In the holy canon of role playing games, Final Fantasy VIII remains the single greatest achievement of the creative mind.
Recently surpassing Final Fantasy VII in sales and popularity, Final Fantasy 8 set a record for the most copies sold and the most fan fiction created of a single video game. In fact, the fanbase of Final Fantasy VIII is gigantic and it is the number one game upon which "cosplay" is based off.
Although some resentment is felt by fans of the previous installment in the series(Final Fantasy 7), it is only because of the overwhelming clash Final Fantasy 8 has on traditional RPG's. The music alone in the game is enough to skyrocket the creation into the record books, but only when it is combined with the greatest storyline ever imagined is this game worthy to be called a masterpiece.
The gameplay is fantastic, actively encouraging new and innovative uses for magic, while developing the history of the six main characters in concert with the plot progression. Squall, Rinoa, Selphie, Irvine, Quistis, and Zell are the six main playable persons in the game, each having unique "junctioning" abilities which allows the gamer to personalize and rearrange character abilities to his/her style.
Asides from being the greatest financial success Squaresoft (now "Square Enix") has ever produced, Final Fantasy 8 remains the true definition of fantasy and fiction.
This is the ACTUAL (more or less) conversation between me and an Electronics Boutique employee at my local store (this is before I knew how great Final Fantasy 8 was):
Me: Hey, what Final Fantasy do you recommend?
EB Employee: Well, the best one is Final Fantasy VIII, so I'd go with that if you're just getting into the series.
Me: One of my friends is playing Final Fantasy 7 and says it's not bad either.
EB Employee: No offense, but your friend is on crack. That is the worst Final Fantasy there is. Just get 8 man, I guarantee it.
Me: <lol> Cool, thanks.