Warning: This review is fairly long winded. I can be a little long winded at times, so try not to let it affect your judgement of the review ^^.
With a game bearing so much pressure to outdo its godly predecessor, there was was easily scope for disappointment. Final Fantasy 7 had been the one, the only, the flawless RPG adventure that tapped into the millions of hearts and minds of the world. At least, that is what the internet tells me. Final Fantasy 8 was slated and hissed at, for it did not fulfil the prophecy of the series and led to a faction of haters. The series as a whole became divided as unions of people argued for their favourites; cast games aside and let the views of the majority influence their own. Nostalgia plays a huge part in one's opinion; I know from experience. In 10 years time you may reminisce about PS3 games and think: "Those were the days. Its too bad that games coming out now are nothing in comparison". As a child I was far more open minded, got excited easier and generally had a lot of fun. As we age, so does our critical views and the games we played in the early days become some of the best experiences we have ever endured. I have no doubts that nostalgia has amplified my love for Final Fantasy 8. I'm not putting 2 games against each other in this review, but it is difficult to avoid it. My views on 7 are not the most valid. It ranks more towards my 4th in the series, but the fact that the 'most shocking scene ever' was actually plastered across the internet kind of spoilt the surprise. Not to digress too much, but I've had the thoughts above and below kept in my mind a long time. For clarity, I can admit that Final Fantasy 8 was the most enjoyable game I have experienced to date and it just felt so incredibly magical.
From the outside
Final Fantasy 8 spans across 4 PlayStation 1 discs that are just waiting to be released from their not so durable CD holders. The pegs that hold the CD tend to snap off leaving you with loose CDs which tends towards scratches. The front bears the signature Final Fantasy style; white background, Black text displaying 'Final Fantasy' with some artwork on the front. In this case, the artwork is an orange, yellow and brown coloured image of a long haired female and a furry hooded man exchanging body warmth. The manual has the same artwork and contains some background information of the characters and a much consulted guide to the battle system. The game is quite prone to damage. I actually had to purchase a second game due to the first skipping during the opening sequence. Creating a group of saves at the very beginning of this game is advisable if your game is becoming a little messed up since the opening scene tends to be the one to go.
The opening scene
An opening can really motivate you to play a game. One that does not deliver can slightly dampen your enthusiasm to play. Hitting the new game menu presents you with a calm and desolate beach showing the waves coming in. This was the first time I had ever seen computer aided graphics at such a level of detail. Even though it was pre-rendered, it felt incredibly ahead of its time. Not only are you greeted by an overwhelming display of visuals, but an incredibly eerie piece of music with latin vocals: 'Liberi Fatali' that still gives me the chills. Various sentences and questions appear as the scene rushes across the sea, across a dry plain and towards a beautifully lush green flower field where a long black haired girl in blue is waiting. As a feather drifts off into the sky, the atmosphere suddenly changes into a dark storm with a nice transition as the music begins to pick up tempo. A sword appears to whirl down from where the feather floated off to, crashing into the ground. After regaining his sword, the protagonist proceeds with his intense battle with a similar aged teen. Blood is spilt and the opening is concluded with the protagonist and the girl reaching out for each other. As biased as it sounds, this was definitely my favourite opening sequence of the series. Although Final Fantasy II (Ps1 re-release) comes somewhere close behind (Not including non Ps1 remakes / spin offs). The combination of the music and the visuals is astounding but unfortunate for fans of the previous games which did not have such treatment.
The first hour
After such an intense opening, you are raring to play the game. Unfortunately, you need to jump through a few hoops before that happens. You start in a hospital wing and begin the standard RPG routine, such as telling your name and ploughing through some dialogue for there is no voice acting. It has some nice ways of getting through this necessary stuff, such as you get the option to show around a transfer student at SeeD's Balamb Garden which in turn is technically informing you where everything is. SeeD is like a school of special force training which boasts a variety of skilled students wielding an assortment of weapons. You are requested to take a practical exam shortly after you gain control of your character with the assistance of the protagonist Squall Leonhart's whip wielding instructor: Quistis Trepe. This pits you against a fiery demon with a familiar name of the series. Again, you must go through more information soaking. You are given a lengthy, but informative tutorial of the complex battle system which cannot be skipped. After this, is when you are finally let loose into the overworld. I quite like the conversations between Squall and Quistis since they can have a little bit of humour since she seems to be able to read Squall easily enough to predict what he is about to say.
The overworld is a 3D world which you can travel across to enter villages, cities, dungeons and forests. Travelling on foot will initiate random encounters which you may run from if you feel the need to if battles are not something you want to deal with at the time, then there are plenty of transport methods. Cars can be rented, the trains can be boarded, giant birds known as 'Chocobo' can be tamed and other very awesome methods of transport are revealed later in the game. The world is quite vast and easy to get lost in. Luckily a world map is available in-game to actively monitor your current location. Catching your own Chocobo requires the use of whistles whilst in a Chocobo forest. It can be quite a challenging to get it right, but becomes a little bit of fun. You need to call out the mother Chocobo by successfully gathering up baby Chocobo. Hoping on your new friend lets you travel at high speed across land, until you dismount causing it to run off. Boko is a baby Chocobo that tails behind and I believe if you have a pocket PlayStation you can participate in a kind of raising mini-game.
