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I used to be the biggest SquareSoft fanboy in my village. In fact I was probably the only SquareSoft fanboy in my village, as everyone else was into Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. My childhood was just filled with Japanese Role-Playing Game goodness, and I just could not go a day without some turn-based enemy whacking by SquareSoft. They are called Square Enix now after performing fusion with Enix to create a hybrid company. I would have called it Prius myself, but then the Prius didn't exist back then. You would think that in typical Japanese anime format, the fusion technique would enable them to start releasing games that are of amazing quality but no, they released that abysmal nightmare of a used jockstrap game, Final Fantasy XIII, that came out on on the PS3 and XBOX360. That game was so bad that I had lost all faith in Square Enix. The whole reason why SquareSoft fused with Enix, although not mentioned, was that SquareSoft were releasing a bunch of pathetic games that blighted my soul. They made great games like Final Fantasy 6 (or 3 in the USA, I had to get it imported), Xenogears and Final Fantasy 7, but afterwards made massively stupid, sub-par, mediocre games such as The Bouncer, Ergheiz, Final Fantasy X, the Xenosaga series and Einhander. Those games ruined my love for Square, and we were hoping, praying even that when they combined forces with Enix, all would be well. Obviously, it wasn't. Final Fantasy 8 was a game that I played because I was a fanboy, and I owned it on the Playstation 1 when it was on 4 CDs and had that picture of the main character in a pose as if he was going to cut a cake. It was during the time when Square was still SquareSoft, and it was leaning over the precipice of darkness. This was the first game I played by SquareSoft that made me want to hurt myself. I hated the combat system, I hated the characters of the game itself, and I hated the stupid plot because it made no sense at all to me. I knew I hated it the moment I started to play it, but in my fanboy mode I just kept playing it, hoping it was going to get better, making up excuses for it whilst my youth was ebbing away. I was so young and naïve. I worshipped SquareSoft so at the time, in my mind, they could do no wrong, so it must have been me that was not playing the game right. Well, after many, many years I spotted this game in the PS3 online Playstation Store, winking at me. For some reason, probably an old in-built habit of mine that had been disabled for many years, I purchased all the Playstation 1 Final Fantasy games and downloaded them to my PS3. Yes, Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy 8 and Final Fantasy 9, all downloaded and stored on my PS3 so that I could play them again, with the option to transfer them to my PSP to play them on the move if I so chose. 7 and 9 I understood, but I could not fathom the reason why I would buy 8 again, especially when each game costed £7.99 each from the Store. I realised later that the Store did not do refunds, so if you bought it that's it, there was no going back. Stupid digital downloads! My friend had a theory that the first Final Fantasy game a person plays would be the game they would remember the most and would class that as the best in the series, kind of like your first girlfriend is more memorable than your third. These would be the people that defend Final Fantasy 8 because they had no yardstick to compare this type of game to. Oh, they had no idea how bad this game really is. It is lower than a skidmark from a tyre against a dug up road. From the moment the game started and the intro sequence played, I could remembered the horror and the nights of complete and utter boredom that this game gave me as I tried to defend it but to no avail. In the end I couldn't defend it, it was a game that tormented me and made me wish I had saved the £45 I spent on it in the past and bought myself a knitting kit instead, it was that bad. I have to explain why obviously, so belt up and read the reasons. :: INTRO :: You get an inkly of how crap the game is from the intro. Square was now well known for making very pretty, very high quality video cut scenes in their games, but that alone does not excuse it for some of the stupid choices made by the game's director. The intro movie is just a mish-mash load of nonsense that has a camera flying pass an ocean with meaningless English subtitles appearing on the screen. I watched it and I could not understand what on earth it was about, and it has a sentence that read, "I'll be 'waiting' here". I could not work out why the word 'waiting' was in quotes, what did it mean? As the intro music plays, you get this orchestral choir singing in the background, making this sound epic and amazing, and then you see a couple of guys fighting with what are called Gunblades. I am not even making that up, they are literally sword blades with the handle and triggers from a pistol welded to the end. You think those guys are fighting for something like saving or ending the world with the choir still chanting in the background as they land facial scarring final moves on each other, but no, after the intro is over you find out it was merely