Final Fantasy 7 & 8 (PC) Port Review
Posted by Marc Morrison on 01.21.2014
411mania’s Marc Morrison briefly touches upon the recent re-releases of Final Fantasy 7 and 8 on the PC platform. See what he thinks of the port jobs inside!
So Final Fantasy 7 and 8 have finally come back to the PC platform after years of both disk editions being out of print. Final Fantasy 7 coming out in early July of 2013, and Final Fantasy 8 coming out just last month. Both games have a few nagging issues that can be worked around but are annoying.
I won't really get into the story elements or even gameplay of either game. Both have been around for so long and have been ingrained into the gaming world for so long that almost everyone knows or has feelings on either game. I'm going to try and limit my thoughts on just how Square handled the PC porting job, hence no "official" review of either game, just limited to this specific goal
For Final Fantasy 7, they've done a decent enough job with porting it over, with a few odd choices. The game does have modern gamepad support (thankfully), but doesn't remap the controls to modern gamepads. So the game will say things like "Button 0", "Button 1", etc., instead of saying X and B (for a 360 gamepad), or X and O (for a PS3 controller).
The graphics have been given a slight upgrade from the original game's, letting it be played in up to 1920 by 1080, which was definitely not what the original ran at. There's also an option for linear filtering, but that's largely immaterial to the game. It would have been incredibly nice if there was an option for the "Ultima Edition" mod, that worked for the old versions. I'm not sure if you can apply that mod to this version, but I highly doubt it.
One thing I did run into was an odd graphical error in the starting area of the game. Right when you get off the train and move into the next area, the floor texture was missing. If I moved to the left it would appear, but if I moved to the right, it would disappear. I've attached screenshots to show this behavior:
With ground texture:
Without ground texture
The new feature with this version of the game is the "Character Booster" option, which I find kind of befuddling. The first odd choice is that the boost is only relegated to online/cloud save files. You have to actually load up and sign into a Square account website for this thing to work at all. The second odd choice is how it is implemented in the first place. If you decide to use the boost, it only applies to the three current members in your party, not all of the characters you have (or will have). All the boost does is give you the max HP/MP for the three characters (before Materia differences come into play), and gives you 49,999,999 gil. The added money is nice, but due to your HP being cranked up so much, the limit break system breaks (pardon the pun), because it'll take you a long time to get anywhere near damaged enough for it to matter. You also can only do this feature once, with your chosen three party members.
Here's the thing: It's an old PC game that has already been extensively dug into, particularly saves. There are many save editors you can google for (Black Chocobo is nice), that give you actual control in how you want to modify your party. I am still confused about why this feature is in the game, with the way that it is, and who it is designed for. Given the limited nature of how you can use it (only once) and how limited it is (only your 3 current party members), there doesn't seem to be any reason to ever do it.
Final Fantasy 8 is largely built on the same framework as FF7, with one important trade off. It has the same visual options, but the game looks a tad bit better (due to being newer) than FF7. The save stuff is the same, controls are the same (as explained below), and everything is just about the same.
The trade off with FF8 is the controls are the big stumbling block with this version. Like with FF7, the game only uses buttons and says things like "Use button 6 to activate your trigger on your Gunblade." Ok…what is button 6 again? For the record, it is the RB button on a 360 controller. Zell gets the worst of this due to his fighting game-style limit break attacks. Pressing right and left for "Booya" is one thing, but pressing "B3" and "B2" for his Punch Rush attack is something else, mainly because you don't know what B3 and B2 actually are. You can use a keyboard, but then things like camera control (for the outside areas) get broken. To be fair, at least a modern gamepad does work in the game, but putting in a little effort to get across what the buttons do would go a long way into making the game approachable
That is the bad of FF8, so what is the good? This game nixes the Character Booster mechanic from FF7, and replaces it with a "Magic Booster" system instead. Firstly, you can use this feature at any time, online or offline. Second, you can use it an infinite number of times if you want. What the feature does is give you 100 spells of the following types: Cure, Cura, Curaga, Fire, Fira, Blizzard, Blizzara, Thunder, Thundara, Sleep, Blind, Silence, Berserk, Bio, Esuna, Aero, Confuse, Break, and Zombie. This isn't every spell in the game, some of the higher level elemental ones aren't included, or the really powerful ones, like Ultima or Apocalypse aren't in there as well. What it does do though is give you a good baseline set of magic spells to get going and outfit your party with, with junctioning spells to different attributes and such. The system is used as a tool, rather than being useless like in FF7. If you do want more granular control over this, there are also plenty of good save editors out there for FF8, Hyne in particular, seems pretty solid. The PocketStation game "Chocobo World" is included, which is bewildering inclusion but actually kind of cool to see.
It's nice to see both Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy 8 coming to modern PC's. It gives new generations of gamers the chance to play it legally, which is nice. Final Fantasy 7 remains a classic, but has one or two minor technical issues, and the Character Boost system is a mess. Final Fantasy 8 is somewhat less of a classic (to me, anyway), though it has a much better booster system, but with the controls take a long time getting used to.