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Final Fantasy 8 (PC)

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      10.02.2012 16:16
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      A superb game.

      Thinking all the time, never saying a word. Looking miserable, wearing awful black clothes. Being rude to people, mood swings. Remember when you where a teenager? Perhaps you are one, and that is why Final Fantasy VIII is a hidden gem, concealed by the fact, hype and fans of 7 & 9. Final Fantasy VIII is in many ways like other FF's, its set in a huge explorable world upon which, a situation arises, threatening its existence, companions are gathered along the journey to prevent it. But what 8 has done is extraordinary although it has to be said, unappreciated. This fantasy is through the eyes of a teenager, Squall, dubbed a Leonardo Dicaprio look-alike misery guts. Which is without doubt true, and possibly a strong reason why so many detest this game, living-reliving the life of a teenager in a world that is the closest to this one than any other FF game beyond 7. Effectively taken place in a Garden (school/college) where the students are trained to be become functioning members of an elite group of soldiers known as SEED. Ok not exactly a clever or exciting plot at first glance but this is only the beginning of something overlooked. Everything about it has that youthful learning element to it, such as the SEED tests as a means of gaining regular income, testing your knowledge of enemies, magic and general surroundings, you participate in field exams where you are graded accordingly on time, battles, attitude, spirit etc. oh and you're not aloud to buy a porn mag because you're to young. Like all successful square games, it begins slow but picks up the pace by new events, addictive mini games and tugs on your heart strings with a puppy love storyline. Clearly, gamers have taken one look at the indifferent main character they must control and shake their fist in disgust that they aren't a mysterious mercenary, fun loving optimist athlete or a womanizing thief with a tail. I'll admit there are moments in the dialogue where you get annoyed at the ignorance of said character, such phrases like "go talk to a wall" are aimed at someone spilling their emotional guts and "whatever" occurs repeatedly followed by "....." making Squall an essentially unresponsive cold jerk.. what he wants you to think.. however the time I played this, I was of a similar age, disposition and could defend 'some' of his actions. As time wears on though, more light is shed as to why your guy seems so hormone ridden, a past frequently visited in game that should be cherished to understand. Ahh but Square likes messing with you and cant resist a sub-plot, cue Laguna (main), Kiros & Ward, three laughable soldiers in the Galbadien Army (who later become a threat to SEED) running around like headless chickens on a journey of old, with Laguna the exact opposite of Squall - a moronic happy-go-lucky journalist. This change of setting and character can be greeted with relief or reluctance as it occurs when things are about to get interesting. Battles are both improved and altered with the addition of a new "Draw" system, abstracting magic from creatures and specific points in the world, and simpler nice touches like summoning times with button bashing and chance (due to low health) involved with limit breaks. GF's or Guardian Forces (that's summons, eidolons, aons to you an me) are introduced in a brilliant new way, instead of merely stumbling across them all the time, you must battle them or draw them from powerful boss's. All of which is overawed by this games surroundings. When a place has a name like Fisherman's Horizon you know its gunna be weird.. in a good way. Towns like Deling resemble London with an array of shops and structures like Big Ben. Dollet seems like an old French town with cobble roads and 18th century architecture, even the score fits thanks to the genius that is Nobuo Uematsu. I could write a thesis on how spectacular the soundtrack is but I'll just say look at the soundtrack itself for reviews. Such is the realism of the setting but don't be fooled, around the 3rd disc you'll stumble across the city of Esthar, a gigantic technological wonder the size of a continent.. then you wake up as a writer in a rustic village called Windhill, magic. Shame that such an innovative, well designed game is largely considered poor, when really its similar to all the others. It still has the apocalyptic doom threat, it still has a global scourge of an adventure if you're into doing things properly. There's the giant airship that takes you there. SPACE, 7 went into space for a few minutes, 8 goes there for a while and conjures up some of the most cinematic and thrilling events that square couldn't come up with on earth, so much so they put in a song with vocals and as you know that's a special almost rare treat. Plus you can play cards with cactuars on em! Stunning FMV's accompany the key moments that all culminate into an epic journey of self discovery and destiny. It sounds cheesy but I implore you, give it a chance, this game is superb.

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      11.05.2011 20:42
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      If you're a FF fan, you know what to expect, so will probably enjoy this. Otherwise, look elsewhere.

