Final Fantasy X-2 is a brand new world in the beloved series. While it is based on, and set in, FFX's world of Spira and containing the core characters of Yuna & Rikku, and a plethora of the supporting characters seen previously, it as much different as it is similar.
Some 2 years have passed since Yuna, Wakka, Sir Auron, Rikku, Kimahri & our lost dream (and Yuna's love,) Tidus defeated Sin to bring the eternal calm. For anyone that hasn't played and beaten X, it's a good idea to pick up a copy and play it through first simply because X-2 doesn't give you a lot of backstory, instead alludes to things and moves forward.
Yuna is now a Sphere Hunter with the Gullwings and travels with her cousin Rikku and a brash new character, the Gothic female Paine. Rikku arrived on the Isle of Besaid and gave Yuna a sphere containing a video of someone that looks like Tidus trapped for trying to use some kind of weapon. I can't elaborate more or I would spoil most of the adventure. So, Y. P. R. (as they call themselves) are hunting every sphere in Spira trying to find out just who this is. Along the way, they are constantly hounded by the Leblanc Syndicate (another Sphere Hunter group) and the rise of New Yevon. If X's tagline was "This is my story," (meaning Tidus,) than the tagline for X-2 is appropriate as "This is Yuna's story." In fact, it is a deep story as I have come to find out and far moreso than the brief synopsis by Square-Enix. (This is a good thing.)
The same source code was used for many of different area's seen in FFX, but have been tweaked and updated to bring the world of Spira 2 years forward. Some area's look exactly the same, however, with new people and places to explore. Graphically, FF X-2 is better looking and superior to X because of these added elements.
The character models are sharp and gorgeous. The speech to mouth movement has been overhauled and plays out smoothly. You'll notice the incredible graphics while in battle and especially while changing dressspheres.
This is where X-2 differs so much from FFX. Instead of the linear world of moving from place to place, you now have a beautiful airship to roam wherever you want to, when ever you want to. In short, you can play this game any way you want too as there's no preset way to go. The world map has returned and with your airship you pick where you want to go instead of waiting until deep into the game to acquire the ship (as was the case in previous FF titles.) Also, instead of one defined mini-game, like Blitzball & Tetra Master, there are many (sorta like the things you could do at the Gold Saucer in FFVII.)
Ah, the battle scheme. It is easy, and it is tough. ATB, "Active Time Battle," seen in Final Fantasy IX has returned and you can change job classes in the middle of battle. Be careful however, changing classes in a tough fight could leave your party vanquished. Gone is the usual fight stance and style where one party stays on one side and the fiend on the other. X-2 presents the battle in a realistic form. You may surround the fiends once, or they may surround you. Also, I can't leave out the mentioning of the "Chain Attack," a cool feature done in other games and now bringing a great strategy to FF's turn-based battle system. (You'll notice in X-2, that it doesn't as heavily rely on turn-based as previous FF's and could be an Action RPG like Summoner 2 if was loosened any further.) Again, a good thing.
The voice acting is suberb by the same cast as the original. The music is upbeat and lively and bear's no, and I mean NO, resemblence to Nobuo Uematsu's awesome scores and themes. This may be the games only drawback and is sorely missed, at least by me.
X-2 is presented as a game in itself with ties to X. The mission-based gameplay, free roaming world and familiar meetings make the game an incredible RPG. Square-Enix has outdone itself. Don't expect to be replaying FFX, this is a forward-driven, exceptional new chapter as much as a sequel.
I have left a lot out in this review, simply because to divulge too much would be to give away spoilers. There is something at every turn in the game that is new and connecting the 2 games.