Final Fantasy VIII (PSX) by James Puckett
Overrall Score - 9
can sum this game review up in one sentence for those of you who like it quick.
Final Fantasy VIII is a great game, but it sure is not as good as should have
is a far depature from FFVII, aside from the "we need to save the world but
we better all get to level 99 first" formula. Not that this is surprising,
as each game in the series has added something new and better to the legacy. In
FFVIII the characters become realistically drawn, proportioned, and animated.
Background characters move around, gesture to each other, talk to each other,
and generally often seem to have better things to do than just wait for you to
bug them, adding a whole new level of realism and immersion to RPG's.
FFVIII also adds the Junction/Guardian Force system, which allows characters
to junction a Guardian Force, referred to from here on, and in game, as GF's.
Junctioning is essentially assigning a GF to a character and that character only,
or junctioning magic to a statistic. A GF comes with some abilities, and learns
others, that allow a character to alter his stats by junctioning magic to the
characters statistics., attack, cast spells, use special attacks (such as turning
a monster into a card, or killing a monster outright), or summon the GF to take
combat damage for the character for a time, and then unleash a powerful attack
on an enemy after a time runs down. The GF's start out with a few skills, and
others are learned by gaining AP in combat, which allows hard core players to
blow eight hours now and then teaching his GF's all the skills they can have at
their current level.
Combat in FFVIII hasn't changed much from FFVII, with the exception of
magic. Magic is no longer bought, sold, and does not use mana. Instead you draw
magic from monsters in combat or from special draw spots. Not very realistic,
but insteresting. Having to draw magic in combat will send you into combat more
often, but that's fine, as combat seems to boost your SEED ranking.
And just what is a SEED ranking? SEED is the mercenary group that the main
character Squall, works for. You have a ranking, based on your performance in
the field, which determines how much you get paid, among other things. The problem
is that the game manual and in game tutorial never really tell you much about
what affects your SEED ranking, leaving it to the player to figure it out. It
seems that lots of combat is good for your ranking, and using GF's too often is
bad for your ranking. SEED rankings can also be improved by taking simple tests
relating to the game and how you play it, which will allow most players to max
out Squall's SEED ranking to whatever his current SEED ranking can be maxed out
to in relation to his level. Overall the ranking system just got plain annoying,
sort of like Squall.
Oh yeah. Squall. I just have to talk about Squall. I HATE Squall. For much
of the game Squall acts like an antisocial teenage guy, which he is, but it gets
on your nerves fast. I found myself sick of Squall early on, to the degree that
it actually kept me from wanting to play the game. Unlike the likeable Cloud and
friends, Squall and his compatriots are, for the most part, annoying teenagers,
are just as interesting as annoying teenagers,
and they act like annoying teenagers. If I wanted to watch teenagers act
stupid I would watch "Saved by the Bell" reruns on cable, not pay $50
to play a game chock full of them. Fortunately they get better as the game goes
on (or maybe I just got used to them) and the game gets better around disc 3,
for those of you willing to hang in through the first 20+ hours of being annoyed
by almost anything Squall does.
Plotwise, FFVIII is incredible. You get another long, deep story of a world
nearing destruction. Love, death, plot twists and intrigue are all present in
FFVIII, so you never stop paying attention once the game gets going.
Add in that Squall has a dream world alter ego you get to play as, whose
own story intertwines with Squall's, and the story will really draw you in once
you get past the early character flaws.
The sound in FFVIII is good overall, and reall shines at times, especially
during the GF animations. The game features Dolby Digital Stereo, so it really
kicks ass on a nice stereo system or good headphones. Musically, FFVIII is decent.
Much is the music was is in the same style as the music of FF7, and the game retains
the familiar victory song from the series. FFVIII does have better music than
most RPG's, but it still gets old. Being able to just turn it off would be great,
but as in most RPG's, that isn't an option.
All in all you just can't go wrong with FFVIII. It has a few flaws, but
once you accept them you can't help but enjoy the game. So go for it.
Copyright stuff: The phrase "World Gamer's Front" as well as this site and all of the content contained within is copyright 1999 James Puckett, unless it is a copyright already held by someone else. Authors other than James Puckett retain the copyright to their work.