|| Final Fantasy VIII - Review
Final Fantasy VIII Review
By: Stewart Bishop
| Battle System
| Replay Value
| Time to Complete
If there is any RPG company that has it hard, it is Squaresoft. While
it's true that they have always been successful in
their creation of RPGs, most of their popularity has been gained through
the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy VI and
Final Fantasy VII being the most influential, of course. While other
companies have a problem keeping up with the mighty
RPG bull, Squaresoft has the most difficult task of all: Topping their
previous games. Is Final Fantasy VIII a worthy
successor to the mighty Final Fantasy VII? In a word, yes.
Square's multi-million dollar masterpiece sports the classic battle
interface that is reminiscent of all previous Final
Fantasies. The new and innovative magic system, Junctioning, is similar
to that of Espers in Final Fantasy VI, only
infinitely more important. Without proper Junctioning, you will never,
ever beat this game. Though complex at first, it
quickly becomes understandable, and with proper junctioning, the game is
a piece of cake. GFs, or Guardian Forces, act as
providers of junctioning capabilities, command abilities, summons and
magic. It works as follows: a GF is 'Junctioned' or
'Set' to a specific character. Depending on the abilities of the GF, the
character can then Junction certain magic to
specific attributes, such as Strength and HP. The strength of the magic
and amount that you currently possess determines the
effectiveness of the Junction. Abilities include Junctioning magic to
statistics, elemental offense/defense as well as status
offense/defense. GFs also allow for a range of Command abilities to be
used in battle, such as Attack, Draw, Magic, GF
(Summon), Item, Revive, etc. It is important to properly equip your
characters for battle every time you change your
junction. It's a true pain to only be left with the 'Attack' command.
Obtaining magic can be a bore or a thrill. If you
enable the Draw command on a character, you can either draw (steal) a
spell from an enemy and immediately use it, or stock
them for later use or junctioning purposes. You can draw from either
enemies or draw points, which are found along your
journey. GFs, when used in battle can grant certain abilities.
Interestingly enough, GFs have their own set of HP, and
whenever they are selected, their HP masks over your characters',
creating a temporary 'shield' for them. The length of time
it takes for a GF to be summoned is dependent on the compatibility that
the character has with the GF, which can be increased
by using it more often or by using certain items.
|Silly Little Comment on Screen
Limit Breaks differ from Final Fantasy VII in that they can usually only
be accessed when a character is at low health. Some
people say that this prevents Limit Breaks from becoming overly
powerful, but I feel bold enough to say that this creates a
huge imbalance. Half of the game I spent with Squall at low HP,
continually using Renzokuken and if he happened to die, a
Phoenix Down or Life magic brought him back, with low health to continue
his pummeling. The catch however, is that you
must actually WORK for your Limit Break to be effective. For example,
Zell requires button combinations to chain attacks,
Irvine requires you press R1 to fire, and for Selphie's, you must select
which spell you want by choosing 'Do Over,' or
'Cast' if you are satisfied with the selection. I find this to be quite
fun, especially when using Fast Ammo with Irvine.
Also, you will notice that there is no equipment, aside from weapons.
The defense and abilities are all in the junctioning
and GFs. Instead of obtaining new weapons, however, you must upgrade
your weapons by collecting certain items and heading
off to a Junk Shop to assemble everything, or Junk Shop from Tonberry's
Interestingly enough, there is only one primary mini-game in Final
Fantasy VIII, which is the card game, Triple Triad. While
I won't go into the rules here, spend enough time with it and you are
sure to become an addict, cursing at the Playstation's
load time after you've resetted your game because you lost a card. I've
done it myself, you needn't laugh. Collecting cards
has its benefits, however. It makes it a lot simpler to gain some rarer
items, though I rarely modded a card myself.
Final Fantasy VIII's plot is epic and dramatic, backed by beautiful CG
sequences. However, I did not find this to be very
appealing; in fact I sort of forgot about the entire story and the
characters in lieu of the sheer funness of the game. The
characters appear very hollow and empty; I never felt for any of these
characters, unlike in Grandia, where I nearly cried
when it was all over. It wasn't bad, but it was hardly close to
Speaking of beautiful CG sequences; they truly are.
Final Fantasy VIII's
visuals are top-notch and truly push the Playstation
to its limits in the terms of polygon use, lighting effects and CG
animation. The rendered backgrounds are incredibly
detailed, as are the characters. Body movement, gestures, blinking eyes,
they're all there. Encore to Square and their
magnificent display of the Playstation's capabilities.
|Cutesy or Realistic Name
The sound effects are the traditional Square beeps and clinks, and the
battle sounds are quite good. The music, however, is a
bit lacking. I've always enjoyed the music to the Final Fantasies, but
none of the songs in this game seemed to stick with
me, not even "Eyes on Me," Square's 'million dollar song.' It's a good
soundtrack, but not exactly Squaresoft's finest.
Unfortunately, these breathtaking effects clutch you in their compelling
hold only once. After its completion, there is no
need to ever touch the game again. The fourth disc leaves you in a
barren wasteland of a world; you can't even enter towns!
Quite saddening, I must say, seeing as Final Fantasy VII's Golden Saucer
kept me entertained for hours after I had completed
the game. Also, keep in mind that it is necessary to draw magics from
enemies to stay alive in the later CDs. Ask anyone who
has played the game and this is probably the single-most annoying
experience of all.
Enjoy wasting many more hours drawing
magic should you decide to play this one again. The only thing I can
think of that could possibly hold you after completing
the game is Triple Triad, but even that doesn't last all too long.
|You know the deal-title it.
Overall, Square has done an excellent job with Final Fantasy VIII.
Though some may argue that this game is inferior to the
other Final Fantasies, it cannot be denied that Final Fantasy VIII is an
incredible RPG experience. For kicks, play this
on a big-screen TV with surround sound speakers, it's a blast. Complete
your collection and purchase Square's latest
installation in the Final Fantasy series.