I just dusted off, installed, and began playing my old copy of Final Fantasy VIII for PC. I haven’t gotten very far in it (I’ve only been playing since last night) but I am actually enjoying it a lot more than I did when I first got it.
When FFVIII first came out, I abandoned it midway through the game (how far through, I’m not exactly sure.) Having been a hard core fan of FFVII (completely obsessed with it as a kid - in fact, retreating into a FFVII-based fantasy world as an alienated and highly troubled 5th grader) I endlessly compared eight to seven. Therefore, I was sort of unable to appreciate it as a game in its own right.
THe beginning of 8 really failed to inspire me, because the beginning of 7 is so fucking amazing (starting off the game with a huge bang and putting you in the middle of intense action right away, then introducing you to the cyberpunk Midgar environment.) FFVII starts off in the middle of a school day at some kind of ridiculous “mercenary academy.” When I first played it, I wasn’t really able to buy the idea of a mercenary academy with short-skirted schoolgirls walking around gossiping in the halls, and an instructor that resembled a Vogue model. (Japanese versus American pop culture, I guess.)
Furthermore, the “junctioning” system went right over my head because I was so used to the materia system of 7. I didn’t like the idea that you had to “stock” magic spells from “draw points” instead of having an MP-based magic system. It seemed so limited compared to the vast combinations of materia that you can use to customize your characters in FFVII.
Oh, and I didn’t like that you couldn’t name all the characters, just some of them. And there wasn’t really enough intensity in the game, there was far too much blissful music and too many peaceful environments (for my violent taste.)
I guess I just got so attached to the world and the characters of FFVII that I was unable to appreciate FFVIII. But now I’m playing it again and I’m enjoying it more than I did the first time - I’m appreciating the amazing FMVs and the trippy locations (I mean, the Garden that you start out in…trippy as all hell, to name just one.) I’ve also figured out how to make slightly better use of the Junction system. I still don’t like it very much.
I’m wondering what the opinions are of other people on Final Fantasy VIII. Is it comparable to 7 at all? Do you think it’s a good game or do you think it was not well thought-out and has an incoherent plot (as many believe?) I want to know what you all think.