Reviewed By: David Linhardt

Computer Platform: Sony Playstation
Produced by: Square
Price Range: $20-40
Learning curve time: 20 min
Age level: 13+
ESRB Rating: Teen

Genre: Roleplaying Game (RPG)
Christian Rating: 3 of 5
   (some objectionable elements)
Gameplay: 4 of 5
Violence: 2 of 5
Adult Content: 3 of 5

Final Fantasy VIII for the playstation
Welcome to one of the most extraordinary RPGs of the twentieth century. Square's “Final Fantasy 8” takes the game maker's FF (Final Fantasy) line to a whole new level with 1999's eighth installment. Fans of previous FF offerings who clamored for FF7 have reason to continue the rampage: though gameplay has changed slightly, graphics and playability have leaped.

“FF8” is what most recent FF games have been: an interactive movie. You control (or watch, it often seems) a young man named Squall Leonhart. Squall, an often bitter loner, embarks on a quest that will eventually unite him with the woman of his dreams--as well as bring him face to face with a powerful enemy from the future. Six companions join Squall during his 4-CD journey. As with most FF games, the story is the game's most prominent and beautiful feature. Squall is a soldier-in-training when the game begins (with a fantastic FMV movie), bitter, quiet, and anti-social. Through a rivalry with an angry bully (Seifer, another soldier cadet) and a love-triangle involving a young sorceress (Rinoa), Squall eventually comes to terms with his own shattered past.

Screenshot of Squall from 'Final Fantasy VIII' Along the way, we see story lines for each of the six other supporting characters play out--as well as numerous plot twists. In terms of graphics, sound, and playability, Square's rendering teams have made the PSX's final benchmark: Squall and his environment are magnificent in their texture, detail, and lighting. Japanese composers added a near-perfect soundtrack (the only downside was the annoying vocalist on the love song).

“FF8” focuses on the theme of love and vulnerability--Squall has and feels that he needs none as the game begins. Squall's transformation is Square's best yet; there was none of the forced “memory lapse” that we saw (and cringed at) in "Final Fantasy 7".

Objectionable content places this game in the reach of most teens and above. Sexual references are mild, without the prostitution and homosexuality seen in small parts of "FF7". Language and profanity is also down too, compared to "FF7". What we do read/see is mostly PG (if played on a normal movie). The game's occult references are typical for a FF game, involving the average combat magic and new "guardian forces"; something like angels that grant temporal powers.

The biggest item is probably the game's infrequent/occasionally brutal violence. During a swordfight, small wounds are exchanged; at one point Squall is tortured on an electrical rack; the villainess impales Squall with an icicle early in the game (this is not fully shown); and a girl suffocates in space (during a dream sequence).

"FF8's" good points are weighty, however. Rather than embrace New Age spirituality (as “FF7” did), “FF8” focuses on service, selflessness, and love (all distinctly godly themes). The game shows consequences of selfish behavior and godly service in remarkable ways. Squall and Edea Cramer's transformations from selfish loner and crazed sorceress (respectively) to vulnerable, loving man and quiet, wise mother (respectively) adds unheard-of depth to the often shallow FF legacy.

Year of Release—1999

Positive—When it comes to RPG's, Final Fantasy takes the cake. First off, if you don't have a solid grasp on reality; and can't tell the between truth and lies, then STAY FAR AWAY FROM RPG'S. Moving on, this game was good but not great, the “junction” system was very loose and Squall was not very believable when it came down to recognizing his love for Rinoa. I mean one moment he is hard core loner the next love struck softy? I think not, he should have struggled with his “old self” for at least a few minutes…or at least if he did, to show it. this, however, was not enough to mar the great things in this title to much: the artistic, almost classical feel of the futuristic environments kept it feeling like a fantasy game; the graphics are top notch for a PS title (quick note this game's graphic's are THE best of ANY PS game, period. The funny thing is Square said they could have done better if they wanted!); and an overall compelling story, a cryptic sequence near the end (!did anyone else see the FACE-LESS Squall? creepy, very creepy), and an ending that actually made me cry. Put this with the card game, hunting down the best weapons, searching for all the GF's (the must have Eden's over; yes, over; 9,999, almost 36,000, points of damaging fury), and the "OMEGA WEAPON"; an optional boss with 1,000,000 hit points that can DESTROY your ENTIRE team out in ONE shot, and you have a great gaming experience with plenty of replay value, whit only two sore spots. My Ratings: [3/4]
   —David Hayes, age 20

Positive—The majority of the summonable spirits in Final Fantasy are based on a variety of mythologies. Nobody believes in these mythologies anymore. The only still-existing religion involved in this regard is Hinduism. But what the reviewer has mistaken for “New Age spirituality” is actually Shinto. This is a belief which regards all aspects of nature as sacred. The obvious and pervasive influence of it on the Final Fantasy series is not surprising when one considers the fact that Shinto is the primary religion of Japan, where Final Fantasy originates. Most Japanese people participate in more than one religion, Shinto and Buddhism primarily, but they may also have Christian beliefs. My Ratings: [5/5]
   —Greta, age 26, non-Christian