The world itself is rendered compared to the pre-rendered interiors. There is a lot of places you can visit, such as the Shumi village up in the snowy northern area. An abandoned research lab in the middle of nowhere out at sea and the infamous islands of Heaven and Hell. There is hours and hours of stuff to do and I think my first play through clocked out in about 170 hours, but then I am quite slow and take my time through games. The majority of the planet is rocky terrain especially in the East which does feel a little dull, yet still holds some interesting places to explore.
Just like Final Fantasy 7, 8 is another step up in terms of trying to achieve a better looking fantasy. There is a large increase in polygon count so characters actually seem to resemble the shape of humans as rough looking as they do in and outside of battle. I very much appreciate this since it lets you take the game more seriously which to me is the kind of game it is. I've already mentioned the cutscenes which are fantastic to view. The interior places have a premade image that is used to display the area, much like its predecessor. There is some nice parts during the game where pre-rendered animations and rendered are being used together.
I'm not exactly a musician, but I know when I hear good music. The sounds were nice and crisp with more detail than previous installments of the series. I think it was mostly composed by Nobuo Uematsu and is a collection of motivating, calm, fearful and sorrowful tracks. I really enjoy listening to some pieces and I found it a shame that I only got to listen to a few of my favourites only once. But I guess it only makes them more cherished. Some honourable mentions: 'The Landing', 'The Man with the machine gun', 'Eyes on me', 'Ride on' and 'Liberi Fatali' which I referred to earlier.
A lot of people opposed the idea of moving towards a futuristic metropolis. Personally, I didn't mind. But surely Final Fantasy 8 must have appealed to both sides since it slots in between traditional and futuristic. The style of characters seem to have taken an approach that isn't so much like the typical JRPGs. The females aren't oddly proportioned with large breasts and small skirts and the men don't wield exaggerated weapons. The cast of characters are relatively varied and work well together. Squall Leonhart is the lonely protagonist who believes people should be able to fend for themselves. During the early stages of the game, he can seem insensitive, moody and doesn't want anything to do with anyone. This soon changes as his missions with SeeD put him into encounters with a female he begins to fall for. Squall's character deeply develops as we learn about his past and as he slowly realises that he has feelings for the girl known as Rinoa. The main plot itself is fairly unoriginal. An evil sorceress plans to destroy the world, but the twists involved just makes it happen for me regardless of how confusing it may become. .I'd love to tell you all about the great moments in Final Fantasy 8, but I don't want to be unfair on those who have yet to play. Is it my favourite story in the series? Well, it probably is. But Final Fantasy 10, 6 and the ever expanding 7, do come within such a close range that deciding becomes so difficult. Its safe to say that the general level of story between these 4 titles is fantastic. It really comes down to the rest of the attributes which puts my top 4 into order. Final Fantasy 8 was an emotional one for me and I cannot recommend it enough.
For some, this was the downfall of this iteration. For me, it was a shining example of something a little different. People complained about the complexity of the battle system. I was 8 at the time and coped, so I don't see the problem. There was no MP (Magic Points) which was present in the majority of RPGs. Instead, Final Fantasy 8 used a 'Draw' system. Characters have to draw and store magic from enemies or designated draw points. The amount of each magic the character has decreases with each use of that particular magic and increases upon drawing magic which may be even 10 of that type of magic at a time. I really liked this idea since I did not have to refill mana, but specific magic themselves. There has been many times in such games that I've had to cure myself of a status ailment but I don't have enough MP to cast it. Final Fantasy 8 can give you confidence that you will always be able to use a magic unless you have none of it or happen to be unable due to a status effect. Of course this leads to an obvious way of getting a lot of magic. If you felt the need, you could fight many battles, drawing magic from monsters. I definitely agree that this can be tedious if you are stocking up on something, but the majority of the time it is not even necessary. By refining items you can obtain large amounts of magic at a time.
The next notable difference to traditional RPGs is that the enemy grows stronger as you level up. This meant that anywhere could potentially be dangerous depending on how high a level you have become. Bosses are also affected so it may not always be necessary to spend your next few hours constantly fighting battles to train. In fact, it may make matters worse! It takes more of a strategy to be successful at Final Fantasy 8 else it could prove to become increasingly difficult, especially if you do not utilise the 'Junction System'.
There has been mystical creatures in Final Fantasy since early days and they are probably here to stay. Final Fantasy 8 is no exception to the rule with the involvement of 'GF'. Guardian Forces are equipped to characters and may be called upon during battle. They carry out either a multi target offensive or supportive attack before disappearing. There is no limit to the amount of times they can be called upon, as long as they retain above 0 HP which is useful for fighting hordes of enemies, or keeping a character alive since the GF defends the character during the summon count down. GFs can also learn abilities such as strength increases and new character abilities. The design of the GF is really nice. Common summons such as Ifrit and Odin look better in this iteration I feel. Not to mention Odin may randomly slice all the enemies to death in 1 blow at the start of the battle. There is a downside to the GF however. Each attack animation can take about 20 seconds or more to use. This is because there is a 'boost' ability which you can power up the attack by mashing Square. This would become ridiculously boring if you were to call a GF every single command. But if you happen to be doing this, then you are not properly making use of the junction system which makes the need for actually calling a GF not so important unless for a multi hit attack.
