Rook wrote:I sort of agree that Sephiroth is not the best villain ever; he appears cool at first, but when you start actually analyzing his motives and background, turns out he was a pretty nice guy, who found out he was [he thought] a genetically enhanced ancient, and subsequently he flips out and starts killing people in an elitist frenzy. Gets thrown into the lifestream, which sends him even more batshit insane, until finally essentially becoming the controlling (and bloody persistent) mind behind the viral form of Jenova, though his goals are no more complicated than hers. Basically just a messed up guy, and not, in fact, evil, to begin with at least
Note the bold. Sephiroth could've been given better motives, but his reasons for doing what he does in 7 are pretty much only for self-gain anyway.
On 8 - I only restarted playing it recently, and found that I actually prefer the completely changed system. Materia's great, due to the levels of customisability, but junctioning works quite well in an FF. I'll admit that it's a bit too easy to go through the game simply whoring GFs, but once you realise that there can be strategy behind it, it becomes really quite fun.
So for story, I'm going to say VII>IX>VIII (although I've not seen the end of VIII as I lost the memory card near the end of disc 3, and didn't restart for a few years).
For magic/ability system, probably VIII>VII>IX. I wasn't too happy with the use of equipment to gain ablities. If you're talking about weapons, though, it'll be VII>IX>VIII. I hate the lack of choice in your weapons in VIII... you're stuck with the next upgrade, and there's no variety in it. In VII, you could choose the right equipment for the right time (Final Weapons once you got master materia, the slotless, high-strength ones for the Wutai quest, &c.
Music-wise, probably VII>VIII>IX. There wasn't really that much variety in IX's music, with all the varients of themes being similar - and I disliked the battle theme and hated
the boss battle music. VII has some of the most memorable themes I've ever heard, and they all fit their situations well. I only just found Highly Experimental, a winamp-compatible plugin that allows the playback of psf files (as in, ripped directly from the PSX CDs), as MIDI removes a lot of the best bits - notably, the choir in "One Winged Angel".
Overall, I think it's VII>VIII>IX, although VII may just be there from nostalgia and hype.
PS: Note that I've never played anything newer than 9, so don't know much about this 'squares' system of levelling up. That's why I've not compared anything to it.