Review by KasketDarkfyre

"A haunting epic story in Playstation History"

Final Fantasy VIII...a game title that has haunted the minds of game players across the world, and foremost on minds of Final Fantasy Players everywhere. The reviews, commercials, and articles do this game no justice, as they only give a glimpse into a journey that spans 4 discs and encompasses romance, adventure, war, and a quest to understand a past, and create a future.

~The Gameplay~

I can only say, that in the beginning, it's difficult, but after mastering a few of the newest commands to the Final Fantasy Universe, you'll be switching Guardian Forces, Junctioning Magic, and taking out enemies wihtout a hitch. The game can be considered easy, if you want to blow through it in a couple of days, or, you can take the time to search every corner of the game, which is what you would want to do if you're a die-hard player.

The control is now split between the D-pad and the analog, which helps when you get that little pain in the tip of your thumb from overplaying the D-pad, you can switch to the analog. Although using the analog can be a relief, from time to time, it becomes a little hung up on tight corners. Nothing that anyone who is used to the analog sticks can't get past, but a little annoying in the first portion of the game when you're trying to outrun a giant killing machine.

New to the Final Fantasy series, is the use of Junctioning. This game option allows you to place the ever powerful Guardian Forces into your command, and open up new options in how your characters react in battle, weither they have new in-battle options {i;e: using items, drawing magic, stealing} or new character traits, from increased strength to top end hit points. You'll be hard pressed to find another game that gives you such intricate commands, yet allows you to be fully in control of how well your character does in and out of battle.

Another addition, is the Card Game, Triple Triad. It takes the place of the old mini-games of Final Fantasy VII, and in the eyes of some reviewers, it's not all that great. But I'm here to tell you, that the game is very very addicting, and you'll probably spend alot of time playing it, than you will the game. I think it's the music...very catchy, and you might find yourself bouncing along with the beat. With each card that you have won through the various matches with certain characters, you can use these to gain new items, and open up other parts of the game for side quests. This is all time consuming, and can be a little on the confusing side once you start, with all of the different rules. From time to time, you may even need to take a break from playing Triple Traid, cause your blood pressure goes through the roof after losing your best cards in the simplist way.

Through all of these different options that you have, you'll find that alot of this game is just finding the seperate items and side quests to gain new weapons and see more of the involved and long story line that is a staple of Final Fantasy games. You won't be bored with it once you've started, and may even find yourself staying up to the wee hours of the night just to find out what will happen next in the twisting storyline. Given such elements, Squaresoft made one hell of an epic game, that gives you everything that you would expect from an awesome adventure movie, and then some.

~The Story~

The story is based around the main character, and a woman named Riona. After a hard GunBlade battle with your arch-nemesis, you awaken into the world of Squall Lionhart, the GunBlade weilding hero of Final Fantasy VIII. As a member of a mercenary group called SeeD, your duty is to uphold the weak, and defend what is right...for the right price.

The story weaves through the past, including a secondary main character, Laguna Lorne, and it all interconnects to a high pitched climax ending. With side-quests, FMV and deep intertwining romance, adventure and duty, you'll find an almost hypnotic following of the storyline. Yes, there are times, where talk is cheap, but those times are rare, and you'll rarely find yourself getting up to go to the bathroom while something is going on. This envelopes you into something that is more a story, than a game full of fighting and destruction.

Every twist in the story, can be traced back through past actions that have been taken. Kind of like a choose your destiny deal, you'll find that if you've done something inside of the story at some certain point, something else will have changed to give the story a different outcome. The bottom line here, is that you'll spend alot of the time readin through the extensive dialog, and getting totally emmersed in the way that all of the characters, from the main characters of the game, to even the smallest parts that you'll run across that you never thought would have any sort of impact, come to grow and expand past what you originally come into.

This is another example of how a video game is made into something of an epic, when you are given such elements like an involving storyline that includes war, love, and the finding of human emotion. Even when you think the story couldn't get any better, something is thrown in at the last moment, and you find yourself at the heights of anger, to the depths of sadness at what is happening around your characters. This is something that is very rare in any sort of RPG, where a story gives you such feelings of wanting to know where your characters are going to end up, who is going to kiss who, and just who is going to die or betray you in the end.

~Audio~

I must admit, that I miss the guitar-type music for the Boss fights from Final Fantasy VII, and some of the music can be enough to make you hit the mute button, but, the sound effects, such as the lightining strikes, Gunblade blasts and other effect make the music worth listening to. The force feedback on an analog controller, that keeps in time with a good effect, makes a wonderful, (and wished for) addition.

Haunting melodies will greet you through out the game, when you're finding out just what to do, or where to go, you'll wander through the game, and just be immersed in what music happens to be playing in the background at the time. Other forms of music in the game, give you the feeling of happiness, or sadness, some are touching, others are angry and destructive, but all of the music tracks in Final Fantasy VIII have one thing in common: Quality.

With most RPG games, you'll find that generic music is thrown in where the battles need to be fought, and the story needs to pick up with something uplifting when the heros of the game decide to get of their asses and start moving in the direction that they need to go. Final Fantasy VIII doesn't do that, it puts all of the music, and all of the emotions that the characters are going through, into what is going on at all times. Very rarely will you find a music switch all of a sudden, where the music sudden goes from downtrodden and depressing to up beat in the 'save the world' melody that is prevailent in most RPG's today. Again, this is a step above what is currently out there, in which it gives you just what it needs, a sense of continuity and substance.

~Graphics~

No more blocks! Full textured characters make an impression on my mind, and they look good on the full rendered backgrounds, meshing well in battles and in just general running about the world map. The GF animations are intense, and with a couple of them, you'll never get enough of seeing them burst onto the screen and annihilate your opponent. Everything was fully rendered in a way, although you come up with some cut outs and blockiness when the characters are all on the screen and all are moving. In terms of detail of the characters, it's good, but not picture perfect. Something that can be overlooked once you stop playing, and on a large t.v. screen, you can't beat it.

Full Motion Video make up the cream of this game's graphical capabilities. From beginning to end, when you have an introduction of a new character, or a major event (The Battle of the Gardens Rules!!) they fill in a section of the story in an impressive way. This was an added bonus to the game while highlighting the major points in the game that were needed. By doing so, they added yet another element of epic display, giving you some exceptional shots of the game's highest points.

The Guardian Forces, and types of magic that are used, is yet another display of how the visuals were done to amaze the player. The first time that a Guardian Force is seen and used in battle, the first reaction is a 'whoa', however, after seeing this a few times, you'll lose interest slowly, until you gain more powerful and destructive forces to use in battle. Given this little disappointment, the magic makes up for the loss of interest, and even with the use of the Limit Breaks, your eyes will still be glued to the screen three days after you've started the game.

~Replayability~

You can play this game 3 to 6 times before you get bored with it, I'm on my 3rd way through, and still having a blast. You can find things that you missed, or just annihilate the game outright, max out your characters and GF's, do whatever it is you want. Given the story alone you may want to replay it just to see if you missed anything the first time around, but again, that is solely up to you to decide. With the way that the game is set up, there is always something that you will miss at some point, and nothing is ever the same way twice.

It's worth the money you shell out for it, and it's really not something you can truly finish with a weekend rental from the local video store. Even if you play it through once or twice, it's a great addition to a video game collection, and you'll be impressed to have such a piece of Playstation history in your collection. With games like this on the market, you'll never find room to complain and be bored.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/26/00, Updated 07/26/00


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