      When it comes down to sequels, you may think games players have a hard time of it what with pretty much every successful game being followed by a not usually superior sequel. However, compared to filmgoers - and in particular horror fans, we have an easy time of it. Even now, the tenth Friday the 13th is production, this time set in space, and yet another Halloween film is under consideration. Hang on - another Halloween flick? Yep - this isn't strictly game related, but I'm going somewhere with this, so stick with me. But didn't Michael Myers get 'disposed of' in a rather final way at the end of Halloween H20? Indeed he did - so in what is a bizarre move, even for the film industry, the wannabe makers of this new Halloween flick are planning on introducing a new killer - thus dispensing with all pretence of there being any link to the original, and rather superb, Halloween 1. It's a pretty weird situation - but not one without precedence in the games industry, and here's where the Final Fantasy link comes in. These games, at least the ones that made it to the western world, have no common characters or even a shared world. The only link is that Japanese softies Square have been responsible for all the titles in the series - which is bit like calling Steven Spielberg's The Lost World 'ET 10', or Schindler's List 'Jurassic Park 3'. And now, the latest game in Square's line of unrelated sequels, Final Fantasy VIII has hit the PC. Again, this title has no link to the previous game in the series, but that actually may well be a good thing since it does allow Square to introduce fresh characters without worrying about continuity with the game's prequels. The game follows the story of Squall Leonhart, a 17 year old soldier, working for Garden, a mercenary organisation who hire out their graduates (you have to pass a test to be a mercenary, you see) to the highest bidder. He inhabits a world little different to that featured in Final Fantasy VII, a world in which magic does exist but where technology has pride of place. Hence, the fact that his weapon of choice is a combination of a sword and a gun - a sword being the traditional fantasy weapon, with the gun part urging baddies to say hello to the twenty-first century. Things start off innocuously enough, with Squall having to prove his worth by taking on a giant fire breathing creature (as you do), and then defending a small town from attack. But, things take a turn for the worse when a particularly nasty sorceress raises her peacock feather clad head and starts causing trouble for all and sundry. There are a few minor twists and turns in the plot - although the story is actually a little cliched, inferior to the more entertaining and surprising plot of Final Final Fantasy VIII doesn't deviate much from the format adopted by its predecessors, requiring you to lead a party of characters through a variety of locations in search of victory against the evil Empire - well, something like that anyway. You start off on your own and gradually meet up with other characters who lend their kung-fu skills to your quest and are frequently central to the plot of the game, although you can only have 3 characters in your party at once. These characters all have their own motivations, as well as their own strengths and weaknesses. Most of them are quite likeable although one exception is Selphie, a squeaky teenager who hops around like a frog on speed. Another exception, strangely enough, is Squall, the 'hero' of the piece who starts off as a stroppy teenager with a dislike for everyone and everything and the habit of annoyingly shrugging his shoulders and turning away from every other character when they try to talk to him. He does become more amiable and likeable as the game progresses but you do still get the impression he'd rather be spending time sitting in his darkened bedroom listening to Morrisey and The Cure. You view your self-bemoaning character and his compatriots from a third person perspective as you guide them through various locations in the world they inhabit. These locations are scattered around the world map, which you can traverse on foot or by using one of the vehicles you can at certain locations. Once you turn up at said location, you usually need to spend a fair bit of time there to accomplish your mission. This usually involves hacking your way through some monsters or soldiers, pushing some switch or triggering a certain event, moving a bit further through the level, killing some more monsters, doing something else relevant, and often battling a big monster. Then, you get one of them new-fangled CGI sequences and a new location to hack your way through. Well, maybe it isn't quite as linear as all that - you do occasionally have to nip back to an old location on an odd occasion and you can wander freely between locations at will most of time. There's not really much reason to do so as advancing the story generally requires you to visit one particular location. And, there's not nearly as much exploration - the emphasis is on getting into a ludicrously large number of flashy fights and hacking your way through to the next of the CGI sequences - which are pretty impressive as a matter of fact. Although, it would have been nice to have more sub-quests and sub plots to make the game a little more interesting. Your characters abilities are represented by their (ahem) vital statistics. Initially, the chief differences between each character in this department are their strength, agility, intelligence and magic values. These affect: how much damage they do, how good they are at avoiding damage, and other things. The values increase every time your characters gain a level which in turn occurs when you gather enough experience points from duffing up your foes - all standard RPG stuff. Or should you managed to draw the odd magic spell on your travels, you can allocate one of these to your statistics slightly increasing one of your stats. Your characters also have their own unique weapons, ranging from Squall's gun-blade through to Zell's glove-fisted fighting