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Final Fantasy VIII (PlayStation) artwork

Final Fantasy VIII (PlayStation) review

"I was expecting alot from Final Fantasy VIII when I purchased it earlier this year. Sure, FF8 was hated by many, and had recieved it's fair number of subpar reviews, but I had yet to experience a bad Final Fantasy game, and I did not think this would be the exception. As soon as I put in the game, I became very confused. The junction system boggled my mind, but I will get into that later on in the review. Basically, I could see why people disliked the game. It did not have the greatest feel at f..."

I was expecting alot from Final Fantasy VIII when I purchased it earlier this year. Sure, FF8 was hated by many, and had recieved it's fair number of subpar reviews, but I had yet to experience a bad Final Fantasy game, and I did not think this would be the exception. As soon as I put in the game, I became very confused. The junction system boggled my mind, but I will get into that later on in the review. Basically, I could see why people disliked the game. It did not have the greatest feel at first, but then it all started to come together. Final Fantasy VIII is a true Final Fantasy game, that does do it's name proud, even if it is not on the same plateau of it's peer.

STORY (24/25): Final Fantasy VII is a story about a man who is quiet, and never lets his feelings show in public. Squall Leonhart is the type of hero every man can relate too, whether they were him themselves, or they knew someone like him. Throughout the story Squall will inevitably sorround himself with a collection of memorable characters, such as Zell and Rinoa. Some of the characters you would like to see develop more, which is kinda of a weakness to the game. The whole game develops early upon Siefer, Squal, and Rinoa and creates a wonderful love triangle. Soon enough it will break away, but a mature storyline of love and friendship flows through. Besides just the emotional storyline, you have your typical save the world from an evil sorceress. Of course, nothing in Final Fantasy is typical. The sorceress is a soul that possesses bodies of it's own choice, and uses them for her evil doings. I will let the rest of the story figure out amongst you, but it is a very peculiar interesting one.

GRAPHICS (14/15): The Graphics are crisp, and the cutscenes are amazing. Everything seems to flow together, and the three moving characters on the screen while seems strange at first, seems to make things more understandable. The backgrounds are all beautiful. The only weakness is the world map doesn't seem to flow perfectly, but what world map really does. It is close to visually perfect though, as it is very beautiful.

SOUND (7/10): Good music is something every great RPG needs. Music and story go hand in hand, and in Final Fantasy VIII that is no different. The music is fairly good, but not as memorable as the other Final Fantasy games. You'll find yourself humming to the ending tune, or maybe the tune in the space shuttle depending on what you desire to listen to. The music varies from romantic love music, to action packed heart pumping music. The sound effects are varied, and the GF's music does get old fast. But everything about those GF's get old, and I will go into detail about them in the gameplay section.

GAMEPLAY (30/35): Final Fantasy VIII follows up in the footsteps of the rest of the series. You level up crewmembers and travel among a huge world creating the party that you think is ideal for your victory. There is a variety of enemies and bosses, each with their own weaknesses. That is where the similiarities end however, because Final Fantasy VIII is a tottally different game. That whole fantasy aspect is thrown out the window, except for dragons and such like that. To get magic you have to draw it from enemies, and like items once you use a magical spell you have lost it for good, unless you draw some more. That is just part of the junction system, that drives some gamers crazy at first (like me) but in the end gives the game a true feel of it's own.

The Junction system is based on GF's. GF stands for Guardian Forces, which is basically a grand monster you can summon to attack your enemies for you. However combat is not the only advantage and need for the Guardian Forces. By gaining AP points (which are similiar to Experience points)
you can gain various skills such as mug, and you can also gain the ability to junction magic to various status categories, such as strength/HP/
Vitality/Speed and so forth. Later on in the game this is crucial, so you can get your HP up high, and the planning of what magical spell will be most useful wherever you junction it. For an example if you junction a thunder spell to defence, if you are attacked with thunder you will recover some health points. At first this system is annoying because of all planning needed to do, but it gives a strategic and different feel to it.

As I said earlier GF's are not only for junctioning various spells, but they are used for summon attacks. The classics are all here like Cactaur, Ifrit, and Bahamut, and they all do respective attacks of their repertoire. The biggest problems with GF's is the amount of time their attack simulation is. You must watch the same attack sequence cutscene go on nearly a million times throughout the game, which does get repetitive fast.

The other important factor to FF8 gameplay, is the limit breaks. In my mind, they are too powerful and make the game too easy. If you keep your HP low, you are able to let lose a devastating attack which kills nearly any enemy. While against bosses, this is easily the best tactic, it is just a bit too easy, and does not have the same feel as limit breaks from the other Final Fantasy games. However, these are not needed to beat the game really, and you are just as well keeping your HP high and attacking normally.

Despite the problems frequented in various gameplay elements, all in all this is an entertaining experience. The junction system will puzzle you at first, but after awhile you realize what you are doing, and then you will understand how innovative and complex the system is. The GF's are all powerful in their own ways, and the storyline fits the gameplay well.

REPLAYABILITY (8/10): Out of all the Final Fantasy games I have played this is the longest. With 60+ hours of gameplay until you beat it the first time, you can tell this is one memorable mission. Of course, Final Fantasy VIII has other missions like the Proof of Omega to keep you hooked even longer, and the desire to make all your GF's as powerful as ever. The only weakness in the replay department is the one apparent in every RPG, and that is the storyline will repeat itself. Do not let that get you down though, cause the game itself is fun, and a second time through will be needed so you fully understand what you are trying to do.

DIFFICULTY (5/5): Some people have been complaining about the ease of Final Fantasy game. They are made for the casual RPG gamers, and not the masters so I do not understand their complaint. Well, Final Fantasy VIII is the hardest of this series, especially sense the creatures level up as you level up. So if you make yourself as powerful as possible, that will not change a thing for your advantage. You will still be fighting powerful enemies. The puzzles are also tricky at times, but nothing a little thinking will not solve. This game is a bit more difficult then the rest, but it just makes the game mroe fun.

OVERALL (88/100): Final Fantasy VIII is not a flawless game. The music is subpar for the series, and the junction system is very hard to understand at first. However, despite all the minor flaws, Final Fantasy VIII is a great experience. The story and gameplay combine nicely, giving the game a true feel of its own. Final Fantasy 8 deserves the title Final Fantasy in it's name, because it's another classic of a classic series. If you have not already picked up this great title, I would highly reccomend it, caues you do not know what you are missing.

ratking's avatar
Community review by ratking (March 02, 2003)

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