Review: Final Fantasy VII – Dirge of Cerberus

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Next up and last on the list of Final Fantasy VII titles is the obscure, Dirge of Cerberus. This title is again another spin off from Final Fantasy VII and takes place last in the timeline for this subseries. The majority of this title takes place three years after the events of Advent Children and focuses mostly the character of Vincent Valentine.

The game explores a bit about Vincent’s past. In fact during the tutorial you even get to see Vincent as he was when he was a member of the TURKS (prior to the original FFVII). The main focus of the game, features Vincent as he teams up with a group known as the World Regenesis Organization. As learned very early in the game, during his years as a test subject for Shinra, Vincent’s body was fused with a special Protomateria. Now, an offshoot of Shinra wants to reclaim it for their own nefarious purposes. The mystery between the WRO and this “Deepground” Shinra offshoot continues to unfold as your progress through the game. The plot is revelaed through cutscenes that take place both during the game itself as wells as pre-rendered videos between levels. Fans of the FFVII storyline will be pleased to learn that many old faces do eventually make an appearance. In fact, I was very surprised to see one particular individual in the final ending cutscene… But you’ve got to be very thorough during the game to be able to unlock it.

 

Storyline aside, this game is quite an odd beast. In fact, I’m not really sure how to really describe it. First thing, it’s NOT an RPG. Let’s be clear about that. Dirge of Cerberus is very much an action game. But not really one of any particular genre. The game is played from a third-person perspective, but it’s very much a shooter. Vincent can run, jump, shoot and also attack with his hands. Potions and other power-ups can be consumed on the fly to recover health or activate other special moves. For example, the Limit Breaker item allows Vincent to transform to a werewolf-like creature for a limit amount of time.

The game is very linear, moving from one chapter to the next. At the end of each level, you are awarded with points. These can be used to either level up and make Vincent stronger, or they can be converted to money which can then be used to purchase new items or upgrades for Vincent’s firearm. Learning how to customize the guns in this game is quite a crucial skill to acquire. For most of the game I kept a short range pistol, a long range rifle, and then a second rifle customized with a sniper scope. I found this to be the best “go-to” mix. As far as using the experience points earned, I found it best to alternate from one level to the next – exp, money, exp, money, etc.

 

The game controls are very unusual at first, and to me, did not feel very natural. But, I did eventually get the hang on them. The third-person camera seems pretty accurate, but my biggest complaint was with the targeting system. Switching between targets is a bit of pain. This is even more true when you are trying to run around and avoid enemy attacks. The targeting system is a customizable a bit, but still either way you slice it, it’s not a good experience.

The combat system here is both the game’s best and worst feature in my opinion. It’s certainly unique and very bold for a game that bears the Final Fantasy title. But I feel like it is a bit unrefined and it just feels like it was not ready for prime time. The storyline is what really drove me to see the game all the way to completion. Had this not been a Final Fantasy game with great cinematics, I doubt I would have bothered to finish it.

Despite my complaints above, there are some really good aspects to the game. The visuals and audio are fantastic. And even though I feel it is flawed in it’s execution, the overall concept of the game is interesting and has potential. I doubt it would ever happen, but I think I’d really like to see a more modern version of this game on newer hardware. I think maybe where this game fell short for me is due to it being a bit ahead of it’s time.  There are many games these days with a similar play style that seem to do a much better job at the “third person, action RPG” concept.

 

Difficulty: Variable –  There are several difficulty settings to choose from. More after completing the game. These seems to be balanced pretty well. I do recommend playing on the easiest setting if it’s your first time experiencing the game. Once you have a handle on the controls and the basics of the game, it may be safe to kick it up a notch for a bit of a challenge.

Story: The storyline here is phenomenal. It’s actually much more elaborate than I expected. To be honest, I sort of assumed that the game would be pretty shallow in terms of lore. Having a husk of an outline so that there was a reason to play a shoot-em-up as Vincent Valentine. I was happily mistaken. This game does a fantastic job at shedding some light on one of the more mysterious characters from the Final Fantasy VII roster. As well, as casting new light on some already familiar events

Originality: This game was published in 2006 and at the time, was quite unique. The title tries to merge third-person action with RPG elements and to an extent actually succeeds. My complaints were more with the overall execution. Learning how to customize your weapons is key to mastering the game. This aspect is certainly interesting and unique. Dirge is certainly a very different experience.

