Tuesday 15 January, 2008
Final Fantasy VIII is the 8th installment in the RPG series Final Fantasy (go figure). It is a single person game in which the player controls Squall, a member of the combat-unit-for-hire SeeD. The world in this game is in danger of falling prey to an evil sorceress and it is up to Squall and his fellow SeeD members to stop her.
From the get-go this game had me excited to play it. I've always found the text conversations of the older Final Fantasy games to be entertaining, if somewhat quaint. It's a nice little "blast from the past" after having been playing Final Fantasy XII for a while. Through little snippets of conversations or random bits of information I was able to get a feel for what these characters are like. Right now I don't know much about them, but the fun thing about RPGs like Final Fantasy is seeing how the characters grow.
What I really enjoyed about this game was that it let me take control of the character right away. I was able to explore the academy and go up to random people and strike up conversations. The introduction of the card game was a nice little perk to the game, though I must admit that I've lost more games than won. Little minigames such as that tend to get me off track and I found myself taking time out to read up on how to play the cardgame.
What I found odd though was that there seemed to be a lack of items lying around the vicinity. Usually in Final Fantasy games whenever you are exploring a town, or someplace you've never been to before, you find "hidden" items throughout the area that could aide you in your travels. I was surprised by my lack of findings, considering that I searched throughout the two floors of the building: running through the hallways, exploring the cafeteria, dormitory, infirmary, etc...I was all over the place.
I spent a good amount of my time in the training room so I could acquaint myself with the battle system. The battle system really makes this game unique from the other Final Fantasies. The characters are able to take an opponent's spell from them and then use it against them. Any character is capable of stealing an opponent's spell as long as that character has the ability Draw equipped.
GAMEPLAY ENTRY 2
I love how in RPGs you're suppose to travel to a specific destination in order to continue the story, but often times you can just wonder around the world map and level up and go to random towns, basically putting off what you're suppose to be doing. That is what I have been doing for my second entry: running around the world map and getting into random battles. With the older Final Fantasy games like FFVI and FFIX I use to get annoyed with the random battles, but I feel that the battle system in this game makes the random battles more compelling. I've found that since MP (magic points) don't exist in this game and that any character can use magic, I am using magic attacks more than physical attacks. It's a delightful change from how I usually engage my characters in RPG battles.
For the second half of my play time my roommates watched me play the game. I found it interesting how even though RPGs are meant to be played by a single player, bystanders are still able to enjoy it. We compared the characters, music, and the world to other Final Fantasies and other RPGs.
So far I am happy with the design elements of FF8. Visually, it's not on the same level as the newer games, but it is still appealing. I feel that because the gameplay graphics are older and not as intricate, the cut scenes leave more of a profound affect. Those moments become more important. Since there isn't any voice acting the music becomes more memorable. For the cut scenes, since there isn't any text to convey what the characters are thinking or saying, the music has to speak for them.
Going back to the battle system, the time-based battles do get a little tedious and time consuming. The battles go a little slow because the characters have to wait for their battle gauge to fill up. However, I am still impressed with how the battle systems are designed. I like how a character's ability to use spells isn't limited to how much MP they have, but how many spells they have stocked up. This unique element is definitely something that sets FF8 apart from the other games in the series.