|Final Fantasy VIII - Retroview|
By: Kevin Harper
| Battle System
| Replay Value
| Time to Complete
I can't think of another game that has such diverse opinions from
so many people as Final Fantasy VIII. It is the topic of endless debate,
the catalyst for a number f sites devoted to its demise, and perhaps the
turning point (for good or for bad?) for Squaresoft. Coming fast upon
the heels of Square's milestone Final Fantasy VII, the game had the most to
live up to since Episode One was but a rumor.
After playing this game I noticed there was a nagging thought
which I couldn't place. The game was supposed to seem real, but it ended
up feeling as dull and lifeless as a door. Why? I realized after some
thought that it was not what we see that makes a game more or less "real", but
rather what we FEEL. I quote Hamlet:
"Seems, Madam! Nay, it IS; I know not 'seems'."
Naturally, the first thing we experience in a game is the graphics.
Final Fantasy VIII hyped stunning 3D graphics with life-like characters
and movements. While the graphics are a "step up" from previous Final
Fantasy games, the characters look anything but real. The aim was to make the
real as possible, using like-sized characters and seamlessly weaving
and movies so that movies seemed like a part of the game instead of a
entity. While this has the potential to be something new and exciting,
noticeably short due to the limited abilities of the Playstation.
the characters looked pixilated, blurry, and stiff. Had the game been
on the PC with the requirement for a 3D accelerator, the game might have
its overall goal in terms of graphics. Having played the game on an
well, the game was a pearl to watch. Each character had smooth polygons,
movement was fluid. It was a wonder it was even the same game.
|Their love is not what it could be.|| |
Aside from the graphics, the physical movements of the characters
superfluous and unnecessary. While bodily movements in Final Fantasy VII
simpler and more limited in scope, they were able to communicate the way
characters felt, displaying anger, surprise or humor. I fondly remember
shaking his fist in rage, or Cloud's disinterested shrug. Unfortunately,
these qualities were retained in Final Fantasy VIII. Rather, movements
only to simple hand gestures or postures. And what good are these if the
hardly even have a face? While I appreciate the effort on Squaresoft's
part to bring
as much "realism" as possible to the game, it turned to be one of the
The setting of the game, as advertised, is around the theme of
Love. Love is the most personal of our emotions, and often people only
become more and
more confused the more they try to define what love is or isn't. Many of
carry fond or sad memories of love. Indeed, much of our life is centered
Love for our family, a friend, a girlfriend. It is what touches us most
consequently can hurt us the most too. And to base a came on Love rather
INCLUDE love in the game is treading into very dangerous territory.
Often, Love cannot
be put into words. It can only be felt. And as much as I enjoy Video
Games, I would
hardly call it the proper medium to portray love. Poets have a hard
enough time with
Ok, so itís based on Love. I'm game. The only problem is, there
really isn't much love going on in the game. If you want to call
infatuation love, or if you find that people who quarrel all the time
are in love, then I suggest you reexamine your idea of Love. Not once
Squall and Rinoa have a long, deep, and personal conversation. Never
did they stay up to look at the stars, or to enjoy each other's company
on a quiet walk, or share a tender kiss. It only sets up the idea that
Love is something easy and shallow rather than something that takes
to truly develop. They only seem to let their passions run away with
themselves, something which is a precursor to love, not Love itself.
is what comes after, something enduring and strong, based more on what
inside, and which is built on the foundation created by the early
of passion. They had neither of these, and it shows in the story. Their
personal interaction was limited to "You're so difficult! Why can't you
understand?" To which Squall would reply "whatever..."
I can hear it now. "But who wants long, personal, philosophical
conversations in RPGs? Games are supposed to be 'fun'! If you want a
conversation, go talk to your girlfriend. If you want philosophy then
Nietzsche or Aristotle." And that is a perfectly good argument. I
actually completely agree with that. Video Games are not the proper
for philosophical ideas. Their dependency on visual images and limited
dialogue do not provide an adequate means.
|A worthy ATTEMPT at realistic graphics.|| |
As for examples of Love in a video game, is not the love between
Cloud and Aeris more potent and moving than that of Squall and Rinoa?
and Aeris (or Tifa for that matter) have much more personal interaction
and caring for each other than Squall or Rinoa ever had for each other.
FFVIII, love is treated as obsession and infatuation, two things that
fundamentally contrary to Love. If you want to really know about love,
Stendahl. DON'T play video games.
The story itself, as I stated earlier, begins with the potential to
be wonderful, but quickly it becomes apparent that Sakaguchi just
figure out where to go with it and how to wrap it up. Instead, random
holes and even more random plot fillers prevail and the story ends up a
jumbled mess. We are left combating a villain we know nothing about, and
consequently, feel no hate or enmity for. It was as if she was simply
thrown in to try to give the love story some meaning, not because the v
illain is vital to the development of the main character, as was the
in Final Fantasy VII. I can remember feeling such hate for Sephiroth.
development throughout the game is so well done that he seems to be
and that the only way to breathe easy and get on with life is to defeat
To tell you the truth, I quit playing Final Fantasy VIII when I got to
Ultimecia's Castle. I felt no need to finish the game, at least in terms
of the plot. It was only after I beat Final Fantasy IX that I went back
beat FFVIII, if only so I could figure out just what happens in the end,
and for my own satisfaction.
I felt that all of the characters in the party, save Squall and Rinoa,
were put there simply to fill up the places in battle. Sure Quistis was
teacher (and she has a crush on him - spoiler!), but why does she keep
along? She has no involvement in Squall's affairs. Or how about Selphie?
sure is cute, but other than that, why is she there? Her role in the
limited to her "accidentally" joining the party. Only later do they
throw in a
"past" to make her have some other reason for being there. It just
seemed like a horrible attempt on the part of Square to include
teeny-boppers can relate to, as well as fill in some space.
|Why can't I be the leader of the pack?|| |
Perhaps, at least for games of lesser-quality, Squall, Rinoa, and
the gang may be well suited, and even likable. But since it bears the
Final Fantasy a certain level of depth and quality are mandatory. After
long line of wonderful characters (Cecil, Cloud, Tifa, Sephiroth, Kefka,
the result is only that much noticeable, and consequently more
So what did I like?
I admired Square's attempt to add something new to the dying ATB
system. With the Draw system, players have control over who was
who was quicker, and who was luckier in battle. The large pitfall is
most players will simply max out every character as much as possible,
making each character different only in appearance. The difficulty of
last boss requires each character have a maximum of 9999 HP and strong
against EVERYTHING, so all that customization you spent 40 hours working
really won't do you any good in the end.
All in all, I found Final Fantasy VIII merited at least one
if only to see it for yourself and form your own opinion. After all,
talking about it...