The junction system is what holds everything together. The player can junction GFs to players which may have a direct change on that characters stats. Magic can also be junctionned to specific attributes and even physical attack added ailments. Junctionned magic can still be used, but the more you use of that magic, the smaller the stat increase will become. Junctionned magic must be used efficiently and not wasted. It adds a nice twist to the way you set up your characters. All junction settings along with the character's magic can be very easily transferred between your characters. Not everyone likes to train a second party of characters so this may appeal to them. Since level is not a huge role in the game, the player could junction the secondary party (when they need to use them) with their 3 best character's settings. It adds quite a lot of flexibility to the battle system rather than just levelling a character.
Limit breaks (which are ultimate attacks) can be activated when a character is of low HP. This is both risky and rewarding. Again, there is no limit to the amount of times these can be initiated. This meant that they were always there when you needed them most, not when a bar filled out. The limit breaks themselves are all extremely useful and some require button input from the user.
The battle system follows the ATB system. Characters must wait for a attack bar to fill before making selections on what attack to commence. The enemy does not wait for you to choose your selections so you must act fast. This is what makes boss battles pretty intense since you are really against the clock. You can run from non boss battles providing you hold the button long enough. Sometimes it feels like an eternity until your characters eventually manage to escape. There are a variety of commands open to the user which change depending on which abilities have been junctionned such as GF, magic and draw so you need to decide what each character's role will be before the battle. Squall weilds a gunblade, which is a sword with a revolver on it which made its first appearance in Final Fantasy 8. By pressing R1 at the correct time, regular attacks can have a bit more power to them by pulling the trigger during a slice on an enemy.
Character improvement does not involve purchasing new and higher priced armour and weapons which become stronger the further into the game you get. Instead, there is no armour. Weapons have to be remodelled at junk stores which requires a combination of some items at hand. Although it can seem a bit unfriendly when you have no idea where to find such items, overtime you will begin to know what kind of materials drop from which monsters. It lets you put money out for items making money a little less scarce. It also means that it relieves a pet peeve of some players. How when they equip new armour their character shows the same clothes.
Gathering money itself is a little different too. Monsters don't somehow carry money in their pockets or stomachs. Instead, you are paid periodically depending on your SeeD rank. This can be increased by taking tests which involve having to get 10 questions correct in order to advance to the next rank. It plays out such that the further into the game you are, the more questions you should be able to get correct. Although, veterans of the game could potentially answer them all at the beginning and get the maximum payout. I must admit that the questions can become really quite difficult down the list and frustrating if you don't manage to get the right answers. Your SeeD rank can also decrease by poor performance in battle. Such as over reliance on GF can bring down your rank.
Final Fantasy 8 has a mini-game which was almost as spectacular as the game itself. A card game known as Triple Triad. A 3 x 3 grid is used to place cards on. Each card has an image of a monster, GF or a character and has a number on each side. The concept is quite simple. If a card is placed next to a card with a higher number on a side than the enemy's number then the enemy's card becomes yours. The person with the most owned cards when the board is full wins the game and gets to steal a card. This is the simple version of the game. Depending on the area there are different rules which may be passed around and introduced elsewhere. You can challenge most people for a game of cards. I really do love to play triple triad, I think I spent about 40 hours just playing card games.
Not only is the mini-game great fun, but it is hugely useful to the main game. Everything is integrated. A GF that has a card refining ability can change cards into other kinds of items and magic. Another GF may be able to refine this further into something such as ammo for a character known as Irvine's limit break. It makes everything feel worthwhile and connected. Obtaining the rarest cards can grant you a lot of magic and very useful items such as Mega Phoenix or the invulnerability item: Hero.
Summing it all up
Again I have to mention my nostalgia for this game since it was not only my first Final Fantasy, but it was also my very first RPG so it felt truly magical. Although I must say that I still go back to playing this game when I can. I think it is now available on the PSN store for digital download. The cutscenes are interesting and of high detail. The soundtrack is phenomenal. The story progresses into an exceptional love story. There are hours of stuff to be done with a range of interesting transport. The battle system is great fun and involves a lot of pre-battle preparation to ensure you are not overwhelmed by the enemy. The mini-game is excellently addictive and contributes to the game well. Overall I just felt that this game was absolutely fantastic. Of course it had some negatives, but I've yet to play a game without any. I'd like to have told you all about my favourite parts but I've tried to keep spoilers to a very minimum. Its a shame Final Fantasy 8 did not bode well with a mass amount of people, some saying it is the weakest of the series. But we all have our individual opinions, if we didn't then there would be no room for improvement.
Final Fantasy 8 is often overlooked by the casual gamer in favour of its insanely popular predecessor - Final Fantasy 7. However, in many respects I feel that Final fantasy 8 is the better game.
Graphically Final Fantasy 8 is much much better than 7. Yes, the CGI cutscenes may look a bit dated now, with characters looking a bit rough around the edges, yet at the time these were some of the best visuals ever seen on the Playstation. And unlike Final Fantasy 7, 8's cutscenes often flowed seamlessly into the main game, so much so in fact that during a military incursion to an enemy occupied town, it is difficult to spot just where exactly the CGI ends and the game proper begins.
You take on the role of Squall, a student at a military school known as The Garden. You are a soldier for hire and the first few hours of the game see you take part in various mission across the world. Soon though you learn of an evil sorceress bent on world domination and you and your friends must battle to stop her.
