Review by sonicandfffan

"The game like marmite - You either love it or hate it"

My review of Final Fantasy 8. The almighty square game, which came out after the high standard Final Fantasy 7.

Introduction

First thing's first, I think this game is great. It is a credit to the Final Fantasy Series. It is definitely worth getting. At least, that's my opinion. Even though as I write this review, the Playstation is becoming more and more out-dated. I recommend this game. Just the introduction movie and the scenes of emotion are fabulous.

Sadly, not everyone agrees, and there are an even amount of people on each side, and very few who have played it and come out with a neutral opinion. I think of this like marmite, "You either love it or you hate it".

Characters
O.K. The main character is Squall. He is an orphan who is very sullen and cold. It seems his destiny has intertwined with a group of people. These people are on one ultimate mission with Squall. There is only one problem, Squall is strangely independent. He will not allow anyone to help him. What has caused this? Perhaps a childhood incident? Buy the game then. Of course, you have the arrogant Seifer as your rival. And you are accompanied by bubbly Selphie and the Sensitive, yet powerful Zell. And your instructor is Quistis, a sensible young lady who seems to fancy her student, Squall. All of them are members of SeeD. Who else is there? Rinoa and Irvine, who are not SeeD members. To find out more, play the game.

Graphics (always way too overrated IMO)
Right, for today's world, graphics would get an average score. At the time this game was made however, the graphics were fabulous. The FMV scenes are actually still competitors with today's games. The regular graphics aren't that bad either. I remember the opening scene three years ago, the power of this game's graphics set a standard which even the next game had trouble competing against. This game was supposed to have superior graphics to it's previous final fantasy games, and it certainly does.

The characters are actually believable this time round, and their arms are smaller than their heads. The graphics are rather "blocky" at times when the camera zooms out.
Score: 9/10

Story
Every good RPG must have a good story. Final Fantasy 8 is no exception. This game certainly has a very emotional story. There are many scenes of suspense and romance. The characters are believable, regular people who happen to be soldiers. But about halfway through there is an unexpected twist which makes me feel sad. It's the game's weak point, it's just TOO unbelievable that would happen in reality. But when you put this with the fact there are sorceresses, magic and huge monsters in the game, you might forgive the creators. Besides, there are constant, better thought out, surprises throughout. The only major flaw is the antagonist seems to have no motive, which has led up to a serious debate about their identity. However, this opens up new options for the player to decide, and besides which the plot is nowhere near as it's predecessor.

Do yourself a favour, play this game completely before even reading an walkthrough, I did, and I found it far more enjoyable. The story is great. Altogether a good job squaresoft.
Score: 8.5/10

Control
O.K. How are the controls? Well, on the playstation, great. X is now the decision button, unlike O in Final Fantasy 7, which is a lot easier. Also, this game is the first final fantasy on playstation to be analog compatible. There are many vehicles which are easy to manipulate. The camera angles are good, which is unusual in 3D games, but final fantasy always seems to pull it off. The game runs quite smoothly and the controls are responsive so that makes for an overall great score.
Score: 8.5/10

The system - How it works.
Final Fantasy 8 runs off a Junction system. This is where you "stick" things to your character to power them up.
To start off, you need your Guardian Forces (GFs) to do anything. Once you have your GFs you can use magic, items and summon for help. The guardian forces have mystic abilities, as well as allowing your characters the ability to junction and convert things. You can call shops up anywhere, haggle with shopkeepers and even find hidden savepoints and drawpoints. Junctioning magic to your characters makes them stronger. To get magic, covert it using a Guardian Force's ability, draw it from special points from around the world, or from monsters. And because Squaresoft is so lovely, they've included the option to junction the best magic to your characters automatically, based on a certain stat you can choose. That is another great feature of Final Fantasy 8.
Score: 8.5/10

Game length
Definitely enough here. There isn't as much as Final Fantasy 7, but there is enough to make you play for up to 50-60 hours! Luckily (and obviously) you can save your game. This game stands out in length, as does the final fantasy series. There is plenty to do. Such as level your characters, collect the ultimate weapons. Defeat the hidden bosses, collect more Guardian Forces and play the card game. This game will last you a long time, you definitely get your money's worth.
Score: 9/10

Music and sound effects - How good does it sound?
Music is very adaptive to the surroundings. You fear the worst when Rinoa meets Edea. I won't say any more so as not to spoil anything. If you want to know more, go and buy the game. However, Balamb has a home-type touch and the battle music is frantic. Though the chocobos don't live up to their regular theme unfortunately. However, the power of the music will amaze you. That is one of the things which brought me to write this review.