which can be upgraded as you progress through the game. Though, not by buying new weapons as you could in Final Fantasy VII but rather by having them upgraded at shops. The catch to having your weapon upgraded rather than replaced is that you have to gather the necessary components - different for each weapon - to upgrade it, such as a piece of magic stone, a screw, a steel bolt and so on, parts which have to be gathered by defeating monsters. So you have to do a fair bit of fighting before you can boost your weapon power - it's a bit like doing a sponsored run to buy yourself a car, but it does work quite well in that it does mean you have to get your hands dirty and that in turn prepares you for the bigger nastier fights you have to engage in later in the game. Fight! Once you actually get into a scrap against one of the many coloured and some cases truly bizarre characters in Final Fantasy VIII, you'll likely be deeply impressed by how graphically stunning the fights are especially if you use magic in the course of the punch-up. But while in Final Fantasy you needed to equip your characters with magic 'materia' to use spells, in FF VIII you have to gather magic spells by collecting them from draw points scattered around or drawing them in a sort of vampiric way from your opponents in a fight. Unfortunately, each spell only has a certain number of uses before you have to draw it again from either a draw point or an opponent. And, the latter option may cause you a bit of trouble. Why? Because of the way the combat system works - each of your party, plus each monster has an action gauge, although only your action gauges are visible. These action gauges start off full usually, but are drained when you perform an action such as attacking, casting a spell, or drawing magic from your opponent. You then can't perform an action till the gauge refills, and so if you draw, you may have gained a magic spell, but you've wasted an opportunity to attack your foe and you may find that he uses that opportunity to kick your saucer-eyed manga face in. And since they can use magic as well, they may hit you with a particularly devastating spell which in addition to or instead of knocking energy off you may send your character to sleep or silence them, both of which prevent you from casting spells, making your previous action worthless. You can protect yourself against magic or boost the magical effect of your own attacks by allocating spells to the 'elements' section of your inventory which offers you defence against magic of a certain type such as fire, air, water and so on. There's a lot of strategy involved in Final Fantasy VIII's fights, even though the fights themselves do take place in semi-real time - with the enemy's action gauge charging at the same time as yours does. Your energy gauge is tied up even longer by the use of Guardian Forces. These are huge hulking characters which can be summoned several times in each battle - and can also learn various skills which improve their damage potential - and can frequently wipe out weaker enemies with just one fiery slap to the head. The catch being that because your energy gauge takes longer to charge up for Guardian Forces, you're left even more vulnerable before and after using them. Still, it's a calculated risk that's usually worth taking just to watch the rather impressive Guardian Force animations which include summoning flaming meteors, lightning storms and other flashy events. Oddly, though, while the aforementioned in-game fights look quite good, the rest of Final Fantasy VIII's aren't quite as sharp. The game backgrounds and locations, which are pretty well drawn and certainly aren't ugly, nevertheless look a bit blurry on the PC compared to how they appeared on the Playstation. Especially noticeable is the contrast between the backgrounds and the sharper by far character graphics, but this isn't usually off-putting. Until, that is, you get onto the world map where you move between individual locations, because for some inexplicable reason, this has to be the ugliest, slowest and most frustrating implementation of an RPG world map there's been in ages. Final Fantasy VIII is certainly a big game, spread over a total of four CDs and, since there's no actual recorded speech - the dialogue appearing as surprisingly well translated text - there's enough space for the game to contain a myriad of locations, a skip-full of objects, and a menagerie of monsters for you to tackle. In fact, fighting your way through the game could take you a good couple of weeks. In addition to this, there are a couple of sub-games that Squaresoft presumably hoped would add a small amount longetivity to the game in the shape of the in-game card game and a weird but not all that enthralling game called Chocobo World. The trouble is that there's really no incentive to play the game again once you've completed it, unlike the current RPG king Planescape or indeed some other RPG which offer loads of different quests, different classes and other gameplay extending features. As a whole, Final Fantasy VIII is a worthy enough addition to the Final Fantasy series and will no doubt appeal to fans of previous games and anyone who's particularly into Japanese anime style art. As an RPG in its own right, it's worthy of attention, especially given the size of the game, and there's a fair bit of character customisation to keep stat-heads happy (although strangely you can't put armour on your characters). What some some RPG fans might find frustrating is the use of save-points to save your game, and the overall linearity of the game. Plot wise, too, it's a little bit hackneyed - the age old 'evil magician' cliche is put into play, and the aren't really enough surprises in terms of the storyline. In fact, the game itself isn't particularly original, being very similar to its predecessor. It's also very linear, too. But as it stands, Final Fantasy VIII is worth a look, and is a decent enough game, but don't expect anything radically new or Planescape-beating. (review originally posted by me on GamesDomain)

