Review by shneepshnop

"Don’t send me your poorly written hate mail filled with grammatical errors and unnecessary abbreviations, because I will simply ignore it."

Final Fantasy 8 is one of the more controversial games on the PSX. Some people, like the fan boy’s, drop to their pathetic little knees and worship it, as they do every Final Fantasy game. Others, like myself, played the game, beat it, opened our closet door, and then chucked the game and all its contents into it, where it remained for many moons; buried under old socks and dirty underwear. Over the years my video game knowledge has grown and I feel like I have learned more about what makes a good RPG, since I have played so many. After playing Final Fantasy VIII again I have come to this conclusion: Final Fantasy VIII is a failure at an RPG and only an average game at its best. It does present some good ideas, like junctioning stuff to attributes to increase them, but the overall execution of these ideas are terrible. I have said before that hype alone cannot make a game good. And the hype for FF VIII was incredible. No doubt Final Fantasy VIII had big shoes to fill. During its entire creation Squaresoft and all the gaming magazines kept calling Final Fantasy VII ''The Next Big Thing”. After the masterpiece known as Final Fantasy VII, people eagerly awaited its follow-up, me being one of them. I followed the creating of Final Fantasy VIII and eagerly bought it the first day it was available for purchase. I played it, and thought it was average at best. Here is why:

Story - 6/30
First off lets do the story. You play as Squall. He is a teenager and is training to become an elite fighter, called a See-D. Well he quickly becomes one, and off you go on your first mission. This goes well and is very interesting. The first mission in Dollet is one of the best sequences in all of video game history. It contains some of the best FMV scenes I have ever seen, and combined with the music and plot development, it creates a very moody atmosphere. You will actually feel like you yourself are on this mission; and not simply watching it through a video game. Sadly though this and maybe 2 other scenes (the sorceress assassination and the battle between the 2 gardens) are the only 2 scenes that are interesting in the whole 4 boring discs. It seems like Squaresoft had an idea of what they wanted to do as far as a story was concerned, but didn’t really know how to do it, so the story boringly drags on for 4 discs. They could of compacted the whole game onto maybe 2 discs if they cut down on the over used FMV sequences and unimportant plot developments.

Your enemy, at first, is a queen who is an evil sorceress, ooohhh scary, she wants to, get a hold of this, take over the world and all of time. Well guess who wants to save everyone? That’s right; you and your uninteresting band of characters. This leads me to another point that I will finish later, after the story part is done. Also FF VIII is centered around the theme of love, as I’m sure we all know. Unfortunately it isn’t very interesting. The love between the other characters in the other FF’s is better realized. If they wouldn’t actually come out and say it I would wonder if there was actually love in this game. You also play as this other guy named Laguna, who is somehow related to the protagonist Squall, but we don’t know how. Their mysterious connection is built up for the good portion of the 4 discs, and when they finally meet you will witness, arguably the most disappointing scene in all of video game history. Anyways, the story drags on through about 95% of the game, where really the only interesting scenes happen in the first 3 hours of gameplay.

The other part consists of the characters. They are the weakest of any Final Fantasy and arguably of any RPG. Lets start with Squall. His personality is identical to Cloud’s in FF8. It is like someone cloned Cloud’s personality and put it into another body. This may have worked in FF VII. But the same in FF VIII? You’ve got to be kidding me. Rinoa, the heroine, is your typical video game female. Her personality is a stereotype and is completely uninteresting and unoriginal. Quistis is very quiet and doesn’t speak much. Zell acts like my younger cousin. He is very immature and very annoying. Selphie is your average “teenie bopper”. She, like all her counterparts, is annoying. You may want to attack her instead of the bad guys. Then there is Irvine who is an anti-social loser, who plays no importance towards the overall story past the first disc. The only semi-interesting character is once again the bad guy. This guy is Siefer. He is mean; he fights dirty, and is an all around evil person. This concludes the story part of the review, and unfortunately for Final Fantasy 8 this is not its worst category.

