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Final Fantasy VIII (PlayStation) artwork

Final Fantasy VIII (PlayStation) review

"FFVIII is just all around average. Not Square’s (now Square Enix) best showing."

Final Fantasy VIII is the follow up to one of the best JRPG’s of all time. Unfortunately, it does not come close to it’s predecessors standard of awesome. The magic system is stupid. Characters can either draw magic from enemies, or refine magic from items. Obtaining spells feels like a chore.

In order to do anything but attack your character must equip, or “junction”, a GF. GF’s are god like beings that grant abilities. Some GF’s are given to you, and some you have to find. A few are easy to miss, which is lame. If the player misses a GF, they have to wait until the final dungeon for another chance. By the time I had reached the final dungeon, all of my GF’s were leveled and speced the way I wanted. Obtaining a level 1 GF in the final dungeon feels worthless. There are also GF’s that help randomly in battle, none of which can be controlled.

Once junctioned, the GF lets you equip 3 abilities to each character. You must choose between items, summons, draw, magic, and abilities granted by a GF. The GF’s have some sweet abilities; things like restoring all of a characters HP, or casting haste and berserk on the whole party. Choosing which 3 abilities to use is frustrating, and makes the characters seem restricted and less powerful. I have always had the option to use items by default in RPG‘s. I ended up never using items in FFVIII , because the other abilities were much better. I didn’t miss the items much, but it was weird. The characters can also equip 2 passive abilities(this can be upgraded to 3 abilities). This limited the characters powers again, and many great abilities had to go in order to make way for different, uber abilities. Upgrading an ability is one thing, replacing it is another.

There is no equipment system. Each character has a weapon that can be upgraded using items once the correct “Weapons magazine” is found and read. You actually have to click through to learn how to upgrade weapons, which seems unnecessary. One of the better parts of the Final Fantasy series for me has been the loot hunting. The simplistic idea to weapon upgrades in FFVIII seems out of place with the complicated and annoying GF/Magic system.

There is a card game which is nothing special, and not really worth talking about in detail. In a 3x3 board players place cards, trying to claim the most cards in order to win. Some of the cards can be destroyed in order to gain items that can be used to create spells.

The graphics are trying to do something they cant. Things come off blocky and faded together, forming a blurry background. The CG scenes look great, but there are not very many, and they are no more impressive then the CG scenes in FFVII. The background music is decent, with generic classical music. A lot of the sounds from the Final Fantasy Series are reused, which you will love for the nostalgia factor, or hate for Square’s apparent laziness. Like most of the game, the sound is just average.

The story is decent, though sometimes the translations are a little off. A sorceress is trying to conquer the world and you must stop her, and along the way characters change and fall in love and blah, blah, blah. It’s a cookie cutter story, but it is still a pretty good one. A fatal flaw is that characters start to explain things and then are cut off by others, saying there’s no time to talk about it. Nothing really ever seems to get explained fully.

The story has you switching between different teams quite often, so you must exchange your GF’s and magic to the active team. There is a quick auto exchange, but I still felt like I was spending more time in the menus then in combat.

The final dungeon is more annoying then fun. You lose all you abilities, like attack, magic, etc, and you have to defeat bosses to unlock them again. With the ability that makes for no random encounters, it just feels like a time waster rather then a final dungeon.

FFVIII is just all around average. Not Square’s (now Square Enix) best showing.


Chris_Strott's avatar
Community review by Chris_Strott (May 28, 2012)

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JujuZombie posted May 29, 2012:

I loved FFVIII, and I thought the junction system was great, if you take time to mess with it. Too bad that you can only really do anything cool with it in the end of the game, when by then just casting Meltdown saves so much time and effort...good review though, and yeah, weapon magazines sucked. As an FF fan, I do indeed, love collecting weapons and armor and crap.
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zippdementia posted May 29, 2012:

I hated FFVIII for years until... well, three weeks ago. On this playthrough I just "got it" for once and started loving it. I do think the draw system is very weak and the worst system in any FF game, while at the same time I do enjoy the junction system. It's just that drawing means you have to spend hours of battles just hitting the same draw command over and over. If it had been a strategical thing, such as defeating enemies in certain ways to recieve magic at the end of battle, now THAT would have been awesome and very engaging. As is, it feels like a really slapped-on idea that wasn't thought through fully.