Soundtrack: Overall the game soundtrack is very well done. There’s some really nice background music, but there’s also a few snoozers. The title contains a really good J-Rock tune by Japanese musician Gackt. The voice acting in the game is a mixed bag, but not particularly bad.

Fun: Dirge of Cerberus certainly has its moments. The action can be exciting, but sometimes repetitive. I found the levels to be somewhat boring and uninspired. But they were diverse enough to keep the game moving along at a decent pace.

Graphics: Overall, the graphics are very well rendered for a PS2 title. The game has a very somber tone, and I feel that the art direction intended to convey that. But as a result it’s very dark and gray. Sometimes it’s difficult to see enemies between the haze and pixels. Due to this, I experienced more than a couple deaths. The pre-rendered scenes were very well done.

Playcontrol: Probably my biggest gripe here. The camera and targeting system are adequate, but feel very un-optimized. So much so that I feel the game suffers as a result.

Mature Content: No Concerns – Fantasy violence.

Value:  The game itself is fairly short. I finished it in about ten hours. There are some unlockable and collectables that may make the game worth playing again for some people. In Japan, there was a multiplayer aspect to the game. Here in the US, that was cut so the single-player portion of the game could be polished up a bit more. At least that’s what the claim is. If it’s true, I’d dread seeing the original Japanese release. Having some multiplayer features would have certainly made this game more interesting. I can imagine enjoying this title much more with some form of PVP combat. But of course network play did not really take off on the PS2.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 2 – This one of those games that you either play or skip. It’s really up to you. If you’re a big fan of the Final Fantasy VII universe, it may be worth your time. If you’re looking for a good third-person shooter, there are much better options out there. Again, despite my complaints, I do think that a more modern version of the game would be much better received. Sadly, I don’t see that happening.

Currently not available – PlayStation 2

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

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Having completed Crisis Core, I was in a Final Fantasy VII sort of mood, so I decided to check out the continuation to the original VII story. Interestingly enough, the sequel to Final Fantasy VII comes not in the form of a game, but rather as a motion picture.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is the name of the film in question. Now, I should preface this by saying I saw this movie on DVD years ago when it was released and I was not very impressed with what I saw. For today’s viewing, I decided to put all that aside and watch the new definitive version of the film: Advent Children COMPLETE. This new version is available on Blu-Ray in full HD and feature re-done special effects and contains an extra 30 minutes of content. But sadly, the new additions were not enough to change my opinion of the film.

FAIR WARNING: If you have not played the original game, the rest of this post will probably make no sense whatsoever as it discusses details about the original game.

The main plot of the film focuses on a mysterious sickness called Geostigma that has began to affect the population shortly after the events of the first game. It is suspected that the illness is the result of exposure to the Lifestream during the climax of the original Final Fantasy VII. Meanwhile, amongst all this, three strange individuals are on the hunt for the remaining JENOVA cells in hopes to bring about the resurrection of Sephiroth. Naturally, it is up to Cloud and his companions to save the day.

Throughout the film we see cameos by a number of characters from the original game. For this most part this works well, but a few of them do seem a be a bit shoe-horned in. Cloud seems to be a moody mess and very unlike the Cloud we know the original game. Plotwise, the movie is quite frankly a jumble of nonense. At least it felt that way to me. There is really no clean set up for the events of the movie and I spent a large part of it in total confusion. Only through my own personal knowledge of VII lore was I able to piece together what the hell was going on. I imagine that someone who is not a fan would have a very difficult time taking anything meaningful away from this film. The highlight of the picture are the fight-scenes at the very end of the film. I found those to be action packed and very entertaining when compared to the rest of the movie. This movie fan-service in its truest form.

Gripes about the plotline aside, the film is amazingly beautiful. The computer animation ranks right up there anything I’ve seen from Disney or Pixar. In my own personal opinion, the visuals are the main reason to watch this film. It’s nothing short of awe inspiring. In fact, the whole HD experience is quite well done here. I watched this on my home theater with 5.1 surround and was really impressed with the entire presentation.

