Final Fantasy 8 Review

For PlayStation

Rating: Awesome
   Final Fantasy 8 is a deep and challenging game that will delight any fan
of RPGs, but some glaring flaws prevent it from living up to its full 
   Before I say anything else, I must say that FF8's graphics are truly 
remarkable.  The deformed, anime-style look of previous Final Fantasy games 
has been replaced with a much more realistic look in FF8, particularly when 
it comes to the characters.  While the intro doesn't give me goosebumps 
like FF7's intro did, the graphics are a lot more polished than FF7's 
graphics overall.  If the rumors are true that Square is making one more 
Final Fantasy game for the PlayStation, I can't imagine how the in-game and 
CG graphics could get any better than this.  Then again, I didn't think 
that the graphics could get any better than they were in FF7, and Square 
proved me wrong with FF8.
   One of FF8's major flaws is that it doesn't offer enough conversation 
with townspeople when compared to other RPGs like Chrono Trigger or 
especially Lunar.  In addition, after playing Lunar and hearing its 
excellent voice acting, FF8's cut scenes seem kind of weird without any 
voice acting in them.  Still, I would certainly rather have no voice acting 
than the poor voice acting present in all too many video games.  
   Square has stubbornly insisted that you still can't save your game 
anywhere but the overland map and at designated save points.  I know that 
different people have a lot of different opinions on this issue, but 
personally, I would like to be able to save anywhere I darn well please 
rather than just where the designers of the game say I'm allowed to.
   The new system of drawing magic from your enemies and Junctioning it to 
your characters is confusing at first, but some nice in-game tutorials help 
clear things up.  Once you fully understand it, there is a lot to like 
about FF8's magic and battle systems.  First of all, the game lets you be 
as creative as you want with Junctioning, while also offering a convenient 
Auto-Junction option that takes care all of your magic Junctioning for you 
at the press of a button.  Also, a cool action element is added to the 
battles with your ability to press R1 at the right moment and increase the 
damage that Squall's regular attack does (Squall is the game's main
character).  In addition, the music that plays during battles is catchy and 
not the least bit repetitive.  It's also nice that the standard battles are
fairly painless if your party is at a decent level.  The whole battle 
system is very innovative, and it gives you a lot of choices of what you 
could be doing at any given time in a battle.
   As much as there is to like about FF8's battles, there are times when 
the negatives seem to out-weigh the positives.  Being able to Junction 
anything to any character pretty much eliminates any individuality that the 
characters might have in combat.  It's one thing to get attached to a 
particular character in an RPG through the story line sequences, but I 
would care a lot more about each individual character if I were also 
attached to them because of something special they can do in combat.  
Instead, when a character leaves my party in FF8, my battle strategies 
aren't greatly effected because I can just remove all their magic spells 
and Guardian Forces and put them on another character.
   The animations for the numerous attacks in the game are impressive to 
say the least, but most of them take too long, especially the Guardian 
Forces.  I could overlook this if you could press a button and skip to the 
end of any battle animation, but you can't.  I'm sorry, but sitting through 
the same animation sequences over and over again for hours on end is not my 
idea of a good time, no matter how impressive the animations may be.  And 
as unique as it is, drawing dozens or hundreds of magic spells from enemies 
is very repetitive and tedious.  I shouldn't have to spend long periods of 
time doing nothing but drawing magic just so that I have some to use later.  
   It's inevitable that comparisons will be made between Final Fantasy 7 
and Final Fantasy 8.  While both of them are classic RPGs, I must say that 
I believe FF7 is the better game.  FF8's story line can be very hard to get 
into at times due to Squall's bad attitude, loner personality, and just 
plain rude behavior.  Squall's personality makes it especially hard to get 
into the plot when you consider that it's supposed to be a love story.
   This game will have you on the edge of your seat a lot more than most 
RPGs, but I could enjoy it a lot more if Squall weren't such a prick.  As 
it is, Final Fantasy 8 is still a phenomenal RPG, it's just nowhere near as 
revolutionary as Final Fantasy 7 was back in 1997.

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