‘Final Fantasy VIII’ was a progression of the combined science fiction & fantasy world started in ‘VI’ and built upon in ‘VII.’ With a sweeping story that goes beyond space and time, ‘Final Fantasy VIII’ is in many ways a classic example of game directing done well. With an artistic flare and an aspiration to deliver an epic experience, ‘VIII’ holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many gamers. Here are five moments that really made the experience sing.
The Landing on Dollet
In one of the first important moments in the game, the mission to liberate the town of Dollet from the Galbadian troops is an excellent example of what ‘Final Fantasy’ does well: Epic music combined with a beautiful visual experience.
There was more to the cinematic than just pretty graphics; the boats moving across the serene reflection of the moon in the water, Squall looking out at the approaching shoreline all created an intense directorial experience that was heightened by the arrival of the boats on the shore and the virtually seamless transition back to gameplay.
‘Final Fantasy VIII’s’ story is, from the beginning at least, straightforward in many ways: The characters are members of a private mercenary force and take on a variety of different jobs for different clients. While there seems to be some action stirring between the nations of the world, there’s little else from the beginning aside from character relationships.
The first hint that not everything is as simple is in the first flashback/dream sequence where the players are introduced to the other protagonist: Laguna. Not only does it deepen the world by giving grounds for the game to have thick historical content, but also it is another excellent example of the great directing in the game’s advancement.
With accelerating music, no hint as to what’s going on aside from the apparent fact that these mysterious characters are on some kind of military operation, the plot and setting expands beyond that of Squall and the other characters, giving hint that there’s a greater story to tell.
The Train Job
‘Final Fantasy VII’ raised the bar on what could be done in an RPG by adding moments one would expect to see in an action/adventure game; whether it was parachuting into a city, or a high-speed motorcycle chase, Square effectively brought excitement and action to the genre, and would continue to do so with ‘Final Fantasy VIII.’
Hired by a small group of resistance members, Squall and the crew were assigned the task of swapping out a train car that contained the president of Galbadia with a dummy car.
Placing the player on the moving train itself by fusing gameplay with FMV-style graphics was an exhilarating moment, as was having to input the codes to decouple the trains without getting spotted in order to successfully complete the mission.
The Attempted Assassination of Sorceress Edea
One of the highest moments in ‘Final Fantasy VIII,’ the mission to assassinate the Sorceress in Deling city is filled with intensity and risk from start to finish.
Once again, the high directorial work and presentation through visuals and music stands out as something ambitious and confident. But there’s more at work that keeps the tension going.
Anything that could possibly go wrong to jeopardize the mission does. Irvine doubts his abilities as a marksman right before the critical moment; Quistis and the second team get stuck in the sewers; Rinoa decides to take matters into her own hands only to become possessed by the power of the Sorceress.
With everything falling into place at the last minute, the shot still fails, leaving Squall to race through the parade crowd to face the Sorceress head on, where he has to fight through Seifer, who has now oddly aligned himself with the enemy.
Even though the segment directly after Squall is impaled by Sorceress Edea’s summoned ice shards doesn’t contain anything epic necessarily, the shift in tone and mood is yet another example of the excellent progression of the game.
Coming down from the high point of facing off against the Sorceress, with the fate of Squall and everyone else left uncertain, the quaint and gentle music introducing the proceeding scene with Laguna makes for a beautiful and poignant transition.