I'm rather fascinated by the divisive opinions in this thread.
Personally VIII is one of my favourite in the series as somebody who's played basically every main game. The scaled leveling made for quite the different experience and the GF system was great (except for the part where boosting sucked). The characters were all really strong and the music is fantastic. I will agree that the story is full of holes but strangely enough that made the game that much more fascinating to me as it provoked thought about what actually happened in the end and lead to a lot of reading of theories about the story and such. Not going to say that's neccesarily a plus as it's just how I felt, but I think the hokey story is more than made up for by the other aspects of the game.