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Final Fantasy VIII

video game review video game review video game review video game review Video Game Review: Final Fantasy VIII Publisher: Squaresoft
Category: Role-Playing
Platform: PS1
ESRB Rating: Teen    Release Date: August 1999

Overall Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 4

Review by ChaddD
4 Stars out of 4

First off I have one word to describe Final fantasy VIII, "WOW!". If you liked Final Fantasy VII your gonna love FFVIII.  The game play is GREAT, and the Cimematic scenes are absolutely AMAZING!!!  The charecters are very in-depth and are incorporated into a very intriguing plot. And unlike the unproportional goofy looking characters in FFVII, the charecters in FFVIII are proportional themselves and to their environment.

There is nothing lacking in FFVIII. Everything ties together to make a wonderful video game. Although the card game in the game can be a little confusing, the rest of the game and controls are pretty staright forward. The controls are wonderful and the menus are easy to understand. The battle scenes can be very repetitive, but when it looks this good it doesn't matter. The gameplay and the cinematics are seamless, you never know were the cinematics end and the game begins.  This is one of the best I have seen in a long time! FFVIII is worth the time and money. I definitely think you should check it out. You won't be let down.

Review by Tom Allen
4 Stars out of 4

Once in a while in life, you do something that makes the entire world hate you. Then after a few years the whole world realizes you were right. That happened to us with our highly controversial review of Final Fantasy 7. Now, critics and reviewers all over the country are coming out of the woodwork, admitting that Final Fantasy 7 is not as great as they thought. The mediocre translation, lack of strong character development, childish character models, confusing plot, stupid mini-games, annoying Materia system… The list goes on and on. (Though the death of Aeris is an exceptional moment in all of gaming history.)

Final Fantasy 8 fixes every single problem. Is it perfect? Heck no. In fact, we have many complaints.

Let me start out by taking you through the first bit of the game step by step. You begin with Squall, an anti-social Garden military trainee, who has yet to meet the love of his life.

First off, if this storyline is truly to reach epic levels, then I hope one of the lovers dies. From Shakespeare to The English Patient to Titanic, death has proven to be the most effective instrument of high romantic drama.

As you can see, the full motion video is impressive, but sometimes the characters feel dead inside. They're too mechanical. Rinoa's eyes aren't lively enough, and Squall's face shows no character. He's over-idealized, and the emptiness he feels inside isn't quite captured in his eyes and facial expressions. Perhaps that will change.

If you think Squall looks young, check out Zell, the ultimate geek-a-zoid. Look how he smiles right into the camera! Can you get any cheesier than that?

Oh well. When you're in class, go into the tutorial in the study panel on your desk. Here you can 'download' your first two Guardian Forces, or GF's.

A guardian force is a powerful mythical creature or spirit which casts AND defends against certain types of magic. Shiva's elemental magic is ice, so she's effective against fire enemies.

Once you download the GF's, leave the classroom. When you run into Selphie, tell her you don't have time to give her a tour, then head in the direction from which she came. Notice the guy on the right. He'll give you seven magic cards for later use.

Take the cards and go down the elevator. On the next floor, keep walking out - toward the screen - until you find Quistis, your teacher. Talk to her and then leave the irritating music of Balamb Garden.

Welcome to the overworld, home of dated PlayStation graphics. If you look at the ocean and face left, you'll spot a cave behind a small forest area. Go there to fight Ifrit, the fire boss. If you beat him, you can equip him as a GF.

You will quickly learn that the only way to cast non-GF magic spells is to DRAW the spells from your enemies in battle. Personally, I like this system a lot. It gives weaker characters something productive to do while you wait for the impending doom of the GF. Sometimes only one GF will be effective on a larger enemy.

In Final Fantasy 8, once you draw a magic spell, you can either store it or cast it. Therefore, enemies with Cure spells can actually help you heal yourself!

The Junction system is confusing at first, but you should get the hang of it in about 30 minutes. The menu system could be much more organized, especially the sub-menus which are opened by pressing X while on another screen. If you don't read the mandatory in-game tutorials, you'd never know they exist! For every con there is a pro, however. One con is that the status screen does not show which GF's are equipped. One pro is that item and magic inventory lists are now composed of PAGES. No more endlessly scrolling item lists!

Speaking of GF's, by the time you beat Ifrit, you will already be sick of their animations. After the first few times, they should go by much faster. Better yet, the game should give you an option to turn them off entirely or show a five-second version.

