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I was immediately blown away with the quality of the CG intro that takes place upon the start of a new game.
I mean the quality and clarity of the opening scene was breathtaking, as good or better than anything I have ever witnessed on the Playstation before.
The opening has two of the story's main characters, Squall and Seifer fighting it out on a rather barren, rocky landscape.
The action, dynamics and character animation during the fight will have you picking your jaw up off the floor.
The games CG fight scene then shifts seamlessly to the in-game graphics and your adventure is truly set to begin.
The new character models used in the game are both a blessing (mostly) and a bit of a letdown (slightly). The really good news is that the characters do indeed possess a much more adult and realistic look when compared to the former super-deformed models used previously in the majority of RPG's. The characters are very reminiscent of those used in Square's Parasite Eve game. The texture mapping is very well done and the animation of the characters is downright awesome. The color's of the clothing has been well thought out and not only looks much more realistic, but it blends in much better with the backgrounds now.
The animation appears to have been painstakingly executed. Characters running or walking now look much truer to life. Other attributes such as bending over, arming a weapon, victory stanches all look worlds better then in any other RPG. During battles you can actually tell how hard a person is getting pummeled by the reaction they elicit when they are hit. Small hits will cause a character to recoil in pain, larger attacks will have them stepping off-balance and wobbling backwards and death will find them crumpling to the ground in a heap.
The bad news is that this is probably about the best we are going to get on the existing PSX and the character models are not without flaws. Yes, they do look really nice, but there is some nasty polygon seaming the occasionally occurs and the edges on the characters are somewhat jagged and rough looking. This is really a small price to pay though for such an improvement in overall character design for an RPG game. Overall though I really like this style and think that Square did a fine job in implementing it.
The backgrounds while still pre-rendered, are much more animated and interactive than before. The characters also fit in a lot better now and don't contrast with the surroundings as they did in FFVII. I cannot recall a single screen that did not have some sort of animation sequence occurring as I passed through it.
The graphics for the battles are as superb as ever and the Guardian Force visuals are incredible even a slight step above the previous FF game. You are treated to lots of great particle effects and light sourcing when drawing or using magic, superb explosions and fantastic character animations.
Taken as a whole, the world of FFVIII is now much more realistic, interactive and involving then ever before. Kudos to Square for taking the innovative approach of FFVII and making it even better in FFVIII.
As good as the graphics are in the game, the music and sound effects manage to keep pace and hold there own throughout FFVIII.
The musical score plays out more like a movie than a videogame, with grand sweeping melodies that change with the story of the game. Good music can often elicit all kinds of emotional responses and Final Fantasy VIII plays this out to perfection. You are never overwhelmed by the music, but instead you get totally absorbed. It just kind of flows all around you and gets in your head.
Sound effects are brilliant and cover the gamut of sounds for all of the marvelous special effects that take place during the game. I will not even try to describe them in text form; I wouldn't be doing them justice (Vroom, buzzz, crackle, KaBOOM) Needless to say things like the subtle effects of footsteps and birds chirping in the background to the more aggressive effects like explosions, swords clanking and weapons being fired and all addressed exquisitely in the game. It's actually amazing the sound effects that little gray box can still put out.
¤ Setting the Scene
¤ Character Profile
¤ Sound and Vision
¤ Options, Scores and Opinions
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