Final Fantasy 8's story is much more of a slow burner than it's predecessor and I think this is what has put some people off the game. The majority of the first disc is basically just introducing all the characters and setting up plot points that will be developed later. But once the story gets going, there is a maturity and intensity there that seems to be lacking in much of Final Fantasy 7. There are some really poignant scenes such as when Squall launches himself into space to rescue his love, Rinoa, who is quickly running out of oxygen.
The battle system is almost identical to Final Fantasy 7 - battles are turn based and you can either attack the enemy directly or summon a powerful monster to attack the enemy for you. However, there is one major difference to 8's battle system. The materia system is gone and in its place is the drawing system. During battle you have the option of selecting the draw command. To acquire new spells, each character must draw (extract) them out of the enemy. This new system allows you to use spells in much the same way as you use items, i.e. you have a limited stock of each spell and once you use a spell your stock is decreased by one. You can also equip a magic spell to a particular attribute to raise that attribute's value. For example, if you equip the cure spell to your strength attribute, your strength will increase. The greater the stock of that spell you have, the more your strength will increase. Conversely if you use that spell in battle, your stock will obviously decrease and so too will your strength attribute. While this system is mostly successful, the major downside to it is that if you come across a monster carrying a spell that you have yet to acquire, you tend to spend turn after turn drawing from the enemy to build up your stock of that spell. This can make some battles very protracted.
Unlike Final Fantasy 7, 8 has no mini games. However, there are a number of hidden summons to get, and an hidden area with some very difficult enemies to fight. Overall, the main game will take roughly 50+ hours to complete, with the side-quests taking an additional 20+ hours. If you like Final Fantasy 7 then you should also like this game as long as you don't mind the initially slow storyline.
I make no secret that Final Fantasy 7 is my favourite game in the series, but second place is a straight tie between 8 and 9, for they are also two of the best games not only of their generation, but EVER. Final Fantasy 8 was released to huge hype and fanfare, boasting an epic story on 4-discs that tells the ascension of Squall Lionheart, an insular loner, to a hero who learns the value of standing up for what's right in the quest to protect the girl of his dreams, Rinoa, from evil imposing forces such as the maniacal Seifer.
The plot is a lot more complex but to summarise it would take a long time, as it spans and transforms so much over the 4 discs. Still, through and through this is a stunningly rendered, beautiful game that was for its time a technical triumph, and the water effects of the FMV cut scenes are still among the best I have ever seen. These cut scenes are excellent, and the one with Rinoa and Squall dancing is particularly memorable and even slightly moving. It still holds up well today as a good-looking title, and features typically exuberant soundtrack work from Uematsu.
There are a few new features that have been a bit divisive, chiefly a Junction system that acts as a way of organising your magical attacks, and also GFs (Guardian Forces), which are mythical creatures such as Ifrit and Shiva which can intercede at desperate moments and help you if you're running out of magic or health. They can also be levelled up themselves which was a great and intuitive addition, although some might argue that this makes the game too easy as they are ridiculously super-charged.
Simply, FF8 delivers everything you could want in an FF game; it is stunning presented, features personable characters and an emotional storyline, and has typically exciting boss fights. One of the best RPGs ever even if not as amazing as FF7.
I do love the Final Fantasy games and the formula for this one worked really well and it is completely different to what has been done before but I'll get to that.
You start the game as Squall who is the typical loner character that has become cliched in all Final Fantasy games since the very first one, Squall is a member of SeeD that is an elite team kind of like a special forces team made up of teenagers that are sent out on special missions.
The game has the typical saving the world sort of storyline that Square Enix is fond of but getting into it is far more confusing then I'm willing to say so I'll get to how it plays.
Final Fantasy VIII uses the typical 3 character party system but the way you use abilities and magic is completely different to what has gone before, you take a Guardian Force which is kind of like a summon and you junction it to a character and then opt to teach that Guardian Force and select a ability within it's status screen, this ability can then be used by the player during fights.
The magic system goes against the grain of the usual MP system which has been used in every RPG since the beginning of time, rather than magic spells using MP you have to draw spells from enemies, draw points or you can even create spells from items when you learn the relevant abilities.
Magic has a far better use within the game when you can junction spells to statistics within the game making for a far more customizable experience, you can have a stupidly high HP from an early point of the game using the right tactics.
The new limit break system is not a favorite of mine, I'll just compare it to the Final Fantasy VII way which is the style I very much prefer. Final Fantasy VII had a limit bar that when it reached max you could use the characters but in Final Fantasy VIII you accessed your characters limit break when you reached critical HP status, I don't like this because it creates a random experience which detracts from the tactics used in the game.
The basic game is a long experience but provided you level up properly it is quite easily beatable. The true challenge of this game is Triple Triad, it is a card game you can play with any person you find within the game world and acquiring all cards will take a lot of work.
This game is certainly worth a look.
Final Fantasy VIII (or 8 for the rest of us!) The sequel that isn't actually a sequel.
I think it's important to note at this stage that although most of the Final Fantasy games are numerically ordered that they don't form direct sequels in the way that you might expect such as the Halo series, instead each games creates it's own story in it's own world.
The characters vary in each iteration of the game with the heroes being reinvented for each telling.
Squall the hero of this particular game (although his name can be changed) is a troubled young man who is a trainee in one of the 'Garden' military academy's where young want to be's train to become SeeD's (what a SeeD is other than an elite mercenary is not actually revealed. He arms himself with a gunblade, a sword based weapon with a revolver style weapon included that if used correctly by it's wielder can simultaneously slice the opponent and shoot them at the same time. Squall can potentially have a number of love interests throughout the game, but ultimately your 'true' love ends up being Rinoa.
