FFVIII Steam Version Review
I ran some aesthetic tests on the Steam version of FFVIII today. After clearing some doubt I had on the visual modifications, I sat down and took a good look at the game.
Graphics are almost always the first thing you notice in a game, and ports of classics are no different. FFVIII has two graphics settings; one uses the original settings, and the other uses polished images.
The character and monster sprites received a huge graphical update. In the original version the sprites were a pixellated mess compared to other games of the time. Even FFVII, which released before FFVIII, had cleaner sprites, even though they were more blocky. This new version clears up the stray pixels.
Here's my Ifrit battle to give you a feel for the upgrades. Yes at full I had over 2,000 HP on Squall, that is due to the new Magic Booster option. I will explain the Magic Booster later in the review.
As you can see in the image above, lines are smoother and not as blurry. On the off side of this however, the visual upgrades shine light on other issues. The rotating skyline is the big one that comes to mind at the moment. While in battle, the sky rotates around to give the scenery a more realistic feel. After the graphical updates you notice the sky is just an image on a tube rotating around. You can see the overlap lines that were too blurry to notice before.
In the open world colors and lines received touch ups but the cities and buildings weren't really changed. Not only does this draw more attention to the buildings and cities, it also makes the grid lines more prominent on the scenery. These graphics issues are all due to half-hearted upgrades. Below I'll put a few examples of the poor attention to detail on the graphics updates.
Here you can see the sky overlap.
Here is an unaltered image of Balamb Garden.
Here it is after the upgrades. I'm not sure if you can see the grid lines at this size, but in-game they are very prominent.
This new option from the game launcher instantly grants players a hefty set of magic. You also receive the Mog Amulet item that teaches a GF MiniMog. It's a nifty ability later in the game, but there isn't much use for it early on so just hold onto it.
|Magic and Items|
Using this option on a new file can have massive implications. If you've spent time on learning the junction abilities on your GFs, you have some high level magic to slot in already. Case in point, refer back to my Ifrit battle picture, Quistis and Squall have approximately the same current HP. Quistis is at max health in that picture, while Squalls max health is actually 2800 due to HP-J. I junctioned Curaga to HP to increase my max HP.
While it doesn't necessarily break the game, it makes it easier. I'm used to the beginning being easy due to how I play though, so it really doesn't affect me much. I generally grind out Fasticalon-Fs until I completely unlock all Quetzecotl's and Shiva's abilities.
No changes here; the story is as great as it's always been. This is still one of my favorite stories in a video game. The only two that match it are the Xenosaga series and FFVII.
You play as Squall, a SeeD candidate at Balamb Garden. SeeD is a mercenary group that is highly proficient in battle. Squall gets caught up in a war between Sorceress Edea and the rest of the world. It's really worth a look based on story alone if you haven't played it.
One of the most touching stories that I've played.
If you ever owned a Tamagotchi, this will bring back som memories. Chocobo World, which was previously unreleased in the US, was originally a Tamagotchi like device. It's now adapted to play on the computer. While it does finally allow everyone to experience the Chocobo World, there really is no draw to it. After a few minutes it gets boring and repetitive.
Normally, I'd give Final Fantasy VIII a 10 out of 10. Due to the half-hearted graphical updates, I'm giving it a 9 out of 10. I'd still recommend this version to anyone who has never played the game, since it's easily accessible. So if you haven't played FFVIII yet, definitely consider picking this up on Steam.