Review by mjfru201

"Final Fantasy VIII - The most underrated game in the series"

After mild success with Final Fantasy VII, Squaresoft decided to put the PlayStation hit, Final Fantasy VIII on the PC. Many people have mixed feelings about this game but in my opinion it's the most underrated game in the Final Fantasy series. The biggest reason a lot of people dislike this game is simply because it isn't a clone of past Final Fantasy VII (which almost everyone loves). Squaresoft decided to try something new and some people just didn't agree with the changes.

Well once again Square has put up another great plot, just like in all the other Final Fantasy games. The story now revolves around a teenager named Squall who attends Balamb Garden. Think of Balamb Garden as a school that trains all students to be SeeD's (a Special Forces unit that are a lot like Balamb's). Squall meets up with some cool other team members that all have a lot different personalities and traits that keep the story interesting (and sometimes humorous). The story is a whole lot different from what Final Fantasy vets are used to. It feels a lot more modern (and in some parts futuristic) due to the buildings and vehicles in the game. Through the story you will see wars rage, your characters bonding together, and merciless villains! This game just has one of those stories that’s hard to forget.

The graphics in this game look like they push the PSOne’s graphics capability to the top; it’s sometime hard to realize that you’re playing a game made in the late 1990’s! I do have one complaint though; the characters can sometimes see the pixels in them. I realize that I shouldn’t be complaining because it’s an older game, but I think Squaresoft could’ve smoothed out the pixels and make them look as one. The best in game graphics are probably in the battle sequences. In battle everything looks smooth and detailed, from your characters weapons, your enemies, to spells, everything looks like an incredible amount of detail has been poured into it. Now we have the beautiful FMV sequences; absolutely nobody should be complaining about the FMV’s! Everything is smooth and fluent, and it gives you a cool perspective on what the characters and environment would look like in real life.

To make your overall game experience even better, we have amazing music and sound effects. First off, the battle music really gets you pumped up and makes you want to just beat the crap out of your enemies. Whatever your character’s situation is, the music fits in perfectly. For example; if one of the characters is sad or it’s just a dramatic time, the music will change to a sad melody to try to make you feel what the character(s) are going through at that time. The sound effects are pretty well done; you can hear every little thing that happens around you. Your footsteps can be heard, weapons slicing through enemies, and pretty much every other action that your character makes.

Now we have the slightly flawed gameplay. As usual, you get a huge sense of exploration just like every Final Fantasy game. You main objective is usually go to the next place to uncover more of the story. It’s nothing new and innovative to the standard RPG gameplay, but the card game and battle system are! The battle system is very easy to understand, even for the people just getting in to this series. There are only a few options you can choose from, so it is very simple and easy (This is one thing I’m unhappy with). However I’m unhappy with the magic system, and lack of options you can choose from. The magic system is fresh but it feels very limited. Through the game you encounter “Draw Points,” where you take magic out of it. Let’s say you get six cures, that means that you can only use cure six times! However to make things a little bit better, you can also draw magic out of enemies as well. Theirs is something in the game called a “Junction System,” where you equip magic traits, summons etc. The junction system only lets you equip four options to use in battle! I was unhappy with this because I was used to Final Fantasy VII having many options to use in battle. Although you can spread your abilities out to make a well balanced team. Now we have one of the best idea’s Squaresoft ever had, in this game they made a card mini-game to play. You go around battling other peoples’ cards to earn them and make your deck stronger. This adds to the games’ length which is already 30-50 hours, so if you play the card game, Final Fantasy VIII should last you at least 35-55 hours. The replay is average because the game is very long and takes up a lot of free time.

My Rundown
Story - 10/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 10/10
Gameplay 9/10
Overall 9/10
(not an average)

Final Word
If you are a fan of the legendary Final Fantasy series or if you are just getting into the series, I highly recommend that you buy this game for either the PC or the PSOne. Do yourself a favor and try not to listen to people who tell you otherwise, this game is very underrated and is one of the best in the Final Fantasy series.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/11/03, Updated 03/16/04

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