Rinoa is somewhat pivotal to the story as a whole so I shan't say too much on her character as it would give a large amount of the plot away but suffice to say that she is very much the heart of the group and is not a part of the Garden and is instead met by the party as the story progresses.
Quintis is an instructor at the academy who somehow also appears to be a potential love interest for our young hero, she takes him out on his first mission to acquire his 'Guardian Force' and eventually ends up joining his merry band as he journey's across the world.
Irvine is the team's sharpshooter, always carrying a rifle on him just in case, he comes from a different Garden to Squall and provides a love interest to Selphie.
Selphie is one of your core group, starting out at Balamb garden along with Squall and Zell, she's a bit of a joker.
Zell is another member of the original trio and is a martial artist by trade and a bit of a hothead at times.
Of course the game has a number of other characters including the villains of the piece which include but are not limited to members of the Garden military forces.
The game makes some stark differences to older Final Fantasy games. The first is visual,and that is so much as to say that the game uses characters of realistic proportions rather than being cartoon/characature shaped people. Whilst this may seem minimal to most it does make the game see, dare I say it, more realistic.
The game also does away with the old 'summons' system from Final Fantasy VII and introduces the Guardian Force system. The Guardian Force system includes many of your old favourite summon characters such as Shiva and Ifrit but instead makes them a fundamental part of your characters make up. These GF's are bonded to your character (although can be switched between characters) and help provide you with your combat abilities, providing a kind of 'second soul' to your heroes. They can still be summoned to attack the enemy if you wish but this works in a slightly different way again, being summoned to attack as characters in place of your party and eventually being able to perform an attack to previous summons when the chance arises.
Magic also turns away from a MP based system and instead moves to a 'Draw' system whereby you can draw from 'draw points' around the planet. For example drawing at a point may give you '5 firaga' which allows you to cast Firaga five times, after which you will have to find more Firaga. This has benefits and disadvantages but it's worth pointing out that it allows you to prepare more for boss battles and saves having to throw MP restoring items over your team every five minutes.
Limit breaks are now based upon your current health level, with you having a chance of being able to execute your Limit Break (a devestating special move) each turn that your health is under 33% as opposed to the amount of damage you've cumulatively taken, this means that theoretically you can keep your health low and use your Limit Break every turn.
There's also a collectible card game called Triple Triad within the game, this can be taken seriously and played as a massive part of the game, allowing you to collect items and weapons that you would otherwise not have access to, or can be simply done if you want to kill time for a few minutes. This game can also be enhanced by using the 'Card' command in battle which strangely allows you to turn your opponents into cards to use in the Triple Triad game....makes sense right?
As stated previously the graphics are more realistic than in previous games due to proportions of characters, but it's also fair to point out that both in battle graphics and FMV videos are incredibly sharp given the game is now ten years old.
The world is also incredibly detailed and possesses some highly detailed scenes and settings and it's easy to see why it came on four CD's, something that in the day was quite extraordinary. The mix of science fiction and fantasy that is somewhat of a Final Fantasy tradition is remarkably well done and you find yourself looking at high tech pieces of equipment that you actually don't notice until they're pointed out at you, taking Squall's Gunblade as a prime but not exclusive example.
As with most Final Fantasy games until recently the game does not feature voices for it's characters, partly I suspect due to the wish to allow you to name your characters, but also quite likely due to a capacity size issue of CD's at the time.
The music scores within the game are however nothing short of superb, although they're very traditionally Final Fantasy including several traditional scores reworked they also include some new pieces such as 'Liberi Fatali' which really help set the scene for the story and still give me great pleasure to listen to even today, they're just that good!
The game eventually went Platinum (as have, I believe all PS1 and PS2 Final Fantasy games...) showing it's international success, and although not generally taken as one of the best Final Fantasy games is personally my favourite of the whole lot, and the one I will be playing for years to come I'm sure. If you're a fan of RPG games then pick it up, or alternatively wait to see if it comes for download on the Playstation 3 at some point as Final Fantasy VII has done recently meaning it can be picked up for £7.99 as a download rather than £50 as an ebay purchase, of course that's not to say such a thing will ever actually happen, so if you want a copy don't worry, it'll be money well spent, and remember, you can go out now and get a subpar RPG for £34.99 new, or spend £50 for a high quality one that will give you hours and hours of enjoyment - and remember, the PS3 can still play PS1 games so any Playstation console will let you enjoy this classic from a decade past.
My opinion of the game
This is my second favourite final fantasy game (first being final fantasy 7, just because I like the structure and characters of the game better). I was a little hesitant to play this game at first as the theme is based around an academy (like going back to school, what a dreadful thought), but actually found the game quite addictive. The main thing I liked about this game is you could store magic by extracting it for ememies (no need to hunting for materia, like in final fantasy 7), but I found that this could take along time to build up enough magic and can be very tediuos battling the same monster for the best spells. The storyline was quite interesting, but the idea of taking tests just to increase my stats put me off (unless you use the internet walkthroughs to cheat that is, as there are a number of nice walkthroughs that will give you the answers. Just wish you could do that in real test!). My favourite character has to be Rinoa Heartilly, she is very strong female who know's her mind. I find her limit break very useful later on in the game, (as long as you give her the most powerful spells to cast and keep her alive that is).