Battles are not as fun as in Final Fantasy 6, and adding to the tediousness is the fact that you have to cycle through battle summary screens even if you ESCAPE from battle! This is absolutely ridiculous, but at least you can avoid battles on the overworld by renting a car. Don't get too excited, though, because you can always run out of gas.

Anyway, once you tame Ifrit, return to your dorm room and change clothes. Next, go to the directory and meet Zell.

From here you will take a car to the city, even though you could easily walk. At Balamb Port, you switch from car to boat as you travel overseas on your first real mission. This portion of the game is what constituted last year's demo, which came packaged with Brave Fencer Musashi.

This area takes you to an abandoned communications tower which no longer broadcasts in the age of cable. Makes you wonder… will the networks ever stop broadcasting? Who doesn't have cable these days?

When you leave the tower, a robot spider will chase after you. The lightning-based GF is the best offensive manuever. This nasty foe will hound you all the way to the beach in a narrow escape scene.

Return to Balamb Garden, where the game began, and when you have control of your character, advance to the screen on the right and chat with Seifer, the guy who slashed your face.

Whenever you talk to someone, be sure to write down any words in blue. You'd be surprised what the human mind can forget.

Soon you will have to change clothes again. Squall is about to meet his match in an absolutely exquisite dancing scene. See how well Squall moves here? His brisk walk shows definite resistance to the idea. Of course, now that you're TOTALLY HOOKED on this potential romance, you have to go run another mission. What a stinker.

Having advanced to the next ranking officer, you get a new dorm room… even though you're hardly ever home. After this event, Cid will brief you on your mission. Talk to him after the briefing to receive the Magic Lamp. Next, leave Balamb, then go right back in. Find Cid on the third floor to receive a Battle Meter. Now you can go to Balamb City. Buy a train ticket for Timber and be on your way.

Now for some true critiquing. The Junction system is a good idea, but it should be balanced with pre-set skills for each character. In battle, no character maintains a consistent identity, because everything is interchangeable. GF's can be switched at a moment's notice, and you're forever having to re-outfit your party as you switch party members.

Our last complaint with respect to battles is left-over from Final Fantasy 7. When you encounter an enemy, there's no need for tacky color effects, followed by a camera swooping over the battle scene, and the fade-in of your characters. This is so excessive and accomplishes absolutely nothing. Little things like this make battles less appealing overall. If you encounter an enemy, the game should CUT instantly to the battle screen with the first character able to attack within a second of the initial encounter. Square needs to get rid of all the clutter or create an entirely new battle format.

Even landscapes are too cluttered, especially in Timber. Because of the camera angles you may have trouble seeing your character and accidentally back into the previous screen. This occurs countless times. Adding to the frustration are the load times between screens.

To be fair, none of this is Square's fault. Frankly, the PlayStation is really SHOWING ITS AGE like never before.

We'll end this review with a few story comments. I know the story is better overall, but there are a few moments where the translation is laughable. In the train sequence, one character chews out another by shouting that kidnapping the president is disrespectful. DISRESPECTFUL!!?? It's more than disrespectful!

Another plot point reveals that, when one Garden facility is closed, you are to report to the nearest (rather than the safest) Garden facility, Galbadia Garden. This convenient "policy" comes off as forced story-telling. Why can't there just be a MISSION to Galbadia? At least that would make sense.

Okay, now that I've totally lost you, let me just say that Final Fantasy 8 is a must-buy. It's not perfect, and as of yet the story is more plot-driven than character-driven, but this game is perhaps the most engaging RPG of all-time.

The easy difficulty level allows you to freely enjoy the momentum of the story and not get bogged down into raising experience points. While some of the traditional elements of RPG's like armor and money are less apparent in this title, it's a nice change of pace without them. That doesn't mean we don't want to see them again.

Look for continued coverage of this game soon. Oh, by the way, if Square doesn't add voice-overs to Final Fantasy 9, I'm committing suicide. I hate text!

