Review by Behreandto
"Good by itself, but the odd-ball of the series even though it is pretty good-to a point"
Music & Sound: 9.5/10
Plot & Characters: 8/10
Fun Factor: 9/10
For those of you willing to read ALL of this here is my opinion of Square's latest break-through.....
Graphics: Remember when Final Fantasy 7's graphics were media hyped and got us to get hoooked, line and sinker? Well, FF8 does it again, with media hype, and a more refined look. For the most part, FF8 is the most detailed in the series, but lacks some of the bright colors and quirkiness FF7 had. Nonetheless, there is in amazing amount of detail put into everything. The backgrounds are detailed to the point of insanity, the characters have lost the "cartoon style/deformity" look of past FF's for (what I'd consider them) Parasite Eve looks, and the cinemas (The opening fight scene with Squall and Seifer and the ballroom scene among the best I've ever seen) are better integrated into the game play that FF7's. In terms of spells and summons (or Guardian Forces) there's sort of an up and down excitement here. Intially a lot of spells look good to start with, but then they start to get old after a while. The same goes with the Guardian Forces...Essesntially, they put on a good looking show that lasts a little longer than needs be when you just want to kick the enemies' ass in a jiffy. Don't get me wrong, the spells are a lot better looking and more smoothly animated than the ones in FF7, but they still get old after numerous castings ('cept for Cactrot! LOL). Enemy-wise, you'll see the most detailed looking enemies yet here. FF7's more or less paled in quality compared to the ammount of detail that was put into this batch of foes you have to fight, but unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of enemies either. The characters themselves look very good in battle and have very realistic animations which sort of lack in FF7 for the purposes of making crazy, flashy, and zany special attacks. Pretty-boy Squall gets the girlie's attention, Seifer is the retentive and vindictive fool, Zell is the latent son of Sabin (FF3) crossed with Guy from Street Fighter Alpha 2, Selphie-who's REAL age is questionable, Rinoa-who's cute and innocent acting and in locve with Squally, and Quistis--**gurgle**. Bad side is is that you won't see a colorful array of creative character concepts like in previous FF's. Sephiroth was killer, Cloud wielded a sword which defied his own muscles and dexterity, Barret had a gun-arm, Mog the dancing moogle, Gau the freakish wild boy, Red XIII the freakshow analytic lion-thing, Vincent the gun slinging clawed vampire with morph abilities....how much more can I keep adding? The characters here are cool and stuff, but the look is too serious even if it is awesome. Despite all the realism, the sacrifice is the fantasy element Square has worked so hard to establish. There are some ideas carried over from other games in the series like Ifrit, Shiva, the chocobos, cactuars (hell yeah! these guys are awesome to fighting this version compared to the ones in FF3 and 7!) There are some fantasy elements and the enemies and spells are fantastically related, but the push for a modern realistic look makes me want to say that this title should be a questionable addition to the series. To me FF8 is more like Parasite Eve meets Final Fantasy 7. Moving on....
Music & Sound: Okay..."Eyes on Me" was a welcome additon due to te fact it had lyrics, but it was a pain in the ass to listen to during Squall and Rinoa's lengthy (and sappy) conversation. Mostly, the music fits the game to a T which is good and bad. Good that it coordinates with the situation and bad that it's lower key and more in tune to the love theme. In terms of quality, it's among the best in the series and is a large symphony. The battle and boss music fits very well for this game and I really liked the battle music playing when you were playing as Laguna Loire (hell yeah!). Most of the other stuff is pretty down-toned (as I've said) and more mellow. Overall, it's a pretty good mix, but there could be a lot more high strung slamming tunes flying around if you ask me.
Control: The old control set-up has been killed and several other buttons have been thrown in for the purpose of "timing attacks" during battle (like in Super Mario RPG) and powering up Guardian Forces' attacks in battle. There's also a vibration function and analog control, and for once I must say the analog control makes quite a difference this time around in terms of navigation. Unfortunately, the vibration function is still useless and if it is used, it gets old from some of the unecessary vibrations during battles. Overall, the controls are very good, even if slightly jumbled around with some new button operations.
Plot & Characters: God...what a disappointment. Okay... by itself, the game has a modest plot, but stacked up to classics like FF3 and 7, it's just a hop-around story where two people eventually (key word "eventually") come to love each other. Funny thing is that Squally-boy is stuck on himself ignores the consideration that Rinoa likes him which is abolutely pathetic. I mean... c'mon... a loner like Squall should appreciate a chick like her, but he blows her off all the time until he realizes that she's worth abandoning the big macho image he always had. Let's cite an example: Squall shows Rinoa around the garden he started out in...someone asks him if Rinoa's his women...you say "yes" and she gets flattered and asks "really, you think of me that way?!", the person asking you says "seriously?" and you say "seriously..." then knucklehead Squall follows his response with "...seriously joking" pissing off Rinoa after making her feel like she was wanted!!!! What a numb-nuts!!!!! Look in the mirror Squall! Geez...... Aside from that I want to point out that almost all the characters that join you are 17 and they are sorta like college students who are just learning about life. What's weird and rather funny, is that though most of them are 17, they sound more like they're 20 years old or older. I'm also noticing that there's another "evil empire" to fight AGAIN too. FF3's and FF7's were understandable, but this is really starting to wear thin. Sure, there's twists to fighting an evil empire (like the love story tossed into this one), but it's just not anything new to be frank. Also the plot was made for people that are NOT masters of the obvious in some parts. Take for example Edea's parade... rather than finding out her plot to conquer the world, she comes out and says "ohhh... I'm gonna enslave the world" and sits down as if it was noone's business.... WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?! In other FF's, the villain was sort of obvious, but they didn't seem world threatening until the very end. That aspect is pretty pointless. On the other hand the whole game is a big puzzle you have to figure out that ends up in some sort of surprise I guess. You have to find the connection between Squall and Laguna with a bunch of weird twists in the end. Overall, this boils down to me saying that the story is average. The love part appeals to the people it appeals to (except me), but there's not that much more to it in comparison to other FF's.
