Review by Braben

"One of the best games of all time, like it, or not."

Why is this unbelievably awesome masterpiece so unfairly underrated by almost everyone?, I think it’s because Final Fantasy VII was too good, Final Fantasy VII was, is, and it’s always going to be the greatest game ever, so after that priceless gem people was waiting for something as good, then Final Fantasy VIII came out, and that was the only fatal mistake of the game, the fact that it was released after the best game in existence, so we have to play this game like if the previous one never existed. Then for that reason all the bad things said about this game are WRONG, it is said that it has a bad story, bad gameplay, bad characters… that’s crap, there are very few games out there with a story, gameplay and characters as good as this one.

Story 10/10:
The story RULES, it is GREAT, a TOTAL BAST, how many games are out there with a story as deep, intriguing, and cool as this one?, I can’t think of any without mentioning another Final Fantasy, not even Suikoden II had such a deep interesting, and most of all spectacular story. Like in the previous games, the plot is the core of the game, it is the reason why this series is considered as the best of all time. There are a lot of unforgettable sequences that will last forever in every one who plays as well as in the video game history: the train mission, the ultra cool sequence where a giant mechanical spider chases you (which is unique, one of the most amazing things I ever seen in my life), that battle between the two Gardens, and of course we can’t forget about that part where Rinoa and Squall dance, is it possible not be perplexed after watching that scene?, is it possible?, it IS NOT, that part is anthological, that part has a special place in the video game history. Overall Final Fantasy VII had a better story, but this eight installment has the most spectacular plot ever in a video game.

Something great is that the plot is told in a very special way, it is told by two different perspectives, this can make everything a little bit confusing, but at the same time everything is deeper and more interesting, not to mention innovative and original.

I had to play this game twice, the first time was only to see what was going to happen next, I couldn’t wait, I just skip all the sub-quests, all the Guardian Forces, all the secret items, everything, and all of that just to see what was going to happen next. This is when you know a story is good, when you just can’t keep playing no matter what. The story is much more than amazing, it is full of incredibly spectacular moments, but what I like the most about it is that is very sentimental, that way it is even more involving, “love” is the key word of this game, and Squall and Rinoa’s relationship, unlike Tidus and Yuna’s in Final Fantasy X, is perfectly made, very intense and very beautiful because they are very likable characters, you do really care for what they are doing.

There is only one game in the world with a plot better than this one, and that is Final Fantasy VII.

Graphics 10/10:
The backgrounds have been heavily improved since the last game, this time everything makes sense, because sometimes in Final Fantasy VII the places you had to visit were a complete mess (an outstandingly magnificent mess of course, but a mess anyway). Also, here the characters are no longer SD style, this time they look like real humans all the way. I have always loved SD characters, but they look awesome here as well. The CG scenes are simply a dream come true, they are much better than in Final Fantasy VII, much, MUCH better. Also, something that the following Final Fantasies are going to lack is the visual spectacle that is casting a spell (no matter how simple it is) or summoning a Guardian Force, even basic commands like “Extract” make tons of dazzling visual effects, it is pleasure just to sit there and watch the lights and colored sparks.

Music 10/10:
Final Fantasy VIII was the last Final Fantasy game with awesome music, since this game on Nobuo Uemastu wasn’t able to do something worth mentioning. Yet, it is true that this soundtrack is not near a good as the ones from the previous games, but it still rules and puts to shame almost any other soundtrack. Also, this was the first Final Fantasy to introduce a singed song, a beautiful song called Eyes on Me, too bad we can only listen to it at the end of the game.

Gameplay 10/10:
This is what people hate the most about this game, and that is crap, because while the gameplay here is not the epitome of perfection and entertainment like in Final Fantasy VII, I loved basically all the new features, because they work.

Extracting magic is a very interesting process, of course when compared with the Materia system in Final Fantasy VII this is ridiculous, but it has good points, and it is a great and highly original magic system. We are able to extract magic from almost every enemy, boss or whatever, sometimes we will find extracting point scattered around the world, but most of time the enemies are going to be our primary objective. To extract we a special command during the combats. What is good about it is that we can be constantly using magic whenever we want, because we don’t have a magic bar, if we don’t want to store it (we ca store up to 99 magic units of every spell) we only have to extract it an use it against the enemy in the same turn, and sometimes we will be able to extract new Guardian Forces from the enemies, very cool.

