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The story this time concerns Tidus, a blond-haired star of a sport called Blitzball. While he is playing in a match, Tidus''s city is attacked by an evil force called Sin, and everything is destroyed save Tidus and his guardian Auran. The adventure begins as the pair 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 nonplayer 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 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. The stunning effects are on display when you use magic in combat, summon gigantic monsters, and use fire columns to devastate your foes.
One new element is voice acting. The innovation yields predictably mixed results: it''s wonderful to hear spoken dialogue rather than read 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