Review by IronMan0723

"Underrated? That's for you to decide. Take a look."

I've talked to a lot of people about Final Fantasy VIII, and a lot of the people I have talked to really hated this game. Some of the time It was because it did not live up to expectations that Final Fantasy VII set, but there are other reasons that they like to back up to support their disliking of this title. Personally, I thought this game was wonderful; When I first started playing it I'll admit that I didn't necessarily like it- Everything I had heard about this game was that it was terrible, and I believed I was gonna have to bore myself through it, and look for the fastest way to complete it. I started playing and I guess I didn't like it for those reasons- however once I really got into it, I began to really enjoy the game and I started to wonder what it was that the people really hated about this game. I really started to enjoy myself playing it, and I think maybe its because I had low expectations for it- but either way I really enjoyed it when it was all over. Let me tell you why.

Storyline- 8.5/10

For those of you who don't appreciate your basic love story, you might not enjoy this game as much. I don't want to get into too much detail, but I'll try to explain the story the best I can. The game starts off as you learn about a rivalry between two students at a local military academy- One, being the main Character, Squall, and the other, his hated rival, Seifer. These two have had it out for eachother for a long time, and from time to time engage in competitions to best eachother, and battle it out. In attending a military academy called Balamb Garden, we find out that there is a organization called SeeD, which basically trains students at various “gardens” (ex: Balamb Garden), so the students can learn to be members of SeeD. SeeD basically carries out military operations to better the gardens and the world around them, for better or for worse. Kinda like the military. Anyways, Squall is training to become a SeeD, and so is his rival Seifer. After a few course of events, Squall meets a girl named Rinoa, and at first he does not act warm to her. Squall's personality is that of he does not want to care about anyone, and he only worries about himself, and the good of a mission- or the right thing to do. Without trying to give too much of the story, you find out more of Squall's past, and why he acts the way he does. Squall meets a few other SeeDs in training, and he connects with them in different ways. Through the story Squall begins to dream, and you are able to control 3 different characters, supposedly at another time period. The main character that you control in his dreams are Laguna Loire, and not much is known about this individual at first. The more I talk about him though, the more I give away about the story, so I'll stop right there. I thought that the story was lacking at first, but the more that unfolded, the more I enjoyed. Now don't get me wrong, the story isn't a huge masterpiece that can never be matched, but it is entertaining when playing through the game. There is a plot twist at one point that some consider kinda dumb or stupid, but I thought it was interesting. I don't really want to give too much though, so I'll leave it at that. I give the story 8.5 .

Sound/Music- 9.5/10

The soundtrack to this game, I believe was unbelievable. Once again, Nobuo Uemetsu (spelled right?) masters an excellent score, and the music compliments the game awesomely. I loved the battle music, and the boss battle music- Each theme was a song that did not get old after hearing it so many times, and if I could find the soundtrack to this game, I would definitely buy it. The game also features one of my favorite songs, a song by Faye Wong, titled Eyes On Me. It is an excellent song to an excellent scene (the scene that it appears in), and I listen to it all the time. The game also featured really good sound effects, the events in the game really went well with the sounds and music of the title. I gave this a high rating because I was very very impressed with this.

Characters- 7.5/10

At this point I want to dwell into the characters a little more, so if you don't want to know about them before you play the game, don't read this part of the review. And also, I'm not sure of all of their last names, so I'll list the ones that I remember off the top of my head, but don't expect them all to be right. Anyways, the main character is Squall Leonhart, who is attempting to become a SeeD militant. I gotta say, when playing this game, I absolutely hated Squall with all my heart. The way he acted pissed me off so bad that I hated his guts so bad, but by the end of the game, I didn't hate him as much. If you play through it, you might understand why. Anyways, you meet Squall's military instructor, Quistis Trepe. She is an instructor at Balamb Garden. Other characters that you encounter are Selphie, Zell, Irvine, and of course, Squall's rival Seifer (Almasy?). Squall also meets another girl later on- which is Rinoa Heartilly, and something develops between the two. Earlier I spoke of Squall's dreams, and the character that appears in his dreams, which is Laguna Loire. Laguna has two companions, or partners, which are Kiros and Ward- and you are able to control these three characters in the dream sequences, which actually unlock more of the story and explain in detail about the plot. Another strong character is the opposing Edea, which, I believe if I get too much into her, I'll give away too much of the plot. I thought that the Characters were done well, and each of them had their own personality and actions. Also, Final Fantasy VIII brought some of the former traditions, for example Biggs and Wedge appear in this game as soldiers, and Cid makes his 8th appearance in the game as the Headmaster at Balamb Garden. The Characters were good, so I give this category a 7.5 .

Gameplay- 8/10

This game brought a good amount to the table that hadn't really been done before in a Final Fantasy, and it also ended with this title. It incorporated the Junction system, which is a system of magic that allows you to equip certain magics to stats to increase your abilities. The amount of magic you can junction also depends on what Guardian Force you have equipped, or GF. GF's are basically another name for Summons that you use- and they can learn abilities and allow you to equip more magic and junction stronger to give your character an extra edge In battle. Also, this game did away with the MP system- instead of using MP points for your spells, you actually draw the magic spells from your enemies, and stock them. For example, if you wanted to use the fire spell, you would have to draw atleast one spell from an enemy- the most you can have I believe is 99. This game also brought back a version of the Limit System, from Final Fantasy VII, and to a lesser extent, Final Fantasy VI. Another feature this game gave us, was the feature of upgrading weapons. Instead of equipping weapons and armor, you actually have to find parts to a weapon, and go to special shops to create new weapons. Theres plenty in this game that Square seemed to want to try, and they didn't really continue these new features after this game. Also, instead of earning gil through enemies, you get an annual salary as a SeeD depending on your rank. As I said, sometimes it seems like there is so much that I couldn't include, but I gave this area a well deserved 8.

Graphics- 9.5/10

This game was absolutely a huge improvement from its predecessor- Final Fantasy VII. The graphics are beautiful in this feature, the CG is breathtaking. It looks like Square put a lot of work into the graphics, and it really does show. Even in the gameplay- the graphics are nothing to complain about. The characters are very well proportionate, and the monsters are very detailed. Even the GF graphics look very good, and amusing at times. The colors are good, and the background graphics as well as the map graphics are very good. The battles are colorful and excellent, and in this department I have very few complaints. I was really impressed with this feature, therefore I gave it a 9.5 .

Play/Replayability- 7/10

I gotta say I definitely plan on playing this game again. Though It may not be anytime soon, because I have a few other games on my list; I really think this game would be fun to play again. Plus, this game has many sidequests and things that you may miss the first time you play them- the secrets to this game are vast and manifold. There is a lot to miss in this game. Also, there are a lot of things to the story that may be missed- elements that I won't mention because I don't want to spoil anything. I do plan on playing this game again, just not within the next year.

Overall- 8/10

It was hard to decide the overall score for this game. I like to take a lot of things into factor, and I like to compare them to the other games I have reviewed and how much I liked them compared to this title. I was tempted to give this title a 9, but instead I gave it an 8 . I w gonna give it an 8.5, but gamefaqs won't let me :( . For the record, I really think that in some points, this game is really underrated. A lot of people did not like this game because of the junction system, because they did not like having to continue to draw every few battles just to have enough magic, however I enjoyed it. I thought it was a new twist and I like new additions to the series, so all the games are not the same. I would like to close by saying that while Final Fantasy VIII may sometimes be seen as a bad game, I really enjoyed it- maybe even moreso than Final Fantasy VII. I highly recommend this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/05/04

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