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FFVIII logoThe eighth installment of the ever-popular Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy VIII, was released in 1999 on the Playstation. Given that it followed on the heels of the explosively popular Final Fantasy VII, to say it had a lot to live up to is something of an understatement.

Graphically, it's an incredible improvement over anything the Final Fantasy series had ever shown before. FFVII may have brought the series into the third dimension, but FFVIII's characters were more than blocky polygons with a few stock movements to portray their emotions. FFVIII is just as text-heavy as any other game in the series, but for the first time, the player got to see body language right along with it. True, the graphics are nothing compared to what Square would be capable of a mere ten years later in Final Fantasy XIII, but for a series that as recently as two games prior (Final Fantasy VI) was entirely sprite-based, it was a giant leap forward.

The gameplay is a significant departure from the Final Fantasy series as a whole through the use of the junction system. Gone is the series mainstay of MP, replaced with para-magic, which can only be drawn from enemies or from draw points scattered through the world. By junctioning GFs — Guardian Forces, the eidolons/espers from previous titles — the party can wield magic and junction magic to increase their stats, turning them into one-man-armies. Additionally, the enemies of FFVIII level up with the player, making grinding a danger of its own.

Much like FFVI and FFVII, the world of FFVIII is techonologically advanced. Sure, no one's been able to broadcast anything for 17 years, but cars, computers, and giant schools to train children to become mercenaries are commonplace, without a single crystal in sight. There is the Sorceress, of course, but since the end of the Sorceress War 17 years ago, things have been quiet.

Oh, yeah, and there's a love story.

How do I play it?

These days, getting your hands on FFVIII is pretty easy. If you've got a PS3, PSP, or Vita, you can download it from the Playstation Network for $10. (Price may vary in your region. Sales are infrequent on the PSN, but they do happen.) This version is identical to the original Playstation release.

If you're looking to play it on the PC, you can play it through Steam in five different languages for $12. (Again, price may vary in your region. Steam games regularly go on sale; put it on your wishlist and you'll be alerted when the price drops.) The Steam version comes with achievements, an easy source of magic for your inventory, and the Chocobo World minigame, none of which are available in the PSN version.

Don't worry about specs: unless you're rocking a computer from 1997, you can probably play it on your machine. This is a port that came out in 2000; it doesn't exactly take a whole lot to run. I will say that the music quality on the Steam release is terrible; however, it's easily fixed by using the Roses and Wine mod.

Liberi Fatali

Name: Squall Leonhart
Date of Birth: August 23
Age: 17
Hometown: Balamb Garden
Blood Type: AB
Height: 5'9"
The taciturn and reluctant hero
The main character of this story and cadet of the special combat unit SeeD from the Balamb Garden Military Academy. Judging from his anti-social behavior, he appears to be selfish and lacking a sense of team unity. An aloof character that dislikes having others involved in his affairs, Squall is best described as a lone wolf.

Great. So he's an asshole.

I'll save the analyzing for the rest of the site, but honestly, this profile is all you need to know about Squall. He doesn't want other people in his business. He'd rather deal with things himself. He's antisocial. He's everything a hero isn't. He's got a whole game to figure out what that means, after all.

Other appearances

As one of the more popular characters in the series, it should come as no surprise that Squall shows up in Kingdom Hearts (albeit under the name Leon). He also shows up in Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II. Chances are he'll pop up in KH3 if it ever gets released. (I saw that teaser, Nomura. Teasers don't mean shit. Don't think I believe you about FFXV either.) As Leon is a completely separate character from Squall and I have no interest in KH, this site won't be covering him. (Update: this site has now been open long enough that my FFXV jokes are outdated, and yet KH3 still isn't out. Ah, Square.)

Anyway, Squall also shows up in Dissidia, the Final Fantasy fighting game that tries to have a story and fails miserably. It's fun, though. He returns in Dissidia 012, the sequel, along with Laguna. I've never managed to get more than a few hours in. Maybe one day.

one: i'm more complex than you think

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