I eagerly awaited this title. Seriously, after the bliss injection of VII this was all I imagined. I had a wanker mate who told me this game was the story of Cid Highwind returning from his 2nd journey into space, along for the ride was the feisty and barrel breasted hottie, Tifa Lockeart. If you look carefully in the epilogue FMV of Red XIII and his cubs running toward the ruins of Midgar, you can see their spaceship crash land in da background!!! The world was no longer as it was, all their old friends were dead and the three of our lasting heroes had to salvage the world from the remnants of Meteor Monsters which plagued the dwindling population of the planet.
I later found out that he was a compulsive liar. However, this story was a drastic improvement. Take a bit of teenage angst, ice cold manners, a medusa stare, a fantastic coat and marvelous weapon; now you have our hero. Squall Leonheart was a guy with problems but luckily he was chosen over the other ingrates to be the focus of this timeless classic. His individual view on the world which was literally being torn apart by war and the moon crying was a pragmatic and fresh look on the story. He won a place in my heart because even though he doesn’t give a monkeys about who/what people are, he ends up putting his very soul on the line to save them all from despair.
His comrades were a colourful bunch but all lacking in distinctiveness. All human and half of which were annoying. From a fantasy story I expect differences in the people that follow the hero, physically and personally. I felt robbed that the characters weren’t overly lovable. Quistis was fit, Irvine was cool but they were all 2D to me. Squall was the only one who had some depth, without him the story would have suffered. His life of loneliness and abandonment was a tragic event which brought him to his knees before he could rise up as a new man in the wake of his destroyed self.
The narrative is a bit up in the air. A lot of the time you are left to wander to find out where you have to go next. Without much restriction you can get lost quite easily which can be quite frustrating for a first playthrough. The concept of time plays a massive part in the story, flashbacks are common place aswell as distortion and parallels. Sometimes you just have to sit back and think.
The battle system was quite taxing too. It limited your use of magic because it would bring down your statistics; also drawing magic from every monster/boss you faced was grueling. It brought me to my knees when I tried to get a full set because of how poor some characters were at drawing. Junction was a new system which couldn’t have worked with any other title. Unlocking GF abilities was also a plus when refining and bolstering your item supplies. However, with a massive lacking of weapon upgrades you would achieve the best weapons for characters early on if you had the right items. So even refining 99 screws would render them useless early on. However, the little things helped me rise again!
Monsters being able to level up along with you provided an extra challenge. They would literally keep up with you as you progress so everywhere would be a hardy battle to get passed. The limits were essential throughout, without them you wouldn’t find the game simple. Squall’s Renzokuken plus finisher was enough of an endgame against any beast.
Another glorious thing about this game was the locales throughout the world. Esther alone is one of the greatest cityscapes I have ever seen. It was essentially a City Continent which blitzed your visuals! Considering the history of the city, it easily falls under the Dystopian descript. Places like Fisherman’s Horizen and the Garden’s were indeed memorable but they couldn’t compete with a continent!
Even though I see this as the weakest of the Playstation One generation, it is still galaxies more superior than the other games on this console. Final Fantasy VIII manages to mix sorcery and dystopia so well that it will make any grown man ball. Try it after FFVII.