Review by SCCAN85

"Possibly the greatest and most underappreciated Final Fantasy ever!"

INTRO

Crappy! I cannot believe that this magnificent game has been labeled as crappy by a bunch of people. I know and hear crap about this game way too much and I think that this game is much better than Final Fantasy 3 (6) for Super Nintendo. Yes people, your almighty precious Final Fantasy 3 (6) compares in no way, shape or form, to this great game. What game am I talking about you ask? Well, none other than Final Fantasy 8, possibly the greatest RPG ever in my mind. Yes I've played almost every single Final Fantasy from 1 and from 2 and 3 on Super Nintendo to 7 - 9 on the Playstation. I still think so far that Final Fantasy 8 is one of the best Final Fantasies and is an excellent game! For those of you who are immediately judging me as new to RPGs and saying I don't know what I'm talking about, my first RPG and first Final Fantasy was number 2 for Super Nintendo (4 for Japanese people). I love this game because of so many reasons that I could go on and on and on and I actually will too :). First off before I get things going let's see some background information. Final Fantasy 8 was developed and produced by none other than Squaresoft and was released in September of 1999. People still discuss this game as much as they do with Final Fantasy 7 and I am here to let out my opinion on why this game is so great! Please be patient and willing to read because this is going to be long and full of truth! Prepare yourselves....

STORY: (10/10)

What makes the story so great about Final Fantasy 8 (hey that rhymed!)? I liked everything about the story. It definitely is not the greatest and the plot deserves a lower score than 10, but the characters are spectacular. I'm not saying they are the best of characters in any game, but they are so real and that just does it for me. The realism not only in the game, but through the characters intertwines with the story to give off multiple plots that stop at one point. A story of love, combat, heroism, and betrayal all makes up the story for Final Fantasy 8. I'll first go through the story and then through the characters. The first intro movie doesn't explain too much, but it shows two warriors battling. Those two warriors are Squall Leonhart and Seifer Almasy. Both are soldiers in Balamb Garden trying to become SeeDs which are elite mercenaries: the highest and most honored rank. Squall has to team up with his rival Seifer and another guy at the Garden named Zell for their final mission at becoming a SeeD. After the mission Squall makes some new friends and meets a beautiful girl that he later works for by orders. His party and him experience weird dreams as they sleep and venture into a mysterious place. The dreams have some sort of connection to Squall and his teammates, but what? No one knows. All that Squall knows is that after becoming a SeeD he has nothing much to worry about. When he is ordered to go to a place called Timber and help out a resistance squad everything changes. I don't want to spoil the story for you, but I my explanation up there sucked. It's hard to translate the story from the beginning because not much happens. Everything happens in sequence and as you keep playing the story develops more and more and gets much more interesting. Even if my explanation did not impress you keep playing and trust me that the story gets better. Now for a brief cast of characters.

Squall Leonhart - A lonely 17 year old. He may seem as a jerk and he is. He is cold and doesn't even try to be friendly. That my friends is a typical teenager. Everyone in this world has acted like Squall and because he is so real many people don't like that. I personally like it a lot because it seems much more realistic and as you watch Squall change from the beginning of the game to the end it's awesome. I can't describe how it is, but you have to beat the game to know what I'm talking about. He's a lone wolf.

Zell Dincht - An upbeat and furious fighter. He is 17 as well and teams up with Squall for the SeeD mission. He gets frustrated really easily and also, as Squall, is like a typical teenager. Very realistic and he even talks like teenagers (with slang)

Seifer Almasy - Arch rival of Squall and is always picking on people who are vulnerable. He is always trying to be the leader and just wants a place for himself (not meaning shelter). He can't express his emotions very well.

Rinoa Heartilly - A young woman who is very energetic and lively. She expresses her feelings freely and can be difficult at times if she is being left out.

Quistis Trepe - A very serious and pretty woman who cannot take stress or her frustration out very well. She is an instructor at Garden and worries about those around her very much.

Selphie Tilmitt - Very energetic and carefree. She is very cool and really nice. Surprisingly she is a SeeD but her looks throw others off guard.

