Final Fantasy VIII is without doubt one of the finest video games ever made. The story is a battle through time and space against tyranny and oppression, set in a beautiful and immersive universe.
You play as Squall, a young student at a mercenary academy called Balamb Garden, who finds it hard to connect with people due to a troubled past. Injured during a training exercise with a fellow classmate, Seifer, Squall ends up in the infirmary much to the disappointment of his teacher, Quistis.
Squall is ordered to go to a live battlefield at Dollet under the command of Seifer and teamed up with a hothead called Zell who Seifer clearly despises. The mission? Protect Dollet from the invading Galbadian army. After a few skirmishes resulting in a long wait, Seifer gets bored and decides to attack the Dollet Communications tower. A messenger arrives in the form of Selfie, but Seifer has rushed ahead…
After a fierce battle on top of the tower, Squall, Zell and Selfie find themselves being hunted down by a mechanized killer which chases them onto the beach and is shot to bits by Quistis on board one of the landing ships…
After the successful defense of Dollet, Squall ends up being forced against his antisocial will to dance with a beautiful girl at his graduation, little does he know that she is there trying to get assistance with a resistance movement in the town of Timber… A movement he will be ordered to assist. All this happens and we’re not even a small way through the first story arc. To tell all would be to ruin an amazing story, one you should definitely play.
Along the way, you’ll get involved in a daring assassination attempt, experience strange dreams, and risk life and limb in many chaotic circumstances. You’ll fight off an invasion of your Garden which has some of the coolest and most iconic scenes in all Sci Fi and Fantasy games. The story feels like an epic, until you discover the truths of the universe and it gets much bigger…
Will you be able to change the world and get the girl?
Will you be able to save the person who means the most to you?
Will you be able to become less antisocial?
Or will you die – an ice shard through your chest…
Final Fantasy VIII features an interesting system for junctioning magic based on the Guardian Forces your characters connect with. These beings grant you skills and power which you could not obtain otherwise… But at what cost? There is something VERY sinister about these Guardian Forces – but I can’t tell you now, it’ll ruin the surprise, and interestingly enough it tries in beautifully with the story.
The leveling system in Final Fantasy VIII creates problems, because the higher you level, the stronger your enemies, bosses and monsters alike, so you’ll need to ensure you are using more powerful junctioned magic the higher you level, as your base stats aren’t up to scratch. Magic is drawn from enemies and special points in the world map, so you don’t have a normal mana system, and casting junctioned spells can weaken your characters. Which I think is pretty darned cool.
You will play a lot of Cards, as Triple Triad is probably the best mini game in all Final Fantasy games with the exception of Blitzball, but it’s a close call on that.
Final Fantasy VIII is probably the game with the most defined internal universe that I’ve experienced. Full of connections and little easter eggs everywhere, the depth of the game makes it one of the most immersive I’ve seen.
For example, Seifer’s romantic dream to be the Sorceress’ Knight is based on an old film starring Laguna Loire, who utilizes a gunblade to defeat a dragon for the Sorceress within the film. You can see this in the way Seifer fights and mimics Laguna’s style and stance. Don’t worry, you’ll be meeting Laguna when you play, and at the most inconvenient times!
The opening credit sequence where Rinoa waits for Squall is based on dialog from the game, when he has finally broken down most of his barriers and accepted his place in the grand scheme of things. He has realized the value of his friends and what she means to him.
Selfie is a great name for someone who utilizes social media to organize the Garden festival. There are so many connections in the game, I’d never finish this review if I tried to name them all.
Of all the games in the Final Fantasy series, I have loved VIII the most. It is an incredible experience… No matter who you are, where you live, how you grew up – I can’t imagine anyone not being able to enjoy the story… I’ve tried to avoid too much information in this review as I feel it’ll lessen your experience…
Final Fantasy VIII: 9.7 out of 10!