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Final Fantasy VIII back to reviews
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The definitive Final Fantasy experience
Sometimes, I'll find that I haven't played Final Fantasy VIII for a few years, and it's fading into the mist of my better memories. Turning a critical eye on my own experience (as the guy destined to be "that FFVIII fan" among other enthusiasts), I'll convince myself that I only liked this game to be contrarian, or that FFVI is my real favourite because it's the sacred cow of old-school curmudgeons. Then I replay it and remember that it really is the best time I've ever had with Final Fantasy.

I can't deny that it's a controversial choice. People don't have moderate opinions about VIII. You either have full-scale devotion to Junctioning, the mind-bending plot and Squall and Rinoa's romance, or you have virulent hatred. The closest to a middle road is the fan who loves specific elements and hates others - everything about this game inspires an intense reaction.

This characters of Final Fantasy VIII lend the game its narrative strength. The time travel plot is more entertaining than realistic, but I've long held that Final Fantasy plots rarely ascend above middlebrow sci-fi/fantasy (in itself a step up from a lot of console RPG plots). Rather, Final Fantasy is at its best when the events of the story are primarily symbolic - proxies for character development. VIII is the finest example of this, weaving multiple character narratives across generations together to develop Squall and Rinoa's parallel journeys into maturity and love with each other. Almost without exception, the characters are engaging, sympathetic and three-dimensional (yes, even Zell!).

Junctioning is criticised for allowing large stat jumps, but the fluctuating difficulty level and intricate magic system should keep new players on their toes. Be warned that Drawing magic for hours on end (a favourite pastime of the game's critics) is completely pointless. It's laughable that people find fault with Drawing because they decided to forego having fun with this game in favour of Drawing 100 Scan spells for everyone. PROTIP: If you're spending hours Drawing magic, you're doing it wrong. For my part, the experience of Junctioning 100 newly refined Quake spells to my HP and watching it fly through the roof gives me a rush like few games do.

(...yes, "Eyes On Me" is totally my video game weepy moment.)
The closest to a middle road is the fan who loves specific elements and hates others - everything about this game inspires an intense reaction.

I think I might belong to that train of thought myself. VIII isn't my favorite FF, but also far from my least favorite.

But I must say, to see someone heap praise on this game, even if some of it I don't agree with, is actually very refreshing after seeing far too much of the "virulent hatred" you've spoken of. I may not think the game is at all perfect, but it really Needs More Love.

I certainly agree with you about the characters. I know, I know, opinions and all, but I can't help being baffled by all the comments that the characters are "annoying", "unlikeable", "bland", etc. I loved damn near all of them. Squall, Rinoa, Zell, Quistis, Selphie, and Irvine are a great RPG party, and all get their varying moments of Character Development, even if the most is reserved for Squall and Rinoa. The only characters I didn't really care for were the villains but then, after the evil glories of Kefka and Sephiroth, I can see the logic behind the decision to tone the villains down for this game.

(..."Eyes On Me" is a weepy moment for me too, man.)
comment #12461 ManwiththePlan 23rd Jan 12 (edited by: ManwiththePlan)
Here's the thing: junctioning adds on an extra layer of micromanagement.
comment #15181 azul120 4th Jul 12
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