Final Fantasy VIII User Review
Final Fantasy VIII was my first Final Fantasy game. I came to PlayStation by way of PC gaming and an old Atari 2600. So I missed out on earlier Squaresoft games. I did go back and play FFVII. However, FFVIII is my first love in the JRPG world. I will admit though, that my ever so slight crush on Rinoa might have something to do with it... Seeing the opening video again made me wonder why I had taken so long to get to FFVIII.
I am playing on the PSP, so I will discuss the game as experienced in that environment. I have a few things to say about FFVIII on the big console too.
FFVIII is a huge JRPG from the golden age, before Squaresoft went through a metamorphosis to become Square Enix. It shows.
I'm working through disc 1 (of 3) and taking my time. So, I'm not going to review the story of such a long, and well known game. Besides, countless reviews already do that. This is about how it plays now, on PSP (and PS3).
FFVIII doesn't feel dated at all. In fact as soon as you start, you immediately notice that if feels like a new game, not a 10 year old classic. Pehaps that is what makes a timeless classic, a timeless classic?
1st impressions : The opening video is nice. It looks very good on the PSP screen. I believe it looks better on the PSP than on the old standard TVs with the PS1. That is true throughout the entire game.
Gameplay & graphics : The game runs smoothly, the cut scenes integrate with the game more smoothly than on the original PS1. Menus are crisp and clear, text is easy to read, everything just works well.
FFVIII uses a turn based battle system. Players can make standard attacks or when 'junctioned' with a Guardian Force (GF) players can use magic and summon the GF for big attacks. The Junction system takes a bit of getting used to (it's been a long time), but is very convenient for allocating GFs and magic to players as you alter the party.
On screen, characters are not sprites. They are 3D models rendered in real time. Squaresoft does a good job with this, and with the smoothing options enabled on the PS1 emulator, the characters are not bad at all. Surprisingly, FFVIII uses some in-engine rendering for short cut scenes as well as the pre-rendered ones.
Battles and exploration are well done, backgrounds are awesome. If the resolution wasn't so limited, you could believe you were playing a contemporary PSP game. It is that good. To be honest, many PSP games of today struggle to look this good.
The controls on the PSP have to compromise. There are no L2/R2 buttons, so the analog stick is substituted . Even though you lose the analog stick for movement, everything works well enough that it isn't a problem.
Sound : The sound effects work, music is varied and fits the mood, battle music works well. The music and sound effects in the pre-rendered scenes are great. Overall, the sound was really good for a PS1 game, but we expect a little more today.
Overall impressions : I really had to stop and think about this game. While playing it you completely forget that it's a PS1 classic running on the PSP. There are many PSP games that simply do not do as well as FFVIII does.
Technology moves on. Many PS1 games played on the PSP look and feel dated. Sometimes the gameplay suffers, or the presentation is amateurish. Some older PS1 titles are simply not well produced.
On the other hand, Final Fantasy VIII does not look or feel dated. It is such an accomplished production, that after 10 years it still stands among current titles as a game to be played.
Playing on the PS3 : I have also played a little on the PS3 to get a feeling for how FFVIII stacks up on an HD console. Game controls are better because you have a full controller layout. Graphics are good, but magnified several times on a much larger screen, they do suffer. I don't think the graphics suffer any more than PS Minis do in that regard.
Unlike some PS1 classics on the PS3, Final Fantasy VIII remains playable and enjoyable. Though no one will mistake it for a current PS3 title. The pre-rendered video does look nice on the bigger screen.
Recommendation : So, if you want to dive back into the world of Squall, Rinoa, Selphie, Quistis, Zell and the Sorceress why not give Final Fantasy VIII a spin? Definitely a buy for JRPG fans who want to taste a classic.
Scores are for the PS1.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.