Probably the most realistic characters in any FF game ever, though. They actually have mundane concerns and aren't that interested in saving the world. It's refreshing.
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Roto13 posted May 30, 2012:

Final Fantasy VIII is a game that puts a lot of people off by being so different, but once it finally clicks and you finally understand the Junctioning and GF systems, it's really pretty great.

I only really draw magic from draw points or from random encounters right at the start of the game before I fight Ifrit. It's better to use GF abilities to refine items into spells (and them refine spells into other spells).
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bbbmoney posted May 30, 2012:

Tried this game multiple times when I was younger, I honestly think I just wasn't intelligent enough to play it properly. GFs were powerful so I would use those, but their animations were soooooo long. I always got super bored with the game, and dropped it 2-3 times when the story went off the deep end around the 3rd disc.

I will give it another shot someday. Squall was a fantastic character.
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Sise-Neg posted May 30, 2012:

I honestly consider FFVIII to be one of the most godawful JRPGs of all time. Hated the bland cast of unlikable characters with no redeeming qualities, hated the half-assed love story and the most ridiculous plot twist in the FF series, hated the boring battle system (who can have any fun drawing magic for hours?), etc.

Definitely Squaresoft's black sheep.
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Suskie posted May 30, 2012:

I was about to break this thread's positivity in half, and then Sise-Neg did the job for me. Though I want to add that you could win any battle (except one) by just spamming summons, since there was no cost for using them. So the game was broken and piss easy on top of being just generally bad.

And for the record, Vagrant Story was my favorite Square RPG of that era, so a game being different certainly isn't a problem for me.
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zippdementia posted May 30, 2012:

I never use summons. The animations are so fucking boring.
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bbbmoney posted May 30, 2012:

The summons were awful to use but they were so effective. You had to think of different ways to make the battles enjoyable, lol. I don't think that part of the game can be excused.

Vagrant Story was probably the best Square game on PS1, I'd agree there.
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zippdementia posted May 30, 2012:

I've heard Vagrant Story was excellent, but have yet to try it out. I'm working my way through the old hitman titles right now.
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darketernal posted May 30, 2012:

For me, the worst Final Fantasy. Summons were tediously long to summon, the draw system is something that I couldn't see concocted again by the most depraved of mind's and the characters for the most part are very forgettable. Spoony's "let's play" was pretty spot on for it.

Then again I never liked Vagrant Story either, and don't understand the fascination. I played it through some odd seven or eight years ago, if not more to see what's the deal, and it was just a dull dungeon crawler with characters that I want to punch in the face for being so !@#$! shallow. The main villain was pretty cool, I guess(and no, I don't mean the douche with metallic hands).
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EmP posted May 31, 2012:

I thought FFVIII was okay. The cast were okay, the system was okay. It just kinda... exists. Liked Seifer as a typical "fate made me this way" Square villian, and I love poking fun at the whole orphanage twist.

Hated Vagrant Story. It would be my least favourite Square game out there if not for awful, awful Chrono Cross.
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overdrive posted May 31, 2012:

As for games mentioned prominently here:

1. FF VIII: Didn't like it. There's a part of me that wants to play it and IX again at some time, though, just to see if the way the series went with XIII makes me a bit more forgiving towards it. Like how I originally thought X was overrated initially, but when I played through it a couple months ago, I liked it a lot. I think I'd pick IX to play before VIII, though. More positives there, in my opinion.

