Many a year ago, I sat down to play Final Fantasy VII. I didn’t play the game the instant it was released, I was but a poor college student and had to wait for a price drop before plunking down the cash. I thoroughly enjoyed every instant of the game, it wasn’t the first FF title I had played, but it may have been – outside of the original game – the best. I liked it so much that I went out and bought Final Fantasy VIII upon completing VII. Yes, I knew that it wasn’t a sequel that Final Fantasy games – at least at that point – didn’t do sequels, but I had so enjoyed my time with VII that I instantly wanted to immerse myself in a new Final Fantasy world. That proved to be a mistake.
As, I think happened to so many others, playing VIII on the heels of VII didn’t go particularly well. VII was such a great game that unless VIII surpassed it in every way, it was almost certain to be a letdown. I slogged through the entire four discs, and while I ended up liking the game, I never had remotely the same good feelings for it that I did for VII.
Happily, we now all have that wonder of wonder known as downloadable content, or DLC. Final Fantasy VIII, a game I always wanted to click with but never quite did – and have actually lamented through the years that I didn’t spend more time exploring its universe – is now available for download from the PlayStation Store.
Rather than rehashing the entire story and gameplay of a 10-year-old title, let me say that the game plays out exactly as it did before, same group of SeeD candidates, same evil sorceress, same odd Guardian Force junctioning system (which I could still do without), and same graphics. Perhaps this last aspect is the most impressive. When played on a high definition screen, Final Fantasy VIII’s main gameplay graphics do appear somewhat pixilated and fuzzy, but the cinematic cutscenes, while not up to today’s high-end, are absolutely more than passable. That certainly is a testament to the amount of effort and energy that went into creating the game for its original release and just how far ahead the graphics were at the time.