a sparring session that goes wrong. It's like a movie with a scene where the mother goes to Iceland, and they play 'Eye of the Tiger' as she selects products and then pays for them at the checkout, and then as she leaves the song ends. What's the point? It serves no purpose at all. :: CHARACTERS :: I'm sorry but the main characters of this game were designed by a freelance character designer that did it for a laugh to mess about with Square, there is no other reason why Square would choose to use these characters at all. I will talk about the most annoying characters in the game because we would be here until next week if I ranted about them all. For starters we have our main protagonist, Squall Lionheart, this mopey, depressed, uber-emo git that dresses in a leather jacket with a thick, feather-lined neck, and carries around a gun handle with a 6ft blade on the end. He spends most of his time speaking with ellipses, and when he does actually say something intelligible, it is usually something daunting to put someone down. He has as much charisma as a grapefruit, and why he even has any motivation at the beginning of the game is beyond me. Then we have Rinoa Heartilly, the love interest of our main protagonist and is a complete and utter clumsy bimbo that does things that make no sense. She is upbeat and happy, the complete polar opposite of Squall, so it kind of makes sense that they both get together, but at the same time who would want to be with a girl that is as stupid and retarded as Rinoa? Let me explain, in one of the missions they have to stop the bad guy, this witch called Edea. Everyone goes with the assassination plan, sniping the witch from a distance. This is a good idea, but Rinoa, in her stupidity, decides that she could stop the witch by literally walking up to her, and asking her to put on a magic suppressing bangle. "Oh please, put this on so that you cannot use your powers and then we can kill you easily." Why would anyone do that? It makes no sense. And to top it off, Rinoa's special move includes loading her pet dog, Angelo, to the end of her crossbow with an arrow up his arse, and then firing him at her enemies to hurt them. The dog, of course, is completely unharmed, and the enemies get massive damage. What sense does that make? Finally (although I have many), is Selphie Tilmitt, this female character that only exists in the game to satisfy the Japanese pervert audience. First it's a girl, and she's young, and she has a very short skirt, and she acts really innocent and excitable. And to top it off, she uses a pair of nunchucks. I kid you not, she uses a pair of nunchucks, the same things Bruce Lee uses in Enter The Dragon, to beat up her enemies. The Japanese find this all very sexy, so her only reason to exist is fan service. Lots and lots of fan service. Her character is just plain weird, she makes up songs about trains when she's on one, and when the team are on a mission, pondering what could be mentioned on a live, global TV broadcast, she chimes in with, "Hey everybody! Love! And! Peace!" I face palmed myself. :: BATTLE SYSTEM :: I usually enjoy the battle system of a Final Fantasy game, you take turns chopping or casting magic on your enemies until either you're dead, or the enemy is dead. It is a simple formula that works. But what Final Fantasy 8 does is introduce this annoying thing call drawing, and no, it does not involve crayons. However, before I explain drawing I must explain GFs. You must equip a GF. What is a GF? It is short for Guardian Force, basically these monsters you can summon to cause massive amounts of damage to your enemies. They must be equipped to your character in order for you to do anything other than Attack. Without a GF equipped, you cannot use items, you cannot cast magic, you cannot even pick your nose. The GF is central to surviving in this game, and every character must have at least 1 equipped on their person. Then, once you have one equipped comes the most annoying part of the game, the whole drawing process. In previous games you learnt magic by levelling up and becoming more powerful, and then when you got to a significant level, you learnt a new spell. Final Fantasy 7 used this system and it was a good system. Here, if you want a spell, you have to draw it from your enemies. Yes, you have to get into a battle, and then you select the Draw command, select the enemy and draw the spell you want from that enemy. The amount you draw is random, it can range from 1 to about 15 at a time, but the fact is that magic is now treated as items rather than skills that can be learnt. You can store 100 of each spell max, and when you use them up, you have to find somewhere else to draw that spell from to get more. That is just tedious as hell, especially at the beginning when you purposely prolong a fight to draw everything to max, whilst getting attacked until you're almost dead. And when you get a new character, you have to do the same thing with them all over again. Then you have the junctioning system where you link a spell to one of your statistics to boost it beyond its current level. For instance, I draw 100 Fires from this flying creature, then I junction the 100 Fires to my Attack statistic and it gets boosted by 50%. This