Final Fantasy VIII PlayStation Review

An evil sorceress is trying to change the world for the worse, you are the only one who can stand in her way. To do this you must travel to the past and the future to find her. As a member of the elite mercenary squad, Garden you are plunged into a mission that you could never have thought of. Final Fantasy VIII is a story of two men whose destinies are intertwined and who continuously plunge their mighty souls into battle.

Graphics

Final Fantasy VIII has a different style than VII; the characters are more human-like, but are not very rounded and stand out from the background a lot. The backgrounds are very detailed and contain lots of animated elements to keep the gamers looking out for them. The game is seemingly integrated into the FMV sequences, eliminating annoying jumps between the two.

The opening movie must be one of the best and most memorable in the series. It sees a heated battle between our hero, Squall, and his rival Seifer escalate until they are both attacking each other with their full strength and power.

Gameplay

Just like with the other Final Fantasy games, you control a character that moves through a world of demons and monsters, fighting their way towards the truth about what is going on. With a very anti-social SeeD cadet called Squall, you control a team of three people at a time. Exclusively to this game, the other two characters actually follow you through the world, unlike all the others that normally only have one controllable character on screen at the one time.

The story goes, an evil sorceress called Edea is using the Galbadian army to take over the world. Even though this is bad enough, she is being controlled by an even more powerful sorceress in the future, and SeeD are the only people who can stop her.

SeeD is a special combat unit, which takes missions from anyone who can pay. They have three main bases (Gardens), Galbadia Garden, Trabia Garden and Balamb Garden, which is where the story starts and our hero is from. The start of our story sees the SeeD members being hired to rescue a town from the clutches of the invading Galbadian army. It launches you into the fast pace of the game at full throttle. You hardly get time to prepare and get the hang of the game before you are sent, by sea to the middle of the battlefield.

Exclusively to this Final Fantasy game is the Junction system. It consists of the player equipping Guardian Forces (GFs) which are summon monsters that help you in your quest. Different GFs allow you to junction magic to different stats, depending on where, and what magic you put down i.e. If you put 25 cure magic onto your HP stat, your overall HP will increase. You collect magic by finding special draw points around on the ground or by using the draw feature on enemies. You can choose what things your characters can do in battle, GFs can enable your user to do different things, like use items, or use the draw ability. Each character can have a total of 4 commands usually consisting of Attack, GF, Magic, Item or Draw. GFs are very useful if used properly and can really turn the tables in a battle.

Weapons can be upgraded, but in a way never before and since attempted in a Final Fantasy game; while you are playing through the game you collect different objects that can be used to build up your weapons. You get a special magazine that tells you all the quantities of the items that you need. This can be annoying as the items are usually few and far between, but do give your characters a much needed boost.

The characters are linked by fate; they were all members of the same orphanage when they were young and then get re-united during the game.

Squall Leonhart – The reluctant hero. He is a very anti-social person and likes to believe that he doesn’t need anyone’s help.
Rinoa Heartilly – A lively young woman who amazes Squall with her carefree attitude. She speaks her mind and is not afraid to show off.
Quistis Trepe – An extremely young and talented SeeD instructor. She has a cool exterior that can sometimes lead to difficulties coping with frustration.
Selphie Tilmitt – A young woman who seems out of place at a military academy because of her innocent looks and light-hearted attitude.
Zell Dincht – A short-tempered man who acts solely on impulses and fails to think things through. He is an extremely good martial arts skills.
Irvine Kinneas – An expert gunman who claims the title of “Best Shooter in Garden.” He is the ultimate ladies man and tries to woo any girl he likes.

This bit will get confusing. At times Squall can fall into a dream-like state where you travel into the past and become Laguna Loire. He is an ex-soldier, turned journalist whose pen is truly mightier than the sword. Unwillingly becoming part of the future, he starts to protect a small girl called Ellone who is the only one who can stop the Sorceress in the far future, after Squall; (see, told you it was confusing.) Ellone also crops up where Squall tries to find her. Sorceress Edea, who is being controlled by Sorceress Ultimecia from the future, is trying to find and kill Ellone. Edea is unveiled to be the very same Matron of the orphanage that the other team members lived at when they were young.

There is also a highly addictive card game that is sweeping the land in Final Fantasy VIII. Triple Triad is a game that is similar to dominoes in the way that you have to match up numbers for each side of each card; if the number on the attacking card is higher than the defending one, that card is taken. To utilise the whole gaming arena, the greatest Triple Triad players will use the edges of the board to protect their cards from attack and to limit where their opponent can go. Many people can be challenged to games, just press the square button to initiate a duel.

Sound

Nobuo Uematsu has done it again and created an amazingly stunning musical score that does great complement to the game. The battle music gets your heart going and really makes it seem as though you are in a battle and that anything could go on. The town of Dollet has one of the best music pieces in the game; it is very sophisticated and matches the dark town spectacularly. The music is varied from place to place, just like the different styles of music from our own world, however they all have a common background theme that runs through the game.

Lifespan

With 4 discs with the game on it, you won’t be finishing it in a hurry. With all the intertwined stories in the game, it definitely needs another play if you complete it, just to understand it! This is a game that you won’t get bored of easily, and will keep you playing for ages.

Overall

Though it is still completely over shadowed by the masterpiece that Final Fantasy VII was, it still keeps the high standards that the series has always stuck to. Also, with the highly addictive Tetra Master card game to keep you enthralled, it is an amazing game for everyone.

9.0 out of 10
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