Final Fantasy VII Review

Title: Final Fantasy VII
Developer: Square Enix
Game Type: PlayStation Classic
Download: 1.3 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download, Direct Download
EU Availability: Digital Download, Direct Download

The weeks are rolling by quicker than I can seem to count.  It seems like it was just the other day that I was writing a Final Fantasy review.  Now, two weeks have gone by, and we are ever-closer to the impending release of Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster.  It is exactly one month away, to be exact.  With only four weeks left until the collection releases and three mainstream Final Fantasies not reviewed on this site, it’s time to move onto our next review.  The game that many RPG fans hold as the greatest game of all time.  Final Fantasy VII.

Final Fantasy VII is famous among Role-Playing Games and video games in general.  The game was a huge hit on the PlayStation and it has spread throughout the gaming community with an entire compilation dedicated to it, from side-story games to a movie sequel.  If you look into RPGs, you will always see Final Fantasy VII somewhere, and it was the very first game of the series to debut on the PlayStation Network and is the reason this writer got a PlayStation Network account.  How does the game match up to today’s standards?  Here is our official review of the PlayStation Classic, Final Fantasy VII.

Story

The story of Final Fantasy VII is a complex one.  We start in the city of Midgar, where the Shinra organization has created Mako Reactors, which pulls energy out of the ground below to power the electricity for their city.  Think of it like Geo-Thermal energy, but taking the very energy that makes up the planet.  You star as Cloud Strife, an ex-military soldier from the organization SOLDIER that has joined up with rebellion group AVALANCHE, bringing himself back with a childhood friend and striking back against the Shinra Corporation, on the idea of “Protecting the Planet”.

Soon, events are folded together that bring Cloud and the members of this rebellion group with Aeris, a remnant of an ancient tribe of humans and the return of Sephiroth, a killer from Cloud’s past, whom, like Shinra, is set on finding “The Promised Land”.  After raiding Shinra and finding all of this out, Cloud and his friends set out on a journey to stop Sephiroth’s mysterious plans, gathering allies along the way and fighting against both the forces of Sephiroth as well as Shinra.

The story of Final Fantasy VII is complex, but good.  The only downside is that the story has not aged well.  Final Fantasy VII’s main plotline is a good and complex one, but there are many holes and dead ends.  Back in its time, these could easily be forgiven.  But, in today’s world, some of the plot points just don’t make any sense.  It’s a good story.  There is no question about that.  It’s just confusing and many points don’t seem to add up and agree with other points.

Gameplay

Final Fantasy VII, like many games before and after it, is an open-world turn-based Role-Playing Game.  You traverse through a world map and can enter towns, dungeons, and other locations.  This works the same way it did in the previous games in the series, but actual exploration is a lot more complex.  Entering a town isn’t as simple as walking around a single map with some shops and an Inn on it, like previous games had.  Towns in Final Fantasy VII are much larger and has several sections, rooms, buildings, and more you can enter.

This amount of complexity is due to Final Fantasy VII being the very first Final Fantasy game done completely in 3D.  All of the character models, items, enemies, effects, and environments are rendered in full 3D.  While there is still an overhead camera in most places, everything is in 3D and has a lot more depth to it than Even one area of a city in Final Fantasy VII looks as if the size of nearly an entire town of past games.

When you are exploring towns and areas, you will be able to talk to the NPCs that are roaming around, and taking part in shops and Inns, where you can buy new items and resting.  There are also items hidden in environments for you to find and random battles with enemies across the world map, in dungeons, and in some other areas as well.

Battles take place in a similar manner to previous entries in the series.  You control a three-person party whom each have an Active Time Battle gauges that fills up over time until you are allowed to choose and execute a command.  Commands consists of Attack, Items, and any command that your character is able to learn based on the Materia that they currently have equipped.

Materia is the big, unique element of Final Fantasy VII.  The story shows that Materia is energy and knowledge condensed so much that it appears as a small orb that can be absorbed and equipped to your weapons and equipment to allow access to the knowledge of the “Ancients”, which allows your character to take on those abilities.  Anyone can equip materia, and that is how you acquire abilities.

