Game Review: Final Fantasy VIII

Geek Specs:

Title: Final Fantasy VIII
Platform: Playstation
Genre: RPG
Developer: Squaresoft
Publisher: Square Electronic Arts
Release: September 11, 1999

Introduction: Final Fantasy VIII is a particular chapter of this long series and it detaches itself from the others. To explain just why is necessary for the introduction. In the SNES age, Final Fantasy hadn't great success in America, altough in Japan it was very popular. It was based on manga style and many western people did not like it. When Square released Final Fantasy VII (still based on manga style) and it had great success, Sony Computer Entertainment decided to buy a part of Square. Being in the administration council of Squaresoft, Sony forced the Final Fantasy's developers to build the next chapter of the series more appetible for occidental players. This is how Final Fantasy VIII (FF8 from now on) was born. A game that leaves the original style of the Final Fantasy games, but which is also capable of letting you feel something which other games cannot; all the previous titles were able to let you experience were emotions, but this one can totally immerse you in a world of dreamful splendor that is hard to distinguish from reality.

Review: First off, this chapter, as I said before, was made more appetible to western players and for that it approached the style of western games. So this means renouncing to many aspects that characterize a typical Japanese RPG game, but also means to have a movie-style and a plot mainly focused on a love story. In fact, in FFVIII you will play as Squall, a solitary young man that is going to have an exam to be apart of the Seed, a military group that has got its bases in three bulidings situated in three different places on the world called "Gardens". The story begins the day when Squall must do his pratical exam, which consists of a mission where he and two other aspirant Seeds must free a tower in a city. This part is needed to introduce you to the events that are happening in the FF8's world, which is attempting to be destroyed by a witchess. After this, you will become part of the Seed and you will be entrusted with another mission. Here Squall, accompanied by some party members that will remain with him til' the game's end, will meet Rinoa and here will begin the love story that slowly scrolls behind the main plot.

The love story and the main plot fuse perfectly. As the story is a bit different from the previous Final Fantasy, also the gameplay has got near to the more tricky ability system typical of western RPGs; don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying that this system is similar to the ones of games like Might & Magic and so on. I'm only saying that it is much more difficult to understand and not as effective as the ones of the previous chapters. For some aspects, it is similar to the one of Final Fantasy VI. It is called "Junction" system. Basically, you find on your way some spirits already seen in other FF's (Ifrit, Shiva, Odin and so on), and you will be able to "Junction" them to the party members, giving them determinate powers. You will be able, for example, to evoke them in battle, and to call some abilities such as Assimilate. This last ability is particularly useful because it lets you get spells from the enemies. These spells can then be used in battle (not very useful) and, above all, to become more powerful "Junctioning" them to one of your statistic (Strenght, Resistence, Magic Power, etc.).

The graphics too have been influenced from the entrance of Sony in the management of Squaresoft: now they have nothing to do with manga-style and are completely proportioned. The 3D graphic quality has gotten better, especially in battles, and now the charachters use textures too, as the battle evironments. The pre-rendered backgrounds remained in a pure Japanese style and altough they were already rather beautiful in Final Fantasy 7, they now reach their maximum level of quality, thanks to a better mastering of the PSX capabilities and to the ability of the drawing master Yoshitaka Amano. The spirit evocations are really spectacular, thanks to a beautiful animation and to a perfect texture management. Not to mention, the beautiful pre-rendered FMVs made with a revolutionary system that will be used in future to create the movie "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within".

Covering the music part, I can't miss to say that the soundtrack of this game IS THE BEST EVER MADE, and, altough it abandoned the pure, original Japanese style, I can say that Nobuo Uematsu has surpassed himself. Not to mention, the song "Eyes On Me", that is used in a perfect situation creating an atmosphere that has yet to be seen in a game until now.

Conclusion: Many criticize this game because it partially abandoned the pure Japanese style. I'm not saying that leaving this style is right, but I think that this game is mainly an experimentation of a new kind of RPG, ones that can transfer to your real feelings. This chapter of the saga of Final Fantasy is perhaps better than the others because it is like a videogame, like a movie, but also better than both of them. I warmly advise you to try this game, because you will have all the fun and the content of a Japanese RPG together with the feelings of a movie. Thank you Square, for presenting us with these emotions once again.

Ratings: (scale of 0.0 - 5.0)

Gameplay: 4.5 Graphics: 5.0
The worst part of this game. The gameplay has been made more tricky believing that it would attract much more western players, but I really think that a difficult gameplay can't make a game more appetible. The graphics reached their maximum level in every way, from the textures to the backgrounds. Also, spirit animations and FMV's were really spectacular.

Sound: 5.0 Overall: 5.0
Nobuo Uematsu, you surprised all of us once again with your fantastic music. They are enchanting inside as they are outside the game. Not to mention, the song "Eyes on me" and many other beautiful tracks. The story compensates for lack of gameplay; graphic and music are really beautiful. Surely the ability system is a little difficult to handle, but this game is worth the shelf price.

Written by Coolvortex


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