|Review of the game
enters the game as Squall, a young student in the
Seed university of Balamb, as he is about to be sent on his
first mission. His performance during this battle will determine
if he is or not worthy to graduate. Cid has founded the Seed
in order to train elite mercenaries whose services could only
be hired to defend the oppressed as well as to uphold peace
and justice. However, his noble ideals do not seem to be shared
by the mysterious figures which guard the university. These
are more concerned with financial matters and seem somehow to
exert a great influence over Cid. Meanwhile, Squall has more
immediate problems to worry about. A dictator and his powerful
sorceress plan to take over the world and have already begun
to invade neighbouring cities. One of his fellow student, Seifer,
is becoming increasingly aggressive and difficult. Moreover,
Squall must work in team while he values his solitude best and
is unable and unwilling either to understand or connect with
others. The only person who seemed able to take him
out of his shell and share a dance with him (Rinoa) appears to be
Seifer's girlfriend. Finally, he shares with two other mercenaries
the same strange recurring dreams in which they slip in the
lives of three Galbadian soldiers. And all this is only the
beginning of this exciting story, filled with many more
mysteries, wonders and surprises.
Much less dark
and philosophical than FFVII, this game focuses
more on suspense, narrative twists, romance and art.
FFVIII is visually stunning and the images are gorgeous.
The manga look has been abandonned for a more
realistic one, which is a shame but on the other hand does
make a change (and variety is one of FF's strong point).
Furthermore, it suits the more realistic atmosphere of
this particular game. The style of the
language is more familiar and reminiscent of what could
actually be heard in a real university amongst students. The
psychological focus is less important than in FFVII and is
primarily set on bitter main character Squall. Again, a whole new fantasy world has been
lovingly created with various towns, people, animals and lands,
all minutiously designed.
The music is beautiful, mostly emphasising the action and
the romance of the story. The dark undertones of
FFVII's score are only present in the haunting Ultimecia's theme
but have otherwise been replaced by
a more light-hearted tone.
This is one of the best game there is
(though not the best FF).
The art on its own
makes it worthy of such a title, but the story is also very
well written and the play is quite enjoyable. The plot is exciting, for it is quite
twisted as well as intricate and spans over two different
time zones or universes (Squall's and Laguna's). There are some side
quests and there is also the possibility to play cards with
some of the people the characters come accross. You must press B1 to
defy them for a game. There are different rules applying in different
parts of the world. This
is not at all compulsory to complete the game though it contributes to
its variety and interest. There are also
some chocobos and they are located in the round-shaped forests.
Unfortunately, you cannot breed those in stables and train them.
The system of the materia has been given up and a whole new
system has been devised: magic spells are no longer contained
in gems but can be stolen from ennemies or found in natural
sources. Magic can be associated to the different statistics of
characters to enhance their defensive and attacking powers,
both mental and physical.
As usual, it all looks
complicated at first but it is actually quite simple so don't
get discouraged. There is a tutorial in the menu to explain
everything, with some facultative tests which
determine your Seed level (which in turn determines your wage
as money is no longer earnt from fighting monsters).
Moreover, associations can be done automatically
by the computer if the player does not want to bother with this
technical side of the game (though that option takes out most
of the fun away and is sometimes less efficient than manual).
There are no more MPs, and G-forces (summons) can be called as many times
as necessary unless they are knocked out. They can also learn
The way the battle scenes are filmed from all kind of angles
and camera travellings is very effective, as well as the
extensive use of spectacular special effects (lights,
sounds...). The animation is fluent and flawless and fits
neatly with the non-animated scenes (well, if you have a very
powerful PC or a Playstation that is). This game is infused
with a lot of romance, which is very beautiful but
unfortunately gets too "sugary" at times. This is, however,
a very minor fault comparing to the degree of perfection
reached by this game.