(available for PlayStation 4 only)
It’s finally been released. In usual Square-Enix fashion it was revealed to be in development in 2015 before getting released in 2020. Square-Enix really is a company that are really good at revealing a game but will take a long time getting it actually released. This game has not been without it’s controversy, for starters it was confirmed that the game would be released episodically with the game only covering Midgar section at release with Square-Enix having not released their plans for future content at this time. It also has been hit by a few delays but has now finally come out, to be honest I expected it to release in 2017 to mark the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy 7 and the end of the Final Fantasy extended universe. the release has caused a lot of discussion given it’s changes from the original story but I’m choosing not to reveal any spoilers but I will say that apart from a changed ending the only major changes are that some been slightly altered, some characters are slightly expanded from the original games, some methods of getting from one established plot point to another have been slightly altered and there’s a bit of extra padding to extend times in the environment. Put it this way in the original PS1 game, which is in terms of current systems is re released and currently available on PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC and even mobile phones with IOS and Android, the main segment around Midgar at the beginning of the game lasts between 4-5 hours depending on your skills, Final Fantasy 7 Remake has a minimum of 33 hours to beat just the main story that goes up to 42 hours with extras and 80 hours if you’re a completionist. that’s over 20 hours more gameplay just for the main story time but I’ve always stated that it’s not how long a game is it’s what it does with it’s time. Final Fantasy 7 Remake is what it looked like in all the trailers, a group of current Square-Enix developers reimagining Final Fantasy 7 as if it was a modern Triple A game. for what it’s worth they have succeeded in several regards changing it from a turn based RPG bringing in many elements from Final Fantasy 15 and Kingdom Hearts, which is unsurprising given Tetsuya Nomura is directing (after this and getting Kingdom Hearts 3 done I think he’s earnt time off). however the game has added a classic mode which doesn’t bring back the style of the classic game but does replicate some of the feel of it, more on my thoughts on that later.
- The characters: I love the characters in this one. many of the expanded characters have maintained a lot of their advent children personas which I was mixed on but I feel this time they really have nailed it. characters like Jessie, Biggs and Wedge all get a bit more character to them but I think they did a good job with the characterisation of everyone though particular note would be to that of Cloud, Tifa and Aerith. Cloud still has his stoic edge but it also does a good job showing his shy and rather goofy side and don’t make him completely emo like advent children and other releases did, Aerith similarly has often been portrayed as an angelic figure but this game did a good job bringing her cutesy fun loving personality from the original game. I was genuinely surprised how much I wanted to see these characters develop given that I’ve already seen this development ears ago and am even aware what happens after the story.
- The story: I actually think the story has received an a pretty decent update. When I heard there were going to be changes I was sceptical given that Final Fantasy 7’s story has actually aged remarkably well and is still one of the better ones from the numbered series but It appears that the writers at Square really respect the original since there’s not a lot of major changes outside of a few extra character moments and character expansions. On the surface this is still the great FF7 story just slightly updated for the bigger system and I also really apricated the adherence to some of the goofier fun stuff that was in the orignal which I was really worried they were going to cut and have the story be really dark in tone at all times. But no like the original they do a good job balancing the story without making major tonal dissonance
- The soundtrack: Final Fantasy 7 has an amazing soundtrack and still is one of Nobuo Uematsu’s best. This game has updated the soundtrack to reflect what you can do with adding a wider variety of instruments you can now put in video games and is absolutely fantastic. Particular of note I would say are Aerith’s theme, Let Battles Begin, and what they do with One Winged Angel is strange at first but then turns amazing. Many of the best songs are from later portions of the game that isn’t in this game yet so to make up for it shops will sell you discs to play in jukebox’s throughout the game with these tracks which is nice touch and something I’m glad they brought over from Final Fantasy 15
- Materia: this is the levelling up system which allows for excellent character customisation and is a really good introduction for newcomers. You basically equip different Materia to grant certain abilities to certain characters that were not only transferable between character but would level up with them. It was one of the best parts of the original game so I’m glad to see nothing was changed. It’s aged well and a lot of modern RPGs could learn from it since it allows any character you want to take on any role you want
- The new combat system: the new combat system takes some getting used to but when you get the hang of it it’s great. it’s a good blend of action and turn based RPG combat and it was nice having the ATB gauge from the original game worked in t it and optimises strategy in the fights so you cant approach it like Devil May Cry. It has it’s problems such as the fact I’m not a huge fan of mot being able to use items until a certain time limit is reached but I prefer it to the combat in Final Fantasy 15 which tried a similar thing. You have to learn what characters and spells to use and I would highly recommend getting the Materia that registers weakness as fast a possible to help and keep it on cloud it helps big time. I’m iffy on the camera though it’s not bad but I screwed up big time because of it several times because I of some camera issues in certain areas.
