Final Fantasy 8 Review

By: Ace Sky

We all have that one friend who won't shut up about their little, insignificant obsession. Whether it is music, movies, gaming, or the occasional mutated lizard, you still want to reach over, grab their necks, and say, "Get A Life!" This commonly happens to me. "What does any of this have to do with the review?" You must be wondering. As a warning to those who don't like partial or biased reviews, don't read this one. I love Final Fantasy VIII. Don't say I didn't warn you.


Before I get started, let me tell you my story of buying Final Fantasy VIII. I still remember it, a cool, September day. Things were quiet, at least until 10 o'clock. When I went out to the store, it was still morning. I'm not normally up until 10 AM, but this day was different. That day, I rushed into the store and, with a mad fury, demanded a copy of the game. The store clerk only had one copy left, of which I deprived him. Upon leaving the store, I couldn't drive straight. Once home, I ran inside and up to my PSX with a crazed look on my face. As I sat down and slowly unwrapped the packaging of the game, my mouth quivered. Upon opening the case, I took the first disc out. My hands began to tremble and a flood of emotions hit me like a linebacker. I was about to play the game I had been dreaming about for the past year and a half. Finally, I pushed the power button and descended into one of society's most addicting items today, Final Fantasy VIII. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating just a tiny, wienie bit, but I truly love Final Fantasy VIII.

In some way of thinking, there is really no point in me writing this review. You already know what I'm going to say. I'll start out with something simple, the story. The plot revolves around an introverted mercenary named Squall and his mercenary group called the See-D's. Upon graduation, the See-D's get involved in a conflict with the Sorceress Edea. While taking up a job to help defeat one of Edea's puppets, Squall meets the free-spirited Rinoa. Through out the game, Squall and Rinoa dodge each other's feelings until they finally admit to their love. Squall, who never cared much for his past, begins to learn about it through out the conflict with Edea. What's more, Squall and his comrades are having flashbacks about a mysterious man named Laguna. By the end, the party learns that Edea is more than she seems and what holds control over her is the most powerful evil whom can control time. The fantastic ending brings everything to a close in a most dramatic way.

Squall's character, as well as the characters in general, are not a shallow as Final Fantasy VII's. Squall is an introvert and believes that the only way to get by in life is to depend on yourself, due to the fact that he was an orphan. When Rinoa enters his life, things go upside down and inside out. Rinoa is your freedom-loving woman who is very dependent on other people. This interests Squall greatly, for he had never met anyone as fun loving as Rinoa. In the end, the two fall in love. The ending of FF VIII was much more, pardon the pun, final. FF VII's ending seemed too brief and didn't explain what happened to all the characters. FF VIII's ending shows the outcome of the character's work and even covers some of the minor characters. This makes things much more complete.

What would a Final Fantasy be with out the item that has made the Final Fantasy series what it is today; the graphics. No greater graphics have ever graced the Playstation console. I'm not talking about just the cut-scenes. The in-game graphics are stylin'. Many times you can see the expressions on character's faces during the battle scenes, one of the most advanced graphical features on the Playstation yet and maybe ever. The new summon spells reach a new dynamic height in their look. All of the summon spells make you go "Wow!" the first time you see them. The CG cut-scenes break new ground, allowing you to control Squall during a CG sequence, making the flow of the game much more pleasing than that of FF VII.

Nobuo Uematsu has once again out done himself with the music of Final Fantasy VIII. Truly a brilliant composer, the music once again makes the atmosphere whatever it wants to be. From the opening score to the battle rallies to the world themes to the ending score, the music is one of the many compelling reasons to play the game to the end. My personal favorite is the ending battle score, being a dynamic and well-composed song that keeps the final battle's mood high on the adrenaline while being a symphonic beauty of what makes game music. For the music, I can say this: The FF VIII soundtrack is the only gaming soundtrack that I own and I have never regretted it.

The flawless controls make picking up the game and playing a much easier feat than it was in FF VII. In FF VII, controlling your character was a pain, since there was no easy way to maneuver. FF VIII, though, changes all that. With the wonderful invention of the Dual Shock, controlling Squall is easier than most other RPG characters. The pad responds very well and is pressure sensitive to the intensity of how you use the analog sticks. The game also avoids the cardinal sin of crowded menus. The game's interface remains one of the cleanest I've ever seen in a game thus far. On a side note, I love games that turn on the analog controller for me. That is just so cool. FF VIII does this and it is just so neat. I can just turn on the game and go, "Don't have to worry about the troublesome analog button because the game does it for me." It shows that Square is thinking about its gamers. It's just one of those things that I needed to point out.

The Final Fantasy VIII's battle system is light-years ahead of FF VII's. Though some RPG gamers may argue that the system is over easy, I beg to differ. Each character is equipped with a creature called a Guardian Force (GF). They give you the ability to equip the character with four (and only four) battle commands. This makes for more strategic thinking, demanding the player to figure out which GF is compatible with the character. The GF's also assist during battles. Although you can summon them infinite times, they are susceptible to damage during the time that you prepare to call upon them. If a GF's HP is down to zero, then like a normal character, it is unusable until it is revived. Normally, enemies won't immediately lock-on to GF's, but as you progress through the game, they will start to damage your GF's more and more. Though powerful, GF's have to be carefully maintained to keep your characters balanced, thus adding an extra depth to the game.

To wrap up the raving, Final Fantasy VIII is going to be the scale that all RPG's will be graded by, regardless of your opinion. Final Fantasy VIII creates a perfect atmosphere, in which, an excellent story is bred out of. Though much of the Final Fantasy series is dependent on the graphics nowadays, at the core is a deep story. All of the other elements only help to strengthen that fact, helping set the mood and such. You may say whatever you want, but Final Fantasy VIII is the ultimate RPG. Period.






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