Review by Demigod_Tyek
You will never regret putting this game's disks into your Playstation and awakening the masterpiece that is contained
I usually write reviews about games that may have recently came out and that I am currently playing, but everybody ends up talking about his or her favorite game at some point in time. So here I go, ranting on truthfully about the good and bad of my all-time favorite game.
I know Squaresoft/Square Enix's recent games have been nothing new to the RPG genre, but 10 years ago when this game was released, it had a lot of cherishable and new mechanics that RPG's today live off of. Square is responsible for several amazing RPGs on the SNES back in the early 90's and Final Fantasy VIII is the second FF to be released on Sony's PS console. It's just absolutely eye opening to go back in time and imagine yourself playing this game as if it just came out. Because clearly, this game is NOTHING compared to today's standards. But if you are a true gamer like myself, you look at what counts in a game when you score it, not at what the system delivers graphic or power wise.
FF8 follows the classic Square Enix RPG style... an open world to explore covered in random encounters that offer turn-based battle fun. If you look at all the games today and that have come out in the previous decade, you may think "Oh well, turn based is so boring and there are SO many other games like it." Well, this battle system was still "newer" back in 1999, and lots of fans loved it.
The story is immersive and sucks you in. The main character, Squall Leonhart (I've given up on how to spell his last name, there have been so many different spellings for it), may appear to be the kind of emo/suicidal teenager who couldn't give a care about life. Well, in the beginning, I guess that is somewhat right. But one of the greatest things in movies or games is character development. And Squall's character changes dramatically over the course of the game's 4 disks of story.
Anyway, Squall is a SeeD mercenary, responsible for helping those in need with politcal problems throughout the game's world (which never officially had a name). For what started as a typical easy day's work finished with pay, Squall soon finds himself caught up in an entire world conflict, and there soon is no way out. Him along with several allies and friends he encounters along the way, will deliver a story unlike anything you will ever experience. I have played through this game probably a total of ten times (aleast once a year) and I have NEVER gotten bored of it. I cannot think of one boring scene in the entire game. It just keeps adding up and up to a thrilling conclusion and one of the best endings any game has ever delivered.
The game's battle system, like I said, is turn-based. You and up to three party members will battle enemies, and you have the option to Attack, use magic, summons, and items to defeat your opponent. When your character is low enough on HP, he or she has a Limit Break that can be accessed. It is typically their strongest attack, in an attempt to defeat the enemy before the enemy defeats them. Most of the Limit Breaks are offensive, but some are defensive and can heal your party, etc... If all three characters in battle at the time run out of HP, it's Game Over and you need to restart from the current-most save point.
The level up system is an up and down for the game. Unlike all off RPG games where the EXP needed to level up increases as your level increases, Final Fantasy VIII's EXP stays always at 1000. This can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. The good is, it is very easy to level up and become powerful. The bad is, unlike in many other games, the enemies level up WITH you. So if you are a level 65 Squall, you will be battling a level 65 bug. If that makes sense. It is a counter to make sure the game is not too easy, but overall the game is not hard at all. It is just right.
The Junction system is a bit awkward and can be confusing if you have no idea what your doing. THIS IS THE ONLY FINAL FANTASY GAME THAT EVER TRIED AND ACHIEVED THIS SYSTEM. But this can be countered, because there are descriptive tutorials in the game that tell you how to use this awesome system. Pretty much, you can junction magic that you or your party members have to defense and offense. For example, say you are about to fight a monster who's element is Ice. You can junction Fire magic to Squall's weapon, thus when you attack it will do more damage. Same for defense. Say you are about to fight an enemy who only uses Fire based attacks. You can equip Fire magic to your armor to absorb some of the attack. But the GF must know the certain abilities, of course. So it's not all scott-free.
The story is amazing, yes, but even I have to admit that (especially later in the game), it is about love. Squall, the lone wolf he is, eventually falls for the main girl character, Rinoa. It is bearable, however, unlike a lot of other games where they go all googly-eyes over each other through the entire game. They do not express their total love until the ending cutscene, sparing the gameplay from that area and keeping focus on the tasks at hand. Like I said, none of the game ever gets boring.
Just because I have played it many times, I can casually beat the game in maybe 20-25 hours. But if it is your first play through, look at around 30-40 hours to do a successful run. The story is linear at first, but when you gain access to the entire world and it's different vehicles during the 2nd and 3rd disks, there are A LOT of side quests you can do before tackling the game's ending.
Aside from the story, the other most important thing in a game is the characters. Well let me say that Final Fantasy VIII will NOT dissapoint. The characters in this game, both good and evil, are flawless and memorable. The main character Squall, and his friends Zell, Selphie, Rinoa, Quistis, and Irvine are all characters that you will care for. That is rare in games, and it is one of the most important factors.
Even though the Final Fantasy series is huge (30+ games?), this is the "sleeper hit" of the series. Many people enjoy and love this game, but not enough people have played it to sport it off as good as the personal fan-favorite Final Fantasy VII. And I know that Final Fantasy VII was before VIII, but when you play through VIII you cannot help but just experience several shivers of awe.
But like I said, not everyone will appreciate this game, sadly. It is the black sheep of the series, and does a lot of things that the others game do not. But all in all, it is a spectacular experience and people need to learn to try new things.
Being released back in 1999, no other game at that time looked more beautiful and played as memorable as Final Fantasy VIII. No other game had been more emotional, no other battle system had been mastered, no other characters had been more loved and cared for, no other story had ever been matched, and no other final battle had been as long and intense as Final Fantasy VIII's. The dramatic ending clocked in at around 30 minutes, and it is flawless from start to end.
CONCEPT--- Squaresoft's 1999 Final Fantasy release, and it sure delivers a performance that few will ever forget.
GRAPHICS--- The second Final Fantasy to ever be 3D, and for being almost 10 years old it is still breathtaking everytime I play it.
SOUND--- One of the greatest Final Fantasy soundtracks. Memorable and kick-ass join together to make this score. Thank you Nobuo Uematsu.
PLAYABILITY --- This game does some things that no other Final Fantasy has ever done, but if you put your mind past that concept and just shut up and play it, it will all mix together brilliantly and you will hardly notice the differences. It's still just an RPG, so what if it's altered a bit?
ENTERTAINMENT--- In my opinion, the greatest game to ever bear the Final Fantasy name. Infact, the greatest game to ever bear the name "greatest game". Believe me or not, that is your choice.
REPLAY VALUE--- I got this game back in 2000, about a year after it came out. I still play it atleast once a year, and will continue to do so until my days end. It is that great, and it has never or will ever get boring.
--- Demigod Tyek
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Final Fantasy VIII (US, 09/07/99)
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