Final Fantasy X-2 is the first true sequel in the Final Fantasy series, released in Japan in 2003, and a year later in the US and Europe. It is a story told by former Summoner Yuna, taking place in Spira two years after the events of Final Fantasy X where she, and the rest of the world, are still attempting to come to terms with living in a world without Sin.
Final Fantasy X-2 diverges from it's predecessor in many ways, including a very fluid Mission-based storyline, allowing the player to participate in many different side quests and minigames. The main storyline comprises only about 1/3 of the total possible gameplay. In fact, you can complete the game on 48%.
There are many different types of side quests. Some involve working for an Al Bhed digging group in Bikanel Desert, hoping to improve their understanding of Machina, while others involve button presses at the right time in order to fix the lightning towers on the Thunder Plains.
The game begins as Yuna, Rikku, and Paine, who are now Sphere Hunters, part of the group called the Gullwings, recover Yuna's stolen Garment Grid from the LeBlanc Syndicate in the first of several encounters in which they vie for spheres. The game is punctuated by a narration of Yuna addressing Tidus, as though she is recounting the events of the game to him as they occur in a style reminiscent of Tidus' own narration in Final Fantasy X. Although Yuna's quest is to find clues that may lead her to Tidus, much of the storyline of the game follows the clash of the factions that have established themselves in the time since the coming of the Eternal Calm in Final Fantasy X, and the uncovering of hidden legacies from Spira's ancient history. A significant portion of the game's events are unnecessary for the completion of the main storyline, but much of the depth of the story — including characterization and background details — are featured in the optional content, which generally follows how each part of Spira is healing in the time since the passing of Sin.
As the game progresses, the hostilities between the Youth League and New Yevon build to a head. In the meantime, the Gullwings discover an ancient sphere containing images of an enormous machina weapon called Vegnagun that was secretly buried beneath the city of Bevelle. The weapon has enough power to threaten all of Spira, and, moreover, it is revealed to the player that Vegnagun is unable to distinguish friend from foe once activated. The Gullwings then join forces with the LeBlanc Syndicate to investigate the underground areas of the city in an attempt to destroy the machine before it can be used by either side in the upcoming conflict. However, discovering a large tunnel recently dug into the floor of the weapon's chamber, they realize that Vegnagun has apparently been moved to the Farplane, located at Spira's core.
Disagreements between Spira's factions are soon punctuated further after the disappearance of Baralai, Nooj and Gippal — the leaders of New Yevon, the Youth League and the Machine Faction respectively. Returning to the underground areas of Bevelle, the Gullwings discover the missing faction leaders discussing Vegnagun and learn that the machine's artificial intelligence allows it to detect hostility and to respond by activating itself and fleeing. Additionally, it is revealed that Nooj had come to Bevelle with the intention of destroying Vegnagun previously, prompting it to flee to the Farplane. The player then learns that Paine had once been friends with all three men, assigned to be their sphere recorder while they were candidates for the Crimson Squad, an elite group intended to be assigned leadership of Crusader chapters across Spira.
Two years earlier in a cave beneath Mushroom Rock Road called the Den of Woe, just before the failed Operation Mi'ihen, the squad's final exercise was conducted. Within the cave, the various squad candidates were swarmed by pyreflies and driven to kill one another. The only survivors were Paine, Baralai, Gippal and Nooj, who were themselves targeted by the Yevon order afterward when they revealed having seen images of Vegnagun while in the cave. Soon after, Nooj shot his surviving comrades and left them to die, severing the friendship the group had with one another. However, at this time, it is revealed that he was not acting of his own accord when he shot them. The feelings that drove the squad members to kill one another are revealed to have been the despair of the game's antagonist, Shuyin, who died 1000 years earlier. Before the four survivors could leave the cave, the spirit of Shuyin — requiring a host in order to interact with the world physically — had possessed Nooj, and later forced him to shoot his comrades. In the time since, Shuyin had been subtly goading Nooj on a subconscious level, coercing him to approach Vegnagun so that he could use Nooj's body to control it.
Nooj's will was too strong for him to be completely controlled, and his desire to destroy the large machina prompted it to flee. Now desiring a new host, Shuyin leaves Nooj's body and possesses Baralai's, pursuing Vegnagun to the Farplane. Nooj and Gippal follow in pursuit, asking Yuna to keep things under control on the surface. In doing so, the player must fight and defeat each of Yuna's aeons from Final Fantasy X, their spirits now corrupted by Shuyin's despair on the Farplane. During this mission, Yuna falls into the Farplane and meets Shuyin, who mistakes her for a woman named Lenne. Feeling affection toward him that is not her own and finding herself unwilling to move away from him, she listens as Shuyin describes how he "awoke" after he had died, alone and unable to find Lenne. He then expresses anger that Spira's citizens have not yet come to understand the heartache that war can cause, and reveals that he has developed a plan to use the old, but still operational Vegnagun to destroy all of Spira, ending the possibility of there ever again being a war. In so doing, he believes that he will be making the world a better place.
The player learns that 1000 years before the game, Shuyin was a famous blitzball player in the high-tech metropolis of Zanarkand, and the lover of a popular songstress and summoner — Lenne. The two lived during Zanarkand's war with the more powerful Bevelle, and during the course of the war, Zanarkand ordered all summoners to the front lines, separating the couple. Believing that Lenne would die in battle, Shuyin decided that the only way to save her was to infiltrate Bevelle, commandeer Vegnagun, and use it to destroy Zanarkand's enemies. However, Lenne perceived Shuyin's intentions, and — unwilling to allow him to take the lives of many others for her sake — followed him. When she caught up to Shuyin in Bevelle, he had only just begun to operate Vegnagun's control panel, an organ integrated into its head. Before he could use the giant cannon located in its mouth to destroy the city, Lenne asked him to stop. Shuyin did as she asked, but a group of Bevelle soldiers arrived a moment later and shot the couple. Fatally injured, Lenne failed to tell Shuyin that she loved him before they died.
