Review by Psyke
"Different enough from the rest of the series to make it stand out"
The latest intallment of the Final Fantasy series left me drooling for a year before the English version finally arrived in Singapore. I consider myself a big Final Fantasy fan, although I've only played FF6 and FF7 before I played FF8. I played FF7 on the Playstation back when it was released ages back, and then played FF6 on an emulator. I played FF5 for a while, but didn't really had the determination to finish it.
On to the review. FF8 is vastly different from FF7, in terms of gameplay, sound, and graphics. Gone are the super deformed characters and this time all of your characters appear on your screen at once. Also gone are treasure boxes, armor, materia, money, and even weapons. New to the series is the Junction abilities and the Guardian Forces, known as G.F. In a way, G.Fs are like individual characters themselves, with their own names, levels, HPs, and abilities.
The graphics are in a way superior to FF7. All the characters are remodeled to contain much more details now, can you can even see the individual fingers on the characters, instead of blocky characters in FF7. All the G.Fs display really awesome sequences when they are summoned, and some of them even lasts more than 2 minutes! As great as the graphics maybe, you'll wish that somehow you can skip these sequences after watching them for the thousandth time. The music, although good, is not as good as FF7 and definitely not better than FF6's or Xenogear's (which IMHO has the best sound track ever). I liked Faye Wong's song "Eyes on me", but it gets sick pretty quicky, especially when it plays almost everytime Squall and Rinoa are together. I don't like the world map theme one bit, and compared to FF7's world map theme this is really poor. And the music which plays in every FF game when you load the game is gone. Well at least the victory fanfare is still inside....
Now, on to the game play. As stated above, materia is gone, along with your magic points (Mp). Instead of learning new spells or equipping materia, you will now have to draw them from your enemies. As the junction system lets you increase your characters' attributes by junctioning or equipping your attributes to your magic spells, you will find yourself trying to draw as many spells as possible throughout the game, especially those powerful spells such as Ultima and Full Life. This makes way for some boring game time with you drawing from the enemy round after round. Quite boring actually, but when you see the results of junctioning you'll find that it's all worthwhile. You can easily max out your abilities by junctioning Ultima or Holy to your stats.
Levels also increases rather easily in the game. You need 1000 exp points to progress to the next level. You do not get exp pts from boss fights, but you will get Ability points which helps your G.Fs learn new abilites, which your character would be able to use later. You also do not gain any money from battles, but instead you get your salary from SeeD by walking around. The amount that you receive would depend on your SeeD level. The highest you can get is A grade, which is above level 30. You will get 30000 gil at level A and 20000 at level 30. You may get demoted if you run away from too many battles.
The enemies will level up with you according to the level of your characters. In addition, better magic spells will be available for drawing once your levels are high. I think this is not a really good idea, cause no matter how hard you train you will still not acquire god-like power as in FF7, where Cloud at level 99 was almost invincible. Well, just a small complaint.
I think the junction system is great, be able to junction your characters differently based on their magic spells rocks, but the drawing of spells is quite boring and tedious. Since you would want your character to be at their strongest at all times you would mostly likely try to draw 100 of the spells during parts of the game when you encounter new spells. Be ready to spend hours drawing the stronger spells..... I don't really like the overall style of the graphics. I prefer FF7's darker theme, as opposed to the bright and colorful world of FF8. But still, the details to the amazing CG movies and graphics are stunning and can be considered a break through using the now old Playstation hardware.
All in all, I loved this game but it's not the best in the series, in both game play and music terms. Nevertheless, it's still a great RPG game and should be experienced......
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/23/99, Updated 11/23/99
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