Final Fantasy VII Review
Since the first Final Fantasy release in 1987, the series has steadily grown stronger (to a certain extent) over the years. With 14 games in the mainstream series, and countless spin-offs, it certainly has done quite well for itself. Each game is unique to its own, having no relation to past or future games, each having a completely new world, set of characters and storyline. Each game features the final battle of the country, the final frontier to get passed, the final.....fantasy of that world. Come to think about it, each new game is like a different volume in the series, rather than dictating sequels. Each volume is slightly similar with those giant yellow birds you can ride on and those familiar summoning monsters, but is a completely different story, worthy of curling up by a fire and reading.
Now, it's hard to say what is the best Final Fantasy game, I dare say it's impossible to say anyway, due to subjectivity. However, my friend kept going on about how great Final Fantasy VII was, and kept recommending it to me. At one time at an expo, I spotted it, and decided it's time to play my first Final Fantasy game. I expected the very best from this game. The. Very. Best. I've heard around that this game is Godly to say the least, and I'm putting it to the test. lets have a look at this proclaimed, Godly, three disk adventure epic I keep hearing so much about.
The story starts off with a cut scene. It shows a brunette girl with a red ribbon and a basket of flowers in a very dark and gloomy place. It cuts dramatically to a train speeding along in the same dark and gloomy atmosphere. When the cut scene ends, the last frame of that scene is the background, giving a cut-scene quality background. Now, for the PSX (known as the PS1 today), there were games that offered just terrible cut scenes (like Resident Evil), and there were games that offered pretty decent ones. This is one of those games. The cut scenes are smooth and impressive for its time, however there are a lot of flaws I can see in these. First off, no-one in these cut-scenes shows any emotion. They just have blank faces, and any attempt in human emotion just ends up as a subtle change in the face. Second off, the cut scenes seemed to be slowed down somewhat. When you see later scenes, they seem to take longer than they should, and I'm wondering why it's slowed down on purpose, unless the system can't handle the graphics at full Frames Per Second, hence the slow down. Third, there seems to be jerky movements in these scenes with humans. They seem unrealistic and makes me laugh at how it works out. Might be due to the system slow down.
I also have a lot to say about the main graphics of this game. As the train stops, a black man with a gun for his hand named Barret Williams and a white man with spiky blond hair named Cloud Strife come off the train and kill the guards there. The first thing I noticed, however, was the structure of Clouds body. He had thin elbows, and thick shoulders and forearms. What is this, Pop-eye? It's quite unrealistic, especially when the cut scenes portray him in a more....human figure. But that's not the worst of it. It's the background. Every screen in the game shows a background that is of cut scene quality, displaying many details and brings out the atmosphere of every screen, enchanting the mood of the game. What's the problem? Just that, it's a picture. You control your character moving on a picture of of art. The problem with this is you don't know what is and isn't touchable. You don't know what you can and can't interact with, and (without the aid of the select button), you'll have a hard time knowing where you can enter and exit from. It seems blocky where you can move from, and doesn't give you much freedom when in narrow paths.
The worst part of this is that you can't interact with the screen. You can only interact with the NPC's and the chests in the area, but not the area itself. Take The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for an example. If you played both these games, then you'll notice that they have similar graphic systems for the background, but what makes Ocarina of Time better for me with Graphics is that you can get up and close to the walls, or hit the trees and roll into the bushes. they react to your movements to them, it feels more alive that way. Bushes in this game are just painted there, how annoying and boring. it feels like I'm trapped in a virtual world of some kind and the animations frozen. There is nothing dynamic about the backgrounds other than it can smoothly switch from still to cut-scene, which is impressive no-the-less, however a game like Ocarina of Time makes the background and everything in it more vivid and alive. In truth, they did ok with the over world map, as that moves with you, and you could change from birds eye to third person for different perspective, which made it more alive than the villages themselves.
*breathes in* Anyway, the story tells us that there is a group you are in, called AVALANCHE, trying to take down Shinra Inc., which are, according to Barret, sucking all the Mako energy out of the earth. Mako energy is like the blood of the planet, and Shinra is sucking it dry. Why are they taking the Mako energy? For money and power, no other reason. They used it to give people very comfortable lives. In a respect, it's very much like electricity and petrol and cars in out own world. They are destroying the planet (or more accurately, our use of it), but they are making our lives easier. It's interesting for a game to incorporate that kind of sense in a RPG game, and is very true at that. Are we destroying the planet for the sake of salutations? What has it been? 10-20 minutes in the game? Rather impressive for the game to make me give a darn about the story. Cloud, however doesn't care about that saving the planet sort of stuff and just wants the job done to get his money.
