Review by theone1batman
"One of the better games in the series but not the best."
Sqaresoft just a few years back was one of the bigger video game companies in the world. With the release of Final Fantasy VII they were doing more than well even more than great. Final Fantasy VII was the first of many titles of an RPG series that Square had released. Final Fantasy IV which was a good game and really defined them as a company. Final Fantasy V was an alright game at the time I suppose but is really one of the worst games I have played. Then of course there was the brilliant Final Fantasy VI and Crono Trigger. Which lead to the prosperity of Square and then Final Fantasy VII then the game currently under review, Final Fantasy VIII.
No matter how good the game was generally the game was going to sell and due to new computer graphics and game design, they could paint any picture they wanted to with great acuraccy and advanced gameplay. Which was I think what Square was trying to depict, whether they suceeded or not is a different issue...
Final Fantasy VIII has some astoundingly good qualities, some of them absolutely brilliant. Then again there are many drawbacks to the game too, I happen to believe as you can see from the numerical point of view that I believe the good far outnumbers the bad in this situation. We'll start at the beginning which has to be one of the most kick ass intros I have ever seen to a game. It starts with your main character and his nemisis, dueling in a cinema sequence. Squall, the hero, and Seifer, the villian, the graphics and action to this are amazing. It ends with Squall getting his face sliced open by Seifer (deepening the existing conflict between the two.) You would think the hero would do better against his nemesis, but appernetly at the time Seifer had superior skills. You see easily the cut on Squalls face, but they block your view of what happens so Seifer.
Let's go into the absolutely brilliant parts of the game. This has to be the best soundtrack yet. Really the music in this game I wouldn't mind listening to it on it's own. Which I cannot do with any other Final Fantasy soundtrack. Most games I play muted unless I need the sound for something. This game I had the sound cranked almost all the way up all the way through the game. The next wonderful feature is the Triple Triad mini-game. This is seriously the best Final Fantasy mini-game ever. It isn't too difficult to play it goes through the whole game getting better cards and stuff. Plus it isn't as if you have to play the mini-game to be sucessful in the game as a whole. Just to beat the Weapons you probably do. This game is also a graphic materpiece. Taking not just the cinema graphics into account but they really took the regular graphics to the limit here. You can actually tell all of Squall and the whole gangs features without having to be in a cinema (very unlike FFVII.) Those are the things that stick out most in the game.
The characters are mediocre at best. Squall is surprisingly one of the better characters. He is in my opinion the deepest character they have done, but obviously not the best. He is a moody and non-expressive character. Allowing it hard to see how the situation changes him throughout the story, but it makes the occational change more interesting. However it does make the story progresstion seem less captivating actually playing the game. So I guess this game would loose major points in that area. The more I analyze him in my head though it was really a great idea. Look at it this way if they truly express his non-expressivness well enough. It makes it all the more important when his non-expression isn't being shown. From the writer's perspective it makes plot progression and characters easier to deal with because of his meloncholy attitude is always there but when he wants story progession he just changes it.
He wasn't the best character in the story by a fair margin. Then again Quistis wasn't either. Quistis is his instructor, who uses a whip as a weapon and has an expressed attraction to Squall. Which Squall never takes advantage of. She is the eqivilent of the smokin' teacher that taught at your high school fellas.
Then there is Zell, the character who I really didn't like. Kind of energetic and whiny, he is I guess supposed to bring upon the comic relief and the teenage stereotype guy. He has a really weird tattoo on his face, which kind of I guess desribes him as a weird guy. He uses gloves kind of like Tifa, and talks just as much and if he were a girl, he wouldn't be half as annoying. Though a lot of girls do get annoying which brings us to our next character...
Selphie, square has yet to create a more meanacing word. (Actually Brother in Final Fantasy X-2 might by slightly more awful.) Zell may not seem annoying to you, here is the reason. Selphie brought this game down a point for me. I don't really care that she isn't visually stimulating. She just talks all the time, NONE of it important to the story, and it is always about the most trivial annoying things you can think of. If I didn't like Squall, my main reasoning would be after she says, "I like trains!" For him not to say "Get off the damn train woman, I hate you and hope you die. I might keep you in my party just to have the satisfaction having you dead in every battle and know that you are suffering every minute of it. Die right now!" That might have been out of character but Squall would be my favorite character ever if he said it. I hate her with a passion. Since we are on the subject of Selphie, let's examine what as my favorite character until further into the game: Irvine. He is a gun expert, who is a "ladies man." When he went after Selphie and failed, I lost all sympathy and repect for him. He really is a cool character though, I just have a huge bias against Selphie.
Let's go to the last playable character, Rinoa. The heroine of the story. She uses an odd crossbow like weapon, and has a really cool dog. Her and Squall are the love story of the game. He is quite different around her. You kind of have to be paying attention to see it though. Which is the main defeat of Squall for most. Rinoa in my opinion is a badly developed character. It didn't seem as though they expressed her as much as they expressed her and Squall's bond. She isn't a good heroine in my opinion, they could have done much better in this aspect, maybe it is part of the reason for all the Squall angst (besides the dislike in his character)
Let's got to the supporting cast and enemies, Cid, Edea, Ultimecia, Ellone, Laguna (playable at parts), Adel, Raijin and FUJIN!. FUJIN! GOOD! CHARACTER! Fujin sort of talks like that but she has an eye patch and is my favorite character in the whole Final Fantasy series basically because of how ridiculous she is.
Finally let's get to the plot. Which was really great in the beginning but started to lose it's edge near the end. It is about a giant war the is going on, and the Gardens which are the soldier training academies. Their soliders are SeeD members (an awful pun I know) Trying to put an end to the war, and the political issues going on with the sorceress. There is no really constant enemy though, making your direction seem pointless. The plot wasn't really too good, it just wasn't as godawful as people say it is.
Here is what actually defines a game though. Is it fun to play? With RPG's like this especially is the battle system good? The answer to both of those questions is yes. It is fun to play except the dialouge can get tiresome. I like the junction system which is the stat raising system. Which is complicated but once you master it allows you easy progress through the game. If you get 100 Ultima/Meteor/Triples it makes you god-like. I should probably explain the draw system. Magic doesn't work like FFVII, you draw it from your enemies. They did away with magic points. Instead magic is used in a numeric system, you stock up magic. Which I love because it gives you insentive not to use your magic because your stats will be weakened if you do. Eh, I like it, I can see how people wouldn't.
Overall I would say this game is contraversial. Though it has very good things to it there are just as many bad things. It all really depends on personal preference. More so than most games anyway. You can love RPG's and hate this game or love it hating RPG's. Just as a side note: I kind of wrote this in response to Ulti's review. Then I realized that he was sort of right about the game the more and more I got into it. I just disagree about the Squall thing. So read his review for a more detailed review of the game.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 07/30/04
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