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      07.02.2011 02:00
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      Not as good as 7, but then what is?

      After Final Fantasy 7 brought the series to a worldwide audience Square brought a distinctly western feel to Final Fantasy 8 in what seemed to be an attempt to appeal to wider audiences. Gone were the "super deformed" sprites of old featuring cutesy characters with oversized heads and large eyes and in were anatomically correct characters that looked a lot more like real people. While no one could claim that the characters were designed in normal costumes the western influence was clear from Zell's baggy jeans and Irvine's cowboy get up. Yet you can't blame Square for attempting to cash in on Final Fantasy's new found popularity as it had become, within one game, a truly global franchise. Final Fantasy 8 followed the life and trials of a 17 year old cadet called Squall, a moody, dislikeable brat of a character who seemed to communicate mainly in parenthesis and terse "whatevers." Squall fights with his rival Seifer and acquires a very impressive looking scar, graduates school, falls in love, gets locked up in prison, has flashbacks and is grumpy. Despite the main character's unpleasant characteristics Final Fantasy 8 is an absorbing game with enough plot twists to keep you interested, and spread out over 4 discs, 8 is huge and contains some well done and absorbing sidequests, such as tracking down hard to kill monsters and a surprisingly fun card game. Some niggles abound with the battle system. The over-reliance on drawing magics and using them to augment your stats mean that some precious magics take many tedious battles to stockpile and then end up being unusable in battle as depleting weakens your character, although by then you're probably doing all the damage you need with physical weapons anyway. The graphics are obviously dated, but it is 12 years old. And considering it can be picked up second hand with a PS1 for next to nothing there are far worse ways of wasting a couple of weeks. Final Fantasy 8 still plays very well today.

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      04.05.2010 16:16
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      A close second to Final Fantasy VII

      This was the second Final Fantasy released on the Playstation and there was a huge build up to it including the release of demos one of which featured a playable section of the full game. It was released in 1999 and there was also a PC version released. The response to the game was mixed and I think it's one of those games you either love or hate. The storyline, characters and many elements of the gameplay were very different to those of Final Fantasy VII which had been released two years earlier. Plus that had been so successful and popular I think it was a hard act to follow. It's even bigger than Final Fantasy VII as it's on 4 discs and can easily be played for over 100 hours! Personally I love this game, I really got into the story, adored the characters and have probably wasted far to many hours of my life playing it. This game is an RPG and as with earlier titles uses a turn based fighting style with randomly occurring battles. The fights serve a number of purposes as they both allow you to build levels and pick up useful items (many of which are not available through other means and are vital for use in weapon upgrades). The magic system in this game works on a draw system. It can be drawn either in battle from the opponent or from draw points which can be found in locations throughout the game. The magic available to be drawn increases in strength throughout the game with the normal stages available for example cure, cura and curaga. The magic you draw can be attributed to your various statistics in order to increase them so obviously the more magic you gain the more powerful you become. This more strategic style method of fighting is not to everyone's tastes and if it's not your sort of thing you definitely won't enjoy this game. One of the major changes to the series for this game is the use of Guardian Forces (GFs) instead of summons. These are junctioned to your characters which allows you to use menu options, other than attack, during a fight. You can also use the GF during battle to attack your enemy. They all represent different elements so obviously some are better in certain situations than others. The GF attacks are spectacular, they look amazing and are a real highlight of the game...the first few times. However these scenes are really quite long and there is no way of skipping them so it can become quite tedious especially if you are engaged in a particularly lengthy fight. GFs can also learn abilities which the character they are junctioned to can use and they grow in levels in the same way as your payable characters. Another key issue with the GFs is that they are so powerful it can become easy to rely on them in battle this means your levels will not grow as well and you will miss out on some of the valuable magic you need to draw. There is a also a card game you can play throughout the game. It's quite hard to get the hang off but once you have it's really addictive. The cards can be changed into items later in the game - some of which you would have difficulty obtaining elsewhere. As with earlier Final Fantasy's the soundtrack was exceptional and one song that was featured throughout it was released as a single. One of the elements that really let this game down was the graphics. The in-game videos were amazing but when you were running round on the world map etc it looked far worse than it's predecessor. However this does not detract from the story and game play. The story is based around a school for mercenaries as they build friendships, discover their past and attempt to save the world (eventually). If you haven't played this game and you are a fan of the recent final fantasy's you should definitely try and get hold of a version either second hand or get it on the PlayStation Network if you have a Playstation 3.

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      22.10.2009 16:55

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      Very brilliant game

      The game takes place in Balamb, where a nearby place Galbadia has been taken over by agressive army hostility. you play as Squall who is an orphan from Balamb who falls in love with Rinoa. She happens to be a resistance fighter planning to assassinate the most powerful and dangerous person on the planet, Edea. This is an amazing RPG where you level up through the in game battles and then progress through the world and the games storyline. The gameplay revolves generally around the battles, in which you have menu driven controls. Where you select the moves you want in the menus for each character and then they perform them in their turn. The eneimies and youself all get one go each to chose a move and attack each other. The ones whose life bar is lost dies. the game also has a lot of stat options such as your attacks etc which all increase as you level up, so the more you battle the more powerful you get, althought the battle encounters are all random, expect story driven fights. This is by far one the best RPGs there is and will last a very long time, around 70 hours + for those who really njoy this game.

