I said I was going to get into the FF franchise, didn't I?Final Fantasy 7
Let’s get some of the technical bits out of the way. I’m playing this on the PS4. Said PS4 edition includes God mode, disabling encounters and 3X times speed at the distance of a button press. I only used the speed up to make some of the battles more bearable. Some enemies have really long battle animations (and so do your characters at times) and it just smooths over the random encounters and the grinding.
It does make the game easier at points and I’m not denying that, but I think it doesn’t remove all the challenge. I died plenty of times.
Touching on perhaps a now contentious issue, the graphics have mostly aged quite well, thanks to good visual direction and the pre rendered backgrounds. The cutscenes also look good for the most part, although some stiffness is noticeable, but this is all easy to forgive and overlook. And Tifas boobs giggling was very funny. Some guy at the FF7 team must have labored hard to get that effect.
The character models, despite their age also look quite good… the battle animation ones.
The playmobil nonsense you have to deal with the rest of the game? Not so much. I was surprised that there were several people that actually really liked the legos, and I initially dismissed this as severe nostalgia, but on further inspection, it does make some sense. The models can be charismatic, especially on the lighter moments of the story. The goofy expressions lend themselves well to comedy.
But by the gods, when they are in serious situations they can be unbearable. They just look so out of place; it diminishes the impact of several dramatic parts. I did eventually get used to them, but the problem remained. Another, less serious issue caused by the playmobil models is that they can clash kind of hard against the backgrounds, to the point it becomes hard to tell where you can go (there is an option to show exits and climbable bits, and that does mostly solve the problem though).
About the music, it probably is the understatement of the year to say that it is fantastic. The only issue I can find is that there aren’t that many different tracks, but when they are all so good, it’s something easy to deal with.
The gameplay is mostly standard RPG stuff, although the materia and limit breaks do give something slightly different to chew on. It’s enjoyable. There have been talks by some people (mostly on youtube, where stupidity gathers) that turn based combat is obsolete and so on, and while I had no problem with the new combat system in the Remake, I’ve played several JRPGs before, some of them with much simpler gameplay, so this is nothing I haven’t seen before. Could it have been more complex? Sure, but ultimately not all games need that much focus on the gameplay. FF7 is a complete package, the game not being a massive challenge for some hardcore RPG players isn’t a big issue. (Yes, I know Ruby and Emerald exist)
Talking a bit about the minigames, they are mostly fine and “just there”, except for the Chocobo stuff, which is not only complex, but it is also very confusing. And the amount that is decided by RNG, it nearly drove me to tears. How anybody was supposed to get a Golden Chocobo back in the day without help I have no idea. I guess it’s obtuse because the rewards are substantial, but still…
And now I’ll go into the story. I’ll put everything in spoilers:
The Midgar bit is very short compared to the remake, but I think extending this prologue on the remake was a good idea. A lot of the cooler set pieces and character moments are here, and giving it all more time to breath makes the experience better in general.
One of the story bits that caught me completely off guard was Cloud being a Sephiroth clone. Somehow, despite this game being one of the most well know ever, I never noticed this bit before. And I’m really thankful for that. It is shocking and they give you just enough to be able to suspect something without ever being able to point what exactly is going to happen. Going in to Clouds psyche with Tifa and fixing him was also a really cool moment, although Clouds large playmobil model tried it’s best to ruin it.
The sequence where you lose Cloud and Tifa felt a bit like a missed opportunity. I thought I was going to get some more quality time with the other characters, but it’s over almost the moment it starts. Instead the stories of the side characters get done when you get Cloud back.
Disc 3 being just the final dungeon is a bit silly, I guess they just barely didn’t have enough space for the 2 discs, but it feels a bit inefficient. The large final cutscene probably ate all the mb. Not like it matters on modern consoles or PC, but still.
Before I talk about the ending and stuff, a small note about the superbosses. Aside from the ridiculous grinding you have to do to beat them (yeah bruh, just be full level and have who knows how many end game materias and you’ll be fine) I found them kind of underwhelming in the context of the game. They’re just there… I get that they were sort of last minute additions for the USA and Europe editions of the game, but the fact that you have these superbosses that are way stronger than the final boss feel very silly to me. And yeah, I know that kind of stuff isn’t strange for JRPGs or even regular RPGs really. Just wish they had fleshed them out a bit more.
Now, the ending: frankly, I was surprised by how little dialog there was. Sephiroth is just completely silent pretty much the entire time. No big final monologue, nothing. Gives it an ominous vibe, which is good, because the final dungeon is kind of meh, and although it’s threatening gameplay wise, I wasn’t a fan of its visual design, just didn’t feel final (heh) enough. Cloud going against Sephiroth alone was an awesome moment and surprisingly “cinematic” for lack of a better word. Kind of annihilated him do to my high level tough.
I do wish there was a bigger epilogue tough. While the scene near the end with Tifa was cute (did they have sex then?) there should have been some conclusion for their relationship after the ending cutscene. And really, the same is true for every character, I wouldn’t mind seeing what they did after. But no, all we get is Red, the least interesting character along with the cat thing. I’m aware there’s movies and stuff, but I’m just judging the game by itself. I demand cute post credit scenes goddamit.
I can’t help but wonder how bad the translation is. You can tell they took a lot of liberties with the script. I hope they didn’t make very severe changes to the characters personality.
Still, casting aside these minor complaints, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with FF7.
If I had to give a score it would be an 8, or maybe a 9, or maybe something in between. Who cares, I liked it.
Only problem is that I want all the remake parts right now.
I guess I’ll go play FF8.