Final Fantasy VIII - Review

One Step Forward, One Giant Step Backward

By: Jade Falcon

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 4
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 8
   Originality 7
   Plot 6
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 3
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

20-30 hrs. (straight through)
60-80 hrs. (getting everything)


Final Fantasy VIII

   Square, being quite successful with its first PlayStation Final Fantasy game, hyped up FF8 more than even FF7. If you had even heard of the series, then you were most likely anxious for the game like I was. However, after playing through it twice, I feel this is one of the most pitiful efforts from Square. True, the game might still be good, but compared to Square's other games, this one is horrible.

   One major reason why I dislike this game quite a bit is its junction system. Instead of having equipment like every single other FF game, you "junction" magic to different attributes, raising them a certain amount, based on the type of magic junctioned and the amount of the magic that you have. In other words, if you use magic, the amount your stats can go up is lowered, which sucks. On top of that, you "draw" your magic from enemies. So, if you use up all your magic of a certain type, you must find an enemy who has it and draw it from them. Sometimes the draw fails, and from the stronger enemies, it fails more often.

   The game also depends greatly on these beings known as "GF"s. Without them, you might as well not play the game. That is not bad in itself. Summoning them is what bugs me. Each animation lasts for at least thirty seconds, where Eden lasts about two minutes or so, which in that time you could probably boost it to 500 or so. They also take time to summon. After you select the GF to be summoned, another time bar appears over your character's time bar. Once that bar reaches the end, the GF finally comes. However, this is usually quite a long time because you are not very "compatible" with the GF. You can, however, summon it as many times as you like during battle, which is the only upside of the GF story.

FF7 cameo
Cloud's Shop... Hey, I thought this was FF8!  

   As with most other RPGs, the subscreen has lots of menus to navigate through. I mean, just look at the right of the screen! The amount of menus, however is not bad compared to other games. Most submenus don't go past two or three. You can change your controller config (I did), but interestingly enough there is no option for the appearance of text boxes. In almost every other FF game, you can change the appearance of the box, but not here. If you don't like the color gray, too bad. You're stuck with it the entire game. The interface is quite well laid-out.

   Again, the music is quite well-done in FF8. Everybody's favorite song, as with "One Winged Angel" in FF7, is "Eyes On Me". My favorite has to be "Man With the Machine Gun", the Laguna battle music. There are many other good pieces in FF8, and your ears will be pleased. Sound effects are also quite well-done. Swords are swords, whips are whips, and enemies are enemies. Nothing out of the ordinary for FF8.

   The junction battle system is the one original thing I can point out in FF8. Everything else seems to be seen somewhere else in other games. Hey, even the major boss of the game has no reason to destroy the poor old earth! I guess Square just ran out of ideas. *shrug*

   I know many people worship FF8's plot. However, much of it is just not believeable. I mean, what kind of person would *spoiler* take over minds of previous sorceresses to help compress time without any clear reason stated? *end spoiler* How can one single person stay alive for three different battles at the end of each disc? The opening movie also makes no sense whatsoever until you play through the entire game, or at least witness several key scenes near the end. It just doesn't add up for me.

Some of the awesome FMV  

   Though I cannot spot anything obvious that Square missed in their translation, there is one thing I must ask them some day. Why have they adopted the Japanese endings, say Fire, Fira, Firaga, instead of good old Fire 1, 2, and 3? Maybe they sounded good? Nobody will ever know.

   Would I play FF8 again? Let me think for a second... ... ... Maybe. If someone paid me money for it. FF8 has been one of the most repetitive, boring video game experiences for me. There is just too much dialogue and slow gameplay for me to get up enough interest and time to play through it again.

This is the one area of the game I to have to give Square some credit for. The visuals in FF8 are just awesome. The characters look lifelike, stand straight up, and are not blocky a la FF7. The characters look like they belong in the picture for the most part, except for a few exceptions. The FMVs, as usual, are some of the most amazing things I have ever seen anyone do with a computer before. Bravo, Square.

I wonder what's up his mouth...  

The game is not difficult at all. The enemies are as strong as the main character is. However, this can be quite bad since the main character has to be in your party at all times he is present. This means that the main character, Squall, will be some 20+ levels higer than the others, that is if you don't play with Enc-None on as soon as you get it. You could play through the game with Enc-None on, not running into any random encounters, and still whip Ultimecia's butt. Of course, it will be harder since you probably did not take the opportunity to upgrade anything because you didn't fight enemies you needed to get materials for the weapons from.

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the length of the game depends on what time frame you want to complete it in. If you run straight through without random encounters, the game will probably take somewhere near 20-25 hours. If you want to get everything, including level 100 for everyone, you're looking at probably 60 hours or more. I prefer to play it straight through.

FF8 is a good game to some, and to some, like me, it's not very good. If you like sappy love stories and endless dialogue, then this game is for you. If you like action and quicker gameplay, stay away from FF8 like the plague. If I hurt your feelings about what I said here, sorry, please don't send me any hate mail. At least the game is now a Greatest Hit and you don't have to shell out the ridiculous price of $40 for it.

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