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      18.07.2009 22:45
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      Amazing game. I highly recommend this

      This is a review of the square-enix game Final Fantasy VIII. Some critics and fans of the Final Fantasy series have commented that this game is a rare miss in the Final Fantasy series, but I disagree. The main problem for most nay sayers with this game seems to be the plot, a complex tale of time travel, powerful world domineering sorceresses, forgotten memories, unrequited love and war. I think the issue that some people have with the plot is that its such a massive departure from the plot of what is regarded by many to be one of the finest games ever to be made, Final Fantasy VII. I suspect that many people who have commented on Final Fantasy VIII's plot being weak were just expecting a sequel to Final Fantasy VII. If you look at the plot of FFVIII and judge the game on its own merit and not as part of a series, its not difficult to see that FFVIII has an amazing plot that draws you in to the world which Yoshinori Kitase, the director of the game has so lovingly crafted. Gameplay The gameplay is the usual Final Fantasy fare of menu driven commands and three dimensional worlds, traversed freely by the player. There are three main types of screen for the player to navigate. The world map, a three dimensional area showing the continents of the unnamed world in which Final Fantasy VIII is set. You can traverse the world map in various ways, walking, by car and later by traveling in a spacecraft. While on the world map you are subject to constant ''random encounters'' from enemy monsters. These random encounters can sometimes prove annoying, especially if you're trying to get somewhere fast. The random encounters also have a tendency to get repetitive for some people though I find the thrill of receiving experience points and perhaps leveling up after each battle is enough to keep me happily hacking away at whatever the world of FFVIII has to throw at me. Town and dungeon screens including Balamb Garden, are pre-rendered visual feasts to be naviagted at the players will. Dungeons as expected are also subject to random encounters. There are many beautiful pre-rendered environments like this. Towns such as Fisherman's Horizon and Dollet are particularly beautiful, I think. The battle screen is a three dimensional area in which the player characters remain static, awaiting direction from the player. Battle In the battle screen the player gives the characters commands to unleash a wide variety of physical and magical foe smashing moves. The physical blows are delivered with the characters individual weapons, ranging from swords and whips to rifles and nun chaku. Those familiar with the Final Fantasy series will recognize the elemental magics, increasing in strength from blizzard to blizzara then blizzaga and so forth. Once a characters hit points fall to a critical level, that character can unleash a special attack known as a limit break. Each character has a unique limit which can be strengthened and evolved in the same way as the limit breaks in Final Fantasy VII. Summons also return from previous titles in the series, but with a significantly more important purpose for your characters. I this incarnation the summons are named GF or Guardian Force. Final Fantasy VIII has something called the junction system. A system which requires a character to be equipped with a GF to unlock their full battle potential. Junctioning a GF such as old favourites like Ifrit the fire demon or Shiva the ice queen, allows your character to incorporate some of that GF's power, in the form of boosts to stats such as strength, luck, magic, defense and vitality. Without a GF junctioned, a character can only do the bare minimum of normal attack and use item in battle. With a GF junctioned the character can use magic attacks, summon the specific GF in to battle to deliver a devastating blow to the enemy or use a variety of GF specific special moves such as HP down or steal. After each battle your characters receive experience points and ability points. Experience points level up your characters with a level peak of 100. Ability points level up the abilities of each characters junctioned GF. Some people, myself included, have found the junction system to be an annoyance. However I think that the mild sting, that is the junction system has been well compensated for with the beautiful visuals, addictive gameplay and moving plot. World Final Fantasy VIII is set in an unnamed world encompassing five major landmasses. Esthar the largest continent is located to the east and is home to a xenophobic society which the rest of the world has not heard from in years, though your party does make it there eventually. Get ready for shiny things. Galbadia the second largest continent is to the west and contains many of the locations you visit in the game such as Galbadia City and Galbadia Garden. Balamb, the smallest continent is located in the centre of the map and contains a few early locations including Balamb Garden, the home base of most of the main playable characters. Trabia, the northern most continent is an icy wasteland, location of main character, Selphie's former home, Trabia Garden. The remaining two landmasses are mostly desolate environments, left uninhabitable after an event known as the lunar cry, something which you will learn more about as you progress through the plot of FFVIII. Characters. Final fantasy 8 has six main playable characters, expertly designed by series regular Tetsuya Nomura. Squall Leonhart, a steely young man, seemingly cold hearted who keeps his focus on his duty to avoid showing vulnerability. Squall is the games main character and as such is almost never out the players control. Rinoa Heartilly, a beautiful young girl who leads a certain rebel group. Rinoa joins the party early in the game, in Timber after a certain event in the games plot. Her care free demeanour masks her intensely passionate nature as a would be freedom fighter. Selphie Tilmit, an outwardly silly girl with a fascination for planes and trains who pilots the awesomely designed ship, Ragnarok. Selphie joins the party in Dollet as a fellow student undergoing Balamb Garden's SeeD examination. Zell Dincht, a hot headed, impulsive young martial artist with a liking for hot dogs. Zell also joins the party in Dollet whilst undergoing the SeeD examination. Quistis Trepe, an instructor at Balamb garden, the military academy home to Squall, Selphie, Zell and Seifer. She harbours a crush for Squall and often finds herself