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Final Fantasy VIII Orchestra Version
Final Fantasy VIII: Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec
Composed and Arranged by Nobuo Uematsu
Orchestrated by Shiro Hamaguchi
Conducted by Koji Haijima

Since many fans (including myself) were dissapointed with the original soundtrack of FFVIII, many were seeking a rectification of the problem and fortunately it came in the form of a wonderful, fully-orchestral version of the OST's better tracks. The arranged version of FFVIII hardly leaves anything to be desired (other than more music, of course), and is greatly appreciated by nearly all that have heard it. This is, for the most part, a terrific CD, full of arrangements that are interesting yet true to the originals, though a small problem that I have with it is the inclusion of The Man with the Machine Gun (more on that later).

The performance is admirable and the sound quality is perfect, which leads me to another problem that I have with this: The sound quailty is too good. The orchestra utilized is absolutely tiny, which kind of hurts the music due to the fact that it's size is carried prominently well on the CD. Still, I souldn't complain because albums of this scope are very expensive and this was executively produced by Nobuo himself.

Disc 1:

1. Liberi FataliThis is the same recording as the one heard on the OST and is likely a jewel in Nobuo's crown of fine works.
2. Blue FieldsThis wonderful minimalist track is finally given a fine presentation. Rather than being played on bells, the excellent melody is rotated around different sections of the orchestra. It would have been great if it was possible to use this version in the game. Oh well, it's too late now...
3. Don't be AfraidThe pulse-pounding battle theme is actually not changed much from the OST version, but it does contain some new bridges and a bit of added instrumentation. I like the unusual way the solo trumpet is used as accompaniment.
4. Balamb GARDEN ~ AmiThis starts off almost exactly as the original, the only difference is that the melody that opens is given more play than it once had. Later on, the "friendship" theme from the original makes and appearance, which rounds out the track nicely. One great thing about this CD is that the friendship theme isn't overused as it is in the OST.
5. Fisherman's HorizonThis is my favorite track apart from the Ending Theme. The begins with a wonderful wordless choir which follows into solo playings of the grand melody. This mostly eliminates the horrid electric piano heard in the original, but it is heard as accompaniment in a few key areas. The piano doesn't bother me in this arrangement, due to it's very quiet use, and it actually seems to fit the music very well.
6. FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSECThis track seems to be missing the power that the original had. The drums seem a bit more subdued and the choir sounds almost lazy. It builds slightly only to add a horrid wailing female vocal the completely ruins the whole thing.
7. Eyes on MeWhat more is to be said? If you like pop ballads, you're going to like this. If you don't like pop ballads, you're going to detest this. In any case, this was arranged by Shiro Hamaguchi and Faye Wong's voice still cracks in one key area.
8. The Man With the Machine GunThis is the low point of the whole thing. This song was originally meant to be a techno piece and it simply doesn't sound very good when played by an orchestra. The effect is interesting I suppose, but I would rather have heard one of the better tracks arranged such as "The Mission" or "Drifting."
9. Dance with the Balamb-fishThis sounds absolutely wonderful. The orchestration takes an ascending tone rather that a descending tone in the intro, but other than that, this sounds just like the original, only (obviously) played by orchestra.
10. Love GrowsIf you want to hear a fully orchestral version of the love theme, then here ya go! The only problem is that since this is used in both Eyes on Me and the Ending Theme, it seems a bit overused on this particular CD. The especially great thing about this track is the piano accompaniment.
11. The OathThis sounds like the original, only with the addition of new instrumentation and it is played more slowly. I personally like the string-only version on the original. Plus the added stuff makes this sound like Christmas music. Seriously. Christmas music.
12. Ending ThemeIf you want to know my opinions on this, you'd best check out my review for the FFVIII OST. Anyway, this is a restatement of the major themes and even some new music is introduced.
13. Fragments of MemoriesIf you've read my review for the OST, then you'd know that the melody used here is a rip off of the main theme from the videogame Brave Fencer Musashi. This time it is played by strings only.

A great arranged CD that I fully recommend to all fans of game and film music. Fans of classical should even give this a spin. It's orchestral beauty is nearly boundless, yet it does suffer from a few minor problems. All in all, well above average.

Final Fantasy VIII Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec is copyright 1999 Digicube. This review is written by and is the property of Isaac Engelhorn.