2. Vagrant Story: I really liked it the first time I played it. Got burnt out/bored with it while doing the postgame Rood Inverse parts of dungeons, so I never went through the whole thing, but I enjoyed it. Later, I started to play it again and just couldn't get into it. A lot of things seemed overly complicated with the battle system, too many box-pushing puzzles (which also is slowing me from doing a potential Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver replay) and, this might just be me, but the hardest games for me to play nowadays are those more ambitious PlayStation titles. Where they're trying all these neat graphical things with a 3-D engine, but the system just didn't have the power that the PS2 and current-gen systems do, so things just look weird and jaggy all the time. I remember back when I reviewed Xenogears, I hadn't played it in some time, so I popped it in to reacquaint myself with the battle system and within a half hour was in some weird "GAH...MY EYES!!!!!" mode with the way the graphics are portrayed. It's just that specific time in games. Later on, the look was refined; earlier, things were simple, 2-D stuff.
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bbbmoney posted May 31, 2012:

I think every PSX FF game suffered heavily from not understanding how to pace the traditional system in a 3d environment. Many parts of those games are hugely archaic for no good reason, it wasn't until FFX that the formula finally made sense again, to me anyways.

What a challenge the FFVII-IX projects must have been for that platform, I can't imagine. It's a miracle they were able to create so many great moments with them, but I'm personally more pleased by the designs of XII and XIII than I am of anything that appeared on PSX.

I love how these reviews just spark random discussion and nothing about the article =p
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zippdementia posted May 31, 2012:

Holdthephone: It's nice to take a break from reading and responding to a review like an editor and reading and responding to it like a normal person.
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bbbmoney posted May 31, 2012:

Haha I know, was just chuckling to myself.
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threetimes posted June 01, 2012:

I had a hate/love relationship with FF8. Hated it at first, and sold it on, and then decided to try it again and I loved it. I "got" the junctioning, dedicated myself to drawing endless magic so I could beef up the party and spent ages fiddling around with it all. And not to mention the AWESOME triple triad which is the best mini-game ever made, and the music, the characters, the wonderful world map, chasing down all the summons. It's a fantastic game. Recently watched a let's play of the whole thing which rekindled the love.
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jerec posted June 01, 2012:

I hated it at first, playing it right after finishing FF7. Some way in I just skipped to FF9. I tried again a couple of times, but then I played the game without ever summoning anything. Suddenly the game seemed a lot better - and it seems your SeeD level goes up a lot faster if you don't summon, so you get more gil. I had a kick ass party that was junctioned perfectly by the end of the game and I managed to complete all the extra bosses and stuff.
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Genj posted June 02, 2012:

A lot of people it seems tend to ignore random encounters due to FF8's scaled enemies & bosses and spam GFs ad naseum. If you play FF8 this way, it's a long, tedious boring piece of shit. Using the Junction system to your advantage is way better. You want to fight random encounters to earn AP and learn skills from your GFs. You also want to junction your magic to things like physical attacks and magic to quickly beat down enemies rather than let them kick the shit out of you while to sit there waiting for a summon.

I like the Junction system, but it's frankly a lot like the Materia system only poorly executed. At the beginning of the game, you'll waste too much time drawing spells to improve your stats. Fortunately you do earn skills to refine loot into spells later. Additionally, the Junction system in a way penalizes spell casting by making your stats go down with each cast. The game would have played better if you simply had to draw spells once to learn them and went the MP route and limited summons to a finite amount per battle. My play style ended up being only 1 person summoning at a time, lots of physical attacks or limit breaks during random encounters, and limiting spells for bosses mostly.

I still have a lot of nostalgia for the game though mainly because I loved the art direction and soundtrack. The story was interesting for awhile until you hit the part where the whole party used to live at the same orphanage. Then it got real bad fast.

I kinda feel like replaying it now. There are some pretty good cheats that improve the game if you emulate it. I recall using one that let you stock 100 spells with one draw.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted June 02, 2012:

I liked FFVIII a lot when I first played, but will probably not like it as much when I go back to replay it. That also happened to me with FFVII. I didn't enjoy it as much on my last playthrough as I did in 1997 when I first played the game.

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