Gameplay - 3/20
The gameplay found in FF8 is atrocious. They have, once again, a new system. Now in order to get spells you must draw them from your enemies; you no longer have MP. You can carry a maximum of 99 of each spell. Once you have drawn enough spells you can junction them to all your statistics, such as strength, vitality, agility, etc to make your characters stronger. The more of a spell you have, the more it raises your stats. One of the 2 problems with this may be quite obvious. If you junction your spells to your stats, where the amount of the spell you have determines how strong your stats are, you will not want to use the magic spells you drew, because they will make your stats lower than what they could be. In other words, if you junction 99 of the fire magic to your strength lets say it raises it from 12 to 35. If you use 5 of the fire spells you now have 94 of it and since you have 95 and not 99 your strength is 33 instead of 35. Therefore you will not want to use magic. You follow? Say yes. The second problem is that when you draw, you only draw about 4-7 of a given spell. So you will spend hours drawing enough spells for all your characters, then you will find another spell, where you will spend more hours trying to draw that spell since its better. This process repeats countless times across the 4 boring discs.

Squaresoft has decided that summon magic will now play a more important role in this game. They are now called G-Forces. And you can summon them as much as you want. Well each G-Force takes about 12 minutes to attack from start to finish, and since this is your main way to attack your battles will become very nostalgic and time consuming.

Another terrible feature is the weapon system. There is now no more armor, only weapons. You make weapons by finding pieces of the weapon like screws and bolts, to give to a blacksmith, who will then craft your weapon for you. There are about 6 weapons for each character and you will spend most of your time on a remote island in the middle of BF nowhere trying to get a bad guy to drop 1, maybe 2 screws.

The only redeeming aspect in this game is the card game. You collect cards and use them to battle people across the world, trying to conquer their cards in the card mini game. This is fun, and I spent a good portion of my time trying to collect all of the cards, which I finally ended up doing =).

There are many other bad qualities to this game like, unrewarding side-quests, lengthy areas of extreme pointlessness, a stupid system where the monsters level up with you, and more. Since I wont write a 10-page review I wont go into complete detail on any of these other subjects. I just want to let you know that they are still there.

Funfactor – 4/15
This game is not fun; it is boring. The ideas I went into in the gameplay and story sections are the standout contributors to this. I’ve spoken to people who are diehard Final Fantasy fans that have turned away from this game after 3 hours because of these factors. I for one cannot blame them.

Graphics – 15/15
The graphics here are incredible, as is expected. They look like early Playstation 2 games. However, Square goes overboard on the FMV’s, as they are nice, but not entirely needed. It is quite obvious Squaresoft spent more time on the graphics than they did on the more important areas like story and gameplay.

Music – 5/10
Nobue Uematsu (the music composer for FF VIII) has usually created marvelous musical scores for most of his Final Fantasy games. However in FF8 the music is only average. It is not as good as it was in FF VI or FF X, and not as bad as FF IV or FF IX. It sounds neither good not great; only average. Nothing regarding the music in FF VIII really stands out in my mind.

Controls – 5/5
Life is too short to worry about these in an RPG.

Replayability (Bonus)- 1/5
You may want to play it again in order to actually believe that this game is so bad… or not. Nothing new will happen the 2nd time through this game. You can do some side-quests you missed, but the rewards are virtually nonexistent. Does getting 1 item the equivalent of 100 Hi-Potions justify you beating Ultima Weapon (the hardest boss)? No it doesn’t. And all your rewards will be as disappointing as this one was.

Conclusion - 39/100

Pros
- Excellent graphics
- A terribly addicting card game

Cons
- A weak and uninspired story
- Some of the most uninteresting and shallow characters I have ever been associated with in a video game
- An awful battle system
- And an awful way of acquiring magic and weapons

Final Fantasy VIII s a terrible game that is frustrating, and so lacking of fun, it is virtually unplayable. To me it doesn’t even come across as an RPG, but more like an action/adventure game. Stay away from this game and go play one of the prior Final Fantasies, Xenogears, or Suikoden 2. Final Fantasy VIII is trash and marks the beginning of Squaresoft’s whoring out and the desecration of the once sacred name, Final Fantasy.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 04/08/04


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