Irvine Kinneas - A cool and calm young man who looks for nothing more then fun and pleasure. He is sensitive and serious, but at first impressions he is careless and just a womanizer.

I'll leave the rest of the cast for you to meet and find out. These kids are the main party for you and they are very realistic. Many things they do is typical and I am impressed the way they are made out to be.

GAME PLAY: (10/10)

Many people complain about a lot of things in the game play of Final Fantasy 8. I'm going to split this section up into 4 different parts. Here I'm going to talk about the game itself. There are a total of six characters in the game that are in use, excluding three others that aren't part of your 'original' party. One weird thing about this RPG is that there are no armor whatsoever. There's no equipping helmets or body armor or even rings! There's not even weapons for sale ... instead you have to remodel them using tools. This may seem really stupid for some of you, but I like it seeing as how Squaresoft has tried to do something new to the series. Almost everything in Final Fantasy 8 is new and that's why a lot of people don't like it, because they don't like change. Well, I personally like change depending on what it is and this kind of change I like a lot! Another new thing is that instead of waiting hours and hours fighting to get to level 35 you need not to wait no more! In Final Fantasy 8 each level needs only 1000 experience. All you need is 1000 experience for every level in the game! To some, that may seem to lack challenge but there's a catch. Enemies level up with you so no enemy even if it's the first will be too easy. Now that's a big change and is only seen (by me) in only one other game which is Suikoden 2. Magic isn't much of a big thing in this game, but there is a way to get a lot of magic. You do not need materia slots or a magician to use magic. Everyone can use magic and they come in stock. To get magic you can use what is called ''DRAW.'' During battles you can draw magic from your enemies and stock up or cast magic during battle. Magic increases your stats and I will get to that later on. The maximum amount of single magic in stock is 99 and you can draw up to 1 - 15 sets of magic. That's another big change! Another change, but not a big one is limit breaks. You don't use limit breaks whenever your meter gets full, mainly because there is no limit meter. Whenever your low on life or your life is yellow (or by using a certain type of magic) you can use a limit break for that character. A limit break can be noticed by a small little arrow point to the right next to the attack selection during battle. There are different limits for each character and each one is special. Another new thing for battle in the Final Fantasy series is that the person who kills the last monster on the screen gets slightly more experience. Another thing for battle is that by pressing R1 at the right moment you can get a critical attack. Now I'm done with the basic information. Here's the next part of this section.

Battles - I already mentioned some of the information of battles up above, but there is also a little more information that can be shared. Battles in Final Fantasy 8 are slow paced. Mainly it's that way so it can be a bit more realistic. There are only 3 people allowed in battle and each character has up to four options of doing something depending on what abilities they junctioned. I'll talk about the junction system in a bit, but for now I'll tell you what can be usable in battle. A character can use a GF (summon) which is a guardian force. You learn about those during the game. A character can use magic, draw, or item. Each character already has attack so when choosing the abilities for battle I suggest you give two people the chance to use items, and one to use magic and no items. Keep GF and draw for each character. There is not much on the screen during battle except for your characters names and there time meter. Another new thing for battles is that you don't receive money. You receive experience points and ability points (otherwise known as AP). The ability points are for your GFs while the experience is for both you and your GF. Another thing before I finish is that you don't receive experience from bosses. You just get tons of AP. If you don't get money from battles, how do you get it? Being a SeeD member has its advantages because depending on the rank of SeeD that you are you get paid from time to time. That's about it for battles (don't forget the stuff up there).

