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Final Fantasy VIII - Retroview

And Now For Something Completely Different

By: Tyrone Swanson


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 7
   Music/Sound 9
   Originality 8
   Plot 7
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 6
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

35-60 hours

 
Overall
9
Criteria

Title

   After the magnificent FF7 fans of the world famous FF series expected quite a bit from the software giant known as Squaresoft. For two long years we would drool over unbelievable CG movies of Squall staring out over the ocean and equally amazing GF animations. The wait was unbearable and the expectation grew. Now whether those expectations were met is a topic that has been discussed in just about every way imaginable and yet I feel the need to write a review. Go figure.

   The love/war epic of FF8 revolves around two extremely well developed characters known only as Squall and Rinoa. While not the most enjoyable people in the FF universe, Squall being a real jerk and Rinoa being somewhat clingy at times, the changes and emotions they go through together made the story that much more engaging for me. The difference I saw between Squall in the 1st disc to Squall in the 4th disc is very evident and emotionally moving for me. If it cannot be said that Squall is the most likeable main character ever he is possibly one of them expertly developed and that certainly count for something. Of course there are other characters in this game but the sad thing is that there just is not much else to say about them. We have Zell a sort of side-kick character, Irvine the cocky womanizer, Quistis the over achieving instructor, and Selphie who simply does not belong in a game like this. While the development and involvement these characters receive worked for the structure of the story I felt that a little more explanation would have made the game considerably more involving and just flat-out more interesting. Which isn't to say FF8 wasn't interesting or engaging. Where FF8 stumbles in overall character development it more than makes up for in memorable and pulse quickening scenes such as the famous garden battle, the amazing sorceress parade, and the many epic confrontations with Edea.


I'll be here.
I'll be here. 

   One of the many reasons these scenes are made so enjoyable can be attributed to the incredibly executed soundtrack. Featuring some of the best action pieces ever composed in a videogame every action packed scene is given an exclamation point. From the awesome "The Landing" to the haunting and beautiful "SUCCESSION OF WITCHES" the music always keeps pace with the on screen excitement. I also must note "Liberi Fatali" which made an already beautiful intro infinitely more amazing. While I must admit that the town themes were severely lacking they were more than made up for with an insurmountable number list of action, emotional, and battle pieces that made this game so enjoyable. Uematsu has made a wise selection in saying that this was his favorite soundtrack yet.

   Of course we all know that music and storyline alone don't make a good RPG (I think...) and with that FF8's gameplay is a love/hate story. The Junction system can be fun to tweak as it is nearly limitless in possibilities and things to mess around with. Such as refining items, teaching abilities, and junctioning abilities and magics. However this also comes with a price as some players who do not have the patience for it may find it tedious and overwhelming and those who do will more than likely find the game to be much too easy when their characters end up with 5000+ HP only a third way through the 2nd disc. I still managed to enjoy it as such battle systems are right up my alley and I more than likely spend around 10 hours of every FF game I play on the menu screen. Aside from the innovative battle system FF8 also adds an incredibly addicting card game known as Triple Triad that can add upwards to 20 hours to any play through. The fact that playing this card game gets you valuable items and abilities makes it that much more enjoyable albeit making the actual game incredibly easy given the right amount of dedication.


Our first glimpse...
Our first glimpse... 

   FF games have always been known for their large amounts of involving side quests and FF8 falls into the mediocre category in this department with some quests being extremely entertaining with great rewards while others are just flat out boring with no real incentive to give them any effort at all. Either way don't expect to spend more than 3-5 hours on side quests on this game not including the Triple Triad card game.

   Although it hardly needs to be said FF8 has or had wonderful graphics. The textures are wonderfully detailed, the pre rendered backgrounds are beautiful although bland at times, and the pre rendered CGs are not only amazing creations but are also very imaginative and exquisitely directed thanks to the work of director Yoshinori Kitase. Flying motorcycles anyone?


Booya?
Booya? 

   In the end FF8 isn't without it's faults. The battle system won't please everyone although it is a admirable attempt to freshen up the series. The story can also be stale at times and take quite an imagination to believe but for every underdeveloped character or slow plot sequence there is an equally brilliant action filled scene or heart warming dialogue. Either way it all balances itself in the end to create a solid and inventive RPG worthy of the Final Fantasy name.





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