It saddened me that Square thought in order to appeal to women gamers -- excuse me, chicks-- we were supposed to want a game focusing on clothes, girly giggles, pop music, and Barbie dress-up. Those scenes made me want to gouge out my eyes and run screaming back to Lara Croft, where the costumes are stupid, but at least she's a smart, independent woman who takes charge, solves problems, shows initiative without waiting to be told what to do, packs large weapons, and kicks ass. Maybe I'm not a real chick: everything that makes the normal FFs cool appeals to me (interesting weapons, dramatic quests, unexpected twists of plot, complex characters, villains to pummel), and everything that was added to X-2 to appeal to my gender I find irritating.
I also found it painful to discover that Auron, Tidus, Jecht and Braska had sacrificed themselves for a world determined to turn itself into Las Vegas, with Summoners as pop stars and game show hosts, the fiends (these are our dead RELATIVES, remember?) harnessed for carnival rides, and Monkey Love desecrating the most meaningful of places, Zanarkand. While we're at it, why don't we imagine Narnia turning Aslan's Howe into a tourist trap: "Play the Stone Table Challenge: Only 10 gil to stab a stuffed lion!" The political infighting and pettiness of most of the people in X-2 were also frustrating. In FFX, one had the sense of a few corrupt leaders and a good-hearted and long-enduring populace. In FFX-2, I felt that the leaders were mostly honorable, and the people were by and large selfish or clueless brats.
It frustrated me that the strong, thoughtful character of Yuna turned into an "Okay, I'll help, but I'm going to whine a lot and feel sorry for myself!" teenager. That whole "we're just here to have FUN or make a profit, I'm not really helping people!" theme drove me nuts. The world's going to hell in a handbasket, Yuna, and you're going to steal spheres from other people in showy heists and have petty games of one-upmanship with LeBlanc? You were above that with Dona 2 years ago!
And also, yes, the tragedy of FFX was so well-crafted that I'm dubious about undoing it. Yuna spent the whole story prepared to die, and we gradually prepared ourselves to lose her at the end. Instead... someone else did. That's good storytelling, a wonderful twist of irony.
I'm not totally against the "retreiving the lost lover" storyline, which is a classic myth. Orpheus went to the underworld and struggled against its guardians to win his dead wife (of course, in the end, he failed, showing just how hard it is to overturn fate). Lúthien in Tolkien's world died and pleaded before the gods to let her lover return from death, promising to die herself (she was an Elf, immortal, Arwen's ancestor) after having a span of time alive with him. When the gods move heaven and earth to resurrect lost loves, there should be a reason for it and some weight behind it. Despite the odd "Tidus is Shuyin, only not" plotline, Yuna's quest against Vegnagun wasn't really a quest to retrieve Tidus, and his return at the end was sort of a random "hi, I'm back!" I didn't feel like Yuna had "rescued" him; it was almost like the universe just said, "oh, nevermind, here, we're tired of listening to you whine."
In spite of my frustrations, I can see the replay value of many of the side quests and the actual game mechanics.
I am playing it again and enjoying it much more the second time, discovering all the things I missed. I hit a lot more of the Crimson Squad story, a lot more of the serious stuff (I had managed to miss 90% of it, including the weird confrontation between Nooj and Baralai, so as far as I knew it was just "hey, Yuna, we've gone off to save the world, keep the people pacified with a pop song while we do the real work!" I hadn't hit any of the stuff about Shuyin possessing people.
I enjoyed Chapter 4 instead of skipping over it, peering at all the things happening around the world and (gah, peeping tom!) all the weird stuff that happened at the Hot Springs. I'm starting to get the feel for what's enjoyable in X-2, even as my feeling for what I loved about FFX is starting to become blurred and muddy, much in the way that the films of LOTR made it hard for me to remember the faces and voices I'd imagined for those characters for many years. It's much the same as LOTR in fact-- I enjoyed the films, but felt they [[EDIT: the second two, TTT and ROTK]] obscured or perverted many of the mythic themes of the books, and "broke" or denied the strength and nobility of several characters like Frodo, Théoden, and Faramir, making them more selfish, petty, and weak.
Basically, I wish X-2 were a new game, with a new set of characters, instead of an odd and (to me) ill-fitting overlay over characters, a world, and a story I loved.