Junction - A new system is brought to the Final Fantasy series. First there were jobs and abilities, then materia and now the junction system. I have to say the junction system is impressing. It adds a lot of challenge to the game and you have to think of what to put on your character. What exactly is junction? Well, sorry to forget to tell but your character equips a GF (that's the start). Then each GF has abilities and some of them are related to junction. Most of their abilities are related for extra abilities or GF abilities. Anyway there are spaces for stats such as HP, strength, vitality, speed, magic, spirit, etc. on the junction screen (there are also elemental junction for attack and defense and also status attack and defense). For example, if a GF has the ability ''HP - J'' that means that you are able to junction magic to your HP. What that does is you junction magic to your HP and depending on the magic your HP increases. The same thing applies for each stat your character has. It may seem complicating, but once you get the hang of it it's really easy. If you don't understand the way I'm explaining it don't worry because the game has its own tutorial which explains the system really well. Some people complain that it takes too long to junction magic to a character and deciding which magic is the best to use. Well, lucky you because there is an option on the junction screen that allows the game to auto your junction by either attack, magic, or defense wise. There is only one drawback to junctioning. Let's say you have 80 blizzards junctioned to your strength. you don't want to use blizzards for that character during battle because then as the amount of magic you have goes down, the ability (strength) that magic is junctioned to will go down. One last thing ....

Card game - There's one gigantic mini game in Final Fantasy 8 that, in my mind, surpasses every other mini game (even from FF7!). This game is called Triple Triad: the card game. There are a total of 110 different types of cards. They each go by level and the higher the level (there are only 10 levels and 11 cards in each level) the better the card! One each side of the card is numbers from 1 - 10 (10 is substituted as A). The game platform that you play on has nine spots available for you to put down cards. It's a a big square with three columns and three rows. You are allowed to choose five cards that you can have to battle against your opponent. There is also a score at the bottom and whoever has the lower number of cards taken away wins. You can put a card on any spot but you have to watch out for what number you have because your opponents card that he puts next to your card may have a higher number. Dang, this is kind of hard to explain. Here I'll have a mock card game. I have five cards and I put one down in the middle with a 2 on the left side, a 6 on the right side, a 3 up on top, and a 6 on the bottom. Then my opponent puts down a card to the left of me and his card has the number 4 on his right side. That 4 beats out my 2 and thus, he takes my card. That gives him one less point and me an extra one. Then I have to put a card down to either get my card back or take away his card. That's the basics of it. The rules change in different regions but they will explain how it works so don't worry. Some rules for card games are open, sudden death, same, plus, random, and a couple others. To initiate a card game talk to someone by pressing the square button. If they challenge you , you can accept and there you go! You got yourself a card game.

Now, I did not go into great detail on GFs ( I don't even know if you want me to :P) but don't worry because the game explains it wonderfully. There is so much innovation in Final Fantasy 8's game play that I can't help but love it! Overall, wonderful game play!

CONTROLS: (10/10)

The controls are just splendid! There's absolutely nothing wrong with the controls of Final Fantasy 8. Squaresoft even managed to make it a bit more suitable and easier for you. Some adjustments which is nothing big to the controls, but it does help maintain its excellence. The configuration of Final Fantasy 8 is much different than Final Fantasy 7 and it's for the better. The main button is now X instead of O and you use R1 for battles, square for card games, O for the menu, and triangle for canceling. The analog compatibility is excellent for the game as well. The directional stick is used for running and if you want to walk instead of run then you just hold triangle. The controls are smooth and work just fine. Through all four discs of Final Fantasy 8 I did not experience any problems with the controls, so to put it in short the controls are perfect! Overall, magnificent and much easier controls.

MUSIC/SOUND: (10/10)

You don't understand how great the music in Final Fantasy 8 is! It's much better than every single Final Fantasy combined in my opinion. That may be pushing it, but I'm serious! Nobuo Uematsu, the composer of the music, did such an excellent job with the music that I even did something time consuming to just listen to the music. I didn't pause the game to listen to the music. I downloaded every single song on the Final Fantasy 8 soundtrack which has 74 songs and I have a 56K!!! Now I don't do that often, but I enjoyed the music in Final Fantasy 8 so much that I had to. My favorite themes are the final theme ''The Extreme'', ''The Legendary Beast'', ''Liberi Fatali'', and almost every other song on the game! The music fits the setting and the mood so well that you can immediately go from sad to happy in a flash! All the songs are very clear and detailed with an excellent tune. All the songs are somewhat orchestral or classic. They all fit with the game perfectly and this is truly an excellent soundtrack. I think Nobuo has a real talent and that he really let it shine in this game! The sounds are excellent as well. Although they are overshadowed by the music I still noticed most of the music. The audio during the FMVs is excellent and the swords clashing during the intro movie is just awesome. I am pretty much stunned with all the things, concerning audio, that has been done to this game! I could go on for days, but I've probably already have bored you enough so I'll try and finish this part up. Most the sounds are heard through battle or running around in towns or places. The audio for featured movies is excellent and every sound is loud and clear. Overall, the music and sounds of Final Fantasy 8 is probably the best thing for audio in the history of gaming!