disapointed at her attempts to get Squall to open up to her. Quistis joins the party for good in Timber. Irvine Kinneas, a student of Trabia Garden with an eye for the ladies. As a sniper Irvine posesses the necessary skills required to complete a mission given to the main party. Irvine joins the party in Galbadia garden. Seifer Almasy, Squall's rival at Balamb Garden whose role in the game takes an increasingly sinister turn as the game progresses. Seifer is controllable in a very early part of the game for a short period. There are numerous other NPC's in the world of FFVIII. Brother and sister, Fujin and Rajin are Seifers friends, who serve with him on Balamb Gardens student disciplinary committee. They crop up now and again throughout the game, usually acting under the orders of Seifer. Headmaster Cid is the kind and friendly old head of Balamb Garden. For people familiar with the Final Fantasy series, they will recognize Cid. A character named Cid is usually included in each FF game, though in FFVIII Cid is a secondary NPC character, where as in FFVII Cid was a main playable character and part of the group. Cid may share a name with his FFVII, airship piloting counterpart, but thats all they share. Each Final Fantasy game is set in its own universe so the characters are unrelated beyond they're name. Plot Final Fantasy VIII begins with an FMV depicting a battle in the training ground of Balamb Garden between Squall and Seifer. During the battle Seifer, employing a dirty trick in the use of a magical fire blast knocks Squall to the ground before cutting his face with a swipe of his gun blade. Squall, in retaliation launches an attack on Seifer, sweeping his gun blade in an upward motion striking Seifer, scarring him in an identical place to which he himself had just been scarred. As the screen fades to white and the title appears, Final Fantasy VIII has now begun. As Squall wakes in Balamb Gardens infirmary, Questis informs him that in order to take place in the SeeD entrance exam later that day he must visit a cave and retain the powers of the fire summon Ifrit. SeeD is an elite mercenary branch of Balamb Garden, who are hired out to highest bidder, usually as a means to fund the garden, but SeeD has another purpose, to diffuse conflicts in the world before they can become full blown war. After Squall and Questis complete this little trip to the fire cave, it is revealed that the military super power, Galbadia has invaded the small town of Dollet. Dollet contacts the Garden requesting the services of SeeD to aid in their defense against the Galbadians. Balamb Garden uses this as an oppertunity to test the latest group of prospective SeeD's, including Squall, Seifer, Zell and Selphie. After the SeeD exam Squall, Selphie and Zell are made SeeD members and are given their first mission to aid the rebel group, Forest Owl in their attempts to rid their town, Timber of a Galbadian occupation force. Once in Timber the leader of the Forest Owl's instructs the newly appointed SeeD members to help them hijack a train. Despite Squall and his teams best efforts, the mission is a complete failure, culminating in a former classmate attempting to assassinate the president of Galbadia on live television. After this event the SeeD's, feeling immense pressure from hordes of pursuing Galbadian troops must flee to the nearest Garden to regroup. Once in Galbadia Garden the group is given new orders to carry out an assassination attempt on the true driving force behind Galbadia's sudden lust for world conquest, Sorceress Edea. The group then set off for the capital of Galbadia to carry out their misson. The rest of the plot sees the characters travel all over the world of FFVIII from the port town of Fisherman's Horizon to Esthar and even outer space, in a bid to understand and stop the Sorceress Edea. After many battles and revelations the party must unite and travel through compressed time in a bid to destroy the real threat to the world, a force of unimaginable power that wishes to send its self through time in a bid to compress past, present and future in to one space and rule over all time. I could talk about the plot all day, but I dont want to give away spoilers. Side Quests There are numerous side quests in FFVIII to discover. These range from little fun activities such as the card game, triple triad to the rather large undertaking to discover all of the games Guardian Forces. Some of these quests can be annoying, I found, in particular the quest to find the components that allow you to summon the GF, Doomtrain. I you're familiar with the FF series you'll also be happy to know that chocobo's have made a welcome return in this title. Chocobo's are big yellow birds that can be found in the wild on most continents of FFVIII. Chocobo's can be ridden around the world map and are sometimes preferable to walking as they allow you to traverse the world without getting in to random encounters. There is a side quest involving chocobo's in which you have to visit each of the chocobo forests scattered around the world to take part in a mini game involving digging up magical stones. One of the most fun side quests and also my favourite isn't really a side quest as such. Its the collecting materials for each characters weapon upgrades. Some of these materials are easy to find, but others will see you travelling all over the world, tracking down very elusive enemies to find the required parts to give your character the best weapons possible. Anyhow there are a lot of quests to discover and enjoy. Conclusion Final Fantasy VIII is an incredible adventure. The plot is a well crafted piece of fiction. Something which I regret isnt given enough credit by most people. I found myself hooked from start to finish. From the excellent and complex plot to the beautiful world around your characters. I couldn't get enough. Im the sort of person who when I play a game I have to master it. Final Fantasy VIII is huge so for me to master this it took me well in excess of 80 hours. Even though it took me that amount of time and pretty much took over any spare time I might have had, I've still completed it four times. The characters are beautifully designed and endearing individuals. I found myself really invested in these people and hoping that after all was said and done they would be happy. After the end FMV has finished I was completely happy with the game I had just spent so long playing. So often when I finish games I find the ending to be a big let down, but with this I couldn't have hoped for a finer ending sequence. I cant recommend this enough to fans of RPG games. Buy this

