Final Fantasy VIII
Impressive ain’ t the word! As soon as Final Fantasy VIII is loaded up you are thrust into an intense FMV sequence, giving you the full background behind this extraordinary adventure. The sequence depicts an amazing battle between the hero, Squall, and a master swordsman. After which, the hero wakes in hospital with a bloody scar bisecting his face.
From the hospital you can take a look round the amazingly detailed campus, picking up clues to your mission (at least you can if you speak Japanese). After getting the low-down, it’s onto the world map, to complete one of the many quests that will reunite you with your lost love… same old story. After the slow start, you soon come to realise that you are dealing with an amazing game. Dramatic battles, punctuated by outstanding FMV, are the order of the day. Excellent characters and involving missions, make it feel like you are playing a film rather than an RPG!
It seems that Square has gone all-out to broaden the appeal of the RPG genre. Gone are the cutesy graphics and poor humour, that have plagued it for years. Strong (Japanese) dialogue and well draw heroes have replaced them both.
As you begin to play, the changes to the game become apparent. The scenery is much the same, but the backgrounds have been improved to show off some excellent light sourcing. Character interaction is good as well. The people that occupy the same areas, will turn their heads as you walk by, or acknowledge your existence in some other manner.
Battles are conducted using the timehonoured turn-based system, which you either love or hate, so that’s the first real clue as to whether or not you’re going to like this game. In the old Final Fantasy you could just sit and stare into space, whilst constantly pressing the attack button, you now have to pay attention to the time bar. Every attack is crucial and well-timed blows often deliver greater reward than randomly placed hacks.
Limit breaks have been totally upgraded, to included some amazing beat- ‘em-up action. One of the characters lets you perform massive combos, using the D-pad to control his attacks, whilst the main hero lets you trigger his gun-blade to deliver a devastating blast. Performing limit breaks requires good co-ordination and timing, so much practice is called for. The creatures you face during the game are location specific. If you are fighting in the open countryside. You will face insects and other flora and fauna.When fighting in hellish caves your enemies will be bats and demons, not clowns and Jack-in-theboxes as in previous Final Fantasy games.
SIMPLY THE BEST
This is without doubt the best RPG ever made.When it appeared in the office, hardened game hacks ran for cover, in the face of all the Japanese text. Little did they know that, once past the walls of Kanji, the game is extremely playable and will have you hooked in an instant.
The RPG’s dull façade has been banished forever. Enemies leap from walls and walkways to do battle, accompanied by a thumping soundtrack. Spells are charged as hand-to-hand battles rage. Seamless FMV is blended into real-time graphics, whilst a magnificent plot embroils the player into the game.
If you have a good command of written Japanese or access to a translation document, then this version is highly recommended. If not, the PAL version is released late Autumn. In either case, sell everything you own to purchase this – you won’t regret it!