FF8 Review (#1)
After the success with Final Fantasy 7, Squaresoft had unbelievable high expectations on themselves when they released the sequal, Final Fantasy 8. Everything had to be perfect and Squares goal was to make even the graphics as realistic as possible so they could get better then FF7´s wonderful fantasy based without repeating themselves. But somewhere on the road to the perfect game something got terrible wrong. Squaresoft had focused way to much on graphics and to make the game look new and fresh, they had all forgotten that it is gameplay, music, a understandable and good storyline and characters that make a good RPG, not graphics. But don´t get me wrong, the game do have much to offer and some scenes of it are remarkable well produced and directed. Yes directed, Square has started to be more like movie producers than a videogame company, many scenes from the game could be directly copied from a action or love movie and the fantasy and magic touch of the other FF-games can only be seen at a few moments in the game.
Allright, the graphics are the best ever seen in a RPG and in some of the FMV´s the producers have skillfully weaved in the characters emotions and also helped the storyline on the way. In a few of them it is even possible to controll your characters at the same time as the movie sequence still continues in the background. The graphical difference between normal playing and FMV movies isn´t as big as in FF7 and especially in the first disc the changes between movie and real gameplay floats on nicely. The battles haven´t been much improved graphicly and the background still looks like side scenes. Another thing that still is left since FF7 is summonable magic creatures that take very long time to attack the enemy just because they want to show off every time they get summoned and they are almost necessery to use too often in the game. These summonable beast are called GFs here instead of "Summons" and are even more inportant here than in the last mentioned game. After you´ve seen one for the 50th time it has gotten really annoying and you want throw away your control pad in powerlessness. But the graphics of the game are non the less awesome and deserves a good rating even if they are too realistic for being a Final FANTASY game in my opinion.
Graphics Rating: 97%
Music and Sounds:
If graphics are Final Fantasy 8´s strong side then music is it´s weak. Some of it´s music are good like the intro theme "Liberi Fatali" with real opera singers and fast violins in the background but if there is one good track on the FF8 soundtrack there are 5 less good. And when the world map music stinks so much that you fear for touching the ground then there is something wrong with the choice of music. The "Eyes on me" song with real singing creates a suiting atmopsphere at the love between Squall and Rinoa scenes but it can´t be compared with any of the earlier theme songs of the Final Fantasy games, at least not the last 4. Final Fantasy 8 is and was a dissapointment as the latest product in the videogame serie that dominates in music but if it should be in any other game serie its music would have been extraordinary good and probably held to the skies for its originality.
Music and Sounds Rating: 67%
Battlesystem and Gameplay:
The battlesystem of FF8 is very similar to the one in FF7 with the difference that the battles in FF8 often take much longer time and random battles are coming more rarely. Quite early in the game you also have the chance to obtain a ability that takes away random battles totally and that makes the game even easier than it was from the start but it is a step in the right direction anyway, because random battles can be as boring as GFs if they occure too often. Another positive thing is that you have been more involved in the limitbreaks and have to press the right buttons at the right time to make the ultimate amount of damage.You get new magics by stealing them or "draw" them from enemies, the fact that you can draw how many magics you want from a enemy is another thing that does the game to easy. The menus in FF8 dominates by choices of how to equip the spells or "magics" and GFs at the different characters, in that way you could easily deside yourself who you want to be the strongest character by giving him or her the best stuff, this takes away the differences between the characters and it´s almost the same to have your worst character with the lowest level as to have the best one in your party. A system where all characters have their individual battle specialties is the best in my opinion, not this homogeneous mass of numbers and similar abilities . I think this junction system is a loser so I give it a low rating, who wants to steal magic spells from enemies anyway? At least I like to learn them or have them given to me. Something that helps the gameplay on the way is the "Card Game", it increases the lenght on the game with about 10 hours if you want all the cards and it´s really fun to play when you have learned it. One of the better sides of FF8.
Battlesystem and Gameplay Rating: 89%
Story, Characters and Replay Value:
The main story is about a Military Organization named SeeD which you, Squall Leonheart, is fanatic member of. Something that is irretating about the story in FF8 is that it never happens anything drastic or suprising, you´re always staying at the SeeD and it seems like the story never gets carried away or starts to get exciting. The story itself is nothing to complain about but it all feel a little short and the lack of really upsetting events or disasters is in a urgent need of something special. The plot hides a lot of secrets and complex thoughts and feelings but it never gets totally clear (the FF7 syndrom) it feels like something is missing in the storyline, maybe some fantasy and not the strict future enviroment and high tech atmosphere. The characters are well thought out but the aces in the deck: Kiros, Laguna and Ward are only playable for a very short period of the game. They are the highlights of your stay in the world of Final Fantasy 8 and then you only use them for a few hours, it´s outrageous. The other "normal" characters are like grey shadows after you´ve played with these three jokers. The replay value is really bad. After I had played it would rather have played FF7 through a 5th time then play FF8 a second, that shows that it isn´t a game that you return to imediatly but I will probably play it again in a few months and then I might think different about the game.
Story, Characters and Replay Value: 79%
Overall Rating: 89%
Be sure to check out our complete list of other Final Fantasy Reviews.
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