Yo, everyone i’m doing it. I am actually doing it!!! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!!
I honest to god love this game,and Final Fantasy VII was my favourite game until I played Final Fantasy VI and Silent Hill 2.
However, what I have noticed while completing this playthrough is that even after at least 30 full runs and a fair few speed run attempts is that there is still a tonne of content I have never actually done or seen until now….
Final Fantasy VII is an RPG with a silent J. There is a long and at times convoluted story, at least one of the characters has mommy/daddy issues, and the combat takes place in a turn based fashion using an active or passive (Wait) battle meter.
Active means that time moves while you are making your decision, so if you’re slow the enemy will punch you in the face rather than patiently wait. Or, you can be a total wuss and set the game to “wait” while you spam Summons like the coward you are.
You take on the role of Cloud Strife, an Ex-SOLIDER (barely competent elite forces) who starts working as a mercenary for Avalanche, an eco-terrorist oranisation that wants to blow up some Mako Reactors (Power Plants). Your group of tree-huggers think that the Mako Reactors are draining the Earth’s precious resources. But remember folks, climate change is a hoax, rich people tell us so.
Things quickly go to pot, and the story devolves naturally from there. And if you still haven’t played the game go do it now. You’re 20 years late to this party, but I’ll avoid the significant spoilers.
The story then includes space travel, extra terrestrials, errant scientists, genetic experimentation, and a MASSIVE fucking meteorite. Oh, and a fairly memorable scene towards the end of disc 1.
Final Fantasy VII has a decent roster of characters. It may feel a little small compared to Final Fantasy VI and you can only have 3 members active in your party, with Cloud usually filling one of these. Despite this, all the characters feel like try are adding something and there is nobody simply making up the numbers. The two extra characters aren’t simply filler either. Vincent and his arc actually explains a lot of what has happened, while Yuffie pulls off the alternative character without descending into “quirky” so she never becomes a chore.
Cloud Strife: Cold, distant, and severe psychiatric issues, Cloud serves as the troubled hero. Thankfully he isn’t some douchetard with parent issues like Tidus, or a twonk like Squall. So while you may not relate to him personally he does feel more developed and “real” than later heroes in the series. Cloud’s story arc twists and turns and can feel a little Mission Impossible (1996 version).
Aeris/Aerith Gainsborough: She’s a flower girl who turns out to be an “Ancient” or “Cetra” she is the primary love interest until she isn’t.
Tifa Lockhart: Childhood friend of Cloud, she transitions into your love interest towards the end of the game. She punches people to death, and all her Limit Breaks sound like sex acts. Dolphin Blow anyone?
Barret Wallace: A bit of a black caricature who is more than a little bit Mr T. He is hot headed and quick to anger, he is ultimately a decent enough character who counters Cloud’s cold aloofness. He also calls Cloud Spikey, which pleases me.
Red Xiii/Nanaki: He’s a dog innit. He barks at the moon and does dog like things. Oh, and he can talk, and is awesome.
Cait Sith: It is a cat who sits on top of a robotic mog. Slightly embarrassing, but it did take me 10 years to realise Cait Sith was the cat on top. He has a minor twist, and is character is made a little pointless when you discover he is controlled in an office by some flunky.
Cid Highwind: A PLAYABLE CID GUYS!!! Cid is Cid, a grumpy older bloke whose dreams have been crushed by Corporate
America Gaia.He smokes a shit tonne of cigarettes and realistically dies of lung cancer about 3 days after the events of the game.
Yuffie Kisaragi: She’s the almost kooky one. She is a
Master terrible thief that spends an inordinate amount of time trying to steal your Materia. I dislike her for this, but actually, she is one of the better characters for late game damage scaling. Not that you’ll need it.
Vincent Valentine: Vincent is bae. He is basically a vampire and a cool one at that. Ignoring Lestat he invented the “cool vampire” before they became sparkly gimps. He is so cool, he gets his own spinoff in Dirge of Cerberus.
Note he is not even remotely a vampire, people just thought he was because of how he us recruited.
The Turks: Shinra’s elite mercenaries. I legitemetly had a man-crush on Reno growing up and want to be him. So somebody needs to make me a game where I can be Reno. There are other Turks, but I love Reno. Reno.
Sephiroth: The silver haired fox himself. He serves as the main protagonist, has severe mommy issues, and has one of the coolest musical themes ever.
Final Fantasy VII is chock full of minigames be it small scale moments like the Military Parade, the Squat Competition or warming yourself up on Gaia’s/Gaea’s Cliff. However, there are also the more substantial minigames like the bike escape from Midgar or the Snowboarding. It shows a huge attention to detail, because while they may be a little shonkey by today’s standards, the Snowboarding has better physics and a longer track than games released at a similar time that had one specific purpose ie Ridge Racer.
The World you encompass seems pretty large, 3 decent sized continents with a myriad of different (and unique) towns. Each town seems to have it’s own personality. But the map is kind of a double edge sword in that, It feels bigger than Final Fantasy X but doesn’t feel as big as Final Fantasy VI, which had the added benefit of being reshaped halfway through the game.
There are attempts to address this with the submarine/underwater areas but this really is just a few secrets and one 4 roomed area (Sunken Galinka).
The music is among some of the finest ever written, and there isn’t a bad song amongst them. So here is a list of songs that are awesome that don’t get enough attention.
There are obviously bigger more famous songs in the game , but these are the ones I feel don’t get the credit they deserve.
The controls feel particularly antiquated now, since the game uses pre-rendered camera angles for most of the game the controls take some getting used too as you run backwards and forwards between the same two screens accidentally. This is especially bad when you run from one screen to another where you’re at a different screen side to the one you entered.
The game does become a painful grindfest if you want to get to lvl 99 and/or get Master Materia, however you can realistically do everything in under 50 hours and if you use the PS4 PC port there is a x3 speed button to at least make the grind seem less painful.
The cutscenes are seriously bad now to the point of being almost unwatchable. The biggest and most important being the 10-15 minutes one after defeating the final boss. It is so janky and stilted I guess it is how PC Master Race feel when they slum it down at 30 frames per second with the rest of us peasants. Not to mention the 3d models look like plastercine…
Scoring Final Fantasy VII is difficult as admittedly, I am a long term fanboi, arguably, Final Fantasy VI has a better story, richer characters, more interesting character development, and while close, the music in VI is better too.
That said, this is roughly the 30th time I have played through Final Fantasy VII and I am still finding things to do I have not done before. And this isn’t choose Ultima Magic or Ultimate Weapon. This is who you date, who gets picked by Don Corleo, and around 100 different one-off treasures that you can collect at various points in the game that mean there is so much MUCH more going on.
Some sections like grinding out Materia is a fucking bore, but it wouldn’t be a Final Fantasy without grind and it is also not needed. I don’t even bother to use magic or summons for the final boss as everybody deals 9999 damage with every attack.
Final Fantasy VII is a fantastic game with an absorbing story that never strays too far into pants-on-head-stupid like Final Fantasy VIII and X do.
However… Final Fantasy VI has the confidence to stop the game for 20 minutes and have a god damn opera scene. That is some brass balls, and is possibly the greatest moment in gaming. For that singular reason alone Final Fantasy VI is fractionally better. However however… They score the same.
Pros: Reno, still finding new things, calling Aerith your current crush.
Cons: Sephiroth and his mother issues, graphics are more than a little rough around the edges. The bit in Kalm is super fucking boring
Back in the Day:
Breaking all kinds of sales records at release, and scoring many perfect scores the “bad” reviews gave it 94%.