The Blu-Ray also features a few short featurettes that can help bring viewers up to speed with the background storyline. It shows footage from both FFVII and Crisis Core. It also includes footage from the Japanese-only mobile game Before Crisis. This was a really nice touch.

In a nutshell, I feel like Advent Children makes for a pretty weak sequel to the original game. If you’re a huge fan of both Final Fantasy VII and anime, this might be the film for you. If not, you might be a bit disappointed.  But I can safely say, despite my complaints, I did enjoy this a heck of a lot more than the other “Final Fantasy” motion picture Square released back in the early 2000’s.

Overall Opinion:  Beautiful film visually, but overall it falls flat.

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

Review: Final Fantasy VII – Crisis Core

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I feel like it has taken forever to get this review posted, but wow this was one long game. I know I’m technically supposed to be focused mainly on PS1 games right now, but having finished Final Fantasy VII, I decided to a deviate a bit and go ahead and knock rest of the entries in the “Compilation Final Fantasy VII” series.

Here we have a PSP game called Crisis Core. Chronologically, this is the first game in the VII series, but in reality it was the last game of the compilation to be released. I should also mentioned that this was actually my first time playing this title so I really didn’t know what to expect going in.

To get started, this game serves as the prequel to the original Final Fantasy VII title. In this game, we play as Zack and thus have the opportunity to learn about his backstory as well see a bit of what life was like prior to the events of the original title. Storywise, this game does an amazing job of filling in a lot of the missing pieces to the original tale. Throughout the game we get to see some familiar places and faces, as well as take part in some of the most legendary events in FFVII’s lore.

 

The story focuses on Zack as he rises from a mere entry-level member of SOLIDER to the prestigious First Class rank. We are introduced to his mentor, Angeal (the original owner of the famous Buster Sword) and we follow the two of them as they search for a MIA SOLIDER operative known as Genesis. As the story unfolds, we see our heroes team up with the infamous Sephiroth as they slowly unravel the mysteries behind Genesis’s disappearance. All of this eventually leads up to the epic “Nebelheim Event”, a crucial part of the VII backstory.

This game plays a bit differently from what I expected. While there are certainly heavy RPG elements here, the battle system is anything but the turn-based standard that I expected. Combat in this game is something of a hybrid between action-based button pushing and a menu driven system. What I mean by this is, Zack’s attacks are initiated with the push of a button, but there’s also buttons for dodging and blocking attacks as well. You can move Zack around in a 3-dimensional space while fighting. His attack will either be a simple melee strike with this sword, or a special ability. Abilities can vary depending on various types of Materia Zack may have equipped. There’s essentially two types of Materia that can provide Zack with new actions; command based materia (such as Jump, Assault Twister, Steal) or magic based material ( Fire, Thunder, Poison ).

The most unique thing about the battle system in Crisis Core is something called the Digital Mind Wave or D.M.W. This is sort of a limit-break system, that is representative of Zack’s inner thoughts during combat. It works a bit like a slot-machine, the entire time combat is ongoing, you can see the DMW in the corner of the screen. Once certain requirements are met, a special event will appear and depending on the slot-results, Zack will use a special move inspired by DMW outcome. For example, if Zack thinks of his girlfriend Aerith, he is granted with a special buff that heals him. Also, these events are the key to leveling up both Zack and the material he has equipped. The DMW starts out fairly empty in the beginning of the game, but it gets filled with more entries over time. Some of the strongest attacks in the game are only unlocked by participating in optional side quests.

 

The key to mastering the game really lies in understanding the materia system. Materia levels up over time, and after a specific point in the game, you able to fuse two types of materia together to create newer, more powerful materia. Taking the time to learn this process is very beneficial. There are some attacks in the game that are able to deal 99,999 points of damage in a single hit. This is only possible by creating special materia through the fusion process.

 

The main scenario is fairly straightforward and honestly doesn’t take all that long to complete. However, the game has an enormous number of side-quests available to participate in. These take the form of official Missions that Zack can take on as part of his involvement in SOLIDER. It’s thru these missions that some of the best items and gear in the game are acquired. The final mission, consists of a super-boss battle that probably one of the most difficult fights I’ve dealt with in recent memory. Even with Zack maxed out with the best gear and attacks in the game, it was no easy challenge.

