After being released on the Playstation back in 1999 and released on PC in 2000, Final Fantasy VIII has finally made its way to Steam, but is the third time the charm?
Despite coming on the heels of what many considered to be the greatest RPG of all time, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII has built a reputation of its own and made a strong case that it is on the level of or even surpasses that of its predecessors. FFVIII brought us a darker adventure filled with magic, war and even time travel, as well as starkly raising the maturity level with its deep dynamic characters and complex intertwining storylines to become an exceptional addition to the iconic series. After being released on the Playstation back in 1999 and released on PC in 2000, the game has finally made its way to the Steam platform, but is a third time worth it?
Final Fantasy VIII on Steam is the same story gamers remember from fifteen years ago, which is not a bad thing at all. The game follows Squall, a quiet and reserved bitter university student, as he makes his way through his school that trains mercenaries. Eventually, the plot becomes much more complex with romantic subplots, a mysterious man in your dreams and a sorceress bent on world domination. The twists and intricacies of the story are still untouched which is perfect for old time fans and make for a very mature, modern and realistic Final Fantasy than the previous incarnations.
Although the story and gameplay remain the same, the PC version has provided the luxury of a graphical overhaul, but only to a certain extent. Characters and objects that are interacted with are much more detailed and look sharper than the Playstation version which in battle looks good. On the other hand, all the backgrounds and unimportant objects still remain the same and look incredibly pixelated and often times blurry, which when contrasted to the updated character models, makes for a muddy and oft-putting presentation.
The soundtrack in FFVIII for PC was also a major talking point as the games original soundtrack format on Playstation was not ported over to the PC version leaving it sounding hollow and of a poorer quality. I also noticed clipping and fuzziness at times which for a port of a fifteen year old game is unacceptable. Still, it is a minor issue and in the long run it is hard to notice the differences if you haven’t played the original in a long time making it still as enjoyable today.
There are two major additions to the Steam version not related to aesthetics, and they are the ability to play Chocobo World from the menu and the “Magic Booster”. Chocobo World is a mini-game that was previously only available in Japan on the PocketStation, and you control the chocobo Boko to collect items and GFs that can be used in the main game. Although it is very straightforward and with not much to offer, it is a nice addition for longtime fans.
The “magic booster” on the other hand allows you to essentially cheat a save file by using it to fully stock spells like cure, fire, blizzard, etc for all characters to 100 (the maximum) on that file. It can be used an unlimited number of times, but once you attach it to your file it cannot be reversed. Using it will completely powerhouse your characters to make the game even easier, which for anyone who just wants to get through the story or someone like me who’s beaten the game before it is an interesting side addition.
Despite a majority of fans believing this to be the weakest of the Playstation Final Fantasy era, it is a quality RPG experience with an intriguing story, likeable characters and refreshingly different gameplay making it one of the best RPG’s of all time regardless. All in all if you have yet to play FFVIII or are looking for the most complete experience, then the Steam release is the way to go. But aside from these minor changes, the game itself remains the same which is not a negative in the slightest as it is still one of the most memorable and entertaining RPGs ever made.
Score: 8.5 / 10