You play the main character Squall Leonhart, who tends to keeps his feelings to himself (that was until Rinoa). He is a member of SeeD, an elite military mercenary. The main mission is to stop the sorceress Ultimecia, a future sorceress, who wants to compress time to a singular point, crushing the world. In order to do this she possess another sorceress Edea, the characters matron at the orphanage, to do her bidding. When Edea is defeated (by you) she passes her powers to Rinoa (great limit for Rinoa now called angel wings) who then (whilst in a coma) free Adel, another sorceress, from here prison in space. This then triggers a reaction that makes all monsters to fall from the moon. Ultimecia succeeds in time compression, so must then travel to her time, the future, to defeat her.
This game skips from past, present to the future. The character Ellone has the power to send a person's consciousness back in time and into the body of another, so they can experience and influence the actions of that person, where we meet (and control) laguana, kiros and ward, characters from the past.
This time you can draw spells and store them for later use from your enemies, but dont forget to draw your GF (guardian force), a protective monster who unleashes powerful attack, (I will come to these later). When you draw spells, the amount you receive will be random and can take some time to acculualate (especially the good ones). You can then swap these spell between ant character you wish (which is good thing if you don't use some of the character alot). Some of the big bosses can take of few attempts to defeat, so don't forget to save your game regually.
GFs are quite important to collect as they can be a powerful allie to you. Each one has a unque quality to offer and you need to decide which to use at the correct time. These can be interchanged between each character and builds a relationship with them. For example the more you you Ifrit (a GF) with squall the better and more powerfule Ifrit will perform.
In order to upgrade your weapons you need to collect the correct parts (either stolen or dropped by enemies) to remodel them. There are magazine issues that you wil find throughout the gamel, telling which parts are require to upgrade each weapon. Another magazine you will collect is linked to Rinoa Limit breat and her pet pooch. Each issue will learn the dog a new trick. When a trick is selected in the menu, as you walk around a gauge will fill up. Once full you will be able to use this in battles.
Most of the characters have grown up together in a small orphange, in which Edea was the Matron. You regually see videos of their past, growing up together. This shows a great bond between each character.
Squall: Main character who keeps his feelings to himself. His weapon is a gunblade, a sword crossed with a revolver. Limit Break is a series of sword strikes called Renzokuken.
Rinoa: Strong, caring and passionate (my favourite). She daughter of General Caraway, a high-ranking officer in the Galbadian army. er weapon is a boomerang and she has 2 limit bream Combine, attacks with her dog and later on Angel wings (my favourite) in which she raises up and repeatedly uses her spells you have collected (only problem is you have no control over her)
Quistis: Squall's instructor. Her weapon is a chain whip and limit break is Blue waves, in which she uses ememies spells she has learned. I don't tend to use her as much.
Selphie is a plucky little character with lots of energy, which can get into trouble. Her weapon of choice is nunchaku. Her Limit Break is Slot, which allows the player to cast a random spell numerous times
Zell, Irvine are other playable character but don't tend to use them, so can tell you much about them.
Laguana, kiros and are all characters from the past, which take on the stats that you're current character has.
Generally the graphic of the battle are quite good, most impressive are your GF's. There are some video footage in certain places within the game, building the cahracters background and the plot of the whole game.
Most final fantasy fans would agree that this is the best of the playstation one games and many would also say that it is the best of any Final Fantasy game. With an exelent storyline and improved graphics in a sense it is a step up from the previous games in the series. Although there are not as many characters as other games in the series each has an amazing backstory which is revealed over the game.
The game is very complicated but this also means that you can play it many different ways in terms of building your characters into powerful fighters. The main idea revolves around GF, titans that you must equip to your characters they allow magic use, an extremely long list of abilities and powers and the ability to boost the characters stats. The lack of characters is greatly comensated for by the number of GF's that can be brought to your side. The magic system is completely new and plays a much bigger part in the way your characters evolve and fight. Magic is treated as almost an item that you can equip, use, and draw from enemies. The tutorials at the begining are very thorogh in explaining the way the game is played take the time to listen to these and use the game help whenever you get stuck. romance, hatered, betrayal, love you will lose yourself.
-summery and recommendations-
The number of choices, GF's, and methods of playing make this a great game. Observe the tutorials, look for the details and always explore the uses of GF's and characters. I would recommend this game to anyone who has a playstation and i assure that anyone who buys and plays this game will not regret it.
In my own view Final Fantasy VIII (8) has quite an American storyline compared to the other Final Fantasy games and I love it. This game is one of my favourites from the series as it contains Rinoa Heartilly, a lively and cheerful romantic. Her limit break (which can be accessed when the characters are in a critical stage) is her dog Angelo, helping her fight or recover from injuries.
Other than Rinoa, Final Fantasy VIII contains a military story line beginning within a SeeD training facility, where most of the characters study. This is how it falls to them to protect the world from an evil Sorceress. The game also includes a unique weapon... the gunblade, which by cool.
The GF (Guardian Force) system is also another great aspect to the game, allowing you to learn from them and become stronger from them. Also this has by far one of the best versions of Shiva. Another great addition to the series.
This was the second Final Fantasy game to be released on the Playstation and most definitely had a task after following Final Fantasy VII. While in some ways it is a little better than it's predecessor, it fails to live up to FFVII's fame.