Review by BigDaddySmallwood
3 Stars out of 4

Square's newest creation, Final fantasy 8 is an interesting game. In this game you are Squall, a student at a college-like Garden, who dreams of becoming a member of SeeD, the elite task force of Garden. His rival, Seifer(if you played FF7 this will sound familiar) is a key characther in the game, and also an enemy. After attaining you SeeD membership, you go on various missions, and dependeing on what you do, you Seed rank will go up or down. Higher rank, more money(that's right, no more money from monsters anymore). The game boils down to killing a sorceress, and I won't say anymore. Well, as to the review, I have to make a few points. The graphics are awesome, pailing only in comparison to the Resident Evil games. Only problem was the still didn't talk during the FMV's (Full Motion Video's), or any other places in the game. The story line was intruiging, and it made you play to get the whole thing. There were always surprises around the corner, and you couldn't always believe what you thought was going on. The new draw system was crappy, and it made you stay in a certain place for a while if u wanted to get a decent supply of magic. This took the game down. The card game was kool, and it offered a mini game to go to if you were stuck or wanted to chill out. It got addicting after a while, and it was hard to stop playing. I liked the GFs. Some were new and interesting, and some were old favorites like Bahamut and Alexander. The ability's were cool and helped a lot, but the hit points have to go. The new limit system was weird, but cool. I found the Lion Heart limit to be TOO powerful, and just copyed the Omnislash limit of FF7, which was much harder to get. The battle system was basic, and what gave this game a good push was that the battles became very fun. I enjoyed using the Lion Heart limit break on a Bitebug or a Red Bat. In overall challenge, this game was EASY and SHORT. There really wasn't much to do, but what made the game long was the other things, like the card game.

Review by CJ2K
3½ Stars out of 4

All in all I personaly loved the game with the exception for the fact that it was too easy, the card game is innovative and amusing, though it is time consumig, it is fun and you can get good items for some of them. The game is great all around, but the items made it WAY too easy, the holy wars and limits that made you invincible were way too easy too get and use, if you go though without those stuff, then enimies like Omega Wepon and sorts would be HARD and interesting. The draw function was good and bad in its ways, it sucked in the way that you had to waste time drawing it from enemies when they can possibly kill you, it was good in the way you didn't have to go around building up your AP and you could get all the magic you could get in one battle. The limit break system in this game was good because you didn't have to level up to get more. All in all I gave it a 4 because it is fun and interesting but easy!

Review by RB
4 Stars out of 4

First of all I would just like to give my regards to Squaresoft for once again creating a brilliant designed video game BRAVO!! I would like to say that the game surprised me because when I played Final Fantasy Seven I thought that nothing would be able to top the game and when I heard that Square was coming out with FF8 I figured that it would be nothing like FF7 well was I ever wrong. The graphics were great the Gameplay was good and the Cinema was AWESOME!!! I mean the opening to the game was great! The Card games are a great new feature to the game and GF abilities are more advanced how you can teach them to learn new abilities. Another great feature is the Draw feature-- it beats going out and buying magic. A couple problems that I found in the game was that you can't name all of your characters, and that the game characters don't have voices. Oh well, all in all I give the game 5 STARS. I can't get enough of the FF series I hope that Square comes out with an awesome sequel. Now I don't know if its true but I heard that there is going to be a movie.

Review by Elena Turk
3½ Stars out of 4

First of all, the graphics are simply "DaBomb". The CG movies is what interests me most. In the CGs and while playing, the characters don't have puffy arms and huge head slike in FF7. The story line is great, and once you start playing, you can never let go of your controller. Words can't describe this game. You are going to have to see it. The problems. The GFs (( Gaurdian Forces )), are so cheap. They are trying to take away the old usual way of killing an enemy: with fists and weapons. And what's with the gunblade? It's cool, but it looks like they are trying to get rid of the old double edged swords. The world is a little smaller than any other Final Fantasy games. And Squall, I hate him so much. He is just another very quiet and innocent character like Cloud, Cecil, or any other Final Fantasy characters.

