Final Fantasy VIII - Demo Impressions
What does Final Fantasy VIII
mean for the future of RPGs?
By Brian Glick, RPGamer Writer
RPGamer takes a look at the FF VIII demo
"The day's almost here," I mused to myself some weeks
back, as the release date of Brave Fencer Musashi neared in Japan. "Only
a week or so until that nice little package arrives on my front
doorstep." And so I waited.
And ... waited.
While others had gleefully received their copy of
Musashi with the accompanying Final Fantasy VIII demo, I was left in the
dark, sit to wait on my front porch before I could share in the fun.
Living in Canada isn't all it's cracked up to be sometimes, you know.
But finally, it came. The truck pulled up in my
driveway, and I hastily scribbled my name down for the package,
ironically marked "Extremely urgent." Dashing like a small child, I
stuck the game into my PlayStation console and powered it up. Nearly an
hour later, I walked away, dumbfounded and in visible awe of the awesome
spectacle that my eyes were just previously affixed to.
Am I overreacting? Has Brian finally lost all sense of
journalistic objectivity? Writing this, almost a week after having first
played the game, I'm just as excited and impressed from the demo as I was
then, if not more so. While the demo itself excites me, it's not simply
that. It's what this game, and the games in the industry after this
promise. With games like Final Fantasy VIII, the progression of the role
playing genre is undergoing a metamorphosis into an area that promises to
appeal to a massive amount of the gaming market -- far more than what we
You see, Final Fantasy VII was a major step up in role
playing. Jumping from the Super Nintendo to the Sony PlayStation, FF VII
was revolutionary; stunning RPG players that were used to games that did
not put a large focus on the visual imagery in a game. Multiple camera
angles, beautifully rendered backdrops, and a stunning lineup of CG
movies brought forth a storytelling environment that many termed as an
CG movies engross the player in the imagery
While Final Fantasy VII was a revolution, Final
Fantasy VIII is an evolution. FF VII felt patched together, uneven, as
if all the pieces of the puzzle didn't fit cleanly together. It was the
first try at such a radical new design in games, and although it sold
remarkably well and introduced many to the genre, most would agree the
game was far from perfect. FF VIII fixes many of these problems.
Characters merge cleanly with the world they inhabit, and the line
between polygonal dialogue scenes and CG-rendered movies is blended even
thinner. Everything feels right, and the pieces of the puzzle
come together to display a much larger picture.
The metamorphosis comes into focus when you look at the
future of the RPG market. Role playing games tell a story that you, the
player, interacts in. In everyday life, the sense you utilize the most
is your sense of sight. With the increasing use of stunning imagery in
RPGs, the games feel closer to life, and by becoming engrossed with a
wonderful combination of game mechanics and gameplay, your sense of
interaction is only heightened by an assortment of fantastic visuals
dancing across your vision and imagination. Essentially, games like
Final Fantasy VII and VIII become an interactive movie that you
participate in, which parallels, yet differs at the same time from a
typical movie where all you do is sit back and let your eyes and
ears be assaulted.
Final Fantasy VII sold extremely well in both Japan and
North America, and from what I've seen of the FF VIII demo so far, it's
going to outsell Final Fantasy VII by far. While Square leads the way
now, other game developers and producers are sure to copy the game
format, and at the same time, advance it. Competition is sure to be
intense, and in the end, the gamers are sure to benefit.
What will it lead to, however? Although it's obviously
difficult to say, it seems as though we're heaving for an eventual
evolution into a game that truly feels like a movie that you
control -- one you interact with so deeply that you lose most sense of
where you are, or even who you are. In many ways, these games
could be similar to a wonderfully-told story in a book, except that you
are in control of the world you imagine yourself inhabiting.
In any case, the world of RPGs seems to be in for a
very interesting time in the years ahead. The classification
"role-playing game" is about to take on an entirely new meaning and
On to Part 2...