Review by MKim
"Not a perfect game but the theme of love saves it..."
After reading several reviews regarding about Final Fantasy VIII, maybe it's time for me to step up front and center and tell the crowd how I felt about the game overall.
Many FF loyalists are much into the upcoming Final Fantasy Anthology (which features Final Fantasy VI, which is BTW said to be the best FF game of all time. Each Final Fantasy game had a different theme and plot which makes the following Final Fantasy game unique from its predecessor. The only thing that Square has never changed was the gameplay.
While Final Fantasy VII was based upon a theme of Energy Conservation and finding one's-self, Final Fantasy VIII is based upon a theme of love, which many RPG loyalists have been waiting for.
Final Fantasy VIII is set on a futuristic world on a theme of love spawning through four CD-ROMS. This game may only be the fifth "official" FF to be released in the US but here's the lowdown:
As with FFIV and later Final Fantasies, the main character is some sword-wielding specialist. You play as a "cold wolf" who is a master of the gunblade who is thrown into a plot which spawns beyond reality and imagination (as with other Final Fantasies). You eventually have to battle through a warring nation, a problematic bully, and eventually chase the wildest dreams and finally find out the truth behind why love is so important to all humans and what happens to one's-self if he/she decides to indulge on hate. You also get to experience the wildest dreams, which contributes to the outcome of finding the real meaning of compassion, sacrifice, and valor.
Although much of the FF Traditions has been retained, however, let me start out with some of the flaws. In other Final Fantasies, it took MP to cast magic. Final Fantasy VIII does magic a lot different. You have to "Draw" magic out from your foes and either store or cast just to get the results. At times, drawing could become a great bore as you would think that the Draw System would use some work to make Magic Stocking less boring.
Also, you have to "Channel" monsters onto your "bloodstream" in order to "channel" magic onto your attack, mana, dexterity, and such. Square claims that channeling monsters and magic is a clear-cut alternative of having to equip new weapons and armor but for hardcore RPG-ers, I think that the weapon and armor equipping should've been retained.
What I would like to see in future Final Fantasies is to have the "Summon Monsters" more involved than in Final Fantasy VIII. Although Summon Monsters are more involved in battles than in the past Final Fantasies, I would like to see the Summon Monsters join your party at certain points of the game. Also, I would like to see much of FFVIII's *modest* junction system and the Weapon-Armor-Shield-Accessory equipping system meld together so that if you equip new weapons, armlets, or accessories, then certain magics would be junctioned to your stats.
I would also like to see characters gain new Magical families by drawing a family to acquire a new Magical Family and by drawing it again to restore such Magical Family Energy to make the Draw System less boring and less time-consuming. FFVIII suffers HEAVILY from the Junctioning and Draw systems.
The plot would use a little work as I didn't welcome the nature of having an evil magician behind much of the warring nation's aggressive actions. Also, I am not happy with the "Against the Dictator" scheme as it's kind of overly used on other FF games. I'd rather see new originality such as having to nullify terrorists but it becomes a struggle to supress stealthy acts of evil and such.
The graphics are not as "kiddish" as with other FF games but the polygons are somewhat flawed. However, the landscapes are somewhat impressive when you go into the World Map and it's really cool to see all the landscape details once you get the ability to travel anywhere you want.
Overall, Square should've spent some more time trying to make the powerup system less time-consuming and boring but the theme of love really saves the game.
Graphics: 7 (Some polygons are not as cleanly detailed as with FFVII, but the landscapes more than makes up for it)
Sound: 9 (I really liked the live chorus during gameplay)
Gameplay: 5 (The new power-up system is time-consuming and boring. I like Square to return back to the Equipment issuage system and to make the Monsters more active by having monsters join your party, or for the least, fix the power-up system to make things less time-consuming and less boring)
Challenge: 6 (Even the Materia system from FFVII was much more strategic than the new power-up system in this game)
Story: 5 (Such instances of trying to overthrow dictatorships and having another evil force behind it is already overused in all FF's, and I would like to see something more original in the next FF game)
Replay Value: 6 (Not as valuable as with Final Fantasy VII, the power-up system in VIII will scare most FF loyalists away)
At an overall score of 6, Final Fantasy VIII is the worst game I had reviewed just yet. Most FF loyalists would be saving dollars for FF Anthology (which includes FFVI) but for those who want to know the true meaning of love (and who does not live for hardcore RPG strategy), this is the game.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 04/07/02
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