The story follows Squall Leonhart, mercenary and member of SeeD (a special forces unit based in Garden's across the globe). He is not an instantly likeable character- he is a moody, aloof and withdrawn teenager who we learn has been previously abandoned as a child. However, with the progression of the story there is real character development and we do witness him falling in love for the first time with Rinoa Heartilly, a carefree, compassionate and determined young woman. I must commend Squaresoft on the character development within this game- while at first all the characters seem to be utterly cliche and frankly a little bit ridiculous, they all grow up and develop as the worlds situation changes.
Breaking away from the mold of previous Final Fantasy games, there is a new system to use magic. Instead of it being a given within the world, you now have to Draw magic from the enemy (or from points in the world) to be able to use it. Likewise, Summons are now called Guardian Forces and can be made more powerful in battle by Boosting them. You can also learn new abilities through your GF which can be used during the game. Most GFs are found through optional sidequests so this creates more gaming time.
Also breaking tradition is the levelling up of characters. As your character grows stronger, so do the enemies and so there is now a consistant challenge in the game. Please note that on the Islands of Heaven and Hell, all enemies are Level 99 regardless of your teams level (in case you fancy a challenge!)
I can't write this review without mentioning the music at least once. Possibly the most recognisable piece of Final Fantasy music stems from this game-- Liberi Fatali-- and there are many other exceptional tracks. They really set the mood for many scenes and work well.
However, this is not my favourite Final Fantasy game. The graphics appear a little pre-rendered and blurry (the FMVs are outstanding, however), and sometimes I just cannot sympathise with the characters. There are mini-games but these are few and far between.
I would highly recommend playing this game because, despite its few flaws, the story is strong, the characters are generally likeable and the battling system is fun and unique.
Final Fantasy 8. While being next in the Final Fantasy series from the legendary Final Fantasy 7, you'd think it would be hard to top a story line like Clouds, but Final Fantasy 8 does indeed have a very good go at it and does very well in my opinion.
The story is based around a man called Squall Lionheart, a cold and stoic man who takes on leadership and pushes his homeland out during battles and missions. He teams up with other characters such as Quistis (his teacher), Rinoa (a generals daughter), Zell (another student) and many more.
Each character has their own unique traits and special abilities. For example, Squall is skilled in the use of a special weapon called the Gunblade. A sword fused with a gun to reveal devestating consequenses.
The game follows the normal Final Fantasy turn based system and has a wonderful storyline which can be followed any enjoyed by anyone of any age. Well reccomened to any Final Fantasy fan.
This games follows Squall (or whatever you wish to call him) on his quest to defeat a Sorceress called Edea. He is followed by his team mates - Zell, Selphie, Rinoa, Quistis and Irvine. The storyline is brilliant as it just keeps developing all the time.
The game comes in 4 Disks. Each one continuing the game respectively like 1, 2, 3 and finally 4 as the conclusion to the game.
In the game you start of in the Balamb Garden which will become you eventual base. It is your school and a place where youll find alot of useful information.
In this game you play the new Cards side game. Collect cards, play them against other characters and wins better cards.
There are summons in this game - GFs as theyre called here. You can get them buy "drawing" them or beating them in battle.
The Draw system is a new part of this game which I find quite good compared to any other of the series. This system incorporates the use of magic and GFs. When you fight foe you cam Draw magic from them. If you draw 3 Fires then you can use Fire 3 times. There are a wide range of Magic is this game.
Overal a good game but could use some advancements.
This was the first Final Fantasy game I played, and I really liked it the first time round - it was exciting, moving, and the FMVs were gorgeous.
I recently went back to it after playing most of the rest of the Final Fantasy series and was sorely disappointed. I found the characters rather flat and boring, and Squall's monosyllabic answers and distaste for the entire human race gets unbearable fast - and this, coupled with stereotypical support characters (brash hot-headed guy, cutesy innocent girl, heroine-type girl, lady-charmer cowboy) sometimes makes you want to just throw down your controller and let them get killed in battle.
Now don't get me wrong. Visually, the game is stunning, and spells and summons have really been given a new lease of life in this game. However, the change to realistically rendered characters instead of polygons lets the game down, because landscapes are so huge, you spend lots of unnecessary time just running from one side of the screen to other, and navigating the world map becomes a nightmare.
I couldn't finish my second play-through, and entertained myself with playing Triple Triad every opportunity I got.
In my opinion fanal fantasy 8 is the best final fantasy game there is out right now, and then its number 7. In this FF you are playing the role of squall (the typical main guy, whos miserable and some what 'misterious') who is a member of SeeD who is some what like an army, going over the world with certain missions. you are on a mission the lady rinoa, who, he falls in love with (natually). But enough of the typical story line, time for the fighting! It is turn based. Whilst fighting you have the chance to use certain gf which have different fighting scenes which are great to see, you can only use magic if you draw it from a monster or you can stock to use in later battles or use them to junction yourself to make you stonger with that element. This is a great game and like any other final fantasy game, addictive and hard to get off because you want to know whats happening next.