is great of course for improving your skills without levelling up, but then another problem occurs, you don't want to cast the spells you've saved up because if you do, your statistics will drop and you'll get weaker as your cast more of the spell. That's just stupid, why have spells be linked to your stats when you know they will decrease if you use that spell? Summoning a GF is simple enough, you select GF and then the creature you wish to summon if you have more than 1 equipped, then their life bar appears over yours as a countdown timer slowly counts down until the creature is summoned. During this time, any damage taken would go to the GF's life bar, and if the GF loses all of it's life, the summon does not take place. The summons are very cinematic and amazing, but once they die you cannot simply bring them back or heal them with the standard items you can use on your standard characters. Oh no, you have to use GF items to heal and resurrect the GFs. This is just doubles up the amount you need to spend on items to bring back a GF that could turn the tide in battles, and I find that just completely ludicrous. And here is the major problem, you have the ability to recruit and summon the Devil, yes the Devil himself, Diablos, with the horns and wings and blood red skin, he is the evil one. You would think the Devil would be bad ass and unbeatable, but no, he can also die, and he has to be brought back the same way. Next we have the limit breaks that make a return from Final Fantasy 7. The characters all have desperation moves that they can use once the meter is full from taking enemy attacks. You can bust out some insane moves to really damage your foes, like Squall's multi-slashing move. The issue here is that if you learn a new limit break move, the final move is random, so for Squall: even if his ultimate final move is learnt, he would only sometimes use it. That just makes no sense, in a real fight if you had a choice between a cricket bat and a stick, you would go for the cricket bat, you wouldn't toss a coin, hoping it would land on tails for the cricket bat. :: PLOT :: The plot just blows my mind because it is just a massive cluster muck of insanity. If you got the story from the first time you played this game, then I applaud you, because I had to read on Wikipedia several years later to find out what was actually going on in the game after I finished it. The games starts at Balamb Garden, a giant military academy where a a group of students are training up to try and join the Garden's elite military unit, SeeD. Once the main character joins SeeD, the main story starts with you teaming up with Rinoa and trying to overthrow the evil witch, Edea from Rinoa's country. That seems simple enough, but later the story takes a twist and we go into unknown territory like 'Time Kompression' (yes, with a 'K'), and the destruction of all life as we know it. That just blew my mind, because our main characters currently are somehow linked to the future with connections directly to the past, and they must prevent 'Time Kompression', which would end all life yet they are the ones that start it... my brain just went into melt down. I do not know what on earth was happening or how to explain it, that alone made the game meaningless to me. If they wanted to travel in time, couldn't they just create a flux capacitor, attach it to the Doom Train GF that can move faster than 88MPH, and then summon the Lightning GF to create the 1.21 gigawatts needed to travel back in time? Would have been so much more easier to understand! Then, we have segments where the main characters fall unconscious for no reason, and then wake up as other people in the past, namely 3 soldiers that run around being stupid. That adds nothing to the storyline at all, if they were left out, the game could have continued without any consequence at all. Square added it in just to pad out the game, like Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars The Phantom Menace. It was mentioned by the creators that the game was to centre around the love story of the 2 main protagonists, but as far as I could see the story just revolved around the fact that a bunch of things happened and these guys just got roped in by coincidence. I could not see how Squall and Rinoa would fall in love. I was playing the game, and then somewhere down the line something happened and then they were in love. It took me by surprise because the chemistry between the 2 of them was like meat to a vegan, and yet we are forced to acknowledge that love had blossomed. :: GAMEPLAY :: You run around and randomly get into fights. Occasionally, you fight a really big monster, they are called boss battles. The main thing you need is the direction pad or left joystick to move around, and the X button to confirm selection. The other buttons come in during mini games and quest points, but other than that are rarely needed. One of the main things that annoys me is the way to make money, that is because you cannot make money the standard way in this game. In any normal RPG, you get into a random fight, chop your enemy into tiny pieces, and you get maybe 100 gold for your trouble. This game is the only one in the Final Fantasy series that does away with that, so you