Final Fantasy VIII - a good game in its own right?

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.

VIII is good but definately falls short of VII and is not in the same league as VI.

I like the storyline, especially Squall’s development. It rushes a little at the end, but is solid.

VIII just seemed too clinical for me all these pleasant looking peaceful towns where nothing happens. Even the big bad city was so neat and clean. All of which seriously clashed with our moody hero. And way way way too coincidental. Shame since other then certain aspects of the storyline I really liked the game.

In my opinion I’d say the card game here is the first great side game in the series. Getting to the Golden Saucer in VII was such a let down. Even chocobo racing is only so-so since you rarely had to fight to win. I was always way better or way worse then the other chocobos.

The world just needed more tension. I never felt tension. Running to Kaipo with Rydia in my arms, tension. Fleeing Midgar with the attack monsters hot on our heels, tension. That freaky ghost train and especially the opera, great tension. I just never felt any real tension in VIII. IX had good tension too like at the play.

I liked the characters in VIII. Even Squall, though I wanted to put my foot up his ass sometimes. I enjoyed upgrading the weapons with new bits and pieces.
I was mainly, though if you tell anybody I’ll call you a liar, a sucker for the love story. When Squall and Rinoa finally shared a kiss, I was touched. I found that far more affecting than I did the death of Aerith or any of the other points of high drama in the other games.
Overall, VII remains my favorite. More and better things to do. A somewhat deeper hero and and a WAY better villain.

The Final Fantasy series has been weak ever since Square made the jump from Nintendo to the Playstation. FF10 was a big step in the right direction, but it still had a few problems that I don’t see being addressed in future releases.

In short, FF7 and FF8 are by far the weakest games in the series. FF7 did have the (cyberpunk? steampunk?) atmosphere going for it, but in terms of gameplay, it really didn’t live up to its predecessors. There’s no notion of a class/job, so any character can play any role at any time, which means that unless you don’t think at all, every fight is just a contest of attrition. Contrast that with FF10, where a lot of boss fights require certain characters to play a very specialized role.

FF8, in addition to being so damn melodramatic, was badly broken due to the junction system. Spend just a little time gathering spells and you have a who can kill most of the toughest monsters in the game before they can even act, and take anything they deal out even if they do.

I never thought that highly of the job system. In FF Tactics, which I played mainly as a fix for some kind of FF, I found the job system especially tedious.

You’re forgetting the unbelievable visuals of FFVII (some of the most pioneering use of FMV) and the depth of the explorable world. I personally thought the gameplay mechanics were also great but if you didn’t like them, to each his own I guess.

I felt that none of the Final Fantasies after 7 had any connection to the actual world that we live in and they basically became TOO fantastical for my own personal taste. (Obviously some people really love that, so they’d have a different perspective on the games.) Having been obsessed with World War II and military history prior to my discovery of FFVII, I found many things about the world of 7 to be very familiar to me based on that.

Basically I think that the people who liked Dungeons and Dragons liked the pre-7 Final Fantasies, the people who liked Akira and Blade Runner liked 7, and then out of those two groups, the ones that experimented with psychedelic drugs liked everything after 7.

I’m not forgetting about them, but I’m really not impressed by that sort of thing. There’re good uses of FMV and high quality graphics (see the original Shadow Hearts), but they’re too easily used as a crutch to make a weak game look good.

Ultimately, though, it’s a matter of personal opinion. Some people will like FF7, and some won’t.

There’s a show on the Science Channel, or maybe I saw it somewhere else, which talks about my feelings for this sort of thing. FFVI and earlier version had so little detail in the characters, other then the START menu that it allowed us the player to fill in everything else.

VII however had these bizarre grotesque creatures that repulsed me every time I saw them. They always reminded me of the people who had their mouths taken away in “Twilight Zone the Movie.” I hated the cut scenes which showed people. Far better if they had just used the in game sprites.

VIII and IX had beautiful cut scenes. Lush, vibrant, just absolutely gorgeous and the characters were extremely human. Women I feel proud about lusting after.

If they’d release an updated VII where the fixed the cut scenes it would go up a great deal in my esteem. I wish they would, those faces were the stuff of nightmares.

I like the characters of FFVIII a lot more than the FFVII characters. <spoiler>
Though the “we all grew up the the same orphanarium” plot kinda threw me
I liked the backgrounds and music of FFVII a lot more than FFVIII. I might be weird, but I love the junction system.

To answer your question, yes, its’ a good game. Its’ also the only game to ever make me cry. <spoiler>
During the ending credits: first at the flashback scene with Laguna proposing to Raine, then Squall and Rinoa laughing and looking at the stars.
God, I got something in my eye. Excuse me!

