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Final Fantasy VIII

When it comes to FFVIII, a lot of people ask this one question: Is it better than FFVII? Simply put, FFVII had set the standard of how RPGs should be done. FFVIII has a lot to do if it wants to be better than FFVII, and the creators have done a good job in trying to do so.

In any RPG, the most important aspect is the story. FFVIII tries to play around with human emotions, as was done in the two previous Final Fantasies. This time around, the theme is love. Obviously from the logo itself you can see how the story is likely to evolve around Squall and Rinoa. There have been fears that due to this particular theme, FFVIII would turn all mushy. This is certainly not the case, as the theme is not totally emphasized in the game, just emphasized more than it has been previously. It is integrated very nicely into the story that you won’t mind a moment of mushiness. The story itself has all the trademarks of a Final Fantasy: intriguing, full of surprises and suspense.

Taking a break from tradition, FFVIII introduces a few drastic changes. Armor is not used at all, weapons are upgraded instead of being bought, no Magic Points (MP) and money is not obtained by defeating creatures. In order to upgrade weapons, certain items are required. These items are detailed in weapon magazines that are available around the world. On money, it has taken a more ‘realistic’ change. As a SeeD, you get paid depending on how high your SeeD ranking. This ranking can go up or down, depending on your actions in the game. Money is paid after a certain amount of time. No MP, so how do you cast spells? Magic is obtained by drawing it from monsters, using the draw and store command. How many spells you get every time you draw ranges from 1 to 9. Also, drawing is not always successful, sometimes you won’t be able to draw.

As with all Final Fantasies, FFVIII has a new system, this time the Junction system. Summons, or Guardian Forces as they are called in FFVIII, play an important role in this system. The Guardian Forces can be attached to, or junctioned to, a character, granting the character certain abilities. As the Guardian Forces participate in combat, they too will gain experience in the form of AP, opening up more abilities that can be utilized. Since MP is non-existent, GFs can be used as many times as you like. However, whilst GFs are waiting to be cast, their HP will replace the character’s. If this HP is reduced to zero, the casting will be stopped, and the GF will not be able to be used until it is revived.

So, no armor, how do you defend yourself? By junctioning magic. Magic can be junctioned to your stats such as Strength, HP, Speed, etc, and this will increase the statistic. The higher the number of spells, the higher the stat will go up. Also, the more powerful the spell is, the higher the stat will go up. Certain GFs can only provide certain stat junctions, so you’ll need to manage it properly.

In terms of graphics and music, there is nothing to complain about. The graphics are a total knockout, with incredible FMVs and incredible GF summons, whilst the music represents what might be Nobuo Uematsu’s best work ever on a Final Fantasy. There is a little problem with the pixellation of the characters, but other than that it’s all perfect.

However, FFVIII is not a perfect game. FFVIII is incredibly easy to complete, as the enemy is always the same level as your characters. Couple this with effective junctioning and endless use of GFs, the game is probably the easiest Final Fantasy to complete. Also, since the limit for stocking magic is 100, it is likely that you’ll need a hundred of each spell. Since you get about 5 spells one draw it is a little bit of a bore trying to obtain that many spells.

Those complaints aside, FFVIII is probably one of the best Final Fantasies ever. It does live up to FFVII’s standard, but unfortunately was just a few inches short of being totally better than FFVII and becoming the best Final Fantasy ever.

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