Fun Factor: Most people critisize this due to the fact that FF8 lacks the # of mini-games and side quests FF7 has which is true. I miss the chocobo racing and the bike mini-game from FF7, but that isn't to say what FF8 has to offer is completely lousy. There's the card game and chocobo search thing essentially (chocobos are such a novelty in this game...ugh.....) and that's about it. The card game is a cool idea and fun to play (pending on if you have good cards or a lot of cards at all in the first place), but it's hollow in terms of giving you a reward for playing it. You get better cards sometimes from your opponent, but nothing as big like the reward you got for breeding chocobos in FF7 which was the ultimate summon spell. The other activity is using sonar to get chocobos which is a waste of time/money and not even worth it because there's only generic chocobos that can't cross mountains or water like the kick-ass gold chocobo of wrath and mirth from FF7. Aside from these things, this game will keep you busy for a LONG time due to the "draw" skill and the fact that all of your spells are acquired through leaching them off foes, which, when you consider how many different spells there are to get, will take you forever. MWAHAHAHAHAHA! Also, winning cards or turning enemies into cards to add to your slow growing collection takes twice as long to do as drawing spells from the foes because you have to fight the enemy, nearly kill them, then try to turn them into a card (otherwise nothing happens) in order to get THAT card. Whew! What a pain...but it is busy work and it'll keep you going till you start developing an anurism or your attention span falls out. What I do appreciate is the junction system and the way the summons work, plus the fact that there is no need to buy weapons and armor and relics and there is no magic point system! Woo-hoo! Some thought the materia sytem from FF7 was a pain to use, but I disagree. I saw it as a challenge to equip the right materia in the limited amount of slots and besides, once you got the master materia, you only needed to equip those instead of all that other crap anyway, so the junction system, to me is about equal, though a little more "dummy-friendly" in some ways. Equipping spells to add to someone's defenses or sky rocket other stats is like the materia system minus the constant work of puting the magic into the weapon/armor with consideration to the effects of the materia canceling out another's effect. Another minus is the limited inclusion of limit breaks in this game. You always have to be near-dead to use one and they really aren't all that spectacular. What really jumped up and bit my ass was, Zell's limit breaks which are almost ripped off of Sabin (Final Fantasy 3) and Tifa's (Final Fantasy 7) special attacks and limit breaks. Zell is cool, but he scamped a lot off of Tifa. C'mon..... Dolphin Blow, Meteor Strike (and any others I didn't list)?! Geez... Carry overs are good and frequently seen in the latest FF games, but when they keep getting recycled for every new game, it's beyond tolerence. About the summons, the new concepts they carry are cool. When you use one, it has it's own set of HP that acts as a shield for your character when things get tough and aside from that you can "power up" the strength of their attacks during casting by tapping the square button while holding the select button. In the overall perspective, there's a lot to keep you busy despite the turn offs that the game has which are noticible and annoying, but not enough to make you turn the game off altogether.
Other Comments: Vehicle wise, you'll be slightly disappointed here. Balomb Garden is pathetically slow and bulky, the trucks and cars are as slow as the buggy in FF7 and Ragnorok, the awesome airship could be faster (like the Highwind), but is fast enough to get you where you need to be assuming you aren't in a hurry. Hell, just walking around is a more worthwhile adventure then haveing to worry about buying gas for the truck even if it is a realistic concept. Next up is the battles. Fighting itself takes a while and is fun in some areas even though you have to remember that the enemies are always at the same level as you. There are some fights that are insanely LENGTHY. Example: the fight with Diablo and the Jumbo Cactuar which took us a half hour to win despite the fact that our levels were pretty high. A long, challenging fight is good, but a not so challenging and pointlessly LONG battle is not that needed (inference to fighting the Jumbo Cactuar) and thing is is that because of the parallel level gaining system, you get no experience from busting ass and fighting a boss for what seems to be hours while draining your item resources to a petty pile of crap. Money earning is more convenient here. Based on your performance and SeeD ranking, you get paid at random intervals and in large or small increments which is kind of good and kind of bad. Good because you can get a spefic ammount when you could use it and bad that it's random and makes you wonder when the hell you get paid. What pissed me off was the length of the first two discs... the first disc we completed in 19 hours (compared to FF7's first disc: 30+ hours) and the second one was about a good 20+ hours essentially due to the immensly space consuming cinemas which were exceptional in quality, but sacrificed disc length severely. A game should look good to add to the rest of play features, but I think it's starting to getting carried away lately starting in with FF7.
My Comments: Buy this for keeping up with the series and people that keep talking about it, even though it lacks a lot in comparisson to better established prequels. FF8's great on its own, but really doesn't fit the tone so strongly made with the previous FF games. The graphics are the best feature, the music, the perks, and control next and dead last is the story. I'm sorry, but I really can't get past the story... It's like that of Armageddon's. I'd still get the game to check out what the talk is all about, but you'll experience true old school RPG action when Anthologies comes out. Most people that started on FF8 and FF7 should consider themselves lucky that FF5 and FF3 as well as everyone's fave Chrono Trigger are being rereleased soon so we can experience old school styles without all this pointless media hype and graphical bull being the crutch of the word "quality" in today's market. FF8: Good game, could be better in some ways...take it or leave it...or rent it (at the very least)
Sheesh...what a mouthful
Exact Score (due to rounding and the fact that my score can't be a decimal): 9
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 04/07/02
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