Final Fantasy VIII, Squaresoft (1999) PlayStation

Final_Fantasy_VIII_European_box_art

We have played our fair share of Final Fantasy games this year, 1, 2, 6, 7, and 9. So when we started 8 we assumed, it has to be better than 1 and 2 right? Hell, it must be one of the best/better ones?

Well…

Story

I still have no idea what is going on in this story… something to do with a time travelling witch possessing other witches in a convoluted plot to end time.

You take on the role of a mopey douchebag named Squall. Squall makes Cloud look charismatic. You are tasked with first defeating the evil Witch Edea, who turns out to be your mother, Sorceress Adel who appears for about one fifth of disc 3, Rinoa who for about 1/10th of disc 3 is evil, and then finally Ultimecia who is at no point relevant to the plot, but turns out to be the person doing all the possessing.

The 6 party members you get all turn out to be childhood friends at an orphanage, who somehow all forget they are pretty much brothers and sisters, Headmaster Cid at some point in the 10ish years you have all been at SeeD must have at least ONCE said “Hey Squall, remember when Zell pooped himself in the orphanage”.

It makes no sense.

Characters

I hate the characters I really do.

Squall_LeonhartSquall – ‘This guy’. Okay, so you have a guy who is clearly intelligent, well respected and not short of attention from the ladies – so what’s his problem?! At various points you are privy to his thoughts: most of which make him come across like an emo gimp – who just needs to cheer up. And……get a haircut.

ZellZell – A re-hashed male version of Tifa from VII. He is sort of okay but his moves and general style are just a bit boring. Any character is much more fun with weapons (and gloves don’t count!) He is also sporting a Mike Tyson style tattoo on his face, which, having met his mom in his hometown – I find hard to believe this would be allowed….meaning he is obviously a bit of a tearaway and for that reason probably a bit of a d*ck. He also has an obsession with hotdogs which at no point is explained. A ‘quirk’ we could have done without.

QuistisQuistis – It’s always fun when your teacher decides to hang out with you. So, when she is a hot, only slightly older blonde girl with an S&M style whip – how could you go wrong?! Otherwise, Quistis is a fairly background character who doesn’t really stand out at any point. She is good, but you won’t be blown away by her.

selphie_tilmitt01Selphie – I’m definitely a big fan of a happy go lucky girl wearing a dainty dress and carrying a giant pair of Nunchaku. She never really takes a lead but does randomly decide to fly the Ragnorak space ship when you acquire it – which is pretty cool. Otherwise, the only other thing to mention is her limit break: which is a bit like Cait Siths ‘slots’ in VII – only with more range. She has two standout moves: ‘Rapture’ – which removes your opponent from the fight (much like Quistis’ Degenerator) and ‘The End’ which will ultimately end ANY fight. Yes, if you got it against old Omega weapon then it’s bye bye to him. This is extremely rare though and it is more likely your party will die whilst you endlessly flick through the randomly gen’d choices of move.

RinoaRinoa – Ah, lovely Rinoa. The other lead character along with Squall and I guess, Seifer. Her function basically being the love interest of Squall – though she also has a kinda cool weapon and for some reason a talking dog* that helps her in her fights. Not a lot else to say really – she is fairly boring apart from when she is possessed, which basically makes her crucial to the plot. Otherwise, she’s pretty but *yawn*

IrvineIrvine  Actually quite a cool character – he is brought in as an assassin from Galbadia Garden to help with the first wave assault on Sorceress Adea (why not kill the matron from your boarding school who helped you grow up?!). Irvine sort of sits in the back a bit after this and seems to form some sort of relationship with Selphie. The only other thing worth mentioning is his ammo refine & limit break. You can refine different ammo and when you get his limit you can choose an ammo and fire away using R1. The Fire ammo, Dark ammo (which causes status effects aswell as damage) and AP (armour Piercing) ammo are the best ones.

Angelo*Angelo – Rinoas dog that can clearly think like a human and I am sure at one point does actually hold a telepathic conversation with you… He also barks in response to conversation = talking dog.

Laguna and friendsLaguna/Kiros/Ward/Ellone – I hate the flashbacks! There is no point to these characters at all. Kiros = a black Voldo form the Soul Calibur series, Ward = a fat sailor who is only a few fry-ups away from cholesterol poisoning and Laguna – who is a bit like Irvine in looks/weapon and whom is featured right at the end of the final FMV (after you defeat future witch)….. a part which just doesn’t make sense.

Where the f*%^ do I go?

The prevailing feeling in FF8 is “Where the fuck do I go!?” Seriously, there are so many parts in the game where you have to activate invisible switches on walls to open doors, exits in a room obscured by room clutter.

Other points, such as the meeting in Deling City, where you have to talk to your party in an arbitrary order until the game decides to trigger the next event are deeply frustrating. It happens too often, and is really boring when it does happen.

Music

There are good tracks in FF8, I am a fan of “Liberi Fatali”, “Fisherman’s Horizon music”, “Man with the Machine Gun“and “Balamb Theme” but the rest of the music is really boring, and fades into the background very quickly.

