• Final Fantasy VII Review

    In 1997 gamers saw the first major Final Fantasy title to be put on the PlayStation. It was the end of an era as we said goodbye to the 16-bit graphics of the Super Nintendo and hello to full 3D models that, while considered dated by today's standards, were revolutionary for their time. It was a critical part of a lot of people's childhoods, introducing them not only to the franchise, but to the genre as a whole. The game saw so much success that it spanned a movie, an anime, spin-offs, prequels, books; an entire Compilation that's canon to everyone but the fans, and today we look at the game that started it all.

    The game throws us right into the thick of it with leading protagonist, Cloud Strife. Cloud is a mercenary working a job for AVALANCHE, a resistance fighting against the electric power company known as Shinra, Inc. which also possesses an elite group of fighters called SOLDIER that Cloud was formerly a member of. AVALANCHE is led by Barrett Wallace, a rough and tough no-nonsense, sometimes comical individual with a gun for an arm! (he isn't shy about using it, by the way.) Despite throwing you straight into the action the game does a good job of explaining to you basic game mechanics as well as the plot. Long story short: Shinra is sucking energy from the Planet (AKA: Mako) to power up the city and because of this... well, I'll let Keanu Reeves explain it.

    That's the long and short of it.

    You start off in Midgar, a city built on top of a plate shaped like a pizza with people living in poverty and despair in the slums below. There is no transition from day to night because the plate above blots out the sun. More of the world opens up once you leave Midgar, but even for a small part of the world Midgar itself offers a lot of exploration from sector to sector. We have buildings made out of junk, people walking around, children playing, dogs barking and flowers. Don't forget about the flowers. All that combined with the background art, the animation of the characters, and the music, there is plenty of atmosphere that immerses you into the game and it doesn't go away after leaving Midgar.

    While the visuals may technically be dated when compared to games of today, the game itself doesn't feel that old. When playing Final Fantasy VIII my eyes needed time to adjust to the grainy graphics that they haven't seen in years. That wasn't the case here. I came back to this game right after playing Assassin's Creed III and StarCraft II and my eyes didn't need any time adjusting to the visuals. A large part of this may be because of the art style that went into the game.

    Cloud is so caring.

    See what I mean? It has enough of a serious tone about it that it doesn't feel cartoony, but at the same time it's something that a kid could easily warm up to and want to see more of. Suggestive themes that are seen in the game come across as funny and even innocent because of the way the character models are made. If these guys looked like real people a lot of the scenes in the game wouldn't translate as well and the brothel that appears early on in the game would probably be enough to give the game an M rating if it was made now. Or at least cause enough people demanding that the game's rating be changed because of it.

    The characters have never looked realistic, even in the cut-scenes where everything looks much, much better than in the actual game they never looked realistic, and in spite of that the story and characterization makes them feel like real people. Cute, cuddly polygons that you want to love and hold just as much as you want to slap them upside the freaking head for being stupid. It works more in the game favor than it does against it. But enough about their looks, let's talk about the battle system.

    Looks like Tifa and Aeris have seen better days.

    The fighting works on an ATB (active time battle) structure and with materia that you can equip and level up to make magic stronger. You can only have up to three characters in a party at one time. Once the time meter fills up you can attack, use magic or an item. Anything else that appears (such as steal, summon, sense) depends on the materia you have equipped. Taking damage increases your Limit Break and once it's full you can perform a special attack that does more damage, or heals your party as is the case with Aeris. Magic drains MP. No MP? No magic. The number of times you can summon a creature depends on the materia's level (which is counted by stars) regardless of how much MP you have so there's no Summon spamming like one can perform in Final Fantasy VIII unless you can find the Master Summon materia.

    There are a lot of different materia you can find through the course of the game and combinations you can make to utilize in battle such as an offensive attack mixed with All to attack multiple enemies. Materia comes in elemental attacks, healing magic, summoning magic, stealing, etc. etc. Materia also have their own level up system through experience that makes them stronger and while they can raise up some of your stats they can also decrease them making them a “double-edged sword” as Cloud would say.

    Stats can also be affected by equipment. Improving your offense and defense through weapons and armor. In nearly every town you can find a weapon, materia and item shop to get more equipment. You can also find things through battling as well. The better weapons and equipment you have, the more damage you can give and take. Each piece of equipment will show which stats it increases so you know what you're getting.

    There are a lot of places to see and many things to do in addition to the main story. There are individual quests based around one of the main playable characters, some mandatory to advance and others being side-quests. Optional bosses you can encounter and defeat that prove to be harder than some of the storyline bosses. You can raise chocobos and race them. Help a city defend itself against Shinra. Play a bunch of minigames at the Gold Saucer that feels like visiting a real arcade. You can even go on a date with one of the main characters. The best way to fully enjoy the world of Final Fantasy VII is to explore every little crack you find and don't neglect anything. Due to choices in the game there's a lot of replay value and more things to find that you may have missed before.


    Most of the main issues with the game are on the technical side. The game suffers from a lot of translation issues that mucked up names and screwed up the grammar in a lot of places. The most commonly known translation issue is in regards to Aeris' name. In the Japanese version her name is “Aerith” but was translated to Aeris, which is what a lot of fans know her by. This isn't too big of an issue since you name her anything you want including the correct translation of her name if it bothers you so. Then there are the quotes many of us have come to known quite well over the years.

    Then we have more subtle things like forgetting the W in now and using when in place of what. Did no one proofread this thing? These mistakes would be ironed out in future releases of the game and if you ask most people who grew up with the original PlayStation version they have more fond memories of the mistakes than they do negative ones so no one really cares, but they're still technically flaws so I can't just ignore them.

    Overall: Final Fantasy VII is a game that is just as much fun to play today as it was seventeen years ago. This was back in a time where Square weren't afraid to take risks and a lot of them show while playing through it. The cast are loveable, the villains memorable, the music fantastic and Midgar feels like it could be the whole world itself making the realization that there's more out there to explore all the more powerful. If you're a fan of RPGs, Final Fantasy or Square, then VII is worth a try if it has manage to delude you all these years. If you're not a fan of the art style or you do happen to find the graphics dated and if that's a big issue for you, then you may not be able to enjoy it as much.

    Final Score: 8/10
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Final Fantasy VII Review started by ToriJ View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Psychotic's Avatar
      Psychotic -
      The bad translations are part of the charm! Decent review though.
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