Final Fantasy VIII Remastered review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

While I absolutely enjoy all of the original PlayStation era Final Fantasy titles, Final Fantasy VIII will always be the most memorable for me. While Final Fantasy VII was certainly an achievement and is rightly regarded by most as the BIG Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy VIII was also a remarkable follow-up. Developer SquareSoft could have easily tried to replicate Final Fantasy VII and would have most certainly been successful in doing so, but instead, they came out with one of the more unique leveling/magic systems the long-running RPG series has ever seen. It also has one of the oddest plotlines, a really unique cast of characters, and arguably one of the most underrated soundtracks on the PS1.

It was also a significant visual step forward compared to VII. Larger, more detailed character models, more colorful and vibrant backgrounds, and (for the time) stunning video sequences that were certainly above and beyond anything found in Final Fantasy VII. I remember being so awestruck by the game that I lugged my PlayStation over to my friend?s house just to show off the opening video of the game. So when Square Enix finally announced that the game would be getting remastered for modern consoles, I was pretty darn excited. And now, with Final Fantasy VIII Remastered releasing this week, I?m pretty happy with the end results.

First things first, this is a remaster, and not a remake. It?s worth noting because while the game looks pretty good here, it probably won?t blow anyone away either. The biggest change is in the character models, which had been a pixelated mess back on the PS1 (?You?re the best looking guy here?). Now you?ve got clean, more modern, detailed characters throughout the game. This goes for NPC?s, enemies, and the main cast. Unfortunately, the new character models do tend to make the low resolution, blurry backgrounds stand out a little more, but that?s a trade-off I?m willing to accept here.

Other changes are more in line with the Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX ports that made their way over to consoles in recent years. You can opt to speed up the game to 3x, so when moving around the world or entering combat, everything moves at a blistering pace. I?m not necessarily a fan of enabling this unless I?m grinding out enemies for cards or something, but it?s nice to have the option at least. You can also opt to turn off random encounters altogether, which can be interesting in Final Fantasy VIII since enemies tend to level with you. I know a lot of people that enjoy breaking the game via the card draw system will often opt to level up as little as possible, so having the ability at the onset to just turn off random encounters certainly helps with that. Finally, if you just want to coast through the game, you can also turn damage off, along with keeping your attack timer fully charged. This absolutely breaks combat in the game but again can be fun if you?re just wanting to revisit the story.

Outside of these additions, this is still the Final Fantasy VIII you remember. And thankfully, unlike some of the ports of other Final Fantasy titles, this one seems to be devoid of any big issue, music bug, etc. At least in the time that I?ve spent with it, I?ve not noticed any significant issues with sound, graphics and so on. It plays, looks, and sounds just like a remember it, with a new coat of paint tossed on top to make the overall look a little more appealing. There?s not a lot else to say about Final Fantasy VIII Remastered, other than you should absolutely pick this up when you have a chance, it?s easily the best version of the game available.

Note: Square Enix provided us with a Final Fantasy VIII Remastered PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A