cannot make money from beating your foes. The only real way to make money in the game is by increasing your SeeD rank after you become a member of the SeeD elite mercenary group. Depending how you performed before becoming a member, a rank is given to you after you join. After you've become a SeeD member, you can raise your rank by taking SeeD exams from an option hidden in the character menu. Yes, you go to the character menu. and you find the option that says SeeD Exam, and you take the exam. Each passed exam raises your rank, thus it raises the salary you receive at regular intervals. Good luck trying to get all the exams correct to get the highest rank available, it is not easy. My question is this, why have this stupid way of making money? I would have much rather had do it the old fashioned way and get cash by looting the bodies of my fallen enemies, what is it with this salary rank nonsense with exams hidden in the menu that you must take? :: TRIPLE TRIAD :: There is this annoying card game that you can take part of in so that you can collect a bunch of monster cards. It is like card trading kids do in real life, except its all digital and in-game only. You initiate it by running up to people you think may be card players, and pressing the square button. If they are card players, it brings up the gaming screen. The game works by laying monster cards down on a 3x3 grid table, the cards themselves have four values from 1-A ('A' being the highest), that are for the top, the left, the right and the bottom of the card. How it works is that you take turns putting cards down on the 3x3 grid table, and if a card adjacent to yours has a higher value than yours, your card changescolour to red, which is their colour. So let's say I put a card down with the top value being 5, the other person puts a card directly on top of my mine with a bottom value of 6. His bottom 6 is higher than my top of 5 as it is sitting directly on top of my card, thus my card turns red to say he has beaten it. If all 9 spaces are taken up and there are more red cards than blue, you lose and they can take a card of yours from your deck. This is very annoying if you lose as all characters tend to take the strongest cards from your deck. The rules may change depending on the location you're in, and some even charge you money to play them, but the question is why even bother playing this moronic game? That is because you can convert these cards into items or magic spells if you have the Diablos GF's special ability to convert them, meaning you don't have to do loads of drawing of spells from enemies to power up your spell collection, but it is still busy work and it is just a massive excuse to drag out the game, which is already tens of hours long. :: GRAPHICS :: No changes have been made to the graphics since the Playstation 1 version as this is a direct rip to the PS3, but it is still an improvement from Final Fantasy 7. This game has the characters in full adult form 3D and not all chibi-formed like some deformed group of midgets. Today, the graphics look decidedly dated and fuzzy, but that's not really a reason to make negative remarks about it. The thing I will say though is that the screens are still static background images that has the 3D projected on top of it so that it saves on polygon processing. A good idea, but also lazy because Square's other games, such as Vagrant Story, had fully rendered 3D environments. :: AUDIO :: Nothing too memorable. If you have played Final Fantasy 8 before, think of one song from the game that is memorable, the battle theme? The boss battle theme? It takes a while to recall doesn't it? It's not as legendary as the audio from Final Fantasy 7, that game had a battle theme that never got old. This game, though, has like 1 song that most people may remember, and that's Eyes On Me by Faye Wong. I have infinite respect for Faye Wong, she is a Hong Kong pop singer with a great selection of Cantonese songs under her belt, but this song, in English, was a bit blunt force trauma for me. Search for the lyrics online and you will see what I mean. :: VERDICT :: I am no longer the young, foolish, ignorant child I once was. I can now say that this game is a pile of crap, and I just have to say no to this game if you want to try out an old-school Final Fantasy game. Play Final Fantasy 7 because it is a much better game. In fact, Final Fantasy 7 is probably the best in the series right now, especially after number 10 came out with Meg Ryan as the main character, or number 12 that had the focus of the story on the wrong person. I find this game abhorrent, and the fact that I bought it means that I am a complete and utterly stupid, cretinous moron that should have not allowed nostalgia force my hand into wasting £7.99 of my money on this waste of digital space. There are people out there that actually like the emo, wrist-slitting Squall and his Orlando Bloom in drag girlfriend, Rinoa, but that is their choice. As for me, I recommend you stay away! Defend yourself from its evil embrace, bring out a crucifix and some holy olive oil if you must! Avoid. :: SIDE NOTE :: A character, Quistis Trepe, is the only redeeming factor of this game. She is a sexy, blonde, SeeD Instructor that joins your team in the game and has an attraction to Squall. Honestly, between her and Rinoa, I would go for her any day, with her weapon of choice, a whip no less, being better than the crossbow for all occasions. Also, if you dare search for Quistis, Rinoa or Selphie on Google with the family filter disabled, there are some sick people out there man, very sick people indeed. NSFW! (Posted with same username on Ciao)
