Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Final Fantasy 8

A while ago I finished Final Fantasy 8 and I didn't actually say anything about it, so I thought I'd make a little post summing up what I think.  Before we get started I'd just like to point out that Final Fantasy 8 is probably my least favorite of the classic Final Fantasy games.  A while ago I probably would have said it's the worst one but now that Final Fantasy XIII exists that's kind of hard to say with a straight face.

If I tried to type up my entire thoughts on the story it would take far too long so lets just say I don't like it.  It's not any more retarded than you're average Final Fantasy plot but there's certain events within that story that are just a bit frustrating.  For example all the characters grew up together in the same orphanage and then forgetting or Irvine not being able to shoot the sorceress in the face because the sorceress was actually the woman who raised him and he somehow forgot.  Or even worse, when Rinoa is floating through space, essentially fucked and Squall goes out to save her with essentially no plan.  Instead of dying horribly from a lack of oxygen, alone, in the middle of space the game is suddenly like "OH WAIT SUDDENLY BIG ABANDONED SPACE SHIP!".  Not that other games in the series haven't done similar bullshit plot points but couple this with what is essentially the most annoying, unlikable cast in series history and it grates just that little bit more.

I have read the theory that Squall is actually dead at the end of disc 1 and while I've also read people punch holes in it I quite like that theory.  If Squall is dead and the whole game is just his self serving death dream to make himself feel better then maybe I could forgive all the plot retardation.  Makes the story kind of sad really since he spends the first disc being an aloof emo git only to dream in his last moments about how he's actually a hero to all and has tons of friends.

The game play is equally annoying but I have to admit that on this time round I enjoyed it a lot more than I have previous occasions.   The big problem for me isn't the junction system of the fact that GFs are essentially useless outside of their menu abilities but it's the level scaling.  I hate games with level scaling and I'll talk about that in another post but levelling up is essentially useless in this game.  This is because that not only do enemies scale with you but stat progression is linked entirely to the junction system so you don't really need to level up at all.  The idea of levelling up in RPGs is to raise your stats, but you raise your stats by (tediously) drawing or refining magic from enemies and items and then linking it to stats for a boost.  I switched out a party member from Rinoa to Selphie over half way into the game and despite her being half the level of Zell and Squall she still had max HP and strength out the wazoo.  Once you get some of those refining abilities from your GFs combat becomes nothing more than an annoyance and you find yourself wandering around the whole game with no encounters on and groaning at every mandatory battle, which is not good design.   That said, the system is so easily gamed that there is some enjoyment to be had in beefing yourself up really early and just rolling the whole game like it's nothing.

Like Final Fantasy 2, Square tried something a little different here and it didn't quite work out which is a shame really.  After replaying I can say that my hate for Final Fantasy 8 has subsided a little, I still think it's bad but its not the steaming pile of horse shit that I once pegged it for a while ago.  I wouldn't play it again, at least not for a LONG time, but this time round it was mildly enjoyable.

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