Grinding and Farming Fantasy VIII.
You take the role of Squall, a secluded young man who happens to be a trainee at Balamb Garden. This place trains young men and women into SeeDs, mercenaries of sorts, if they pay is good, they'll kill whatever they have to kill. The game's theme is that of "Love", as the game's logo suggests, it's all about the adorkable Rinoa trying to pry open Squall's secluded self. Also, there's a sort of second protagonist in the form of Laguna, an Esthar Soldier with a very carefree attitude. Every now and again, the game will switch to Laguna's exploits alongside his friends, and in the end, both narratives tie up together. Whether you can accept that Rinoa would keep trying to woo a jerk who evidently wants nothing to do with her(at the beginning, anyways) isn't really the biggest problem with the story, but rather, how dumb it can get. When the script is at its finest, it's fantastic, the story and seeing characters interact with each other was what kept me going, but when the script gets dumb... it gets really, really dumb. I found myself wanting to punch the screen at least twice due to how stupidly some characters were behaving.
Now then, first of all, Equipment has been done away with. You don't equip armor or accessories, rather, you junction magic into your stats to enhance them. Actually, you can upgrade weapons, but you need to gather Random Drops from enemies, Steal them from the enemies or play the Card Game(More on this in a bit). This means that the Mug command, that Diablos has, quickly becomes essential to upgrading your weapons, as random drops are a pain to get, and sometimes, when the game is feeling naughty, it makes the items that you can steal, different from the ones they drop, know what that means? Farming enemies until they drop it, and the drop percentage is very low. Although I got through the entire first disc not being able to upgrade anyone's weapon and I did just fine(Turns out the Wendingo held the steel pipes!).
Then there are Limit Breaks. The good? Now they are more interactive than before, for example, Squall get's a sort of rhythm mini-game, while with Zell you get a list of commands, and you have to pick which ones to execute in a 5 second gap. This was a great change. The bad? Unless you engage in sidequests, you probably won't get to see them. Limit Breaks now trigger when you are low on health and at random. You can press circle, which normally switches you between the characters that you can use a turn with, until it shows up though. The thing is... I never got to be low on health, and I didn't even use healing items or spells. All throughout the game all I did, whenever I wasn't drawing magic, was have Squall junctioned with the strongest magics available on strength and the passive Strength boosts and have him use his normal attack, Squall has a unique trait to him, press R1 right when he attacks an enemy and you basically get a free critical hit, and then have my other two characters using Guardian Forces. Guardian Forces take a little time to cast, but they act as shields, so the GFs lose HP when attack while summoning them(They can "die", but there are special items to heal and revive them). This "strategy" got me throughout the first 3 discs with almost no problems at all. If you mean to get the Ultimate Weapons, which probably means you are gonna make trips to the hard encounters at the Island Closest to Hell and the Underground Sea Facility, you may need to change up your plans though!
Back when the game's first screenshots were shown, it was easy to see that graphics were a huge selling point, and... they have aged fine, considering it's a PS1 game. Easily one of the best looking PS1 games, the pre-rendered backgrounds look extremely well even today(And it's easy to notice, coming from Shadow Madness!), and character models feature a lot of detail. Monsters look particularly fierce and menacing, and there's some fairly funny animations(The Wending dribbling you like a basket ball!). Music is also great, albeit I doubt it has the lasting power that FF7's soundtrack had.
The good news? It's not a terrible game, and when the game is at its greatest, when you don't need to draw magic, when you are actually playing and having fun, when the script is not being dumb? It's really, really fun. But at its worst it becomes a chore to play it, and that's why it will never be as good as 4, 6 or 7.
7.0 out of 10.