The real question is why can’t the make a game even 10% as good as Final Fantasy VI

I’ve been replaying FFVIII lately, and mostly enjoying it. I like Squall better as a badass, bitchy loner, but I think they did a good job selling the transition. The only thing I absolutely hate isthe Godforsaken orphanage thing…which could have been left out without harming the plot in any way. Maybe it’s a genre convention in the manga that FFVIII’s plot is cribbing from, I wouldn’t know.

Also, GF sorta creep me out. They’ve got human-level intelligence, and some (Shiva, frex) have human features as well, but they’re basically a slave species. They don’t seem to mind, which reassures me on one level and disturbs me on another. Just what is going on there?

On preview: Wha? When did spoiler tags quit working? I guess it’s a mild enough spoiler to leave open, but does anyone know what’s up with that?

Let me just say that right now in FFVIII I’m at the point immediately before the mission to Timber, and I just played the scene where Quistis takes Squall to the Training Area to talk to him.

I really like the idea of there being this one little balcony in the Training Area where the students go after curfew to hang out (mostly couples going to be together,) since the Training Area is the only place you’re allowed to go after curfew. It’s a very realistic touch.

I didn’t really like VIII. I just seemed to… stop caring, eventually. I got as far as the last dungeon and I completely lost my will to finish the damn thing; I eventually went back and did it, but I don’t think I would have really cared if I hadn’t. I think the most fun I had was actually with the card game.

I liked VII when I was playing it, but I never felt any compunction whatsoever to go back and play it again. On the other hand, I’ve played the two US SNES Final Fantasies… probably a dozen times for FF2 and at least half a dozen for FF3? (Though it helps that I can get through FF2 in around ten hours without even really trying for speed, and certainly without using the crystal/warp bug). I even bought FFIV Advance to see them butcher (okay, “remake”) one of the favorite games of my youth. Heck, I played the PSX version of FFV twice. I certainly cared more about the Giant of Bab-Il or the World of Ruin than I have about anything in the series since they moved to the Playstation. Then again, I’m not really an anime fan, just a poor little fantasy RPG fan, so…

One of my housemates was replaying FF VII last year, and I was amazed by how dated some of the graphics look. I honestly think some of the SNES graphics have aged better. 2D sprite-based RPGs forever! :smiley:

Y’know…I love VI and all (I’ve lost track of how many time I’ve played it)…but it’s not that incredible. It has no real flaws, really, but, while not actively flawed, its charms are rather restricted.

You get quite a bit of freedom in the second half, but not until the second half.

The characters are interesting, but there are so many of them, most of them have little or nothing of interest going on until the WoR, by which point…well, there’s not much interest left in getting them fleshed out.

The Esper system, like the Materia system (but to a lesser extent) tends towards genericising the characters - especially since later on, their attacks and personal special abilities all but useless, save for Gau’s Rages, and Sabin/Mash’s techniques. (And Locke’s thievery against certain enemies, although there are few enemies worth stealing from later on.) Which is a criticism in and of itself - but one that holds true for most of the series.

The world is kind of…meh. The Magitek’s neat and all, but beyond that, it’s a typical Evil Empire in a near industrial world. The Espers and Moogles, which hold a certain promise of variation were both underused and underdeveloped.

Standard fantasy convention…you can summon demons, elementals, and other beings of the like, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Actually, ISTR part of the backstory was the GFs agreeing to the whole deal (like the Aeons from X and Espers from VI), which would put VIII ahead of III, IV, V, VII or IX in that regard.

No…all the non-standard tags stopped working today, and apparently (from what Dex said in another thread) the people who can figure out why haven’t gotten a chance to take a look yet.

Hmmmmm. I like D&D (paper and pencil, preferably), never experimented with any sort of drugs (except for trying pot once), and I like FF8 best of all. I liked being able to draw spells, refine spells and items, and turn foes into cards. I DIDN’T like some of the area card rules, but otherwise, I loved the game, especially the story. I found most of the characters attractive and likeable (Cloud and Tidus are unappealing to me for different reasons), though I’ll admit that the orphanage bit was kind of crazy, I think it could have been better if it was handled differently.

I’d like to hear more about this. I’m not trying to start a fight, I just really hate that plot twist.

I’m not sure how it could have been handled better…I’m just sure that it was handled very badly in the game. I’d have preferred almost anything but that lame twist that the writers used.

Oh. Nuts. I entertain fantasies of cracking the data files in the PC version to fix the various plot elements that annoy me, you see.