FFVIII: My Favorite RPG - Review
I picked up Final Fantasy VIII for the first time back in 2000. A friend of mine loaned me the first disc to show me how awesome the game was. From the opening scene, I was hooked. I had found everything I could ever have wanted in a single player game. Music, story, game play, and high quality cinematics (for that time). Outside of Pokémon, Sonic, Super Mario, and a few different 2D fighting games such as Mortal Kombat, I hadn't really played any other games up to that point. Final Fantasy VIII was the big turning point in my life as a gamer.
Final Fantasy VIII starts off with an amazing cinematic that really grabs you. I added this video at the top of this post, just to relive that goodness. These cinematics can be found at several points in the game and are really enjoyable. I usually make it a habit to save right before the dance cut scene as that is one of my favorite cut scenes in the entire Final Fantasy series. I don't think there was a single cinematic in Final Fantasy VIII I disliked.
As are most Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy VIII's music is composed by Nobuo Uematsu. Uematsu is a genius when it comes to video game music, he always seems to catch the right mood in the music. I picked out a few of my favorite Final Fantasy VIII songs for the video including, Man With the Machine Gun, Force Your Way, Eyes On Me, and Maybe I'm a Lion. There was one song I couldn't track down that was played during the Squall speech, I'm not sure what the name of it is, but it's probably my favorite song in the entire game. Overall I love the music in the game and will continue to do so no matter how old it is.
The gameplay is pretty straight forward. Turn-based battle, open world exploration, and fun mini games. Many people aren't a fan of turn based battle but it's a preference thing really. I enjoy the turn based system because it makes me think before I choose an action; a wrong action could cost you the fight. Final Fantasy VIII, like many of the previous Final Fantasies, welcomed world exploration with the world map roaming travel. I was one of those who had to search every nook and cranny in that world map for hidden things, so I spent hours and hours just exploring. Then, finally, one of the greatest mini-games ever made outside of Blitzball, Triple Triad. The card game that some people spent years trying to collect every card for, I still have yet to collect every card.
I'm a sucker for a good story, that could come from me being a writer, though. So, playing through Final Fantasy VIII was an emotional rollercoaster for me. I may or may not have cried at the end, the truth of this matter will forever remain buried in the depths of time. The story basically shows the developement of the main character due to his interactions with the other members of your group. Final Fantasy VIII had the first love story I have ever actually enjoyed within any form of media or entertainment. There is also a story within the story that unravels as you dive deeper into the main story. It's a very complex concept that worked out really well in my opinion. The story of Final Fantasy VIII is the primary draw for me, it sucks me in and doesn't ever let go.
A few minor dislikes
Ok now that I've sung my praises I will tell of the few things that I disliked - they are very minor in the grand scheme of things. The first is the poor graphics outside of cut scenes. My first play through I didn't really notice it, but at that time these were pretty good graphics. More recent games have spoiled me on graphics though. The other dislike I had is the transition to full linear game play on disc four. If you missed something and started disc four, you likely won't be able to go back and get it. All the cities are shut off and can't be entered. This issue is easily solvable by making a save file that is right before the end of disk three so you can go back in case you remembered something you forgot.
Overall, I have to say Final Fantasy VIII is a 10 out of 10. It just hits all of my gaming needs with one shot. If you haven't played it, I recommend giving it a play through. Let me know your thoughts on the game in the comments below.