Final Fantasy VIII remaster. That’s right a remaster of THE greatest Final Fantasy game. Right that’s this review done go play the game!
Ok so its not, but whatever you do after reading this you should definitely get yourself a copy of the remastered game. You will not be disappointed. Final Fantasy VIII is a Role-playing Game with original game releasing back in February 2009. It was the fastest selling Final Fantasy game in the entire series until Final Fantasy XIII, this however was released on multiple consoles. This marks the 10 year anniversary of the game and although there is all the buzz of the new Final Fantasy VII remake due early next year this rerelease has me much more excited. The game was directed by the great Yoshinori Kitase, returning with an almost identical team as used to develop Final Fantasy VII and published by Squaresoft, who are now known as Square Enix. The music is once again designed by the master of video gaming music Nobuo Uematsu. If you haven’t already you should get onto any good music streaming service such as Spotify because you can get all of the original soundtrack there.
Without giving too much away I will try to condense the story as best I can. The story is AMAZING! If you haven’t already played this game before then you need to go take a good long hard look at yourself in a mirror and question what you have done with your life.
The story is one of epic proportions where the world becomes embroiled in a plot by the great Sorceress Ultimecia to compress time. The game is a classic romance between two teenagers not quite fully understanding their feelings towards each other with this backdrop of politics, magic and war making it even more difficult. The start of the game follows the training of Squall Lionheart, possibly an even more emo teenager than Cloud Strife of FFVII, at Balamb Garden where he is training to be an elite soldier known as SeeD. During his training Squall encounters a number of “friends” which he travels the world with once he completes his SeeD training. The first mission the group are sent on is in a town called Dollet and forms part of their grades for completing the SeeD training. The whole sequence is possibly one of my favourite sequences of any game I have played, from the character dialogue to the ground breaking FMV sequences it is one part of the game I cannot wait to replay. The game then introduces you to the romantic element of the story, Rinoa Heartilly, soon follows possibly one of the games most iconic FMV sequences and music scores that has since been etched on my brain ever since I watched it the first time. The game then takes the group and pair of star crossed lovers across the world fighting rogue Gardens, Mystical Creatures, Sorceresses and Tonberrys.
The gameplay follows the usual Final Fantasy series turn based style of the games that came before it but it utilises an ATB system that had worked so well in FFVII. Where it differs its with the use of magic and summons, or in the case of FFVIII Guardian Forces. The mechanics are so much more intricate than the games before it. Guardian forces are junctioned to each character where their affinity grows only when junctioned which improves stats. The magic is then also junctioned to stats which can bolster your Health, Attack, Defence and many other stats. The more of the specific magic the better the stat increase is and it is the same when stronger magic is junctioned. It also allows for certain magic such as Fire or Ice to be junctioned which allows attacks of that type to either be nullified or absorbed. The biggest drawback I ever found with this system was you were reluctant to use magic and you sometimes just sat for hours drawing magic from enemies to improve your stats. But it never stopped me doing it though! The game also had a great mini game in it called Triple Triad, think Gwent from Witcher but better. I spent 100s of hours on that alone. Worth it.
So what does the Remaster actually do differenetly? Luckily not much which means the game can still be enjoyed in all its glory. It has however had a graphical update for HD display. The character models have been reworked and textures improved. They have also added in functions such as x3 speed, you can switch of random encounters and you can have full health and ATB gauge, in other words cheat the game. I wouldn’t bother with any of those and just enjoy the game as it was originally intended. The game is released on September 3rd on PS4, XBOX One, Switch and PC.