Originally a Playstation one game, Final Fantasy 8 makes its way onto the downloadable market. A franchise that spans over decades, Final Fantasy has earned itself a huge following of fans over the years. This installment sees a group of cadets embark on an epic quest to defeat an evil sorceress and find themselves along the way with a little romance thrown in for good measure. The battle system is once again shaken up in FF8 with magic needing to be 'stored' in order to be used. The more magic you have the stronger you get. At times this can become quite tedious, where in order to be powerful, alot of the time you have to stand around in battle storing up magic before you can actually do anything. Although this helps to draw the game out, it isn't really all that interesting. Originally on four disks, there are plenty of side quests on offer. Depending how far you want to go there's as much as 100 hours worth of gameplay on offer. Characters are hit and miss with a few who you'll come to love and others that you'll probably wish were never there in the first place. Definitely worth a buy if you are a fan of the series, but if not, there are better ones on the market to try.
Spanning four discs, Final Fantasy VIII (FFVIII) was originally released on the PS1 in 1999 and was released for the PS3 and PSP via download in 2010. Having previously owned, played and loved the PS1 version, I couldn't wait to download and install it on my PS3, especially as it is available for the incredible price of only £7.99. Now there maybe a few among you that think that a penny under £8 is rather a lot to spend on what is essentially an out-of-date game. But when you consider that this is a now collectable game, physical copies are likely to set you back in the region of £80 (oh how I wish I still had my mint condition copy) and the inherent fragility of PS1 games, then you will soon realise what a bargain it is. Downloading the game is a painless affair, although it does take quite a time and once downloaded the game does need installing, meaning it does take up precious disc space. Before I go any further, let's get a few things clear. If you're looking for a game that makes the most of the PS3's HD capabilities, with top-notch audio and amazing graphics then this game is not for you. Final Fantasy VIII has been directly ported to the PS3 with not a single tweak or touch-up in sight. So yes the graphics are clunky, the sound effects tinny and loading times a little lengthy, but the gameplay itself is absolute RPG heaven. That's right folks, this is a classic single-player Role Playing Game, where the actual gameplay is far more important than how beautiful the graphics are. Saying that the graphics were actually pretty revolutionary for the time, there are some beautifully rendered FMV (Full Motion Video) sequences, that blew my breathe away when the game was first released. When compared to other games of the same period the backgrounds are breathtakingly detailed and even the characters are a lot more detailed than it's predecessor (Final Fantasy VII). As with all of the Final Fantasy (FF) games (that I have played) there is a strong emphasis on both the story and characters, with the initial few (make that 20+) hours of gameplay doing little more than setting up the storyline, characters and their motivations, while also allowing us to learn the slightly complicated control and levelling system. The game opens with a beautifully rendered intro sequence in which we are introduced to three of the main characters while the haunting theme tune plays in the background. There are quite a few of these lengthy videos interspersed throughout the game, and beautiful as they are, it does soon become irritating when you just want to get on with playing the game and can't because there's no way of skipping. Gameplay is pretty linear through the first couple of discs, although you can spend time exploring, there is a story that needs to be followed. Talking of the story, I'm not going to go into any detail (part of the fun of these games is the unfolding story), but it is reasonable if a little confused at times. The tension does build up nicely especially in the lead-up to the final confrontation, but there are a couple of points where it feels forced and there's one aspect that I really didn't get (I can't tell which, because that would be a definite plot spoiler). The characters are pretty reasonable too, the main hero, Squall is well enough rounded, if a little stroppy, while the bad guy still has that little something that makes me feel sorry for him. Of all the playable characters there's only one that really annoys me (Selphie) and she is just too chirpy for her own good. As with all of the Final Fantasy (and other RPGs) I have played, the ultimate aim of FFVIII is to level your character up in readiness