Review by White Ninja
"This is just Square's way of mocking us!"
Final Fantasy VIII has surpassed all borderlines of mediocrity unlike any game had ever done before. This game is a cruel mockery destined to any devoted RPG fan such as myself, and concrete proof that quantity doesn't make quality. The entire game is spent hoping, praying that the next part would come, simply to finish whatever tedious task you were already executing. Whether it be mashing X during battle, spending hours trying to draw your stupid spells and then junction them, or reading that mind-numbingly idiotic dialogue, Final Fantasy VIII is one tiresome chore after another! I waited patiently for the game to get better, but it never did. Square has relinquished any grain of dignity they had left after FF7 with this self-proclaimed, egotistic, sorry excuse for an RPG. Were it not for Final Fantasy Tactics, I would give up on Square here and now.
The storyline is an absolute insult to my intelligence. Saying the plot is a convoluted mess would be a severe understatement Of course, Square dug their own grave with this one, trying to take a simple storyline, adding too many subplots and contorted themes. Couple that with a confusing sci-fi premise of time-travel which Square doesn't even try to explain scientifically (or in any way for that matter) and you've got yourself one hell of a tortuous plot. And unlike FF7 which was interesting enough to make you want to speculate on the plot holes, by the time you've gone through FF8's grudging storyline, you just won't care anymore.
But nothing, and I mean nothing can match, in terms of mediocrity, the cataclysmic, pointless, and obtuse dialogue found throughout the entire game. It's the absolute drivel regurgitated from each of the poorly developed characters that made me see how this game just tries way too hard to keep the intrigue of the player, although it never had mine in the first place
Squall is a student at some form of school called Garden (don't ask ) and is training to become part of an elite group know as SeeD (it's not an environmentalist group.) His first test-mission is quite a success (easily the best part of the game but it only lasts about 7 minutes) and he joins SeeD along with his "friends" Zell, Quistis, and Selphie. They later meet more immature teenagers like themselves: Rinoa and Irvine. Together, these teens will fight for their school against an evil sorceress from the future, trying to control take over the world. Despite its striking similarities to the plot of Harry Potter, Final Fantasy VIII has an unoriginal feel to it. The story is dry and bland, regardless of its one major plot twist, and Square knows it. This is why the sinister programmers decided to mask the terrible storytelling with flashy FMVs and a love theme!
If you don't like love interests stay away from this game. If you do like love interests stay the HELL away from this game. The love theme in FF8 is an utterly ridiculous joke. It is so poorly developed that Shakespeare and Molière would be spitting in their graves, which is hard to believe since the entire game revolves around the love interest between Squall and Rinoa. It is unbelievably predictable and cliché: he finds her annoying, she finds him mean, and they suddenly fall in love in the third act. Although, I suppose it would be enough to turn on idiot fanboys whose entire knowledge of love consists of them and their pillow. But for the rest of us, the love theme is like anything else in this game regarding the storyline: sinfully dull, unoriginal, and poorly developed.
The main contributors to the storyline's poor quality are indeed the characters themselves whose stereotypical personalities make them both predictable and unbelievably annoying! They are completely one-dimensional and the character development is the worst I've ever seen. If this is the way Square looks at teenagers I have to say that I'm rather offended. We'll start with Squall, the main character, who seems to be an exact replica of Cloud. He is a loner who doesn't share his feelings and doesn't talk much. In fact, his vocabulary seems to span between "whatever" and " ." Although Cloud's character was mildly interesting, Squall seems to give out more of a pathetic vibe, so you'll learn to hate him very quickly.
If you think Squall is bad, wait until you meet his friends. Zell is probably the worst character ever conceived for a videogame (at least one that wasn't a punching bag.) He seems to have a rather bad case of ADD. Seifer will often call him a "chicken-wuss" (very mature insult, don't you think?) to which Zell will so wittily respond: "Why is everyone I am not a CHICKEN!!" Yeah, that's about as intricate as the dialogue gets in this game. Zell will then go to a corner, and throw punches into the air... Quistis doesn't talk much so Square didn't bother giving her a personality. Selphie is a hyperactive (why do all these characters seem to have medical conditions?) girl who is amused by trains and probably has a higher sucrose intake than any human should. Rinoa seems to be a ditz, and an immature one at that, who is very amusing to watch as she is always excluded from the group. Finally, Irvine is a loser cowboy who tries WAY too hard to impress any woman in site and is probably even more pathetic than Squall.
So why didn't I give this sorry group a 0? Well, one character actually managed to impress me a few times Seifer would always put a smile on my face, especially when he would insult Zell (thank God someone in the game did.) His arrogant yet cool personality was such a treat from all the immature kids you have to deal with through this game that I thought he alone should boost the score up a few points!