Review by Kanga-Fetchd
3 Stars out of 4

I just have one question,Why does everyone like this game so much? I mean,yes I have played it for two days,and I have already beaten the first disc in those TWO DAYS.To get my point across,Squaresoft probably put it on 4 discs to sound big.I bet it's probably just as long as FF7,if not shorter.But let's not dwell on lifespan.Let's turn to storyline,I have one word:lacking.Yes even though this game has better animation in the FMV's and maybe better animation in the game itself,that isn't the reason why people should like a game,especially RPG's.Plot is what RPG's rely on to be great,and the plot in FF8 is NO where as complex as the one in FF7.Now let's take a look at characters,I also have one word for you:boring.Yes boring,it seems to me that the characters are too much like the next one.I mean,Selphie is supposed to be the equivilent to Yuffie right,so why does she act like every other character.Now let's look at the reason why people like this game,graphics.Sure to the un-trained eye the graphics are better,sure people are saying "The people are taller,so it's better", I say "Yeah,that's great,but now the graphics are blurry"!Another reason why people diss FF7 now,the "fusion" thing.People say that your three party members molding into Cloud is a disadvantage,not true, isn't it kind of annoying when you have to turn around and there are two people in your way?But I do like the idea of Guardian forces and the card game is pretty interesting. I don't absolutely hate this game,I just think that it is getting too much of the hype that it doesn't deserve.You know what Squaresoft really needs to do?A prequel,rewrite,and sequel to FF7. Maybe then they could include those 3 alternate endings that they had to cut out and answer a few more of our many questions about the game.Really, Square could be doing so much better than this,all they need is to bring back the plot that blew all of our minds away.

Review by AnimeJo
1½ Stars out of 4

First of all, I would like to say that FF8 was a complete disappointment to me. After playing FF7, I was hoping for more than just graphics from FF8. However, FF8's storyline and characters were very shallow. Those of you who say that those who enjoyed FF7 will love this, that is not entirely true. FF8 had graphics, and little else to attract gamers to it. Personally, I like to stick with MP as opposed to drawing magic from a monster. The way FF8 is set up, it is too easy to beat the game. I had to be on level 88 before I finished 7, but with 8 I was around level 20. With an RPG game, you should expect a storyline, challenging enemies, and above all, characters that actually have character. Squall was like a machine, with no feelings, character, emotion whatsoever. It's fine to have a character like that, as long as you're not forced to BE that character. And with the 4 disk long thing, that was most likely due to the over done graphics, that take up a lot of space on disks. I think the Square became too obsessed with graphics to create a GOOD storyline with meaningful characters and fun gameplay. FF8's battle system was WAY too easy. The only way your enemies would become stronger, was it you yourself became stronger. When you play an RPG, you would expect to have to actually battle, and not just walk around doing nothing. In FF8, you could beat the whole game without doing anything besides boss battles, and even then it was a little too simple. All you need is a good weapon and limit break, and POOF no more enemy. All in all, I would say that FF8 is HUGE disappointment to the FF series. My final statement on this game will be, RPG's are based on STORY and CHARACTERS. NOT GRAPHICS!

Reader Feedback

Final Fantasy 8 is the best role playing game I have ever played. The characters aren't blocky and the movies look so real. Squalls last limit break is so cool! I give it 4 stars out of four.    --Anonymous

This game is the absolute worst Final Fantasy. It is nothing in comparison to FF6 or FF7. The storyline is lame and there aren't half as many towns as FF7 or any of the other ones have. The reviewer was too hung up on graphics, so he didn't notice the fact that there was no special feature that separated itself from the other FF's. FF6 was by far the best one with FF4 and FF7 trailing a close second. I also question whether or not the reviewer beat the game and saw how short the game was. I beat it in 26 hours whereas FF6 took 75 hours and FF7 60 hours. Graphics isn't what makes a good RPG, it's the storyline and the gameplay.    --Setzer

This was a very good game. I like that it isn't too hard and you don't have to do the same stupid fight over and over and over. Every time you play, there is somthing new to discover and there are numerous side quests and hidden things (like islands). I know of people who have played over 100 hours already and still haven't finished it completely. The story was good and always made me want to discover the rest of it. The characters were realistic and well developed.    --Nekbyter

Everything about this game is perfect, except for the fact that it sucks. Seriously, you take all the graphics, all the story, all characters and all the FMV, and you have %25 of FF8. All of these things are executed beatufully. It's too bad that the other %75 of the game is slapped together, completely unstructured, and just mind-numbingly boring. That's right folks, I'm talking about the meat of the game, the essence, the soul of all RPG's; I'm talking about the battle system. To put it quite simply, it does not work... at all. RPG's are based around a series of fast paced strategic decisions. But in FF8, there is no strategy. When you are hurt, you cure. When you are not hurt, you use Guardian Forces (giant spells that are completely unlimited and stupidly powerful and take about 30 seconds each to use) or any other means of attack, it doesn't matter which, just use it. There is no balance in FF8. Take the balance of a racing game for example, the player must find middle ground between 2 contradicting entities; speed and control. Finding balance is the fun part of playing a game, in every (good) game there is a clear balance the player must find between two contradictions to win. But in FF8, there is no contradiction. Usually the contradiction in RPG's is between offense and defense, and finding the balance is what makes RPG's strategic and fun. But there is no reason to find balance when all of your resources are basically unlimited. And, the longer you take to draw spells from enemies (which is the only way you get access to spells), the more powerful you are. Again, there is no balance to be found in drawing spells, you simply do it over and over until your eyes bleed and fingers cramp. As horrible as it sounds, I can attest that it is the truth, ask anyone. There is absolutely no reason to buy this game unless you are so brain washed by binge consumarism and trendy group-think that you base your reputation on owning popular games. Rent before you buy, if only to prove how right I am.    --antibribe

