Hands-on with Final Fantasy VIII Remastered

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered launches tomorrow on September 3rd for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC (Steam), finally joining Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX on modern platforms.

While my interest has been fixated on the MMOs in more recent years, my love for the series originally blossomed with the first release of Final Fantasy VIII back in 1999. I was incredibly excited when I saw at E3 that the game would be getting a re-release with some extra polish and now here we are at the cusp of its release, which also happens to be the month that the game will be celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The biggest and most notable change to Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is, of course, the updated character models. I was very impressed with the model updates and surprised at how much they popped when placed on top of the old 90’s era background images.

In fact, the models are so crisp now that I’ve actually noticed something about the game that I hadn’t before. There are some areas in the game, where characters on the screen aren’t actually there as character models, but rather, they’re a part of the background image. I can never remember noticing this with the game’s original release, however with the new upgraded models, they stick out like a sore, blurry thumb. However, given the source material, it’s also certainly an understandable and forgivable issue.

In addition to Trophies, the PlayStation 4 (as well as Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch) version of Final Fantasy VIII Remastered offers a few tools to help make your first (or second, or third) time through the game easier. L3 will increase the speed of the game by 3x, R3 will enable a battle assist maxing out your HP and ATB as well as giving you immediate access to limit breaks, and lastly L3+R3 will eliminate the chance of encountering enemies while exploring.

During my time with the game, I liked how easy it was to toggle these options on and off. The speed boost especially makes the game feel much more playable in this day and age.

Those that pick the game up on Steam will have even more extra tools including: All Items (possess all items except for a few certain items), All Abilities, GF Max Level, Max Gil, Max Magic, All Limit Breaks, and All Cards (possess max number of Triple Triad Cards except for Rare Cards).

As was the case with the previous re-releases of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX on modern hardware, Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is without a doubt, the best way to experience this classic RPG. The upgraded models look superb and the bonuses will make a complete playthrough faster, and (if desired) easier. I’m looking forward to continuing my progress through the game in its new, remastered format.

Square Enix provided us with a code of this title on PlayStation 4 for hands-on purposes.