Review by AlCurtis
"The greatest 32bit RPG."
Final fantasy 8 is simply the greatest RPG on Playstation, if not ever. Only Final Fantasy VII and X outshines it by a slim margin. The innovative strengthening system, fantastic characters, interesting plot, fantastic graphics, excellent sound, deep combat and endless replay value combine to form yet another must play Final Fantasy game. This came out about eight years ago (ironic!) and I still play it a lot and am trying to track down the elusive pc version. This is after about 4 400+hour files.
The graphics are the best on Playstation, with the only game to even compete being ff9. Unlike ff7s anime Super Deformed style, ff8 is ultra realistic, with very high res textures. Environments look amazing, each town has a theme and feel from Balamb's small town feel with its soft blue stone houses and tropical hotel to Winhill's countryside look with crop fields, wooden bridges and intricate houses with every jar, vase and flower expertly rendered and detailed meticulously. FF8 looks utterly stupendous. The frame rate never ever dips no matter what is happening and animation is silky smooth and realistic. The world is huge and colourful and has extremely different and varied locations. FMVs are unbelievably beautiful too, they are so detailed you can even see the texture on characters clothing its just wonderfully crisp and crystal clear. By far the greatest FMV on the PSone. Battles look awesome too with extremely detailed textures and great looking magic. Monsters also fall over now instead of fading away which makes battles more satisfying.
The sound is also excellent. There are many many fabulous tunes I still remember years later both fast action pieces and slow dramatic or romantic ones, as well as the captivating Eyes On Me sung by Faye Wong a famous J-pop singer. All the music is very different and varied and doesn't become repetitive unlike a lot of RPGs. Sound is also good with some very nice magic and weapon effects. Sadly there is no voice acting which would have been amazingly awesome.
The gameplay is far different from most other RPGs. In ff8 you don't have magic points to allow you to cast spells. Instead you store spells a bit like items and each time you cast you use up a charge when you have no charges left you can't cast that spell. You get charges from using the Draw menu command on enemies to suck magic from them to add to your stock, or you can instantly draw it and cast it on them. You can also get magic by refining it from items using a Guardian Forces ability l In FFVIII levelling up makes little difference only adding a few more Hitpoints and Status points per level. The real way to strengthen your characters is through the unique junctioning system. Each character in FFVIII can equip any number of Guardian forces or GFs. With these come the ability to use menu command, magic, add-on slots for strengthening abilities and generally making them useful as a character. Without a GF all a character can do is attack physically, making them almost useless. Once you have attacked a GF to a character, a whole lot of other slots open up. You can set the four choices on the battle menu (item magic, GF etc) then you can also fill two to four other slots with options such as HP+20% or Sprit +60% depending on the GFs abilities. Then it gets complex. Basically each stat of a character Strength, Vitality, Sprit, Speed, Evade and Luck can have magic charges attached to it. The effects are different depending on the stat and magic attached and the more charges of that magic you have the greater the effect. This is intuitive to an extent, with spells such as Protect which halves physical damage done to you in battle rasing the vitality by a lot if you junction it, since the vitality stat represents you resiance to physical attacks compared to an unrelated spell like Blizzard. This is the whole core of final fantasy VIII. You need to find strong spells to improve your status but also have to balance your casting for when you can get more. But if you get it right you can create characters than cause whole nations to quake in fear. Even early on you can be a truly unstoppable force. The actual gameplay other than the ton if inventive game mechanics is a lot like most RPGs you talk to people, travel to places, be captivated by the great story and kill a whole lot of stuff on the way in random battles. FFVIII never falls flat and there is something always on the boil. The urge to get stronger and the fact that battles and monsters killed are recorded this time around if you know where to go, adds up to a truckload of shelf life and you'll still be playing this one hundreds of hours later and you will never forget its characters or story. Final Fantasy is a true monolith among RPGs and you really must play it.
Brilliance sheer brilliance
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/02/08
Game Release: Final Fantasy VIII (AU, 10/29/99)
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