The story is very complex, and isn't just as simple as taking down Shinra Inc., as the plot thickens deeply even before the mid way point of the first disk. It's a very thrilling experience in the first disk, with everything getting out of hand and weird stuff starts to happen. The second disk takes everything it does in the first disk, and multiplies that many, many times. It really gives you a sense that the world is at peril and even a sense of helplessness when you start to see what comes out of the planet. The ending in the third disk is somewhat disappointing to me, however. The overall story is a perfect mix of loathing to the enemies, fear and terror of utter destruction, love interests and incredible action. It might not top the utter tragedy of Mother 3 for me, but it's still as gripping and as entertaining as it.
The music in this game is just....awesome. There is no other word for it. The normal battle music is incredible, and if the battle lasts longer than expected, then the music makes the battle seem like the enemy is as strong as them, with an air of "it has to end, now.". It;s just an incredible experience. The music for cities and towns also set the perfect mood for what the place has to offer, weather it's bright and cheery, or has a past of terror and destruction, the music does it justice. my favourite piece of music, however, is when you are trying to sneak into someplace or there is a time limit, and there is that music that seems disguised and "low laying". It fits perfectly at the situation, and I hate when I run into a battle, causing that music to stop and the battle music to commence. Also, the sad music used in this game sets an atmosphere as well, with an amazing sense of memories and how important is it to respect those passed away.
Although not the first Final Fantasy game to include it, this game offers a very unique combat system for a RPG. The ATB (Active Time Battle) makes the game run of a timer. When that timer goes off, the enemy will attack. This means you could die if you didn't do anything in a battle. This requires quick thinking and encourages you to have a strategy formed in your mind before every battle. You could turn it off, but then where's the fun in that? it's also very realistic. When fighting a boss, they won't just sit there while you think "Gotta heal this guy, but then again, raising stats would make most of them survive the next attack." As you scroll through the options like in many other RPGs. Here, if you didn't think fast enough, you're going to pay the consequences. This makes the game very dynamic and fun to play. Add that with the moving cameras when you select a move, for both you and the enemies movements, then this makes the most exciting RPG battle scene I have had the pleasure of playing.
The controls are a little odd for a PSX game. You have to press X to cancel, O to select something, and Triangle to open up a menu. To all the other PSX games, this control scheme is alien at least. I played a little bit of Breath of Fire III, and I was pressing O to select an attack. *slaps forehead*. There is this thing called Materia. It is compressed Mako energy. This will make you cast certain magic spells depending on the Materia. You can only put in as much Materia as your weapon will allow it. There will also be "linked slots", which will allow you to combined certain Materias together. The most basic is the "All" Materia, which lets you cast a spell linked to this Materia to "all" your enemies/allies, depending. Hence the name "all" Materia. This leads to the age old three hours of messing around with your equipment to make it suit you best. Materia can grow depending on the AP points you get from winning a battle. AP is basically the "EXP" for Materia. When it get's full of AP, it divides, giving you a brand new, zero AP Materia for you to train. Great, two things to train up.
The game is chuck full of secrets and hidden items. Play your cards right, and you can get two new characters. The mysterious yet awesome Vincent Valentine and the %^&*ing ninja kid son of a $%^&* Yuffie. Yeah, I don't like her very much.... With that, there are various hidden side-quests for you to take part in, most of them aren't even quests, but things that expand on the already complex story of this game, and others that reward you with items and Limit Breaks. You can also raise your very own Chocobo. Chocobos are awesome, no questions asked. You can get different coloured Chocobos which can do different things. If you don't know how to get them, then there's the Chocobo Sage in the north of the world, and if you are patient.....very, very patient, he'll tell you everything you need to know. My life wasn't complete until I got my first Chocobo ^^
Now, sometime in the second disk, you might notice that there is a huge green and red monster in the world. This is Emerald and Ruby. There are what is known as a Superboss. These are harder bosses that are only there for a sense of achievement, should you defeat them. h wait a moment, we're not talking a little harder than the normal boss, nor are we talking quite a bit harder than the average boss. These are much, much harder bosses and require great tactical thinking and skill to defeat. They could easily defeat an unprepared team of three level 99's with max health, these are no walks in the park. If you can defeat them without the aid of a Game Shark or cheats, give yourself a pat on the back, it isn't an easy thing to do. I love how they added these into the game as they knew there would be some people who would find the last boss too easy, and they put those there to give them a challenge. Most challenging bosses I've had to fight in a RPG.
Overall, I give this game a 9.5/10 Well, I expected the very best from this game. The. Very. Best. And it turns out my friend wasn't just talking hot air. This game really is amazing. I wouldn't call it "Godly" or the best RPG, and I can't say if it is the best Final Fantasy game out there, as this is my only one I have played. It has flaws, it has some points that don't seem to fit and it's graphics are just a mixed bag of wonderfully detailed blandness, but I wouldn't have it any other way (well, maybe if the background was less like a painting and more like a part of the game....), all of it's flaws make the game what it is. Sure, I would personally like to change a few things myself, but then I feel I would be violating a piece of epicness that should just stay as it is. If you like RPG's give this game a go, you won't be disappointed.