Review by Zylo the wolf
"What has happened to the series that I used to love?"
Final Fantasy is without a doubt, the biggest RPG series if you don't count Pokemon. It's a series that has always delivered a quality RPG on any system the games have been released for. The first three on the Nes were not as popular as the Dragon Quest series, but that changed at least in the western world during the SNES days where the Final Fantasy series not only went from good to fantastic, and the Dragon Quest series didn't get released outside of Japan. Then Squaresoft left Nintendo's system and decided to make their 7th game in the series on the Sony Playstation. The game features a lot of cut-scenes, and turned the RPG games to one of the of the most popular type of games in the western world. The hype for the next Final Fantasy was perhaps the biggest hype of any Final Fantasy to this date, at least I felt like it was.
The game begins with an opening which is just a memorable as the opening in the two previous Final Fantasy games. You see a big ocean, a lot of different words pops up on the screen and after a short time you se two different youngsters having a gunblade duel. One of them is Squall Leonhart, the main character in this game, the other is Sefier, his biggest rival since his childhood. Both of them get a big scar on their face. You also see the young teenager Rinoa and the sorceress Edea, both of these females will play big part in the storyline. After the duel Squall faints and wakes up in the Garden Hospital, and that's when the game begins.
Squall is a student at the Balamb Garden, a kind of school that trains young people to become SeeDs. A SeeD is kinda like a SOLDIER in Final Fantasy VII, a mercenary who gets hired to do different things. The game starts right before Squall is going to do his final lesson and then his exam. What the player will quickly learn is that this game is a lot more complicated when it comes to defeating monsters than in the previous Final Fantasy games. Square decided that they had to evolve the simple battlesystem that you see in almost every other RPG and make it really complicated.
If you want a character do be able to do anything else than just attacking, then you have to make sure that the character has at least one Guardian Force (GF) equipped. A GF is kinda like the summon beasts that you can find in many of the other Final Fantasy games, except that you also have to use them to learn new abilities, . It can be anything from something as common as the battle commands "Magic" and "Item" to things like Mug (An Ability that allows you to steal items from enemies) and abilities that allows your status to increase with a certain number of percent. You start with 2 GF and will find the third in the first dungeon, after that it's up to yourself to find the other GFs.
As I said before there are many different battle commands that you can learn if you have a GF equipped, but keep in mind that it's the GF that learns an ability, not the character who has equipped the GF. Except for attack, you can only use 3 other battle commands in a battle, so it's usually smart to not care about all the special battle commands and stick to "Magic", "Draw", and "Item". Except for attack, the Draw command is by far the most important command in this game. Each enemy has a number of spells which you can get if yo use the Draw command. There is no such thing as MP in this game, instead you can use a spell until you no longer got any of that spell. You can draw as many times as you want from the same enemy so it's usually a good idea to get 100 of the new spell if you have enough time to draw that much from the same enemy. You can also draw a new GF from a few bosses so it's very important that you look what kind of spells the bosses got.
Another important thing in this game is that you learn how the junction system works. Each GF can learn a number of abilities that allows you to use magic to make your character better at one status. For example if you GF have learned an ability called "HP" then it's possible to use a spell that your character got to raise his max health points. The more you got of a spell, the more it raises that status, and obviously this also means that better spells raises the status even more. Why do you think I just said that it was a good idea to draw 100 of almost every magic if you want to make your characters much stronger? It's also possible to make the characters more resistant to a type of elemental spell or attach an element to their attack.
There is another way to learn different magic. Almost every GF has an ability that either allows you to turn items that you get from the monsters into spells, or to turn weak spells into stronger spells. In other words, if only have some time, it's possible to get some of the strongest spells really early in the beginning of the game. Another way to get these excellent items is if you have learned an ability that transforms your cards (I will soon explain what more you can do with these cards.) into these excellent items.
