet. Things are moving and shaking all over the place and it never gets dull. The game's missions are open ended for the most part. Do some, ignore others or just zoom on down the highway to the end of the game. Most FF purists will want to see everything this game has to offer, but there are still others who just want to finish it as quickly as possible. Either way, you can play this one however you see fit.

The one big "stop the presses" this game isn't fun anymore, has to be the Sphere Break minigame. Take Blitzball from FFX, which was hard to learn and hard to master, but still was kind of endearing in a "this is a cool freaky sport" kind of way, Sphere Break is like a trigonometry test with a broken calculator. Yeah, real fun. I'm betting the guy who invented this for the game owns at least 3 pocketprotectors. We all know the Japanese are smarter than we are, couldn't they have just left Sphere Break in their version and gave us something we could relate too…like purse shopping or something?

Of course I know most of you guys won't be playing FFX-2 for the battles or the story, but rather being able to play dress up with Yuna and Rikku. Sickos. The character models in this game and everything else, is top notch. The job class battle system which features transforming party members will blow you away. Dress up has never been this violent before. Wink Wink. Having not played FFX for a year or more now, I think I can safely say that Square Enix has bested almost everything there was to see in that game. The bosses are incredible and need to be seen to be believed while the clarity of the graphics will make you proud of your war torn PS2. There's still some kick ass power left in the old girl.

While some people think that the game won't appeal to everyone who loved FFX, I think that's poppycock. RPG's have become one of the most popular genres around and FFX-2 drives the point home as to why. It's a quality production from start to finish, always letting fans in on the joke and treats the FF universe with great respect and more importantly, a sense of fun that is always present on both sides of the screen simultaneously. Your Diva's await….

System: PS2
Dev: Square / Enix
Pub: Square
Released: Nov 2003
Players: 1
Review by Shelby