GRAPHICS: (10/10)

Oh my God! These graphics are probably the best damn graphics I've ever seen in a video game! This game was made in 1999 and has better graphics than most, if not all, the games of the year 2000. There is so much detail, so much realism and the color and settings help that factor. The graphics for the movies, are superb in every way. The people move and they look real and very detailed in the movies. You can see a zipper on there jackets or the scars on their faces. It's excellent. Now how does the game look like normally? There is hardly a difference. The characters are large and do not look like 1/16 size of the screen. There clothes look really detailed and when they run their clothes even twitch a little (like wrinkle up). Every character is unique according to appearance and the colorful settings around them help it look very realistic. The enemies are all very unique and colorful. During battles, unfortunately, at first the characters and enemies and background altogether seem lifeless, but I don't think the background moves during battles so that may be why. The settings and backgrounds of each place in Final Fantasy 8 is very detailed and full of color. I personally like the structure of Balamb garden and the final place. Not only do they look really cool, but they actually look real. Overall, the graphics are absolutely stunning and beautiful!

CHALLENGE : (7/10)

Everyone knows that every Final Fantasy as of late has been really easy. Not really easy, but not hard either. The last hard Final Fantasy (I think) was Final Fantasy 2 (4) for SNES. Now since all the monsters level up along with you the challenge as well goes up. Getting tools to remodel a weapon isn't so easy as well. Getting every single card in the game isn't very easy as well. The fights, however, aren't too challenging because it depends how you fight. You can choose to fight a hard, challenging fight or an easy quick fight. What am I talking about? Well, there is no MP in the game because magic comes in pairs, so you can use a GF whenever you want. Using this four times in a row for each character could definitely kill any boss (except for the last couple ones), but I see that as too easy. I personally challenge myself a little and only use GFs maybe once for each character and then use magic or regular attacks. The game itself isn't too long. It took me around 55 hours to beat the first time, but also junctioning and battles as well as card games take up some time. The challenge in Final Fantasy 8 is there for you, you either abuse it or take it your own way. Overall, the challenge is above average.

REPLAY : (4/10)

Now here's where the only problem in Final Fantasy 8 comes in. Not many RPGs are known for being replayable and Final Fantasy 8 is definitely not one of them. I've only beaten this game twice and I've had it for about a year. I played the card game for a bit after I beat the game, but after that there isn't much to do. You can have fun just fighting or finding rare items in the game, but there aren't many that I know of. I played the game over because I liked it and I wanted to play it again. That's my reason, so I don't really know many reasons to replay the game unless you like it. Overall, the replay value is low.

PROS
- Excellent story: full of emotion
- Great game play
- Junction system
- Awesome soundtrack!
- Challenge is above most other Final Fantasies
- Purely innovative and totally different from th series.
- Great graphics

CONS
- Low replay value

OVERALL: (10/10)

I'm finally done! *crowd cheers* In my opinion, Final Fantasy 8 is the greatest Final Fantasy game out there. Many people will disagree with me, but that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it! I have played some of Final Fantasy 9 and it does seem impressive so far. I liked Final Fantasy 8 so much because it had new ideas and was totally different that any other game out there. When I played it I thought to myself ''finally, something new for a change.'' Anyway, this game is a definite must have. This game changed the name Final Fantasy and I hope to see another one like this. Thanks for reading and have a nice day!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/24/00, Updated 11/24/00


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