Review by herocatholic
"A great game, even if not the best of its class in the main parts."
Final Fantasy VIII is a great game, but it's not as excellent as it's predecessors. I will be evaluating the plot, characters, graphics, music, battle system, the magic system, the junction system, GF system, challenge, replay value and the time it takes.
Plot- The underlying love story is cliche: Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. They want to be together. They try to save the world together....blah blah blah....it's all the same, you might as well read a romance novel.
Outside of that, the plot first discusses that SEED militia is from different Gardens (get it?), who train SEEDs to protect cities and people. While slightly cliche for its "the organization you work for turns out to have some evil people within it", is unique to the futuristic story line- talking about how people can travel back in time, invade each other's bodies, which turns out the major villain wishes to extract said technology to take over the world. The "Time Compression" aspect is a bit confusing and could have explained it better or used another method to portray it. And, of course, you have to stop the major villain in order to save the world.
Characters- You have 11 playable characters (five only for a very short period of time). These characters are very original. They know who they are and aren't afraid to express themselves. For the most part, they act like their age within the age of 17-19..
Squall, the hero, is a loner and he expresses himself like a normal emotional teenage boy who associates feelings and crying with weakness. He uses a unique weapon called the gunblade (it's the combination of a gun and a blade). Eventually, you learn about his issues and how he overcomes his stoic expression thanks to his friendships and his romance with Rinoa.
Rinoa has a spunky, in-your-face attitude, which throws Squall off-guard and he doesn't like it at first. She uses a projectile boomerang weapon on the enemy.
Here are the other main characters:
Quistis is Squall's teacher for SEED training and she uses a whip as her weapon;
Selphie is an optimistic girl who loves life who uses nunchakus.
Zell is a punk who uses gloves.
Irvine is a ladies man who happens to be a master marksman with a gun.
Graphics- Very good. More realistic than Final Fantasy VII. You can begin to see facial expressions instead of blockheads with changing eyebrows. The cut-scenes are fantastic and a great improvement from the previous games. The most visually appealing and realistic since humans are the majority of the characters.
Music- Very good as well. All the music from Final Fantasy is great.
Battle system- 3 to a battle. You are able to attack, defend, steal, draw and use magic, use Guardian Forces (GF), use items...etc. You get experience if you hit the enemy once (hit and run away and you still get exp!). But you don't get cash. You only get cash based on your SEED rank. SEED tests need to be done to get a higher rank for more money. You also get AP points which help your GFs gain certain abilities.
Magic system- The most annoying part of the game. You have to draw magic, with a maximum number of 100 spells. You draw a certain magic from an enemy and you can use it or store it. If you store it, you can use it for later use or for junctioning (explained next). While it takes a while to draw magic, the abilities from the Guardian Forces will allow one to modify low magic (e.g. Cure) to higher magic (e.g. Cura or Curaga) in a shorter amount of time.
Junction system- This aspect is interesting. The junction system, depending on the advancement of GF abilities, allows you to manipulate your statistics so you be stronger, have higher HP, add elements to your attacks, or defend against status ailments. You junction magic to your statistics. The flaw is you have to either choose junctioning or magic. The obvious choice is junctioning overall since reducing the number of spells means lower stats.
The GF system- The GF (Guardian Forces) are your summons. There are a total of 16 and they can give you special abilities. For example, if you help Shiva get an ability called "Boost", you help Shiva boost up her power so she can do more damage. You can also select which abilities your GFs learn to enhance players statistics, like higher strength or vitality. They also help you learn battle commands like "Mug" or "Revive".
Challenge- Not hard but can be difficult at times. Your enemies level up with you. So, the higher you go, the harder they will be so it can encourage low leveling; but at the same time, if you fight higher level enemies, you can draw higher level spells for junctioning. On the other hand, the game is easily manipulated with junctioning and the abilities from the Guardian forces, which makes it easier to combat enemies even at very low levels.
Replay value- You only have 6 real characters to play with. Once you finish the first 3, you can finish the next 3 in the next game, and then you are pretty much done since you'll be using the same junctioning system without much variation. Although, this game can get addicting, as I've played it 4 times.
Time it takes- Usually 40-50 hours because it covers 4 discs. It also depends on how much you level up.
Overall: 8/10. This game has a simple plot, with good characters, but the drawing system (which is linked to the junction system) is a bit of a flaw. While the two go hand-in-hand, the junction system's purpose is creative, but one must make a choice between magic and higher stats, which the choice is obvious. The way to overcome the low stats is manipulated easily so you won't have a difficult time with the game.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/11/04, Updated 01/02/14
Game Release: Final Fantasy VIII (US, 12/05/13)
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