Looking for something to pass some time? Try Final Fantasy V111. Final Fantasy V111 is by far the best one in the Final Fantasy series. Does exactly what it says on the packet! ''Final Fantasy V111 - the journey of a lifetime'' . The game is made up of fantastic storylines, great gameplay, excellent characters and fantastic CG Cinema footage which is just simply mindblowing. The game takes you through worlds that are simply unimaginable. This game has so many options of gameplay and directions in which the game can go, you will never be bored. Travel as Squal as you visit various areas of this game and meet many exciting characters along your fantastic fantasy journey. Change the names of the main characters to suit your mood, obtain magical spells from your enemies and use them to utilise your own characters. A fantastical storyline of love, hate, myth and magic to have anyone young and old gripped for hours. Warning - it may take hours (literally) to complete, therefore do not start this game if you have to be somewhere! Full marks for a fantastic game!
This review is about the game Final Fantasy 8, as some people say, this is not the best final fantasy, and I agree, this game could have been better if it had a better storyline, I dont know why I think the storyline was not the best, but I know that it could have been better. The game has many characters that you meet along the way on your journey, and many different bosses that you encounter within your journey. The battling is good, as the graphics in the movie scenes, there are many of them in the game, and very entertaining to watch, and also quite sad from some.
There are many different bosses in this game that you have to encounter many witches that want to kill you. You and your allies must defeat them all before they defeat you and the whole world of Final Fantasy, and that would be a shame. You start off on an island, and your school is called Balmb Garden, it is a school that keeps the world in order, like many of Gardens. Squall had to take a field test, which he is taken by Quistis (his teacher) to this fire cave, where the legendary Ifrit is. The fire god, and you have to beat him, and once done, he becomes your GF (GF means Garden Fighter), once summoned he will do a very powerful attack on your enemies.
You meet enemies when you are outside of the Garden, in the grass outside, by running around, a battle will just pop up. It is totally random when they do. You can also find battles in the training room inside of the Garden. There are many different types of monsters, but you dont find them all on the island you start off on. You will be travelling to different areas within the game, which is much better then staying on a small island with 1 Garden and 1 small town.
When you have done the Field Test, then if you passed, as you automatically do, you become a SeeD, which is like you have just become a higher level in the school. You will be going to different areas sorting out crime, and stopping evil around the world by taking boats, or the train. When you get further into the game, you can control you Garden to move, so you can ride it as a boat around the world, and deploy it on any island you wish to, if it is possible to get it there.
Squall has a rival, like all people do, well most people, his rival is someone called Seifer, who is the cool person, who has a scar on his face, and he despises Squall. They have a fight in the opening film, and Seifer defeats Squall. Also Seifer is jealous of Squall, as Squall got to become a SeeD and he didnt. Squalls weapon is called a Gun Blade, which can fire like a gun, and slash like a regular sword, it looks really cool.
When you become a SeeD, you become partners with Selphie and Zell, whom are other people that are students of the Garden. Squall becomes good friends with these. Selphie is a 16 year old girl, who has numb chucks as a weapon, its not bad in battle, and Zell is a man that uses his bare knuckles to take out his enemies. They are a good team, and later in the game, more people join in, like Quistis helps out, and this person called Irvine, who is a Sniper Extraordinaire, and also this girl called Rhinoa, who helps you out, and falls in love with Squall. They are all very good friends, like Quistis, she is a teacher, and Squall is like nearly older then her, she is a very young teacher.
The story of the game is not bad, it has some floors in it, but it is still the goodness of a good final fantasy game, its just not as good as like Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X-2, but it has the enjoy ability, which is good. I have completed this game quite a few times, thats why I know why it is not as good as FFVII.
The games playability is great, you can have fun with playing the mini game with the cards, or go around training yourself by fighting monsters, to become the ultimate warrior, or just get bored of the game, and come back to it later. The game has some good parts in it, like the movie scenes, they are very enjoyable to watch, you can entertain yourself in this very long game, with many battles and bosses to face.
The game is very addictive, I played this game for ages, and still did not complete it, for playing the game for about 5 6 hours a day, I did not get around to completing until like 5 months, then I just wanted to do the game again as it was really fun. So I would say that this game is very addictive, and not sloppy like some games.
The game is not that original as there are loads more games like it, which are the other Final Fantasies. Which is a bit of a bummer, but the more the better, the more entertainment you will have. The graphics are superb, especially in the film scenes, the games graphics is not so good when you are in normal mode, but it is because it is done for the PC.
There are no voices in this game, as it is on the PC, only the new Final Fantasy games have the speaking, in this game you just have it so it is typed to you, and you read what they are saying, and it is different font style when it is them thinking about something. The Soundtrack is great, you can buy it off www.amazon.com for around £5 - £10, or something like that. If not search for free midi and MP3 downloads, and you will have fun with listening to the music again. Also they have made re-mixes which sound really cool, and sometimes even better then the original form, but most of them are not as good, like most re-mixes are.
The game is not that difficult really, its just that there are loads of speaking in this game, and it can take forever sometimes, and then there are battles that are really hard to fight, and also some puzzles you have to solve, which is also really hard to do. So I say that this game is not difficult, but it is not for kids under the age of 11, as the game is rated 11+.
The games value is great, it is worth around £10 - £15 now, and it is good to get, especially if you are a hardcore Final Fantasy gamer. I got this game as fast as I could, and I have loved it ever since. So I recommend you to go out and buy this game if you have not already done so. If you are not a person of patience, then you will hate this game very, very much.
I think this game is a great game to make your mind think, I had fun playing this game for ages, until I completed it, then I left it for a while, but then, I went straight back to it, until I completed it again, then the same thing happens and happens over and over again. I give this game a 4 star, as it is not the best game I have played, but it is certainly one of the best games I have played.