Review by lighty691

"Easily as good as Final Fantasy VII"

Final Fantasy VIII - Review
by Andrew Light

Easily as good as Final Fantasy VII

Welcome to my review of Final Fantasy VIII for the Playstation. Well it has been a good few years now since the release of this game but I felt it was necessary to write a review for one of my favourite games of all time.

Final Fantasy VIII is the second game in the series that is available on the Playstation. The game is obviously however the 8th game in the long series of FF games. FF8 had a massive reputation to live up to as it was following one of the most successful games of all time. Final Fantasy VII was incredibly popular which was always going to make it difficult for a sequel to live up to such high expectations. Personally I think FF8 did a great job, and in my opinion was equally as good as FF7, if not better in many areas.

As with previous incarnations, Final Fantasy VIII throws together a group of very different characters. The hero in this story is Squall Lionheart, a young soldier in the elite mercenary group SeeD, created to protect the world from dangerous sorceresses. Squall is a loner type of character who is a very withdrawn character, happy to get along on his own. Squall finds himself taking missions for SeeD with his friend/rival Seifer. Without giving too much away, the storyline in the game is a massive contributor to the games success. You will quickly find yourself hooked by the characters and their predicament to the extent that you will be racing through the game to find our their destiny. Although the main character is very withdrawn you will find yourself growing towards him and the characters around him. This is a key factor in what the game has to offer. The storyline is excellently played out with very little being given away in the beginning and more and more becoming obvious as you progress in the game.

As regards the game itself, fans will not be disappointed. There are a few changes from Final Fantasy VII, particularly the magic system involved. FF8 brings in a new "junction" system for using magic. In previous incarnations of the game, magic is usually bought or obtained by defeating enemies. This time around players "draw" magic from their enemies or through draw points scattered around the world. This means that players will build up a stock of spells, much like items, rather than using the more traditional MP of previous games. This is not only how magic spells are used in the game. The spells you obtain are then "junctioned" to specific stats of the character. For example if a character draws magic from the enemy, after the battle this can be junctioned to the strength stat of that character, making their physical attacks stronger. The same principle can be used to raise other stats such as defence and magic power, as well as creating status and elemental attacks. In fact the new junction system allows you to tweak and increase any stat for each character. This adds a whole new dimension to the game as specific defences or attack powers can be raised depending on the type of foe you are facing. Obviously the stronger the spell, the greater the increase on the stat.

Also new to the game is the inclusion of GF's, or Guardian Forces to give them their proper names. The guardian forces are the powers used by SeeD to aid them in battle. They are very similar to the summon monsters of FF7 when used in battle, but also have another very important function in the game. Equipping a GF to a character allows that character to perform special actions. All GF's have the standard actions such as attacking, using magic and using items, but more powerful and rare GF's offer the chance to have powerful commands attached to the user. All GF's also offer the option to learn new abilities through battle.

Another major change in the game is the use of weapons. In another change to previous years, rather than collecting several different weapons for your characters you now "upgrade" a standard weapon. Each character has a standard type of weapon i.e. gunblade, whip, shotgun etc and rather than collecting different types of these, players need to collect special materials from enemies in order to upgrade their weapons. These can either be very common or very rare depending on the type of item needed.

All of the above changes make this game very enjoyable and easily playable. Battles are very easy to navigate and the new systems work well. With so many changes to the main bulk of the playing of the game there was always a chance that it might not work. However all of the changes have really made improvements to the overall enjoyment and control of the game. Difficulty wise, the game has sufficient challenges to ensure that the game isn't too difficult or too easy. There will be more on this later on as to what is on offer to ensure the games difficulty.

Fans of the series will remember the "blocky" graphics of FF7 that made it famous, well FF8 offers massively improved character models and graphics all round. All the characters look very lifelike and there is a great attention to detail with these characters. Clothes, weapons and accessories are all detailed perfectly on each character. Backgrounds and scenery within the game are also beautifully created for the most part, very clear and well constructed. The FMV sequences in the game also need a special mention. As with previous games the movie sequences were excellent but FF8 takes this even further, with all the cut scenes looking wonderful, probably pushing the consoles capabilities to its limits.

The music and sound in the game will always be very important in a game such as this. Tunes that play throughout certain stages in the game are perfect to set the scene, especially in the fight scenes of the game. With a game of this type there is always the worry that the music can become repetitive, especially when you end up fighting battles repeatedly. Unfortunately this can be the case here. There is very little variation in the music on offer in the game, particularly during fights. I would have liked to have seen more variation in the music to ensure that it doesn't get repetitive.

Final Fantasy VIII is a massive game. There are many quests and side missions to keep hours and hours of gameplay going. The main quest itself will probably give you around 60 hours of action, with almost an infinite amount of play time when completing side missions and levelling up. There is a huge amount of side quests to take on that will allow you to obtain additional weapons, GFs, items and magic spells. Also in order to fully max out your stats there is an endless amount hours you could spend "training up". Then there is also a brand new game available called Triple Triad. This is essentially a card game that you can play with many people across the world. It is a very simple game that can become very addictive. There is a card to collect for every enemy, GF and character in the game which again will add a massive amount of hours to the gameplay.

Overall Final Fantasy VIII is a brilliant game that is worth every penny you will pay for it. It boasts brilliant graphics, engrossing storylines, deep and complex characters with a massive amount of game time. There isn't much really that you can call a negative in the game hence the final score given.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 05/18/09

Game Release: Final Fantasy VIII (EU, 10/27/99)

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