Final Fantasy VIII
Reviewed: 07/22/2003


There has never been a game that has had such a hard time proving it self to fans of its series than Final Fantasy VIII does. This game has the most mixed emotions about its appeal then any other RPG known to man. So saying all that, this review is done on a completely unbiased fashion….

The story begins with a CG montage of events yet to come showing Rinoa (the girl in the flower field) and an evil sorceress named Edea crossing paths. As that happens, Squall Leonheart, a student of Balamb Garden (a military academy), is in a friendly duel against his rival Sefier Almasy, and something that starts off as simple fun gets down and dirty. Jumping ahead Squall becomes a member of SeeD, which is Balamb’s army, and after meeting up with a couple friends he soon learns that his army and home is being threatened by the rival army of Galbadia. His task now is to bring down their leader, the powerful sorceress Edea who is hell bent on taking over the world.

Screen Shot
Hey buddy! Cheer up!

Final Fantasy VIII introduces something new to this series: seamless integration between gameplay and CG cinematics. These things pop up out of no where and blend in quite well with actual gameplay events. FFVII had really cool CG scenes, but never had a flow like this game because the first time through they where tinkering with the idea and in FFVIII, they had more experience with this concept and developed it a little bit further. FFVIII was one of the first RPGs to visually display true emotion in its characters through real human-like facial expression. Those helped the player know exactly what the person was feeling even if they never said a word.

The next area to talk about regarding graphics would be Squaresoft’s idea to use the realistic human character models. Square decided to trash the “super-deformed” look of characters in the past and make the models as real as possible within the Playstation’s boundaries. They did very well in that department. Aside from a few times where you could see obvious glitches, this game had some nice looking visual scenery and the characters had a lot of detail put into them. The GF (Guardian Forces) had nice detail and their powerful magic attacks looked sensational. When a game has about an hour of CG movie scenes, you know it was made to impress.

The music in this game is set on a different rhythm, with moments of similar music theme’s like the battle music…it’s a kind of like a remixed version of FFVII, which is a pretty cool thing. Also at key moments in the game the soundtrack does a good job of setting emotion and moving the storyline along…

Sceen Shot
Collecting magic.

But beyond the glamour of graphics and sound lies arguably the most important core aspect of Final Fantasy VIII that people argue about: The Junction System. This is a word that based on the players opinion, hurt or helped the game. Whether you loved it or hated it the Junction system was something new, to the Final Fantasy Series that people had to get use to. No more materia, or magic leveling, instead people and monsters “draw” magic right out of each other and stored it with them. When you’re in battle you have the option of using the monsters magic right against them or keeping it for yourself.

Sceen Shot
This is one lady you don’t want to piss off!

Also, depending on the amount of magic you have, you can customize your status and attributes. None of this can be done without a GF, because with out junctioning a GF on a character you can’t cast magic, draw magic, or do any other special attacks. GF’s are essential to giving your character power. A GF in this game is like a summoned monster in other FF’s, but there is a difference with them; they can be used anytime you want but once you trigger it, there is a waiting time before they strike, and they also have HP. When a GF unleashes their attack you get to enjoy a cinematic event that looks amazing the first few times, but unfortunately you don’t get the opportunity to skip it so it gets really repetitive.

Final Fantasy VIII marked the beginning of change for Squaresoft. It is a showcase of new game advancements that (as controversial as they may seem) opened a new chapter in this company’s life. If you liked Final Fantasy VII and can handle change, give this game a go!

-Q Jets

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Very Good
Story Very Good
Graphics Great
Sound/Music Great
Replay Value Average
The Verdict: 8