Wherein Jolly reviews the PS4 port of the PC port of a nearly 20 year old game. (Note: I’ll attempt to keep spoilers at the minimum, but I cannot promise none will slip through)
Hot on the heels of the news of a remake that would send the gaming world into a flurry of excitement, followed quickly by almost as much apprehension, Square Enix released Final Fantasy VII on the Playstation 4. Follow a group of eco-terrorists as they blow up innocents, wear women’s clothing, and murder baby birds in a bid to save the world from attempted forced beastiality, snowboarding controls that aren’t nearly as fun as you remember, crippling mommy issues, and weird annoying-as-all-hell jungle frogs.
At its most basic, FF7's gameplay is classic FF-style turn based battles in between bouts of running around talking to npcs. If you’ve played a JRPG at all in the last 20 years,you should be instantly familiar with this formula. The unique twist on this is presented in the form of materia, little balls of
souls magic you can find and/or buy and place in slots on your armor and weapons. These allow you to summon forth fire, use multiple items at once, counterattack, or summon giant space dragons to melt half the planet in an attempt to rid the world of the aforementioned jungle frogs.
Limit Breaks are another feature introduced in FF7. Personalized major abilities that build up as each character takes damage, these add a much needed dash of difference to each character in combat. Together Limit Breaks and materia provide an interesting twist to combat as you work to build up your strongest abilities while alternating between attacks, magic and summoning. Of course, certain materia and certain limit breaks in the late game can erase all challenge the game may have presented, but until such time it makes for a fun battle system.
And said challenge is already a nonexistent problem if you deign to use the in-game cheats, easily accessed by simply clicking the analog sticks down.
Of course, this is nearly a 20 year old game at this point. Much of it hasn’t aged well, and this especially true of its visual presentation. Still, the PC port of the game did an excellent job of bringing the game into the HD era, and the PS4 port of that port retains that quality. This is the best the game has ever looked.
One of the best parts of this game is the sound. FF7's musical score is top notch, and I firmly believe is a major reason the game remains one of the most beloved in the series, if not all of gaming. From the pounding rhythm of the opening scene’s amazing track, to the desolation and mystery of the music at the City of the Ancients, to the relaxing tunes of both Costa Del Sol and the chocobo farm, Uematsu shines through here with some of the best work he ever did.
At times quirky and fun, at others deeply serious and dark, FF7 is all over the place in its story. Amazing characters progress through an ever-darkening story, and engage in some of the most touching, weird, and downright cool moments in gaming history. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows though. There are multiple parts where the narrative is a complete mess; jumbled, confusing and often unexplained. This is at its worst in the game’s ending, which I feel seems rushed and rolls credits without ever really explaining what was going on.
Despite some glaring narrative issues, Final Fantasy VII is still a fun if flawed entry in the FF series, and well worth the purchase. If you’re a younger fan who missed the boat the first time around, a lapsed fan who would like a refresher before the remake rears its head, or just a gamer with at least a passing interest in JRPGs and turn-based combat, I heartily recommend FFVII.