for the final confrontation. Levelling up takes the form of battling various creatures, to be honest there could be more variety in the different creatures to be battled, many of them are just too similar. The difficulty level is just about right at any stage, with the 'bosses' giving a challenge, but never too difficult as long as you don't wander to far from the beaten path. Navigation is a little confusing though, there are points where I got lost, even after having played this game on several occasions. The inability to change the view is probably the biggest problem, although there are maps available, I often find it difficult to get my bearings. Save points can often feel a bit thin on the ground, there have been a few occasions where I've been desperate to save so that I can put the game down for the day. On the question of saving your game, the PS3 doesn't use physical memory cards, so you will need to create a virtual PS1 memory card to save your progress. Along with increasing your character's statistics through levelling up, you will need to teach them new skills and build up their supply of magic. The method of learning new skills is a little convoluted and basically requires junctioning powerful allies, GFs, to your characters and then these GFs will gain points towards learning skills whenever they are carried into battle. The method by which magic is acquired is also rather awkward, instead of being able to buy or collect magic and then having so many points to use in casting spells, magic needs to be drawn from enemies during battle. As magic collected can then be linked to various stats, it soon becomes a necessary evil to extend battles in order to maximise your strength. I, personally, find this can become, well, tedious to say the least. Talking of tedious, while the GFs are actually helpful in battle (unlike FFXII) their summoning sequences are just too long and again cannot be skipped. The actual control system itself, as in which buttons need to be pressed, can be confusing, especially if playing FFVIII immediately after any other game. There is a lot of emphasis on using the circle and triangle buttons, rather than the cross. I find it takes me quite a time to get used to the configuration and then once I have, it affects all the other games I play afterwards. It's a good job that this is a game that keeps me occupied for hours then isn't it? This isn't a game that takes a few hours to complete, but one that takes upwards of 100 hours, if you are going to complete every side-quest and challenge. Even just completing the basic storyline will take 30+ hours, but then as with other FF games there are a multitude of side-quests that can be completed. Some of these side quests are enjoyable while others I simply can't be bothered with, but to get everything available within the game is pretty difficult. My recommendation if you're after a perfect game is to find a walkthrough (gamesfaqs.com), it's either that or replaying the game several times to discover new items. Although I love this game and will quite happily spend several hours a day progressing through the story and levelling up my characters, it's in no means perfect. My first real problem is with the way the game loads and the disc changes that are required, which sounds a little strange considering that it's installed on my PS3. As the game is installed I would have expected that loading times would be significantly reduced, but they're not. If anything I would say that loading times are identical to when I played the game on the PS1 and slightly longer than on the PS2. My second problem is that once the first disc is completed, the game insists on the next disc being inserted (mounted). There are no instructions on how to do this, and so the first time it took me a while to work this out, but even worse is that after you have completed the first disc each time you load the game you are once more prompted to change discs and this gets highly annoying. (In case you're interested, you need to press the Playstation button on the control and then select the correct disc). The lack of an instruction manual is yet another problem, although the game does walk you through the basic controls an instruction booklet would still have come in handy as the junction system is quite complicated. My final real gripe is with the audio, yes the fact that each town or location has it's own theme tune is quite nice it soon starts to grate and it's not long before I turn the volume down. But I must say that this a gripe I have with all the FF games. So the ultimate question is whether or not I would recommend this game and if so who to? And the answer is a resounding yes, this is an old-school RPG that is more than worth the £7.99 it costs to download. But if you prefer to spend your gaming time racing cars or shooting zombies then this probably isn't the game for you. But if you prefer to invest your time in playing a game where you need to think ahead, spend time improving your character and immersing yourself in a story, then what are you waiting for? Go and turn your PS3 on, navigate to the PSN store and buy this now, you won't regret it, although you may lose several hours of your life as you kill "Just one more monster".