Nostalgic Review: Final Fantasy VIII
I'm gonna start out by saying that this is the very first Final Fantasy installment I have played as well as the start of my love for RPGs. I can also give credit to my relatives for introducing me to the series of Final Fantasy in general, but VIII was the first that I got to view. I was only what, 4 or 5 years old at the time, so obviously some of the things I observed on their big screen as they played was a little bit puzzling. Even still, I was still somehow entertained by what I saw, which was primarily the constant GF spamming and magic visuals in every random battle ,and then the dorky but catchy victory song after the battle ended.
And because my relatives were aware of just how entertained I was of watching them play, they brought me even more joy by buying it for me as an early birthday present so that I could delve in the experience myself. It took a bit of learning to get used to at my age, from seeing that you had to start with Disk One and not Disk Three to start a new game to figuring out that GF spamming was not the only powerful solution to fighting monsters. But I was young at the time and I was still enjoying myself, so that was the only thing that mattered. Now today I can play the game all over again and do things much differently, obviously, and I can also give a thorough review on each aspect of it.
The game follows the story of a group of mercenaries, who are part of an organization named "SeeD". Their main goal in the game is to stop a sorceress from the future (named Ultimecia) from compressing time. - Wikipedia (FFVIII)
I didn't really get the whole story as a little girl, and to be a little frank, I think there are a few plot holes that could be addressed. To me, it appeared that the game didn't really have a major plot to follow until towards the end of the first disk - or rather till you go through a quarter of the game. Until then, you go through many scenes and battles of your party usually just being given orders and following them accordingly, fighting against a task force which is only one of the smaller antagonists of the game, and delving through the varying personalities of each protagonist. But then you reach the part where the (presumed) main antagonist of the game shows up and now they suddenly have something much bigger to fight for, and at that point is when the story gets kicked up a notch. I'm only saying that compared to the other installments of Final Fantasy, the plot of this game could take some improvements.
This is where things start to get different, and I'm going to start with what I thought was beneficial for me - as well as others that are very shy of using MP. Well... there is no MP in FFVIII. To use magic, your character uses the ability to 'Draw' magic out from either Draw Points that are found in every setting of the map (some more hidden than others and some are even invisible) or Draw them out from the monsters you battle throughout the game. How many draw points you get with the magic is completely random, and can range low to high.
Bear in mind that you can only get magic from one specific draw point every so often, but you can draw magic from monsters as much as you like. Many players like myself have usually spent many minutes in battle doing nothing but drawing a specific magic from an enemy until the count reaches 100. It may make the battles seem a lot longer, but in the long run can be beneficial to have a good stack of magic prepared for battles ahead.
In terms of exploration, this game is anything but linear. Your ability to freely explore wherever and whenever is almost throughout the entire game save for a few vital plot points (ie: being in space... can't really explore the world while you're in space.), and you'll have plenty of opportunities to travel around via train, chocobo, motor vehicles, and much later in the game, an airship.
As for the battle set up, all characters only have two abilities in their command menu, and that's Attack and Item/Draw. The only way you'll be able to use any magic or gain some special attributes to battle is if the character equips a GF (no, not a girlfriend, but a Guardian Force), which are basically summons/espers/eidolens, but just having them equipped is extremely essential to get most o the benefits in battle. The system uses Junctioning for players to prepare each of their characters tactics and abilities - similar to how FFVII relies on Materia for uses in certain magic and skills in battle, but in VIII, once you junction a GF to a player, you can customize their command menu and their perks however you want.
Now for something else that's pretty different. The leveling system appears the same as the general fight monsters/gain exp and loot system for most of the Final Fantasy installments, but what's different is that no matter where you are, the difficulty of your battles actually depends on your party's average level. So no, there won't be a time where your party is in the level 30 area and you happen to stumble upon a level 70 or level 2 zone poorly or highly prepared. Fun fact, I didn't even realize this was the case until I read about it several months back, and it made me realize that out of all the times I've replayed VIII, I never had an encounter with an overpowered (level wise) monster when I explored around further than I should have, and it all seems to make sense now. Me personally, I think it kind of takes away the fun and mystery of roaming a new continent and seeing what kind of evil massively over-leveled monsters that I shouldn't be fighting until 40 or 50 levels later (I'm sure most RPG players have had this experience).