Negative—I've played the Playstation and the PC versions (and the demos) numerous times. I even own the strategy guide and the full Japanese soundtrack. I like the visual style of the game, and am even artistically inspired by the FMV. The music is among the best I've heard and it fits the game very well. I didn't feel that I was getting gypped on gameplay (which was very ingenious I might add). The story was very intriguing, even if it was almost a romance. I especially enjoyed Zell because he's such a dork (or “chicken-wus” as Seifer put it). However, I am not going to say that I would recommend this game. In fact, I wouldn't recommend any Final Fantasy. Being the type of person who loves to find out a bunch of information pertaining to the real world (yes, the fallen world), I find that this game is not up to Christian standards. While it does have its points, the biggest problem is magic. This is no big surprise from something coming out of Japan. Though a lot of the magic is indeed fantastic, there is some truth that rings to the real world (such as summoning and sorcery). Perhaps a few years ago, magic in a fantasy world wouldn't bother me but now I see the light. Frankly, if you know “real” magic is bad, then wouldn't “fantasy magic” be bad as well? Just as a married man lusting after another woman in their mind is a sin, likewise pretending to use magic logically would be the same. How can you hate sin when you dwell on it in your mind? “It's not real” soon becomes a reality. Anyway, this is perhaps the mildest of the Final Fantasy series, but don't bother playing it. My Ratings: [2/5]
   —Matt Gambill, age 20

Comments from Young People…

Positive—Final Fantasy VIII is one of the greatest RPG's that creator Hironobu Sakaguchi has come up with. Gameplay is great. But nowhere are there any occult references. There is little violence, unless you consider defending yourself and making yourself stronger objectional somehow. And the magic is not used as sorcery. You walk around the map and find the magic abilities (i.e. Fire, Fira, Firaga). And the GFs don't grant "temporal powers". They are more powerful than the characters you control, so you call them at random to help you. Never once do they "grant you powers". This game is not objectional, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good story and good gameplay. My Ratings: [5/5]
   —Lando, age 17

Positive—…Final Fantasy VIII is my least favorite of the “trio” (FFVII, VIII, and IX) on the PS, however, that still makes it surprisingly good. The only problem I had with it, other than Squall's "…(whatever)…" attitude that continued for the majority of the game, was the junction system and the constant drawing that had to be done to stock up for good junctions. Other than that, a fine game. My Ratings: [4/4]
   —Peter Jurmu, age 16, non-Christian

Positive—…this game may not be ideal for small children, as they will most likely not understand it, nor will they have the patience to sit through it till the end. However, for people who can truly understand the complexity and depth in the plot, as well as the customizability of the battle system will find this game excellent. Many veteran ff fans didn't like it. They thought it was boring. This is often the first impression of the game. But trust me, wait it out. Play it through twice, even. And you'll see how perfect everything about this game is. Some things in it may be slightly offensive to Christians, such as the guardian force “diablos” and the frequent use of the word "hell", but I ask that you appreciate the game for what it is. Try and keep all religious judgement out of it, as this is only a game. It doesn't teach against any main religion, and in fact has good morals behind it… My Ratings: [5/5]
   —Tom Thompson, age 15, non-Christian

Neutral—Yet another Final Fantasy game. A few changes but the main male characters still look like girls. My Ratings: [5/5]
   —Ryan Deroche, age 15

…Content wise there are a few things a Christian might find objectionable. Such as, you junction “Gardena Forces” or "GF's". Some of these look very much like a demon would. Mild language is also present at times but nothing like there was in Final Fantasy VII, and no more than on a PG level. There is also the use of magic, but not in a witchcraft since. Magic in the game is very important and learning when to cast certain spells is important to the completion of the game, it is shown as just another attack and does not glorify Pagan acts in any way. With all this said, the game is fantasy. When most people hear “RPG” they think of demonic forces and sexual explicit acts. This is from the very popular Dungeons & Dragons sires which most RPG games are based on. That's why they are mostly present in a medieval environment. But different companies make different games, and if you're wondering if your child should play this game just ask yourself three questions : "Is my child mature enough to hear 3 or 4 uses of the 'H' word?" "Can my child distinguish that this game is a fantasy game, and made in a fantasy world?" and lastly "Can my child handle a game with the use of magic? Is it appropriate for his age?" If the answer is yes to these questions then there is no reason why they couldn't play and have a good time. I would not however, recommend the game for anyone younger than 12, simply because they wouldn't get the awesome plot. My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Gene Angel, age 13

I thought this game was amazing with it's gripping and twisting plot. It has very real characters, I mean this by the way they think. The only objectional content I saw was that some of the Gardian Forces are almost nude (Shiva and Siren), I didn't finish this game since I was only borrowing it so I'm not sure if there are any more… My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Kevin, age 15

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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