Guardian Forces

These guys are pretty much summons but with a couple of extra twists: They carry and can learn abilities which helps with your stats/magic junctioning – which is explained later. When you call upon them in battle, until they arrive you use their HP so they sustain damage.

Guardian Forces

The GFs are:

Quazecotl – basically Ramuh from VII but with a giant faceless bird instead of a wizard..

Ifrit/Shiva/Bahamnut/Alexander – as featured in all Final Fantasy games. Slight change to animation is about it.

Siren – a friendly looking bint sitting on a rock. Does a bit of damage. Nothing to write home about.

Carbuncle – he/it/she makes a return from VI, and is still rubbish. Reflect cast on all but no enemy damage. Useless when you need to heal yourselves too.

Diablos – cool as Hell animation and gravity damage to all enemies. The animation is better than the effect of using him.

Brothers – kinda comedic animation and basically somewhere between Titan and Neo Bahamnut (minus the dragon) from VII.

Cerberus – pretty cool this one though no enemy damage. Enables double and triple on all party members which is quite useful at the start of a big fight.

Leviathon – the same as the one in VII but with a much better cut scene.

Doomtrain – a railcar version of Hades from VII. Pretty cool animation and damage along with the array of potential status effects.

Cactuar – not much to look at but fairly consistent. I believe the damage works in brackets of 10. So at level 10, he does 100 x 10. (1000) At 100, 100 x 100 (10,000) I don’t think it does 25 x 100, I think it is 10/20/30/40/and so on.

Tonberry – pretty cool with his uber nasty ‘knife’ attack. Damage is a set calculation, meaning defence has no effect. Once levelled/trained/compatible he will top out at 9999. So initially he is pretty useless until levelled up. Difficult to obtain though as you have to fight 20 Tonberrys in a row followed by a Tonberry King. Grind.

Eden – This one is worth waiting for and although long and somewhat drawn out, has one Hell of an animation. Basically their attempt at Knights of the Round it is the only one that can do damage above 9999. You have enough time during the animation to boost to the max twice – which is useful if you get knocked back down to 75 again (which is easy for this one) – but once you’ve used this a couple of times, it kinda loses its thrill. Good consistent damage against bigger enemies/bosses/weapons but that’s about it.

Junctioning

Each GF comes with a few available abilities/junction slots already. The rest you learn through acquiring AP after battles. The junction slots are for stuff like Strength/Magic/Defence/Spirit.

As you learn more you can also have both elemental attack&defence, and status attack&defence slots. You junction your magic to a slot and it increases your stats. That’s basically it. Certain magics do better at certain things. So Flare junctioned to Strength is gona be better than say Stop put there. But then Stop junctioned to status defence should prevent you from being stopped. That’s pretty much the deal.

The abilities are split between your standard MAGIC/ITEM/GF/DRAW and extra stuff such as HP+40% and novelty things like MUG or COUNTER.

Your GFs can learn new junction slots along with abilities which can be used both in and out of battle. Much like the material set up in VII, it takes some time to arrange but is fairly straight forward once you get into it and kinda cool to play around with.

FFVIII_Junction_Menu_4

Card game

The card game is fun and quite straight forward….right up until disc 3 – where a sudden shift in rules makes it almost impossible to really play unless you get rid of ALL your rubbish cards meaning that the “random” rule can only pick you a good hand. Other rules such as the “same” rule and the “plus” (not worth explaining) make playing with a great hand fairly pointless as you’ll lose your shit.

Triple-Triad

Endgame

GF grind/Omega/Ultimate Weapon are all disappointingly easy. The Island Closest to Hell is harder than Ultimate Weapon, and Omega is too easy as long as you realise he does the same 7 moves in order over and over.

Chocobo Forest. Yawn.

Completing the card set. Yawn.

The endgame is actually really boring, there is way too much grind for very little reward.

The final boss is also really boring, and lacks any feeling of epicness. It goes on for about 30 minutes, but unless you fail to junction anyone in your party really is a cake walk. The 5 forms are tedious, the frst 4 are so woefully underpowered it is a let-down, the final form is harder, but is scripted, so you deal x damage, she’ll say a line of text, you can’t damage past x, so after that line of text, she then has effectively full health again. It does mean she can withstand 8+ Lionheart limit breaks, which, is full on retarded. As 1 Lionheart is 199,980 damage on top of the 5-8 9999 Renzokukens.

FF8-0604-Ultimecia

Conclusion

Final Fantasy VIII isn’t even in the best 5 Final Fantasy games we have played in the last year.

The convoluted story, characters that don’t inspire, and numerous frustrating moments around where to go leave FFVIII in the “it is a good game, but not great or excellent” category. Especially if you compare it to VI, VII, IX or X.

Pros: Some depth in junctioning, GF’s are fun and some of the FMVs are pretty cool – taking into account how much more advanced they are than its predecessor VII.

Cons: Squall, final boss is dull & the frustration around some of the triggers required to advance the plot. Oh and Squalls haircut.

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4 thoughts on “Final Fantasy VIII, Squaresoft (1999) PlayStation

  1. …but the rest of the music is really boring.

    No love for ‘Man with a machine gun’? I agree the flashback scenes add nothing to the game, other than that track.

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