The summonings, aside from their magical powers, have special abilities that our characters are able to acquire, things like more power, more life points, the ability to convert enemies into Cards, or to steal items, etc, there are tons of abilities. Their affinity level is very important, that means the more a character uses a certain Guardian Force the more affinity will both get, and that means you can summon them faster. Something people likes to complaint about is that the summonings last for too long and they end up being a little bit boring, if this were Final Fantasy IX I would understand, because in that ninth installment they are boring and completely unspectacular, but here boring!?, are you mad or something?, like if they last for ten minutes!, they rule so much that every time I summon a Guardian Force I immediately jump from my chair and star acting like a monkey, I just can’t help it.

Those wonderful Limits from the seventh installment have been replaced here with special movements that are only available when you characters are critically damaged, ok, this is not good, because while they still have lots of different movements like the characters from Final Fantasy VII, you will hardly ever use them.

Something that I ADORE is that Squall is able to do more damage if we push the attack button right after hitting an enemy, like in Super Mario RPG, I love that, I wonder why there aren’t more rpgs out there with this system, it rules, wasn’t it one of the most entertaining and interesting features in Super Mario RPG?, people loved that way of fighting. Too bad only Squall is able to do that, why only him?, sight!.

The weapon system is very interesting, but Square messed everything a little bit here, we can’t buy new weapons, instead of that we have like blacksmiths where we can upgrade our weapons with items. What keeps this new system of being a complete disaster is the way we find the items to make our upgrades, we have to steal parts from the enemies which is something great. We can’t buy armors, and that is a fatal mistake, it is the only big flaw the game has, and even with that this weapon system works fine and it is very entertaining.

Characters 10/10:
The only character I disliked was Irvine, he is an idiot, but the rest of them are outstanding, full of charisma and wonderfully designed, something that, excepting for Final Fantasy VII of course, can’t be said about any other Final Fantasy, at least when talking about their external appearance. My only complaint here, aside from Irvine, is that the anime style from the seventh part is no longer here. It is said that Square, unlike Enix, just wants to Americanize their games as much as they can to sell more in the United States because the market is much bigger there, that just can’t be true enough, that is why their games nowadays, while still better than the rest, are getting worst and worst.

Replay Value:
The Card Game is what deserves a special mention here, that is the most addictive, the most entertaining, and one of the most original mini games I have ever seen (if not the most), this Card Game is going to make you play as much time as the Chocobo Breeding in Final Fantasy VII, and it is even more entertaining, and as the Chocobo Breeding was incredibly fun, that means this mini games simply RULES, and man if it rules, you have to try it no matter what. I also heard that in Japan it was possible to buy the game’s cards and even an official board to play, damn, that sure it luck, things like this make me want to be Japanese.

There is another mini game, that one that uses the Visual Memory (only available in Japan) involving a chocobo named Tito (I played the Spanish version, so I don’t know if that was the name it had in other countries, I doubt it, but that is not important), the thing is that I played it with the PC version of the game, and it is nothing out of this world, in fact is pretty boring, no wonder that Visual Memory was such a failure. The big problem here was that in order to obtain all the Guardian Forces we have to use this little “gadget”, the summoning we get is not really useful, but the point is having all of them right?, hmmm, Square did wrong here.

Of course there is are a lot more things to do, there are a lot of little secrets, special items and extra sequences that can only be seen if you do some things right, finding all the Guardian Forces is specially interesting, because a lot of them are hidden and certainly not easy to find.

As a result:
I can’t understand why people is so stupid sometimes, Final Fantasy VIII is not as good as Final Fantasy VII, everybody knows that, but the thing is that there isn’t a game better than Final Fantasy VII, and what is more, there will never EVER be a game as good, so there is not point on comparing. For me Final Fantasy VIII is the second best Final Fantasy game ever, and probably, together with gems like Suikoden II or Dragon Quest, the second best game I have ever player.

”My lack of vocabulary and grammatical errors (if there’s any) are because I’m not from an English speaking country, sorry about that.”

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 02/13/04

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