Final Fantasy VIII is a turn-based RPG released on the PlayStation which featured experimental game play systems and some of the most realistic graphics of it’s time.
After the natural progression of Final Fantasy VI into Final Fantasy VII, the eighth instalment in the series took a step in another direction. Final Fantasy VIII takes itself seriously, both in it’s presentation and it’s game play mechanics. The modern-to-futuristic setting, the realistically proportioned characters, the love story narrative and the game’s intricate customisation system come together to provide a RPG that is compelling and vastly different to it’s contemporaries.
The opening scene of Final Fantasy VIII is mesmerising. It poses a lot of questions and gives the player a reason to be sucked into the story straight away. The plot follows a group of teenagers from a military academy, who become caught up in a global conflict and must protect the world against a sorceress from the future. The story focuses a lot on the relationships between it’s main characters, whose pasts are all closely linked, but it is the emerging romance between the stoic Squall and the outspoken Rinoa that takes centre stage and propels the narrative forward. The game also shifts to flashback scenes of a group of older characters that give added depth to the plot and clues of things to come.
The Battle system does away with many staples of the genre, such as magic points and instead enables the characters to draw magic from enemies and cast it straight away or stock it up and equip it to raise their stats. Summon monsters are known as Guardian Forces and are also equipped to each character to enable them battle abilities as well as ways to refine magic from items. Final Fantasy VIII’s game play options may seem overwhelming at first, but once understood; allow an observant player a distinct advantage in strengthening their characters.
Like most areas of Final Fantasy VIII, it’s music is experimental and distinct. The soundtrack fits the modern setting and features some energetic battle themes. The score also features a wonderful vocal piece called “Eyes on Me” which is also the main theme of the game. The music adds to the spectacle of Final Fantasy VIII and this is illustrated best by the fantastic track “Liberi Fatali” that plays during the games introduction.
Final Fantasy VIII is a complex RPG that captures the players imagination with it’s attention to detail. If you are looking for a RPG that is familiar, yet not afraid to try something different, then you should play Final Fantasy VIII.