Final Fantasy 8
Developer: Square Publisher: Square Genre: RPG Players: 1 Memory Blocks: 1 Discs: 4 Analog: Yes Dual Shock: Yes ESRB: Teen Difficulty: Depends...
FF8 is the most anticipated game of the year. Does it live up to these expectations? In some ways yes, in some ways no!
Gameplay--The gameplay of FF8 is truely revolutionary for an RPG. It is so unlike any previous one, yet not so abstract that it is unfamiliar to tried and true fans. Gone are the cumbersome magic limitations (represented in MP). Instead, magic is drawn from enemies and guardian forces (similar to espers or summons) have HP, compatibility, and skills of their own. The battle system looks different too. A menu doesn't hog the bottom of the screen, but rather comes up only when necessary. Character skills are hodgepodged from different FFs (ex: Selphie has a random magic skill, Quistis uses something equivalent to Enemy Skill, and Zell adhears to a Blitz like command). The long treasured Limit Breaks are for the most part gone, and much rarer. Overall, FF8 has extremely good gameplay. The Junction and Draw systems are the best ideas yet from Square. The weapon system is so/so, but I think a lot of people will miss buying equipment. One more thing - by tapping [square] during a summon, or pressing R1 during an attack, you can increase damage!
Graphics--The graphics of this game are simply awe inspiring. The battle graphics are of extremely high quality - the characters seem very real during their winning stances. Each enemy is very detailed and has a wide variety of motions. The summons are even better than FF7's and look fantastic. When not in battle, the characters still look great. Unlike its predecessor, FF8 is devoid of super-deformed characters. Rather, the inhabitants of FF8 look real, move around, have different clothes, and make hand gestures and other movements. Each town / dungeon is beautifully prerendered with excruciating detail. The overworld, however, looks bland, and though realistic, is devoid of interesting color. The graphics are essentially Parasite Eve meets FF7.
Music--The music of FF8 is a mixed bag. Some would say it lives up to expectations, others would say it falls short. I would go with the previous statement. Each setting has its own distinctive tune, which fits it almost to a tee. Some of the musical tunes aren't as inspiring as the ones in FF7, however. The fanfare, though extremely marred, still exists. The battle and boss music are okay, but the overworld music sucks. I would have to say that the two best tunes would be during Edea's parade, and the kidnapping attempt of President Deling.
Storyline--Of all the games in the Final Fantasy series, FF8 seems to have the worst plot! In a world where it is apparent that the medieval time is scarce or not present at all (you can drive cars, order gas, ride on trains, operate machines) the main enemy is a SORCERESS. Rather than revealing the plot slowly, it is bluntly revealed at the end of Disc 1 (which is only 20 hours, VERY short, btw). I'm not far enough into the game to see how Laguna incorporates into the plot, but it doesn't look promising. If love does exist between Squall and Rinoa, it doesn't show through right away. I would not call this plot based on love, because it simply isn't. It's just another SAVE THE WORLD FROM THE EVIL EMPIRE deal - which I'm sick of.
Control--The control for FF8 breaks away from tradition as well. Rather than O being the classic confirm, and X being run/cancel, they're roles have been switched. You run automatically and, in some areas, you can only walk. Control can sometimes be a hassle because of the pre-rendered backgrounds (also, they don't have the finger and the colored arrows to help you out either). Moving about and talking to people can be a pain in the @$$ too. If you want to play the game without hurting your fingers, I suggest you use the analog stick - you're gonna need it.
Fun Factor--This game, in my mind, is a VERY VERY close equal to FF7 in fun factor, but runs a little short of fun at times. Running through a gauntlet of dungeons without resting or seeing the overworld isn't my idea of fun. However, the card game is an EXTREMELY welcome idea. The battles are very entertaining and enjoyable. Personally, the individuality which has been added to each G.F. (you can even name them!) makes the game more entertaining.
Overall Satisfaction--This game will have to run a close race, if it wants to beat out FF7 in the satisfaction category. If you liked FF7, this game is just right for you. Another entertaining game from Square, though lacking in plot. It adds so many new and great ideas, but brings many many traditions from other games in the series. The discs were to clogged with cinema scenes (about 5 cinema scenes were just of Edea's face) to keep the player preoccupied. Disc 1 was VERY VERY VERY short.
BTW: What are those things in the corkscrew prison? Are they descendants of Bugenhagen and Nanaki?? They sure look like it!