The Final Fantasy
games have always had excellent gameplay, and Final Fantasy 8
is no exception. The game is themed around love, namely, the love between two of the main characters. At times it comes off as a little dopey (well, okay, a LOT dopey), but most of the time Square pulls it off with panache. Sure, the translation could be better, but it could be Xenogears
. The plot is terribly convoluted (in a good way), and it will suck you in and not let you out. This is the pinnacle of story over gameplay in the Final Fantasy
series, and it shows. FF8
's story is superb.
The gameplay itself is great as well, if not the best of the series. Instead of learning magic, you draw it from enemies and store it for later. This sometimes necessitates fighting enemies over and over to get all of their magic, but it generally doesn't take all that long. You also have Guardian Forces, which are effectively super-Summons, that level up and learn new abilities as the game goes along. Even with the overlong animations, the GFs are a great idea that is implemented quite well.
The genius of Final Fantasy 8 comes from the Junction system. Spells can be junctioned to various abilities, determined by the GFs you have Junctioned to each character. When you junction a spell, it raises or lowers that stat accordingly. There are tons of ways to do this, in an attempt to make the optimal character, and different areas require different junctioning. In a fire area, you'll want to junction Ice. Vice versa for snow areas. Excellent idea, beautifully executed.
Oh, yeah. Monsters no longer drop cash. Instead, you get a salary from SeeD (whom you work for) after a certain number of steps. Intriguing.