FF8 is one of the best games i have played so far. The fewer the cities the better. Since there is few cities you don't get confused as easily. The graphics on the game are absolutly fantastic! I don't like the hidden draw points on the world map. The tests you can take to raise your SeeD Ranking are tough but if you follow the game they can be easy. I like how you can get drawn by the character attitude (Squalls sorta reminds me of me). In my opinion the only thing that would make this game better is if they would talk during the cinamatics. I think this may be the best game ever and I hope they will make another FF.    --Anonymous

I too was ultimately dissapointed with Final Fantasy 8. Yes, the graphics were leaps and bounds better than any other FF game but that didnt make up for the fact that the story,if there was one at all, was far too contrived (even for RPG's) and the characters were all boring (except maybe for Zell). When I played FF7, I found that after I finished the game I kinda missed the characters...these characters were all completely predictable until about the last 5 minutes of the game, when the thousands of loose ends in the storyline miraculously come together. What connection did Laguna and Squall share? Whos taking control of whose mind now? Are we in the past or future? Am I your son or daughter? Its a case of filling a story with way too much. What ever happened to the war? Where were they fighting and why? There were hardly any cities to speak of. Etc. etc. The battle system was nice and the GF's were really interesting with their specialization ability, but again they turned a good thing bad by making their animations just way to long. I mean Eden goes on forever. The characters have no growth and Squall is just boring, you have no choice but to be a moody loner (boring). Everything happened out of convenience and not due to good/clever writing.

Finally, I have to say that I was very dissapointed that I was not able to name every character in my party...I really liked this ability in FF7 and it made me get into the game so much more. So all in all I will have to say the game was enjoyable but not memorable, and that is sad considering who made the game.    --Mister Big

Final Fantasy VIII is the best game in the whole world. I cannot begin to describe how amazing this game is. If you have played this game and didn't enjoy it you won't be satisfied by any game ever created. I loved this game and it is and always will be a part of my life!    --Zarin

FF8 on PC is a big dissapointment. The characters are not very good looking and I found myself standing around pointlessly quite a bit. The storyline is lame and hard to follow, and the minimum requirements should not be so high, seeing as the graphics kinda suck goat a$$.    --Zack Menk

Final Fantasy 8 Was a very good game other thaen it was too easy and the GF took forever to finish thier move. The storyline was okay but not what I expected, but the CG movies made up for them. The music was amazing and so was the sound. It is a food game for RPG fans but ff7 was better. I only hope that FF9 will be better.    --HoDaddy

First off i dont know what to say, Final Fantasy 8 captured my attention in the opening cinema and from that up until the middle of the game i became bored with the game, I mean the cinema, the fmv and gf sequences are great but the drawint spells part of it, was jut to time consuming. And the enemies are easy. I have read all hints and cheats on how to defeat a boss or gf and they say this long paragraph on how to do it but in reality you just need an ultimate weapon and a limit break and you win. Like that dude said about race car driving or watever, about balance. There is no balance, you fight you win. You get hit, you replenish the lost HP with curaga. Its just to redundunt. But if FF7 could have been done with cinematic stuff they used with FF8 then that would be one hot ticket, man.    --Omar

Alright, I have played both the Playstation, and PC versions of FF8. I find that they are both essentially the same game, but the PC version for some odd reason doesn't sound quite as good unless you have a Sound Blaster Live (which I fully intend on getting), and I can greatly recommend that you do not use anything less than an 8MB graphics card whereas if you use one you'll get choppy graphics like a dirty Nintendo game. Hopefully Squaresoft will figure out a way to revise these problems with a patch.    --Gremio6181

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