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        28.05.2009 17:47

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        A fantastic RPG that everyone should own!

        Though many people would argue that FF7 is the best within the series i have to disagree and say that this game is the best one out of all of them! This was the first FF game i played and at first i found the random battles to be rather annoying but this is something you get used to after a while, as with most of the other FF games too. There are six main characters within the game, the key ones being squall who is a student at balamb gardens, rinoa who is a member of the forest owls and laguna who appears in squalls dreams and is a relation to many of the main characters. This has to be the more realistic and believeable out of the FF games which i think makes it more appealing to people. The complex emotions within the game and the fact you can probably relate to some of the characters make it so that you become hooked into playing it. Like with all FF games this game will last you for hours and can get frustrating at times with some of the boss battles. If you're looking for a good rpg i think this game has everything you could want and more!

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        01.03.2009 16:10
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        A must have for all gaming fans

        A vast, foreign world, warfare, magic, spaceships, a brooding man, and a beautiful girl, this is the best game in the final fantasy franchise by far. This masterpiece by square begins on a small island known as Balamb, to the West of which lies Glabadia, which has been almost comepletely taken over by an aggresive army who are taking the land, and to the East of which is Esthar, a continent long forgotten living in the shadows. The main character is a young male named Squall, who has grown up an orphan, and trains and lives in Balamb garden, a millitary training facility, which produces mercenaries for hire across the world. Though, Squall's life is changed forever when he falls in love with a beautiflu resistance fighter named Rinoa, and becomes involved in a plot to assasinate the sorceress Edea, one of the most powerful and dangerous people on the plannet. As a game, this is beautiful, the setting is magnificent, and you really do feel transoprted into a fantasy world, from ultra modern cities to forgotten forests. The game for its time his incredibly impressive graphics, as the backgrounds are frozen pictures which have been beautifully desinged, with the 3D characters effectively moving over the background. The love story is this games most powerful asset, so strong that as a young child i found myself getting a crush on Rinoa. Unfortunately, the girls at school couldn't quite meet her standard, but atleast they were real... The only downside to final fantasy 8 is that there is no difficulty setting, which some younger players may find challenging, but since this is a game in which you level up, it is never too difficult to spend some time training before continuing the game. The length of the game is also epic, as i managed to play for over 80 hours before reaching the 4th and final part. This is trully a game that you can find yourself immersed in.

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          27.08.2008 21:10
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          great game just needs a little research

          This is oneof the best final fantasys it had graphics that where to lead the was to the final fantasy 10s and 12s its one of my favorites and any final fantasy fan should definatley complete this one.You play a charecter called squall who is basicly a moody teenager you have a arch nemisis called Seifer and a mysterious girl called rinoa who you cant stop thinking about another problem is yoju keep having mysterious flash backs about a soilder and your teacher seems to have a bit of a crush on you! The one problem with ff8 is the power up system of junctioning your spells most people dont have a problem using it but alot of people dont understand it,i managed to download a guide off the net which shows you how to uber junction all your aeons ect so im sorted but dont let that put you off,this game has amazing cutscenes and a beautiful story so play it today

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            20.08.2008 21:43
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            great

            Theres lots of contraverse over this game in the way of whats better 7 or 8, personally its 8. This is a great game for pc or playstation, With a wide range of characters, summons, magics, weapons to upgrade and side quests. The characters are each to there own weapon from knuckles to shotgun and the ever famous gun blade. Each summon you obtain over the journey learns abilities to aid your way through the game all in all there are 21 summons 5 of which are yours to summon from items rather then the summon command. To get magic in this game you have to draw it from enemys or draw points. There are plenty of side quests including my favorite the card game, its very unique and highly addictive. A very easy game to get into with a great plot line and tons of monsters to defeat along the way.