We've regressed past the prehistoric point when it comes to the gameplay. A fun surprise that everyone will notice is that the ATB system is even slower than it was on FF7! And slow does seem to be what the programmers were going for with this. The GFs take long just to summon and the animation is even longer and unskipable (you'll shoot yourself after summoning Eden more than once.) Mp doesn't exist in FF8, instead you have to draw your spells from monsters and draw points all over the world. So now you have to sit there like an idiot in battle, drawing 2-10 spells at a time while the enemy slowly depletes your Hp. But it gets worse than that! You have to customize each player's commands (draw, magic, item, GFs, and a whole lot of other ones ) and your characters can only have 4 each. On top of that, you can exchange spells you draw between characters as well as equip different GFs making character switching absolutely pointless.
In FF7 Square got rid of helmets and shields. Well, FF8 dumbed this aspect of the game down even more, getting rid of armor and accessories as well. Now you have what is called the junction system where you equip spells (don't try and find any logical reasoning behind that concept) and they somehow boost your stats. That's right folks! Now, whenever you use a spell your stats will go down, making magic nearly useless. But that's okay, because the game is so bloody easy that all you have to do is keep mashing X and your enemies will fall in no time with just physical attacks and GFs (if you feel like waiting for the animation.)
Don't try and buy weapons either. In this game you upgrade your weapons by finding stupid parts like screws and bolts that normally have nothing to do with a sword, and adding them to your weapon at certain shops. I suppose Square also thought chocobos and moogles were just too original for this game. Instead, your main means of transportation early on in the game is cars and trains. Trains play a rather large role in the game (which is ironic since the game itself happens to be a train wreck) and cars are just a sorry excuse to make you waste money on gas. And don't expect any Saleen S7 or Lamborghini Diablo either; these deformed hunks of aluminum will make Geo Metros look decent
The true strong point in the gameplay lies in the mini card-game "Triple Triad" rather than in the actual battles, which is very sad. The card game is fun and it's amusing to challenge different people all over the world and gain new cards. But evidently, I wouldn't buy an entire RPG just to play a stupid little card game.
The graphics are the most misleading aspect of the game. The FMVs are very well detailed and the intro was breathtaking. Other than that, the graphics were so-so. The characters lost the deformed look they once possessed in FF7 but they also look bland and lifeless. Their faces are white and look like they've been drained of blood while the overworld is incredibly plain and boring. Much like everything else in this game, the graphics were just over-hyped.
Music and Sound 6/10
I'm amazed at how much praise this soundtrack has been getting in other reviews. It's easily the dullest and least interesting score Nobuo Uematsu has every composed and many music fans such as myself should be very disappointed with it! After the early FF games, Uematsu has turned away from the more videogame-ish tone of music and seems to go for a more movie-ish kind of score. The result we found in FF7 was less memorable pieces but far more interesting and complex ones. However, in FF8, though he keeps the same sort of tone, Uematsu just can't keep his score as intriguing as he did in the previous Final Fantasy installment.
"Liberi Fatali" is easily the best on the soundtrack, having a similar tone to the incredibly overrated "One-Winged Angel" from FF7. However, it only plays once in the game but the "Fithos, Lusec, Wecos, Vinosec" theme is repeated throughout the game and can get quite exhausting. We also get the first vocal song in the series called "Eyes On Me" which is getting much more credit than it deserves. Faye Wong's vocals aren't particularly good in any way although the song itself is decent. Other than that, the songs get rather monotonous, the "friendship" theme is extremely overused and the overworld theme is, for the most part, uninteresting.
The synth quality is the worst it's ever been on the PSX and I was expecting so much more since the synth quality was improved so much in games like Xenogears and FFT. The overworld theme "Blue Fields" is the perfect example of how horrible the synth really is in this game! The sound effects were sub-par at best as Squall's sword slashes sound like a rusty hammer hitting a concrete wall
It's not hard, just long. Most dungeons are pretty straightforward (although not as much as in FF7) and most of the bosses were fairly easy. There was no real challenge in FF8 and even the optional bosses are easy if you just keep casting aura on yourself and dealing about 20000 damage. The only part of the game that I found a good challenge was the final dungeon, which is very puzzling and difficult since you lose all your abilities.
You would have to pay me in order for me to play this game again. I did all the sidequests and beat all the optional bosses on my first try so there really is no reason why I should bother to go on that resentful, rancorous journey a second time. It should be a crime to buy this game although some old school Final Fantasy fans may have to buy this game just to see how absolutely terrible it really is.
I am a devoted Final Fantasy fan who feels utterly betrayed! This game is guaranteed to upset all but immaculate fanboys who are suckers for FMVs and have never played a real RPG in their lives. This game does not deserve to be part of the series and is certainly the darkest chapter in Square's saga. Hopefully Square can pull themselves together and learn from their horrible mistake that is Final Fantasy VIII.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 07/13/04
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