In short, the game currently available for download is the old title, not a gussied up version thereof. Beyond that, playing the game now – just over 10 years after its initial release – it is still a compelling, exciting, fun adventure. Though gaming may have changed significantly in the past 10 years (that is a debate for another time and place), if this title had somewhat better graphics and you hadn’t seen it before, you could easily be convinced that this is a wholly new game. The experience, though not immersive visually, is immersive in terms of its story and the world it and the player inhabit. Rather than this simply being a function of RPGs being unchanged through the years, it seems more likely that Square and the team behind FFVIII (and all the other FF games) are just great at what they do.
The one issue I did encounter with this downloadable version of the game was a random shutting off of the analog control sticks. Despite their seeming to be active according to the menus, one more than occasion playing the game, they simply stopped functioning. It is annoying glitch, but certainly not a game-killer.
As I gear up for the March release of Final Fantasy XIII, it actually feels that much more enjoyable to be going back and revisiting an earlier entry into the franchise. Final Fantasy VIII is still not my favorite member of the series, but it is certainly better than I remember it.