Graphics-wise, the game is amazing. The pre-rendered cutscenes are breathtaking and the in-game action is nothing short of fantastic itself. This game is a prime example of what the PSP is capable of.  The graphics combined with a fantastic soundtrack make this a really impressive title and one worthy of the Final Fantasy name.

 

Difficulty: Medium–  I found this game to be bit more challenging than I originally expected. The action-based combat can be a bit tricky to master at first. Also, there’s a number of enemies throughout the game that can kill you in a single-hit regardless of how high your HP might be. Thankfully, most of this is restricted to the optional side-missions. If you have the patience, it is actually quite possible to get to a point in the game where you can create materia so powerful you can pretty much defeat almost anything in the game within 1-3 hits.

Story: This game does a fantastic job of filling in a lot of the blanks left by the ending of Final Fantasy VII. Here we get to learn of Zack’s story and his relationship with Aerith. As well, getting some insight into the madness of Sephiroth. We also get to see a younger version of Cloud and learn exactly how he comes into possession of his infamous sword. – Loose ends aside, this game also has a self-contained storyline that is fantastic in of itself.

Originality: Before starting this game, I was curious to see how unique it was going to be in contrast to the original game. I was more than pleased with what I discovered. Yes, this game takes place in the same world as the beloved FFVII, but manages to maintain a unique identity all its own. I think this is possible in large part to the unique combat system.

Soundtrack: Crisis Core features a very large tracklist filled with both old songs from VII as well as brand new tracks. It’s nice to hear better quality versions of some of the classic VII songs, and I found it not to be overdone either. The new songs actually seem to be on par quality-wise with many of those from original game. This was a nice surprise. My only complaint with the game audio comes not from the music, but from some of the repetitive catchphrases you hear during combat. By the time the game was over, I wanted to bang my head into the wall the next time I heard Zack declare “I’m on fire now!” – but that is small price to pay considering the overall quality of the game.

Fun: I found this game to be much more enjoyable than I originally expected. If you plan on tackling all of the missions in the game like I did, then be warned it can get a little grindy and repetitive. Side-quest grind aside, the game itself is very fast paced and quite a lot of fun.

Graphics: As I mentioned earlier, the graphics are phenomenal for a handheld device. The PSP really shines here.

Playcontrol: Overall the game controls work very well. However, I did experience some oddities here and there. The biggest gripe is have is camera control. The game does a decent job of keeping the camera centered on where it needs to be. But in a lot of cases I wanted to look around to find treasure chests. Using the shoulder buttons will swing the camera left and right, but not always in a full 360-degree motion. Also, sometimes when walking through doorways, the camera would swing around and cause some confusion about which direction I was headed. I would sometimes have to check the in-game map to make sure I kept going in the right direction. But other than these minor issues, no other complaints here.

Mature Content: No Concerns – Fantasy violence.

Value:  This game still tends to sell for its original price of $30 if you can find it on shelves anywhere. As of the time of this post, the game is still not available digitally. I put nearly 50 hours into this game in my quest to finish all of the optional content so even at $30 I feel this game is well worth that price.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 4 – I never thought I’d enjoy this game as much as did. It really packed a big surprise for a handheld title. I daresay this game shares equal footing with the original Final Fantasy VII. It is a shame that it’s not available on other platforms. If you’re a big fan of FFVII and you have access to an original PSP, I recommend this game without hesitation. In my opinion it is just as worth of the Final Fantasy name as any of the other stand-alone titles in the series.

Currently available on: PSP, PSN

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

Review: Final Fantasy VII

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I now take on the challenge of reviewing one of the most beloved RPGs of all time; Final Fantasy VII. These days, there’s no right way to review this game. Anything and everything that can ever be said about this title has been said before. Admittedly, there’s a thousand other reviews of this game that are probably better than anything I can cobble together, so I’m going to take a very personal approach with this review.