Over the course of the following 1000 years, Shuyin's despair and resentment over his failure to save Lenne bonded to pyreflies and caused him to constantly experience the anguish of that moment. Over time, his despair became so powerful that it began acting on its own, and he came to believe that — in addition to helping the world — he would fade away with Lenne if he destroyed Spira.
Now with an understanding of Shuyin's hatred for war, Yuna manages to return to the surface and the Gullwings organize a concert to which everyone in Spira is invited, supporters of the Youth League and New Yevon alike. Additionally, the Songstress dressphere worn by Yuna is revealed to be comprised of Lenne's memories, resulting in a sphere screen projecting them to everyone in attendance during the concert. Witnessing images of Shuyin and Lenne's last moments, Spira's citizens begin to understand the unproductive nature of their disagreements. The player then learns that it was because of Lenne's memories that Shuyin had mistaken Yuna for Lenne and she had felt affection toward him.
Although the factional fighting has ceased, Shuyin has nearly carried out his plan to use Vegnagun's cannon to destroy the planet from beneath its surface. Joining forces with the Leblanc Syndicate once again, the Gullwings make their way to the Farplane and find Gippal and Nooj already battling Vegnagun. Working together, they manage to disable the giant machina before its cannon can fire at Spira. Finally confronting Shuyin, Lenne's consciousness emerges from the Songstress dressphere and convinces him to abandon his mission and be at rest. Thanking Yuna, Lenne guides Shuyin's spirit to peace on the Farplane.
Subsequently, the fayth once located in Bevelle appears before Yuna and thanks her as well. He then asks her if she would like to see "him" again. Should the player reply "Yes" — and a sufficient percentage of the game's optional storyline has been completed — the fayth locate Tidus' scattered pyreflies and send them to Besaid, where they reform. Thus, when Yuna returns home, she is reunited with Tidus. Players who achieve 100% completion see an additional reunion scene in Zanarkand.
Ever since Yevon had been exposed for what they really are, Spira has gained 2 new factions. New Yevon, which took the place of old Yevon, and the Youth League, which was trying to uncover Yevon's past to make the way for the future. Of course the Al Bhed faction also makes a noted appearance. Throughout the game, The Youth League and New Yevon fight for the possession of spheres, which are thought to contain valuable information that would uncover Spira's past and possibly the present.
Final Fantasy X-2 utilizes the interchangeable Job System featured in Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy V and the Tactics series. X-2's unique style is achieved via the Dress system, whereby the character's abilities vary depending on what Dressphere the character is wearing. Garment Grids are used to allocate several dresspheres to each character for use in battles. The Grids have their own inherent powers which are activated when the Grid is equipped, or as the player changes spheres and passes through gates. Garment Grids will be acquired as the game progresses, or as the player completes side-quests.
The game has a new mission-based system that allows the player to create their own journey, making the story somewhat non-linear. It is up to the player to determine which and how many sidequests to attempt and complete. The game is divided up into five Chapters, and most locations in Spira have a new sidequest to undertake during each chapter. Several quests encompass the entire game, while others can only be started during a specific chapter. For those that complete the game with 100%, there is a special cutscene.
The Battle system is the classic Active Time Battle, rather than the Turn-based system of Final Fantasy X. The Dressphere system allows the player to customize the battle style for each character, assigning them jobs and outfits to fit each character's strengths. The player can also change dresspheres in mid-battle to match the opponent's weaknesses. By changing through all the dresspheres on a character's Garment Grid, that character may then change into a special dressphere that is unique to them.
Minigames such as Blitzball, Chocobo raising, Digging for Machina in the desert, and the new coin game Sphere Break make for fantastic diversions to the main plot line of the game.
Yuna, Rikku, Paine
Unlike other Final Fantasy games, the playable cast is set very early in the game. The player controls Yuna, Rikku, and Paine, leaving the jobs for each character as the angle for variation.
Major Non-Playable Characters ::
Final Fantasy X-2: International + Last Mission ::
On February 19, 2004 (The day before the European and PAL release of X-2) a special edition of the game was released in Japan only. The new version features two modes: International and Last Mission.
International is the entire game itself, with some general tweaks to the look, feel, speed and dialogue of the game; as well as two extra Dresspheres, new Garment Grids and the inclusion of a Creature Create system similar to the Monster Arena where fiends can be captured, trained and used in battle. Many of the FFX and X-2 non-player characters could also be trained and used in battle, including Tidus.
Last Mission is a story-line based mission set three months following the defeat of Vegnagun where Yuna, Rikku, and Paine meet up for the first time since their victory to explore the recently-discovered Yadonoki Tower ruins. The tower has 80 levels with a boss battle on every 20th level. On every 10th level, the girls have a conversation regarding current events in their lives and in Spira, adding many post-game conclusions for NPC's. These conversations can be altered depending on how you begin the mission. If you select New Game at the start screen, you will be prompted to load a save game file from FFX-2 normal or International, or to begin without loading. When beginning from scratch, the dialogue will be based on the Normal Ending of FFX-2, however, if you load a save game file with the Happy or Perfect Endings, Yuna will talk about her new life with Tidus on Besaid Island. It is also possible to remove certain pieces of dialogue: i.e., at one point the girls mention Wakka and Lulu's baby Vidina has grown a tooth, but by loading a save game set before completing Besaid in Chapter 5, any references to Vidina will be removed as the girls have not met him.
Live and let live.