Review by Clallzidus

"One of the best of RPG's up to this date"

Final Fantasy VIII was my very first role playing game, and quite frankly it blew me away. The only games I ever played before this was sports, or racing games but this game completely changed my outlook on video games. It opened a whole new world for me, and now I consider myself an avid RPG fan. I think that this game could do the same for you.

I’m sure if you’ve never played this game you have heard mixed emotions, while some love this game, like me, others absolutely despise it. I am writing this review to give my opinions on this game, and I would personally like to thank Squaresoft for making such a excellent game.

Upon clicking ''New Game'' you get to experience a breathtaking, and awesome FMV (one of many in the game). When you finally get into the game you are able to explore the world through the eyes of a young man named Squall Leonheart. Squall is a student at Balamb Garden who masters in the use of Gunblades. Balamb Garden is a school for mercenaries and many of the students are involved with the elite group of mercenaries known as SeeD. Squall hopes to become a member of the SeeD’s but first he needs to pass the test. Soon you meet up with some of the other main characters and the story starts to pick up.

The story, once you get into it, is one that will keep you playing just to see what happens next. The plot at first seems to be somewhat predictable but as you advance the story will start to get complicated. You have Squall as a soldier who is still training and your typical ''bad guy'' Edea who wants nothing more than world domination. This all seems generic so far but as you play through the game you will see that this is not just an average story line because (without revealing any major spoilers) some people in the story change from good to bad and some go from bad to good. I'll just leave it at that and let you play the game without ruining the story for you.

The fighting in the game was much like the other Final Fantasy's except for a few changes. One major change was the Draw system. In order to acquire magic you would have to draw it from your enemy instead of the traditional way of learning it and gaining experience. This was one aspect of the game I could do without because it takes a lot of time to draw each of the various spells. Once you have acquired the spells you could now junction them to increase your abilities. Many have complained about the Junction system but once you become familiar with it, you learn how to effectively equip your magic to get the best results. However, this all comes back to the Draw system because the impact of equipping your magic depends on how many of each spell you have. Let me better explain this. If you have 10 spells of Cure junctioned to your strength, it would not be as powerful as if you had 99 spells of Cure junctioned to strentgh.

The Junction system is a good way of customizing your characters to fight however you want. If you wanted Squall to be the healer of the group you could make his healing abilities much better just by simply equipping your best magic to that attribute. I prefer just demolishing my opponents with outstanding damage from physical attacks so most of my guys had there strongest magic junctioned to the strength ability.

Limit Breaks were incorporated into this game as well as many other Final Fantasy’s have used them. You can acquire new Limit Breaks by upgrading your weapons, reading various magazines, or even finding certain items. Just for clarification, Limit Breaks are attack techniques that usually deal more damage to opponents than regular physical attacks. There are certain conditions that are required in order to use these Limit Breaks, you will learn about them when you play the game.

The graphics in this game are excellent and the FMV's are even better. People who say graphics in a game don't matter haven't played this game. In my opinion the wonderful graphics of this game make it that much better. The characters, cities, and the landscape are very detailed. There were times in this game that I had to remind myself that it was a video game and not real life, they are that great. I am very critical when it comes to graphics and I notice the minor flaws in games but in this game I sat back and enjoyed because if there were any flaws I didn’t notice them, and quite frankly I didn’t care. It was a joy to watch somebody else play the game because you could marvel at how good the graphics are.

This game follows suit with the other Final Fantasy's as it has summons, otherwise known as Guardian Forces or GF's. There are many GF's in this game that you can get by various means, some you may have to win in a fight, others you may need to draw from an enemy. Overall they all look good but some seem useless compared to others. Also, because the draw system is a pain, sometimes you don’t try to draw from bosses because it is difficult you miss some of the GF’s because you have to draw them. Although, at the end of the game you have the opportunity to get all of the GF’s in the final dungeon place.

I absolutely loved the music of Final Fantasy VIII. It really took me by surprise because before I played this game I would listen to my rock or even rap. After beating the game I soon found myself downloading some of the songs in the game and singing along with the likes of Faye Wong and humming the tunes of some of the songs! It was another new experience for me, and it is really hard to describe. This is one of the more impressive collection of songs in a video game that I have ever listened to.

I have spent over 250 hours of my time on this game alone. Of course, not all in one play through. I have beaten this game three times and each time I am amazed when I see the ending, I’ll let you beat the game for yourself to see. But I can honestly say that one day I’m going to go back and beat the game again, just for the fun of it. There are so many side quests and mini-games that you can enjoy. And of course, to carry on with the Final Fantasy tradition, there are chocobos! Everyone loves those chocobos, but unlike Final Fantasy 7 you cannot breed chocobos in this game. Instead, you have to find a chocobo forest, then you can either ask a kid to catch a chocobo for you, or you can use a whistle and try to catch one yourself. I was never good at catching them so I always paid the kid to catch one for me. The card game is another excellent part of this game. Once you start playing, you get completely submerged that your new goal, instead of beating the game, is to find all of the cards and be the best. It is so addicting and complex that if you really get into it you could be spending a lot more time on this game than I did.

There are always those ultimate bosses that are nearly impossible to defeat. You can either put the time in to level up so that you can defeat them or you can do like me and just forget that they ever exist and not try to defeat them. I found no joy when I finally beat Ultimate weapon that I decided to never try to fight any of them again. However, you may enjoy the challenge, and let me tell you it’s a challenge. So go ahead and see how you do.

Overall, this game is very much worth the time and the money that you put into it. I cannot guarantee that you will enjoy it despite how much I have enjoyed this game because there are some people that disagree with me, and hate this game. But I believe that this is a great game.

Pros
Excellent graphics
Well written story
Great musical score
Fun side quests and mini-games
Good gameplay

Cons
Draw system is tedious

I must say that Squaresoft has created a masterpiece with this game. There are so many elements of this game that I enjoyed it is hard to write them all down. Out of my whole experience with video games I would rank this game somewhere around number one or number two on my list.

So despite what other people say, I strongly recommend for you to buy this game. This game has renewed my faith in the video game industry and it will keep me coming back to the Final Fantasy series. This is a definite must buy for any and all RPG fans.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/12/03, Updated 06/12/03


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