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              27.04.2008 13:53
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              final fantasy 8 in my opinion one of the greates games ever to be made

              Final fantasy 8 possibly one of the greatest games ive ever played and one of the few games i can replay over and over again i must have completed this game 5 or 6 times a year since its release. When the game first came out I was very doubtfull that this game could match its predecessor final fantasy 7 (my favourite game ever by the way). I think the people are wrong to compare the two games and think of them as the same when they are two completely different styles of gameplay. The game has possibly the best opening ive ever seen in a computer game it blasts its way through the screen with the main character Squall training against his rival Seifer in which Seifer goes too far and injures his training partner but Squall being the stubborn determined person he is does not back down and equally injures Seifer both being left with matching scars across the middle of their forehead. The story starts with Squall in the hospital wing of Garden his home and the place where he gets his education and battle training, as the story develops Squall must learn to become a leader and with the aid of his friends he must face his foes to help save the world from the evil sorceress. Th game uses turn based fighting for the battles like any other final fantasy game and it continues to work like a charm, and as ever there is a random encounter for all the battles in between this of course can get very annoing when your racing against time and constantly run into battle after battle but hey it worked for 7 other games and if it isnt broke dont fix it right. When this game was first released this broke the boundries for all future games in terms of graphics and cut scenes this showed some amazing graphics. Ok im one of the die hard final fantasy 7 fans when i first started playing you couldnt stop me i know everything there is to know. So when i first started playing this game it had to be somethin short of a miracle to impress me as much as its predecessor. When i started playing it though i realised that i shouldnt be comparing it against number 7 it is in itself a totally different game and thats the way i saw it. I really enjoy playing this game and do seem to play through it several times a year and never get bored i find that even though i know the game it can still be quite a challenge and it can still frustrate me till i wanna smash up the game its sort of a love/hate relationship with the game but i will always enjoy playing the game and will continue to play it for years to come.

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                10.11.2004 11:03
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                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 don’t 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 don’t 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 area’s 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 didn’t. Squall’s 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, it’s 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, that’s 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.

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                  03.06.2003 07:35

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                  • "not enough mvp"

                  FF8 - Advantages: good graphics, great story line, good characters - Disadvantages: easy bosses, to much majic, not enough mvp

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                  07.04.2002 15:40

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                  In my opinion this was the worst of the FF series. I say this because the whole magic system changed and this caused a lot of hassel for me anyway and the summons were never strong enough. On the other hand the game did have some good things added to it: The summons worked better if they liked who they were given to. The summons had energy and thus could be used as many times in a battle as you liked Some of the summons from FF7 returned. Any way here is the story for the game: In a time of both sophisticated technology and powerful magic, an evil sorceress corrupts the world's largest military power through manipulation and deception, enslaving mankind to do her bidding. Her goal is not something as simple as world domination; but to completely conquer all of space and time. To counter the turn of events, various leaders head combat training schools, known as Gardens, that turn out elite fighting forces. Known as SeeDs, they defend, serve, and protect humankind from the sorceress. The sole purpose of these academies is to vanquish the sorceress and save humanity as we know it, although they take many other assignments for the right price. A small, loose-knit group of SeeD graduates find themselves wrapped in a much bigger endeavor than simple military combat. Now, a gunblade specialist, together with a diverse group of young heroes, must set aside his fears, face the emotions he's run from, and become the leader that he never wanted to be. This game was also one of the hardest in the FF series and also in my view had the best graphics for the cities and stuff The game was no doubt a improvement from FF7 but nowhere near as good. I would like to hear your views on this one

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                  05.10.2001 06:53
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                  I didn't like final fantasy VIII very much because i don't like the way that it is setup and the gameplay. The graphics i have to admit are very good but i don't like the way that when you get into a fight with an enemy, you have to take turns in hitting each other which i think really sucks, in a real life fight you would not take turns to hit each othr, you would be laching out at each other and trying to kill each other badly. One thing i do like about the fights is the way the moves are done and how mega skills and powers fire up and really boost your attack rating and kill off the enemy. Besides the fighting, the game is huge, it's on 4 cd's and a very big adventure.

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