This is going to pain me. I liked FF VII more than FFVIII. Not much, but even a little bit is a painful admission to make. I was always one of those rebels who actually liked FFVIII better than FFVII. It’s not that I don’t like FFVIII, because I do; it’s because I had underrated FFVII. Anyway, enough acronyms in the first paragraph. Let’s move on.
I “played” the game for a whopping 91 hours and 53 minutes. That is in quotes because that is the amount of time logged into the game. However, as anyone with a young baby can attest, quite a fair portion of that time was spent checking on Landen while the game happened to be on, changing a diaper, or walking around, trying to get him to stop crying (I would play late at night while holding him up after feedings – *usually he was asleep*.) Also, I tried “Angelo Searching” (a very lengthy way to get rare items) for at least one overnight, so that’s 6 or 7 hours right there that I wasn’t playing but the game counter was on.
The rest of the time was spent doing as much as I possibly could in the game. Following another Absolute Steve awesome walkthrough, I finished the game with all 6 characters at level 100 (which actually isn’t essential for a ‘perfect game), had all the GFs, beat the two strongest enemies in the game (handily, for the Omega Weapon), got one of every card, amassed a number of the items, and basically wasted my life away for a while there. Here’s the breakdown of the game as a whole:
- Bar none the best opening movie to date, even better than the ones on the PS2. This just MAKES you want to play the game.
- “Liberi Fatali” – while the music in this game is fairly forgettable, the opening music is just awesome, among the best in the series
- The ending. After 2 let-down endings in a row (possibly 3, since I don’t even REMEMBER the ending of 5), this one was a great ending. Not only was the movie incredible to watch, but it actually shows a little resolution along the way. The cute ‘home video’ aspect under the credits was a nice, humorous touch.
- It’s an item-whore’s wet-dream. As someone who loves collecting items, there were tons of ways to do it: from mugging to carding to devouring to modifying to dropping, there are tons of ways to get neat rare items. It’s always cool getting one of those 64:1 odds items.
- This is the first game where the monsters aren’t set levels – they level up along with you. This makes it interesting because you could theoretically never level up and face a super weak Ultimecia, or get as strong as possible and face a much stronger boss.
- The gunblade IS pretty badass. Sure, it’s probably just a glorified bayonet, but a bayonet really is a gun first and a blade in a pinch. A gunblade is a gun where, guess what, you also get to shoot them at point blank range.
- The card game (an optional sidequest) is very addicting. While not on the level of Blitzball in terms of fun, it’s still a great time-waster. I’d say probably 1/3 of my actual playing time was spent on the card game to get cool items.
- In order to effectively become usefully strong, you need to amass MANY spells to junction. This is a highly boring thing to do. My battle plan looked like this: draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, draw, fight, fight, dead.
- The characters in general just lack any sort of ‘cool’ factor. There isn’t one character who I actually pulled for, whereas in every other game there’s at least someone I could like. And what’s worse is you can’t even name most of them, just the main two (who I called Emo Jr. and, possibly my favorite name ever, Orifice for the female lead) I’ll get to the Emo Jr. in a minute.
- In terms of storyline, this might be the least believable love story – I actually believe the love more in “I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry.” Emo Jr. is cold and distant, and then suddenly falls in love because of childhood feelings of dejection an loneliness? I guess? Freud would have a field day.
- The storyline is okay. It’s better than VII. But it’s nothing amazing. While the idea of time compression is cool, it sort of doesn’t actually explain why anyone would WANT that to happen – let’s say Ultemecia gets her wish and everything ceases to be because time is compressed. What does she do then? Learn to whistle? It’d be pretty boring being the only thing around.
- As many critics have pointed out, the junctioning system is needlessly complex. It’s really awkward.
- The worst main character in any FF game. There, I said it. He’s completely internal, annoying, and I personally didn’t care if he got disemboweled.
- The “school” and “futuristic” feel of the game was a detractor. This game had no light moments at all except for the fact that everyone likes hot dogs. Ha!
- How long are those stupid GF summonings, anyway? I stopped using them because I didn’t feel like waiting through them.
Each game kinda has its own thing that I really appreciate. (VI had the Yeti, VII had the nail bat) VIII had the Devour ability. You walk up to a creature (often times 5x bigger than you), and then it cuts to a screen with a very placid picture (of flowers, water, or a field) while the words “CENSORED…PLEASE STAND BY” scroll by. If it works, you hear this pretty nasty sounding intestinal workings. When the screen comes back, the monster is gone. That’s a nice touch.
Onto the only game in the series I never finished, FFIX. I will try to leave my bias behind and play the game legit. No cheatcodes. That might sway my take on it, but we’ll see.
Total time spent so far: ~377 hours (this is getting depressing to post)