Since there is this junction system that makes your characters stronger, Squaresoft decided that the regular equipment that you can find in most of the other RPGs would have been to much and removed all things like armor, shields and such things. The only thing that you can buy to make your character better is weapons, but money isn't the only thing you need if you want these weapons. First you must have find an add which shows you that the weapon exist and then you have to find different items so that the shopkeeper will be able to make the weapon. Oh and these items aren't something that enemies that you usually meet on the world map, no you have to travel all over the world to find the monster who has this items, and if you are lucky, they might drop it.I recommend that you only care about to get the items to the best weapons, since the other weapons are not worth the time it takes to get them.
In Final Fantasy VII there was a lot of different mini games in a park called Gold Saucer. In Final Fantasy VIII, there's only one mini game, but on the other hand that mini game is almost an own game. You can find cards in this game that you can use to play with random people. Every card looks like an enemy, a boss, a GF or one of the playable characters in the game. As you might guess important characters in the game have the best cards, but you can also find many great cards that random people on the streets got. When you challenge someone to a card duel, you got a table where you can put a card at nine different places. Each card has 4 numbers, which shows how high "strong" they are in each direction.
If the card you put on the table has a higher number in the right direction than the card that is to right of the card then you will win over your opponent's card. The player who has the most cards when the game is over wins the game and will get to pick one of your opponent's cards. The further you get into the game, the more rules will be added in the card game. After a while the card game gets at least to complicated for me since I never cared much about it, and personally I think the whole point about mini games is that they are supposed to be simple but addictive, something that the card game in this game isn't, at least in my opinion.
As you might have noticed, I haven't said much about the story in this game. That's because I usually save the bad things in my reviews to the end. The story in this game is really really bad. It's like if a kid from a junior highschool wrote it. Since I have to keep this review SPOILER free, it's hard to tell me why it's one of the worst story lines in every game, but I will do my best. In CD 1, there's no connection between the things you do. The story on that CD has no connection at all. In CD 2, you get to find out your goal, but there's a scene where the characters start to talk all of the sudden for no reason and they find out that they have forgotten something really important that they all just happen to forgot since they used GFs. In CD 2, you actually think that you would do the final battle, but Square thought that the game wouldn't be long enough so they decided that the main villain isn't who you thought it was, in fact you don't get to learn who the main villain is until CD 3.
The characters in this game is really horrible. There are just six in this game, everyone of them are teenagers. 3 of them has almost no screen time at all after CD 2, and one of them has a little screen time. The game then focus on Squall and Rinoa, and Squall goes from hating how everyone tries to mix up him and Rinoa to be a huge Romeo and acts like he would kill everyone in the world just so he could be with Rinoa. I know that love is weird and usually doesn't make sense in real life either, but if I want a love story in something fictional then I want it to make sense. There are many RPGs before Final Fantasy VIII that has some love in it. In fact my favourite character in this game is Seifer, since he's mean to the rest of the horrible cast in this game. There is a reason why Square renamed Squall in Kingdom Hearts and makes him deny his past....
Oh and another thing about the junction system. Square did their best to give the player as big possibility as possible to make their characters as strong as possible, but they never thought that maybe the game should have had any type of challenge. You get to attack most of the enemies three times with every character until they do anything, and if you know what you are doing then almost every enemy will be dead after three turns. Only the final boss and the game's hidden hard bosses can be a challenge, and then you have magic which allows you to use limit breaks whenever you want, items that makes you invincible for a while and such things. I wonder if anyone at Squaresoft even tried to not makes this game totally broken.
So there you have it folks, one of the absolute worst RPGs which has ever been made. Yet for some reason there are many who loves this game. So while you shouldn't expect anything, maybe you should give this game a fair chance. But I've played and beat almost every Final Fantasy game, and I can say that not only is this game a disgrace to an excellent series, but it's also a really horrible RPG. Try just about any other RPG for the Sony Playstation if you want a better RPG.
Reviewer's Rating: 1.5 - Bad
Originally Posted: 08/06/07
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