|Platforms||PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Switch|
Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is more touch-up than make-over.
Fans of Final Fantasy VIII will be happy to learn that the Remastered Edition of this Playstation classic released this September 3rd. But what new features and changes does Final Fantasy VIII Remastered have to offer?
The gameplay of Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is a straight copy of the original version. Those who’ve tried previous Final Fantasy remasters will like know that the Triple Speed feature is also available here. It’s a small but welcome change that helps keep the game playable in a world where blatant content padding – like random battles and forced grinding – are frowned upon.
On performance, Final Fantasy VIII Remastered certainly plays smoother than the original, but it’s not enough. 20 years have passed since the original first released; a mere 1-5 FPS improvement is, frankly, sad. To make matters worse, the in-game performance takes a significant hit when playing at certain resolutions.
This isn’t the first time a Final Fantasy remaster has been guilty of poor performance. The fact that it performs so poorly is disheartening because it doesn’t bode well for anyone looking forward to future Square Enix remasters. It’s clear as day: Square Enix doesn’t care.
The much-talked-about graphical upgrades certainly stand out from the original. There’s less aliasing and higher pixel density, and you can now clearly see the faces of each character! It’s no Final Fantasy XV, but the overhauled character models are clearly higher quality than the original’s.
However – and this all comes down to personal taste – some of the new models in Final Fantasy VIII Remastered don’t quite fit the original’s style. Squall’s face, for instance, is closer to the hyper-stylized version in Dissidia than the more realistic proportions in Final Fantasy VIII. It’s a bit jarring and inconsistent, especially considering everything else in the game was largely untouched. Other graphic assets, such as backgrounds and the world map, haven’t changed in 20 years. Square Enix simply threw on some texture filtering and called it a day.
There’s no true Widescreen support. Hope you like playing in 4:3 letterbox in 2019, because that’s all you’re going to get. The PC version of Final Fantasy VIII Remastered also suffers from a long-known gamepad issue where analog stick inputs are read as digital D-Pad inputs. This means you can only move in 4 different directions instead of the full 360-degrees of movement you would get on console.
Our time with Final Fantasy VIII Remastered was full of little niggles like this. For example, the Chocobo World mini-game has been removed entirely. Sure, we never owned a PocketStation when we were kids, so we don’t miss the rewards. Still, when you play Remastered you’re getting an incomplete product. Thankfully, the Triple Triad card game is still present in all its glory.
Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is a misnomer. It offers nothing that community mods haven’t before it, and with the Chocobo World mini-game missing it even manages to offer a less complete experience than the 1998 original. So much is missing – widescreen support, improved textures, full-range analog, improved performance just to name a few – but it honestly hurts the more we mention it.
We can only recommend Final Fantasy VIII Remastered to diehard fans, and even then only for its Triple Speed mode, which is a necessity if you don’t want to deal with the super-long animations (Guardian Forces are the worst offenders!) and constant grinding. Everyone else should steer clear.
Square Enix has indeed made some changes to the original; characters are higher resolution and much clearer, but the final product is far from perfect. Slapping on the term "remastered" doesn't make it true, and clearly on some parts of the game were touched at all. Stick to the PS1 version.