First chance I’ve had to post this. Well, I’ve finished the game (had 81% at the end, now I’m going through it a second time with an FAQ to get the rest). Here’s what I think about it.
Well… in truth, not much. It’s a nice way to pass the time, and it had some neat ideas, but it really didn’t strike me as something to look forward to. In particular, there was almost no story at all to speak of, and story is one of the main pulls that the FF series has for me.
The main characters themselves have virtually no depth. What little complexity Rikku had in FFX has now been removed, leaving us with an almost implausibly stupid bimbo. Yuna’s new personality is refreshing, but we never really find out how she goes from demure, selfless hero figure to a world-travelling sphere hunter. (Come to think of it, we never find out why Rikku became one either.) Paine’s backstory, other than one incident, is nonexistent (although she does has all the cool lines). The end result of this is three heroes who I simply didn’t care about. The ending was the first RPG ending in a very long time which didn’t make me feel anything at all. Truth is that Yuna and Rikku were my two least favorite characters of FFX (except maybe Kimahri). A game starring Wakka and Lulu with a few others would have been much more enjoyable.
(While I’m here, I really don’t think Yuna’s outfit is implausible, although Rikku’s is pushing it. All you have to do is look at how the rest of Spira dresses, and you’ll see that the only odd thing was how modest Yuna was in FFX, not vice versa.)
The battle system is fun and fast-paced, and can be challenging until you get used to it. Once you do, though, there really isn’t much to it short of being perfectionist and learning all the abilities you can. The different jobs are cool (yay job system!), but after a certain point (say level 60) you can basically smash any enemy you like anyway, so why bother? Although I will say that nearly every single job certainly is useful at some point in the game (with Songstress being a notable exception - but hey, it’s just a dressed-up Bard, so what’d you expect), which is something that no other FF game that had the job system managed.
The actual gameplay, as far as the missions go, keeps you on your toes, but just seems to be one sidequest after another. In fact, there really aren’t any “real quest” missions except for near the end of the game. (Back to the “lack of story” point above.) The places themselves are virtually unchanged from FFX (it took a while for me to get used to traveling the same places in FFX with totally different music). But if you want to see everything, you’ll have to revisit those places many, many times throughout the game. All the chests respawn four times, for instance. It’s going to make replaying FFX harder for me, I can tell you that. -_-
Also, speaking of the music, for someone who generally eschews all things electronica, I have this to say: It SUCKS. OK, that’s an overgeneralization. There are a few nice tracks (such as the Zanarkand Ruins or the fights with Leblanc’s gang). But overall, the music was Spice Girlish in its bubbliness or annoying in its New Waveishness. And I found the two vocal tracks to be even worse than my previous “worst RPG song”, Eyes On Me - mainly because, I suspect, that the subject of those songs were people I didn’t care about or ideas that were too simple to actually merit a song. (Although “real Emotion” annoyed me in any case.)
Final verdict? If you’re starved for RPGs and you were a fan of FFX, this’ll make a good buy. (It’s good for at least one playthrough if you liked FFX in any case.) If you like buying games where you “collect 'em all” (whether it’s story points, Oversouled fiends, Blue Magic, etc.), you’ll probably love this. But people looking for a serious (or even humorous) RPG should probably look elsewhere.