Final Fantasy VII was the first game in the series to be released on a non-Nintendo platform. This title found its home on the Sony PlayStation. As I have mentioned on this site before, I did not own a PlayStation during its initial run. At that point in my life, my attention had drifted away from console gaming for the most part. But I was fully aware of the game’s release and very intrigued by it. My roommate had a copy and I observed him playing it from time to time. About a year after FFVII first came out on the PS, it was ported to the PC. I took that opportunity to purchase and play through the game. So yes, my original introduction to this legendary game was through the infamous “crappy pc version”. Of course over the years since, I have since played this title a number of times on what I consider to be the proper medium (a PlayStation console). In recent years, the old PC version has resurfaced on Steam and boasts a slightly higher resolution and even Steam-based achievements. I briefly considered playing this version for my review (if only to rack up the achievements), but I found the keyboard controls to be very clunky and not intuitive at all. I tried using my trusty Xbox 360 controller as an alternative, but even that seemed to suffer from poor playcontrol. I barely made it a few hours into the Steam release before firing up my PS3 and playing through the game there.

Final Fantasy VII takes everything that has made the series great thus far, and cranks up a notch. This game features rich storytelling, loveable characters, an unforgettable soundtrack, and (for the time) wonderful graphics.

The game focuses mainly on a character by the name of Cloud. When the game begins, Cloud has recently joined up as a mercenary with a band of environmental activists called Avalanche. Until recently, Cloud was a member of an elite combat unit known as SOLDIER. This group was employed directly by the powerful Shinra Electric company; a corporation that’s grown so powerful over the years that they’ve actually become a sort of de-facto government entity. It is soon revealed that Shinra draws their power by tapping into the very lifesource of the planet itself. As a result, the world is slowly dying. Avalanche makes it their goal to prevent the destruction of the world by exposing Shinra’s deeds and launching terrorist-style attacks on the company’s reactor sites. As the game story progresses, it becomes apparent that there are even stranger projects being undertaken at Shinra. As you play through the game, more and more backstory is revealed. I’ll stop here to prevent any spoilers, but let’s just say there’s a reason Final Fantasy VII is considered to be one of the greatest RPGS of all time. The story found within this title is arguably one of the greatest in video game history.

For the most part, this game will feel familiar to anyone who’s experienced other titles in the series thus far. You control a team of characters as they explore the world, battle monsters, find and equip new items and treasure, and uncover the main plot of the game.

Combat in this game will feel pretty familiar to existing fans. But there is much more here than the simple turn-based battles we’ve seen before. Aside the regular options we’ve seen thus far, battle in Final Fantasy VII also features something called the “Limit Break” system. Essentially, as you battle and take damage, there is a meter that slowly fills up over time. Once the meter is full, that character can unleash a devastating attack called a Limit Break. There are a number of limit breaks available to each character and these are unlocked over time.

The most unique thing about combat in this title compared to other FF games is the Materia System. Spells and magic are not purchased or learned in this game like they are in some of the other titles. Instead, there are various magic stones that can be equipped in on your weapons and armor. Each stone, when equipped, grants that character the ability to use a spell, summons a monster for battle, or offers some other type of enhancing effect. Materia can level up overtime and a result, the effects can be enhanced. In some instances, materia can be linked together to create new effects as well. Learning how this system works is a key element to the game. Luckily, the game includes a number of tutorials, making understanding how this system works very simple.

When it comes to graphics, Final Fantasy VII is an odd beast. Much the game’s background environment actually consists of pre-rendered artwork. I equate it to moving characters around on a matte painting. The characters are rendered in a very ugly blocky way for a large part of the game. I’m not really sure why this was done. When engaged in combat, the characters take on a much more realistic look as shown in the screenshot above. I suppose this difference has something to do with hardware limitations or something technical like that. But when I first started playing I found it to seem very odd. But it’s something that you get used to pretty quick. Occasionally, there’s also a few pre-rendered cutscenes that occur. These look dated by today’s standards, but for the time were top of the line.

Musically, the game is a masterpiece. Uetmatsu has once again provided a simply breathtaking score that really enhances the game. To this day many of the pieces of music found within this game are performed in symphonic concerts all over the world. The music, combined with a truly epic story and excellent character development, are the secret the this game’s legendary status.