Materia abilities range from a lot of things.  There is material for commands, like Magic, Summons, Steal, Enemy Skill (Blue Magic), Sense (Scan), Double-Cut (2x Attack), Mime, and more.  Nearly any ability you can think of from past Final Fantasy games are in Final Fantasy VII as Materia and they can be equipped by anyone in the game.  This also allows a lot.  For example, if you have a character with five Materia slots, you can equip them with Bahamut, Cure, Enemy Skill, and Steal, and they can use any of those commands in battle at any given time.

This makes it so everything can do everything, so where does the uniqueness of your characters come from?  This is done with Weapons and Limit Breaks.  Each character has a specific type of weapon that only they can equip.  For example, only Barret can equip Machine Guns and only Cloud can equip Swords.  The other side of this is Limit Breaks.  These are powerful “Ultimate” attacks that characters can do once they take enough damage.  There is a Limit Meter, which fills as you take damage.  Once it is full, the Attack command is replaced with the Limit Command.

Once that is there, you can no longer use the Attack Command.  When you choose the Limit Command, you can perform a Limit Break, which all are unique for each character.  As you use your Limit Break more often, you unlock more Limits.  There are four levels of Limit breaks for each character, each of which contains two Limit Breaks.  You can only equip on Level at a time.  This also stays that way after battle, so if you so please, you can let the meters raise and wait to use your Limit Break in boss fights.

Another aspect of Final Fantasy VII s the inclusion of extensive side-quests and mini-games.  Many RPGs have side-quests that you can do as you progress the game.  These are optional quests that can result in you obtaining exceptional items or gear.  Final Fantasy VII took this and went overboard with it.  There is a lot to do, from Chocobo Breeding to discovering new places and hidden Materia to secret super-bosses like Emerald Weapon and Ruby Weapon.  The game also has an entire town that is a giant amusement park that is full of nothing but minigames that you can do as side-quests to unlock items as well as Clouds ultimate Limit Break.  Aside from the main quest, there is a lot to do in this game.

Controls

Final Fantasy VII doesn’t have a very complex control scheme.  Despite being on the PlayStation, which had a full set of controls, this game doesn’t use all of them.  You will be using the Face Buttons, the D-Pad, Start and Select, and you will also be using the L and R buttons.  However, L2 and R2 weren’t really used, and neither were the Dual Analog Sticks available on the controller.

Movement is done with the D-Pad.  You can walk in any direction, and can run by holding down the cancel button, which is automatically set to X.  Selecting options, talking to NPCs, and all of that is done with the Circle Button.  By default, it has a control setup much like Japanese games, though you can switch them around however you would like, if that is too awkward for you.  Triangle opens up the Menu, and square is primarily used in the minigames.

Other that that, you can use Select to bring up notifications to where exits to the current environment are and the Start Button to pause the game.  All in all, it’s a pretty simple control scheme.

Presentation

The presentation is one of the most controversial aspects of Final Fantasy VII.  On one hand, they made everything 3D, which was an immense leap for the series.  There weren’t any 3D Final Fantasy games before this one.  On the other hand, the character models outside of battle don’t look very good or polished, even for its time.

The bright side of the presentation is that it is all in 3D and that added a huge amount of depth to these games.  Another great thing is that, like the Resident Evil series, Square Enix utilized pre-rendered background images for the environments, allowing each and every environment to look colorful and absolutely flawless.

The character models are what definitely needed work.  Seeing as this was Square’s first attempt at a 3D game, the in-battle renders looked much better than the other renders.  When you’re out of battle, the character models almost look like LEGO pieces.  The characters don’t have noses or mouths, and many of their limbs look like small blocks.  Their hands can sometimes look like spheres.  The in-battle character models, however, look nice and it is simply a huge difference from out-of-battle renders.

I won’t say the presentation is bad.  For their first attempt at a full 3D game, it wasn’t bad.  But, as far as today is concerned, the visuals haven’t aged too well.  If you’re used to games with visuals like Final Fantasy XIII, it will definitely be a change.

Overall

All in all, Final Fantasy VII is a great RPG, both for its time and in general.  It’s a lot of fun to play and there is a lot to do.  The story is deep although confusing, and the out-of-battle visuals have much to be desired.  It doesn’t live up to the hype, but if you’re looking to find out what all the fuss is about, Final Fantasy VII is definitely worth the purchase.

The PlayStation Network Rates Final Fantasy VII an 8/10.

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