Now in VIII, it's not just your party members that level up, but your GFs level as well. At the end of each battle, EXP and AP points are gained, and as long as a GF is junctioned, it will strengthen up along with you. AP points are what is used to learn all kinds of abilities that either attain to the GF or the player that it's junctioned to, and are important if you want it to stay in top shape throughout the game - especially for the starter GFs (ie: Quetzalcoatl and Shiva), since you'll be obtaining stronger kinds as you progress through the game, it'd be wise to not leave the others in the dust unless you're absolutely sure you won't be using them ever again.
Out of Curiosity . . .
What is your favorite aspect of FFVIII?See results without voting
Visuals / Art Style
One thing notable about FFVIII is that it's the very first installment in the series where life-like and proportionate characters were developed, showing that at the time of release that Square Enix has become a bit more realistic in their design of characters. Another thing you might notice is that compared to the other installments, the visual appeal of VIII isn't so much fantasy like, but much more modern in appearance, with traces of science fiction used and with an influence of military aspects - similar to how VII was visually designed. Of course that wasn't an issue with me as there are still plenty of areas where fantasy clearly falls into place throughout the game (ie: existence of sorcerers/sorceresses, magic use, variety of interactive races).
Audio / Soundtrack
I have to say, the soundtrack for the game was made pretty impressive. It's not just the music itself, but the fact that each song immerses whatever situation happening in the game perfectly. Nothing sounds too overdramatic or underreactive in or outside of battle. You won't find any voice acting in this game however, so it'll leave character voices up to your imagination.
To add in, there is one part of the game that I feel the need to bring up because I thought it was so much fun. You're eventually going to reach a spot in the plot where the protagonists (for reasons left unspoiled) decide to create a band, and you get to assign most of them to whatever instrument or dance you desire. Each option will affect how the performance sounds and you have the potential to make quite an interesting song out of it. That's one musical part of the game that I'll always remember.
I could guess that FFVIII was around $10 - $14 when I received my first copy as a gift since this was back in 1999/2000. I would say with that itself, the game would be worth the buy. But today online, Amazon for example, you're looking at an average pricing around $50 for a brand new physical Playstation copy, but if you want it used, you can also get it for as low as $9. If you're looking to get a PC or a downloadable copy, your best bet is to purchase it on Steam where it is only $12. I wouldn't know if it's worth the buy on a computer as I've only played the game on Playstation. Another alternative if you have a PSP or a PS3 is buying a copy via Playstation Network where you can have the game sent to your console digitally for you to enjoy (something I had to do after my physical copy became too scratched up.).
Or Buy A Downloadable Copy!
- FINAL FANTASY VIII on Steam
It is a time of war. Galbadia, a Global Superpower, has declared war on Dollet, a country whose training academy is home to two personalities: the hot-headed Seifer and the 'lone wolf', Squall Leonhart. Both are equally at conflict with each other...
Buy A Playstation Copy!
Ratings From The Press!
90 / 100
9 / 10
37 / 40
9 / 10
Computer Gaming World
2 / 5
10 / 10
I will say that this isn't one of my favorite Final Fantasy installments, despite that everything to me besides the story is A-OK. It's primarily because there are other Final Fantasy games that have had a much better job done in all the aspects that I observed in comparison to VIII, and the story - to me - plays a very big part on if the game is good or not - which to me, it is good, but not the greatest Final Fantasy I've played. However, I do give it credit for being the very first Final Fantasy game that I have ever played, thus introducing me to the series as a whole and seeing all the work that Square Enix has put into it, and even if I didn't understand everything I was seeing when I was a child playing it, I still enjoyed the experience of the gameplay.
Overall, I'm going to give Final Fantasy VIII a good 3 out of 5 stars, which may be considered harsh to some people, but to me it's an average rating, so not too bad but not great either. I'm not judging anyone that absolutely hated or absolutely loved the game since to each their own. I am always up to hear what all a person has to say about this game or any in particular if they've played it. If you haven't played it yet, I'd say you should give it a try and see what your experience is like!
Last updated on July 3, 2014
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