Review by MasterReviewer
"Even a so-so RPG from Square tops anyone's best efforts"
8 Epic Sagas. No RPG series has made it that far. Some have tried, but their efforts were useless. It seemed impossible to keep a series on that long and keep it successful, until one company came along and blew away the competition.
That company is none other but SquareSoft. With their classic Final Fantasy series, they have ruled all RPG competition. No doubt about it. But -- it's amazing how far the series has evolved. Who would think the Final Fantasy series would live on this long? I sure didn't. But -- as we all know, they did live on and will still live on.
OK, enough with the chit-chat about the history of Final Fantasy, it's time to review the newest in the series, Final Fantasy 8. This game is absolutely great, however, as you will see in the game it really doesn't live up to a true Final Fantasy name.
First of all the story needs some work. It is based on the theme of love and you play as Squall, a student at Garden, which is the training school of the force known as SeeD. During the game, Squall goes through action-packed missions, he confronts an evil sorceress and has to deal with his own mysterious dreams.
The story lacks the suspense, twists and turns that all the other Final Fantasies portrayed so well. There is ONLY one mini-game, which is the card game and that is kind of confusing. Another thing I didn't like about the story was the setting. It took place in a futuristic world, sort of like FF7, which had a screwed up storyline. The best stories always seemed to take place when they were in a medieval setting, like Final Fantasy III!
Don't get the wrong idea. Just because the story isn't the best, it doesn't mean the game is a total bomb! The great thing that Square did was make a totally new battle system, which is very innovative and much better than any battle system in the series. There is the Junction and Draw System that you use for magic.
Using the Draw System, you can Draw effective spells out of your foe and use it against them. It's very cool. Then you have a thing called GF (Guardian Force) which is a monster that you summon and they use powerful effective spells, depending on how strong they are! By fighting in battles, you see, they gain AP which allows them to gain more strength and experience.
Another new and innovative feature in Final Fantasy 8 is the way you receive money. Remember in the last Final Fantasies you received money by battling? Not in this one! The amount of money you receive depends on your SeeD rank. You receive it OUT of battle and at certain times. It is sort of like a salary or something.
Now moving on to the Graphics. The graphics are simply GOOD. Outstanding. Terrific. You can't get any better than this. And the cinemas, oh my god, the rendered cinemas are simply unreal! You can't get any better than this folks. If you were complaining about the lack of detail the spells have, wait to you see these spells!
However, I must warn you that does get repetitive over time. The magic spells might spellbound you the first 5 times, but after that, it's just boring and takes long. It especially kills you when you are in a timed battle! So, yes, using summons can make battles a lot more lengthy and much more annoying. But, you must remember that the Summon Spells in Final Fantasy 7 took quite a long time, too. However, those Summon spells took up loads of MP and its use was limited. The Guardian Forces, however, could be used until it was killed by an enemy, which I think is better. There is no MP in Final Fantasy 8. Instead, you stock spells from enemies.
Other great things about this game include the music. Oh the music was probably the best I have ever heard in a Final Fantasy game. However, it's no surprise. You can always expect classical pieces from Square Soft.
Anything I missed in this monstrous review? I don't think so. I think I covered every corner of Final Fantasy 8 and the bottom line is: Buy this game. Even though it isn't the greatest, it sure is fun as hell. And with 4 discs, you'll be a while.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 04/07/02
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