As far as RPGS go, Final Fantasy VII is truly the legend that many claim it to be. There’s hours and hours of gameplay just in the main story alone. Not to mention tons of mini-games and optional bosses to challenge. One aspect of the game I’ve always glossed over until now was the ability to breed chocobos. For this playthrough I actually took the time to dive into this content and obtain the ever-coveted Gold Chocobo. This animal is needed in order to find one of the rarest materia pieces. I’ve always felt a little empty claiming to be a big fan of Final Fantasy and never having conquered this aspect of the game, now I can rest easy.

My biggest gripe here has not to do with the game itself, but rather with a somewhat poor localization. For the most part, the game is very well translated. The big issue here has to do with the name of a particular character. “Aeris”. Aeris is one of the main characters that you will meet very early on. Ok. Her name is Aeris. We all know that “Aeris” is simply an Americanized version of whatever her name was in Japan. This is typical. All is right with the world…. well, that was until later stories in the FFVII universe started to be released. You see, Final Fantasy VII is popular. As a result, there have been movies and games released that focus on the backstory and aftermath of this particular title. In all of those, her name has been retconned as “Aerith” – which in my opinion is a much better name. Obviously, SE is not going to go back and edit the default character name for digital releases of FFVII (but players are given the option to change it manually). But my question is, why not just keep her name as “Aeris” for the sake of continuity? I suppose because “Aerith” is a more proper translation. – Whatever. I’m ranting. — My point is, if you’re an OCD nut like me that cares about this kind of stuff, take that opportunity early in the game to correct the spelling of her name so your nerves can rest easy.

Difficulty: Medium–  Like most RPGs, this game features a few challenging battles and puzzles. But with patience, you can grind through and out-level most things. Completing the game certainly has it’s share of challenges, but it is the optional battles with the WEAPON bosses that offer the biggest difficulty in the game.

Story: There’s more story in this game than you can shake a stick it. But it can admittedly be a bit confusing at times. I don’t think I really understood some of the finer details to Cloud’s backstory until I played through the game two or three times to be honest. But as far at the main plot is concerned, it’s told very well and a real gripping tale.

Originality: Many RPGs tend to feel very cookie-cutter. Final Fantasy VII really managed to stay fresh in part to it’s unique art design, and wonderful character development. The Materia system also helps to add a new dynamic to the standard level-based character design.

Soundtrack: Final Fantasy VII boasts an enormous soundtrack that actually spans four CDs. The music for this game is very fitting most of the time. There are a few really odd, funky pieces that seem slightly out of place at times, but 99% of the time – the soundtrack compliments the game flawlessly. Stand out tracks are the character-based leitmotifs, as well as the ever popular One-Winged Angel (final boss theme)

Fun: If you like Japanese style RPGS, Final Fantasy VII is a must-play. It is considered by many to be required playing for anyone with a PlayStation. The game is engaging, emotional, and hours of fun.

Graphics: As I mentioned earlier, the graphics here are bit strange. We jump from unusual looking “lego models” to fairly detailed, but pixelated player characters. The 2D pre-rendered backgrounds are pretty, but they are in a fairly low resolution and there’s rarely any movement to them at all. To be fair, FFVII was Square’s first foray on the PlayStation. Later games in the series did seem to improve quite a bit. When it comes to the PC version, the game is available at a much sharper resolution and tends to be overall more attractive than the original release.

Playcontrol: No concerns here. The game controls are intuitive and play without issue on the native hardware. PC players on the other hand have a very awkward time ahead of them.

Mature Content: Mild – Fantasy violence, some veiled references to sex, prostitution and homosexuality.

Value:  At the time of this writing, the game sells digitally on PSN for around $5.00. The game is usually listed on Steam for around $10-12, but goes on sale frequently. Honestly, any of these prices are more than great for this game. Even today, with as dated as this title is, I would have no problem spending $15 or more.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 4 – This game is the subject of much hype but it does truly live up to it. FFVII is the perfect launching point for someone just getting into the series. Almost every defining aspect that the series has become is represented here in one way or another. From the storyline to the music, Final Fantasy VII is an experience every gamer should undertake. I recommend it even to those who are not RPG fans.

Currently available on: PSN and Steam

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia