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Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack :: Review by Merziloss

Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack Album Title Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack
Record Label: DigiCube (1st Edition); Square Enix (Reprint)
Catalog No.: SSCX-10028; SQEX-10005/8
Release Date: March 10, 1999; May 10, 2004
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


I would rank the eighth volume of the Final Fantasy soundtrack series as third in my list of favorite entries, below the seventh and sixth. The reason, mainly, being that I feel this soundtrack lacks the artisitic strength and integrity of the former two. Its high points come a bit unsteadily, but it does succeed in drawing you in, albeit much more slowly than its predecessors. The first disc, for me, is the least interesting, and I often trail off somewhere towards the center while listening to it. While it begins with one of the strongest pieces of the Final Fantasy universe, the rarely-disputed "Liberi Fatali," and follows it with fairly enjoyable numbers, most of these tracks lack a strong focus. Compared with the first disc of the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack, which found a firm, definite point and drove it through, this segment seems uncertain, jumping timidly between moods. As well, though the choir in "Liberi Fatali" is quite good, I wonder if it would have been implemented if not for the success of Final Fantasy VII's "One Winged Angel." Enough of Disc One, however, as the rest of the soundtrack picks up the slack.

Disc Two is what drew me in to the experience, and its emphasis on the witch theme of Final Fantasy VIII is absorbing. Emulating the feel of "Liberi Fatali," it is an iron grasp of tension, and plays well to my own liking of 'fluffless' music. Some tracks are more impressive than others, but the whole is greater than its parts.

Disc Three picks up the ball that Disc Two rolls, and doesn't drop it; with good entries, it backs away from the mood set by the former disc, which is unfortunate, but makes up for it with solid, well-thought pieces. "Dance with the Balamb-fish" is one of my favorite Uematsu works, and the breadth of quality is not lacking in most entries. Another unfortunate turn of events is the initiation of the 'vocal' track trend that this disc begins. While "Eyes on Me" is pleasant enough to listen to, I've never much cared for pop ballads, and could have done without them for the rest of the Final Fantasy series. Though not much more captivating than Disc One, Disc Three has the benefit of following Disc Two's better presentation.

Finally, Disc Four comes to cement the soundtrack's status. Starting with the entertaining "Mods de Chocobo" and never missing a beat, it is the best-defined disc of the collection, adding a terrific sense of continuity which has been somewhat lacking to this point. With each entry being some of my favorites to listen to, I would gladly dispose of the first and third CDs to obtain this one; luckily, I don't have to. "The Castle," with its gothic tone, is another fond track for me, as is "Truth" with its slow harpsichord variation of the witch's theme. The end-boss trio of tracks, while not measuring up to Final Fantasy VII's, is a high point, without doubt. "The Successor" is well-done if not overly flashy. The "Ending Theme," as well, wraps things up nicely, even if there was no real need to go over "Eyes on Me" again. Sadly, the one flat aspect of this disc comes from a design error on the part of the producer, which is oddly Uematsu himself. "Overture," the opening track of the game, is played as the last track of the album; it is utterly dwarfed by the "Ending Theme," and, in effect, undermines the climactic feel of the entire section. Granted, I like the piece a lot, but it would have been far better suited at the end of disc one than shoved back here.

Thus, you have my opinion; while a bit pedestrian in comparison to Final Fantasy VII's or Final Fantasy VI's soundtracks, the inclusion of a few milestone pieces, as well as the excellent witch's theme and orchestrated tracks, saves this album from mediocrity.

Overall Score: 7/10