I know what most of you are thinking, ‘John, you are a massive Final Fantasy fan so therefore his favourite game must be Final Fantasy 7 by default!’. Or is it just that many people who have not played the others think that? Either way Final Fantasy 7 is NOT my number one of the series and if you want to find out why strap yourselves in and i’ll take you though my controversial logic about why I think Final Fantasy 8 is better than the over-hyped 7th, but Final Fantasy 7 is still pretty damn good!
Let me take you back to my life as a child gamer, many MANY of my nights were spent sat at home with the lights out and my eyes fixated on the hypnotising hue that was whatever Sega MegaDrive game I was playing at the time, normally Sonic 2. Then one day I heard about the PlayStation and I was all of a sudden completely captivated by its whole presence, gaming was never going to be the same for me. Months past till it came to my birthday and I knew exactly what I would be asking for, this would be the only chance I would get to grab this beast of a machine for myself.
The day did come, on that birthday waiting for me downstairs was a PlayStation one with Final Fantasy 7. At first I was very unsure about this game, I mean the back of the box looked cool but at the time the term RPG was still really vague to me, after all I was only really used to more simpler games like side scrollers and platforms. Neither the less I put the disk in and got addicted to the game, the incredibly high detail story telling, the amazing (for the time) graphics and a battle system which just was developed to near perfection all made me feel that this game was right for me, this was where my addiction to RPGs started.
I eventually completed Final Fantasy 7 and enjoyed every second of it. My mind was then set on JRPGs and RPGs alike and when Final Fantasy 7 had ended it was time to be on the lookout for all other types of games from this genre but the one that got me hyped was a game from the same series, Final Fantasy 8 which at the time was due to be released.
I got my hands on the game as soon as I could and rushed it home to get my next taste of RPG goodness. Taking out the first disk from the case I soon realised this game was made up of another 3 disks! I hurried to place the disk the PlayStation eager to start on what ever adventure awaited me, turning on the console one of the first things I saw was this and my jaw dropped to the floor.
This is when I knew I was in for one of the best games I would ever play, yeah the Final Fantasy 7 intro was pretty damn cool but the Final Fantasy 8 just had so much emotion with a mix of action which I had never seen before in a game. It left me with questions I instantly needed answers to, ‘Who is that person?’, ‘Why did the guy in the grey coat just slash the guy in the black jackets face?’ and more.
So after playing the game many many times why do I think that Final Fantasy 8 is the best in the series? First off lets start with the story, it’s full of everything that makes up a great adventure, love, betrayal, action, a unexplainably likeable protagonist and a cause. This is all accompanied by an in game world that is pretty believable, yeah it’s still Final Fantasy so it’s not completely realistic but the environments, towns, technology and people all come together to create a universe that you feel you could be a part of and you do actually wish you could visit. Plus some of the games scenes just give me instant goosebumps, namely this one…
This game makes sure you have an emotional connection to its characters, I feel for Squall and his friends when things go wrong, you want them to succeed in their united goal. A brilliant way this is done is that each character has their own unique personality, yeah sure some characters have their traits which come across quite lazily put across and annoying but each seem to have some trait which makes them a great character.
At the time and event somewhat to this day the Final Fantasy 8 universe within the game is huge. Made up of small and large towns that just make you believe even more that this world could be real. Don’t get me wrong, Final Fantasy 7’s world is vast and full of character but the futuristic settings in its younger brother is what clinches it for me.
The battle system was pretty solid and brought a new twist to the Final Fantasy games, with things like the Draw and Junction system you were more then ever able to personalise each character to however you wanted them to be in terms of stats. In battles themselves the whole thing just flowed for me, they were easy to master yet beating enemies just feels fulfilling.
In conclusion I’m really not saying Final Fantasy 7 is a bad game, in fact not at all! I just think that sometimes Final Fantasy 7 just gets a good wrap because of how many people started on this game, heck Final Fantasy 6, 9 and 10 (ignoring X-2!) were amazing games but Final Fantasy 8 is just the one that clinches it for me!