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20 January 2020

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered

By // Games

You do not need to swap disks anymore, now you can simply download the digital copy of the game from PSN, Xbox Live, and Nintendo eShop. Over the years, former Sony’s console exclusive got to all possible gaming systems, and the space that the game occupies on the HDD/SD memory no longer seems unbelievable. Given the release of the re-release, we decided to return and recall the cult game of the Golden Age of the jRPG.With the advent of the CD format and the first PlayStation, SquareSoft began to supply its games with a large number of beautiful cinematic cut scenes with incredible graphics at that time. Final Fantasy VII introduced new trend for such in-game videos, and Final Fantasy VIII developed this theme even further by suggesting hero control during some in-game videos. This made a lasting impression, but inflated the volume of the game to four discs.

The plot of Final Fantasy VIII unfolds in a sci-fi world with elements of fantasy and revolves around students from a military academy graduating as elite soldiers. The luxurious introduction to the battle under the theme of “Liberi Fatali” is just as exciting as on the PS1 back in late 90’s, and it’s great up to date.

Cinematics and Storyline

FFVIII backgrounds and cinematics are still very spectacular, but the quality of the video is very poor. Square Enix has done absolutely nothing to significantly increase the clarity of the in-game clips, as a result, the picture suffers from compression artifacts on the big TV screen and looks blurry. This is surprising, given the company’s own studio for creating CG of exorbitant quality and availability of the reconstruction technology using neural networks.

Fortunately, the plot itself does not disappoint and offers to participate in an international conflict, join the ranks of elite soldiers and receive the first personal contract. In parallel with this, we are introduced to new heroes and reveal some features of the world.

The story line about the school of soldiers/mercenaries and the confrontation of states ends at about half the game. Further, the narrative becomes more fantasy, the explanations of what is happening do not always seem logical and often resemble as the banal “cliches”.

In FFVIII there are many unexpected twists and epic battles that famously turn the story. Players will go into space, and this is one of the few games where the theme of time-travel is well disclosed. The contrast between the first and second halves of the game is a good tool for revealing the characters.

Heroes are well-written, fighting skills and features of each are closely intertwined with his character and background. There are six people in the team with their own nuances and interests.

Graphics, features and animations

The developers have slightly improved the models of characters, enemies and those objects that were originally three-dimensional. The updated graphics look like something from the PSP era, but significantly better than a mess of dots from old PS1 game. New models are well-smoothed and allow you to “see” characters’ faces and some other design elements that used to be just lost in a pixelated mess on “ye olde” PS1.

The animation of the characters has not changed – the movements are torn, and the position of the bodies in some moments is unnatural. The locations, same as twenty years ago, are made in the form of a two-dimensional background, have not changed. On modern TVs, they look very muddy. This is unpleasant, given the heights fans reach when working with frame reconstruction algorithms using neural networks (you can google for the reconstruction of backgrounds in old Resident Evil games or Final Fantasy IX fan project in which neural networks were used to re-make 2D backgrounds).

It is worth noting that in portable mode on the Nintendo Switch, the game looks good. Flat locations and updated three-dimensional models on a small screen of Switch console look much better than on a TV.

In addition, in the updated version there are three new functions that are designed to facilitate the game for those who want to get acquainted with the plot, without delving into the complexity of the combat system. At any time, you can speed up the game three times, turn off random encounters (battles) and get immortality with a constantly charged special attack.

Leveling in the Final Fantasy VIII Remastered

In Final Fantasy VIII, you need to “pump” not only heroes, but also special monsters – guards (eidolons or whatever), which are currently “equipped” within your party. Having captured one or another mythological creature, the hero not only gets the opportunity to summon him during the battle, but also opens a slot for leveling creature’s abilities. Depending on the beast, these indicators vary. For example, Ifrit gives its owner the opportunity to improve strength, and Quetzalcoatl – the amount of vital energy.

In addition, guards can open new combat options. For example, a character can learn to absorb health from enemies or turn opponents into cards for the Triad mini-game modern gambling games got here too).

The “pumping” features do not end there. Slots opened by creatures need to be filled with magic. In the world of the game, magic has a scientific justification, so mana is not needed to use it. Each spell is counted in pieces, like other items in the inventory. Thus, the more units you invest in a particular skill, the stronger it becomes.

Some types of magic are more effective in conjunction with defensive skills, while others are better suited for improving your attacks. There are also many indicators related to resistance to the elements and various negative statuses.

You can replenish magic supplies in some special places on locations, as well as “pull them out” of enemies. Some mini-bosses can really steal not only some kind of spell, but also a guard.

If you understand the leveling system, then it gives ample opportunities for customizing the character and creating builds. Given that the game has a lot of secondary strong bosses, such opportunities allow you to come up with tactics tailored specifically for a particular opponent.

It is also worth noting that all equipment used with guards can be easily transferred from one character to another. Moreover, in the course of the plot it will have to be done more than once.

In-game music

You cannot talk about Final Fantasy VIII and not to mention music. Nobuo Uematsu wrote magnificent works that can be heard separately from the game. Especially great the soundtrack version performed by the orchestra.

Everyone can find something special for themselves in this game. Epic combat marches give way to more lyrical tunes, like the one played in Fisherman’s Horizon. This music was especially successfully performed by the choir accompanied by the orchestra on the official album dedicated to the game. Soft vocals harmoniously intertwined with the sounds of an electronic piano and flute.

The developers have slightly improved the graphics, so unlike the FFVII port, Final Fantasy VIII Remastered can be watched without tears. Unfortunately, the animations and backgrounds remain the same as in the original game and seem very outdated. For the rest, we still have the same game that can captivate for dozens of hours with an interesting story, classical mechanics and an approach to developing skills. Especially when playing on the small Nintendo Switch screen, which smoothes out most of the rough edges. We definitely recommend this game for the fans of FF series and other jRPGs.

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