Nonsense story, non-dimensonal characters, infuriating out of place mini games and probably the worst battle system.
The game is not about two young adults, the game is not about two teenagers.... the game is about 6 teenagers that are part of a mecenary organization that travels their tiny world and kills people for money. Somewhere in between some love interest is thrown in, along with a couple of witches and time compression...or something. There is a wiki article on the story read it if you want and see if you can make anything better out of it.
Now, as much as the story doesn't make any sense, I wasn't really asking for it to make sense. I just wanted an entertaining story, but it's hard for a story to be entertaining when it's told by characters that all have the same personality of a 13 year old pre pubescent girl; that is with the exception of the protagonist, and he's not any better either. Through out the game he just shrugs off everything and pretends to be cool; he even shrugs it off when his main love interest is hanging on the edge of a cliff and is about to die, and the other characters put on cheerleading outfits to bait him into saving her (he really doesn't want to because she's annoying as hell). About 15 minutes later, literally 15 minutes of playing later, she falls into a coma and he puts on a pair of panties and starts crying at the foot of her bed about how his existence is meaningless without her.
I can honestly say that this is the first time ever that I have hated every single character in a game and whole heartedly wished for their deaths. I guess I have to give credit to square for being able to make me hate something that isn't real.
The battle system is easily one of the worst I have ever seen, you cannot skip monster summons, you HAVE to watch the animations every single time. Magic no longer requires mana, but comes as one time use spells; you draw these spells from monsters or items and they can be 'junctioned' to make your stats more powerful. However, you can have at maximum 100 of each spell, and since they're junctioned to your stats, using them means you get weaker...... hence after early in the game I rarely used them. For the first half... or probably the majority of the game, magic is vastly underpowered compared to summons; for example, a magic spell of the right element may do 200 damage, the same element summon will do over 2000. But since the summon animations can't be skipped though, most people end up never using them; if you read a walkthrough, you will see the boss battles described as daunting tasks, in my experience however I finished most of the battles within a few turns due to using summons. There are drawbacks to this though, the summons have an affinity to characters that use them more often and they take longer to take effect for characters that don't use them or use the opposite element summon too much. This makes the game really frustrating when it forces you to change party members and you have to redistribute the summons among them and some members will end up with ones they have negative affinity with.
On the subject of being forced to switch team members, you will have to do this many times in the game and most of the time it will be a back and forth deal within a few minutes span, Sometimes you will have to fight, sometimes you wont, the game usually doesn't tell you, this means you need to keep unequipping and re-equipping your members everytime there is a forced scene change. This becomes tiring really quickly. There are also alot of other things the game doesn't tell you, sometimes it's impossible to advance the story unless you do some kind of particular action which usually doesn't make any sense, or you eventually run into it after having tried everything else. This game cannot be played without a walkthrough of somekind, they specifically made it so that if you didn't buy a game guide, you would miss out on everything within the game, including weapons. You can't buy weapon upgrades, you first have to find weapon recipes in magazines that are hidden throughout the game world, and theyre usually in locations where they are easy to miss and scenes where you can never return to once you leave. But it's not like it really matters since weapon upgrades do almost nothing for damage; your damage goes alot higher if you junction a more powerful spell to your strength stat. In the end even that doesn't really matter because your main character ends up almost twice as high in level as the other characters because you can't remove him from the party. By the time I quit playing, my main was over 40 and the other characters were around 26. My main character did between 3000-9000 damage using a special ability while the other characters all did 300. Boss fights were two hits with my main character, combat was BORING.
I could go on and on about whats wrong with the combat system, how limit breaks don't trigger until the characters have low enough health to be killed in one hit, which makes them essentially useless, how some characters have passive limit breaks while some have active that goes as far as full blown tekken style button combos for different moves, how the main character does 10 times the damage of the other characters, making them feel like paperweights that you're forced to carry around. None one of this was enough to make me just quit playing though, I like to see a game to it's end once I've started. What really made me rage was the mini button mashing games that you had to pass to go further into the story. At the beginning of disc 3 there is one where you're fencing with a dragon that kills you in three hits and you have to land something like 15 hits on it to beat the sequence, this wouldn't be a problem if not for the fact that the game had like a 5 second delay between every action you took and half the time your commands didn't even register. By this point I had enough of this game, the story was bad, the characters were bad, the combat was bad, and the artistic design was awful. I deleted my saves and burned all bridges so that I wouldn't be able to play it again.
I know there is no point in writing this now, 13 years after the game was released, but I just dont understand what people see in this game. I played FF7 and 9 and they were both a far cry from what 8 turned out to be.