The game has the best music in the series, the only song being better is "The decisive battle" from final fantasy 6. The soundtrack is worth buying alone, and is guarateed to bring a tear to the eye. Some of the best themes are "The man with the machine gun", "Eyes on Me (non vocal)", "Liberi Fatali" and many more. The music of this game certainly stunned me, and will almost certainly stun you.
Score: 10/10

Challenge
This game is a challenge at the start, but that challenge faded at the end. True, there is more of a challenge with the last boss than Final Fantasy 7, but levelling to the maximum is easy on two very well known islands. The best way to play is actually to gain no levels until you reach the end of the game, junctioning takes priority to levelling. Also, GF's can be summoned every few seconds at maximum stats, but the main way of causing damage is by plain old physical attacks. Junctioning is fun, but amazingly stressful for new players. Getting the ultimate weapons in easier than ever, they are almost all available on disk 1. Even the hardest boss in the game is simple with Selphie's ultimate limit break. It isn't always challenging. That is the games only flaw. It can be made better by trying games where you use no magic of a certain type, or no limit breaks. But it is still challenging enough to buy.
Score: 7.5/10

Sidequests
Ah, yes. Final Fantasy 8 comes with an abundance of sidequests to complete. This is a good, strong point. The new card game, first introduced to final fantasy here, is so much fun, you are guaranteed to play it for hours. There is definatly enough here to give this game a strong score. Even for the modern day standards, the sidequests here are plenty. There is always something more to do or discover. You won't put this game down with all the sidequests. From the mystery of Obel lake to the Winhill vase sidequest. The sidequests are more plentiful in final fantasy that most other RPGs.
Score: 8.5/10

The Card Game - Triple Triad
Ah yes, this sidequest is so long it got it's own section in my review. So what is it about? Well, it is totally optional, but you collect cards. You must battle on a 3x3 grid. When you win, you get more, stronger, cards. When you lose you must wave farewell to your best cards. Simple. However, card play a large roll in the game itself. Using a special Guardian force ability known as card mod, you can turn cards into rare and useful items/ magics. This is helpful in getting the ultimate weapons. And to top it off, there is a Card Queen who holds many rare cards. This quest alone will take you hours to complete.

The game is perhaps one of the most important factors in the game, so maybe it is flawed that it can be skipped completely. Furthermore, the rare cards can be modded and won back multiple times by certain players on disk four, which makes for easy gaming, but by then, you'll be strong enough anyway.
Score: 8.5/10

Replay Value
I once heard a statement: "As with most Final Fantasy games, every time you go through, there is always something new to discover". This is true for Final Fantasy 8 definitely. There is always something. Whether it is collecting all the cards or simply getting another GF, you won't be putting this down for a few months. And when you finally do put it away, it is almost guaranteed you will pick it back up again to try something else. There are just so many options. This game never dies out. Besides which, you can get it cheap now, such a great game is not to be missed out on.
Score: 8.5/10

Other
The section has no rating. It just states other flaws and/or strengths. The font is OK. There are very few (if any) bad translation, unlike the 7th installment. Nothing else to mention here. This game relates to many myths and legends, especially the Guardian Forces. Try checking their names on google. Many are named after gods or heroes. The amount of hidden meanings in almost any final fantasy game are uncountable.

Overall -
A great game that is definatly worth your money. If you see this, and haven't got it, PICK IT UP now. Seriously, this game is worth paying for. It will last you ages. And due to how old it is, it is very cheap. You can pick it up brand new for around £20. Or if you prefer, you can find it in the Preowned section of your local store for around £10 to £15. This game never loses it's touch. If you already have this game, do yourself a favour and pick it up again once more. It'll bring back memories. Just listening to the music once more touched my heart. Give yourselves a pat on the back squaresoft, even if it is a bit late.
But now it is time for my overall score (it might not be the average score).

OVERALL SCORE: 9/10 (I wouldn't call any game perfect, but this game is good)

Rent or Buy
Buy, obviously, it's cheap enough anyway. Considering it's age, you would hae trouble finding a copy to rent and if you did, you wouldn't have enough time to complete everything.

Regards - sonicandfffan


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/26/04


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