I remember the original release of Final Fantasy VIII. After having played Final Fantasy VII I was blown away by the cut scenes and music, to me, it was a real leap forward in gaming. When I initially found out that a remastered edition was on the way it brought back all those memories. Does the game live up to the nostalgia and make it worth buying again? Has it improved/updated different aspects of the game enough? This is our Final Fantasy VIII for PC/Steam review.
First, let’s all get this out of the way if you are expecting a change in the game in the same vein as the Final Fantasy VII remake this is not it. The game itself is largely unchanged and is a classic JRPG experience. However, if you are looking to play one of the best Final Fantasy games in the series, experience a great JRPG, or want to play a classic game that has partially updated visuals then you are in the right place.
I am happy to say that the original turn-based combat mechanics, music, card game “Triple Triad”, and the general flow of the game are all solidly in place. For those that played the original release, it is a trip down memory lane with all the same beats and for those new players, the game holds a lot of charm. The remastered edition does a few things quite well, everything in the game looks cleaner and less pixilated. You can see this during combat and when using special effects sure as casting or drawing magic from enemies. Cut scenes hold up quite well and are sharper in appearance, though this visual improvement is not as apparent when compared to others. The character and GF (Guardian Forces) models have received a texture update in certain instances and it shows. For those players who enjoyed the cheats/boosters from the original Steam version, they are still present in this edition along with adding the optional boosters Battle Assist, No Encounters, and a 3x Speed Boost.
Unfortunately, this edition is just a limited refresh and in certain aspects, it shows. There are a few issues that have marred my gameplay experience so far, which while can be ignored may be a deal-breaker for some players. While the world map has become less pixilated it now looks like a blurred mess. At times when running through the various backgrounds, it can be very jarring at how updated the models look versus the backdrops. While I realize it would have been a large undertaking to redo/update the artwork for many of those areas I wish they could have made some adjustments to blend them better with how different the character models now look. At times it feels like there are two different games smashed together. I also experienced a bit of screen tear while watching cut scenes, this, however, could be on my end and I may need to play with some of the settings more though I am running a Ryzen 7 2700x, 32 gig RAM and 1080GTX.
Overall the remastered edition is a solid refresh of a game I loved playing the first time around. I played it so much at the time to the point where I burned out on Final Fantasy for quite a while afterward. Everything you loved about the original is still intact and if there were tedious elements you would like to avoid you may find some of the “boosts” to your liking. If you enjoy JRPGs, turn-based combat, and an extensive story, or maybe you just want to play one of the great Final Fantasy games then Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is a game for you, I recommend picking it up so long as you can ignore some of the glaring texture quality differences between the character models and background maps. It is a real shame that more could not have been done to improve the visuals for this edition of the game.
A game key was provided for the purpose of review.
COMPARE TO: Final Fantasy VII (Original), The Legend of Dragoon (PS)