- The post game challenge: I really thought they handled the post game well giving you a chapter select to repeat certain fights and quests with hard mode. Yeah some of it’s just bragging rights but it’s excellent for getting the most time out of it since some optional bosses require hard mode (yes you guessed it I haven’t done them yet, hard mode kicked me down at almost every turn)
- The classic mode: it’s essentially does most of the work for you so you can concentrate on commands so it replicates a turn based game closer than an action game. I spoke to someone on one of mine and Ren’s streams of Spyro 3 who said it basically plays the game for you. While I don’t think it’s the case I do wish this was separate play style with it’s own difficulty settings rather than a very easy mode for people that want to see the story over everything else. only use it as a last resort if you’re struggling.
- Graphics: the characters look great, the bosses look great, the environments really look like an amazing update….. sometimes. Ok to be fair this was only on a few occasions, but I noticed a few locations where environments didn’t look amazing and had some texture and rendering fails, something I’m hoping will get patched down the line or the inevitable PlayStation 5 rerelease.
- The end of the game: without giving away spoilers the very end of the game is where the plot divulges the most and I have mixed feeling on it. while it was cool and set up some interesting ideas for future games which makes me excited for the next game and serves to add a climatic end for this first part. my concern is how they will top it going forwards given how bombastic it was, I do feel I’m not sure I liked the ending as much since it has more questions than answers and I don’t like endings that concern so much with setting up a sequel, though in this case I’m hooked and genuinely curious how these games will be made going forwards.
- The way the game extends it’s run time: this game has so much padding in certain areas, there was no way to make a 20 hour minimum game out of the migar section of the game and the way they expand in certain places some chapters of the game feel like they go on a bit too long and are just there to keep you playing rather than fit the flow of the story like a good RPG should. The worst of these was a sewer level towards the end of the game which dragged on so long because of a dumb chase segment which was so annoying. That being said even that section felt like it had a cool pay off
- Side quests are a necessity: okay let’s get one thing clear most of the side quests are enjoyable and add tons of great character moments and cool optional boss fights (seriously if you want a challenge some of the later stuff like the battle simulator are excellent) but because of the time to get this review out I did a run where I didn’t do too many side quests and as a result I was actually under levelled for most of the chapters in spite of the fact I was fighting lots of enemies. This kind of bothers me since in my opinion side quests should be just extras and not necessary to be at the right level to do the next stage of the game but if it adds to the run time it’s not the worst. I also noticed a lot of the enemies didn’t drop a lot of money for new equipment so I was rarely buying new equipment further making the side quests almost essential and I’d really recommend it. luckily the new weapon upgrade system made up for it somewhat
- The AI companions: they have a lower level of self-preservation than you have and I really wish that your allies with healing Materia would heal you without you giving the command like Donald does in the Kingdom Hearts games something that didn’t seem to happen until way later. You really do need to do everything for them which I eventually got the hang of but I used up a lot of Phoenix Downs because they would not use attacks or healing items. There’s not even an option to control what they’re doing outside of your inputs like in Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy 12 which is moronic that it’s not in.
- It’s only part 1: as much as I like this game I think I’m going to prefer the next few when I’ll likely have more freedom to go do more of what I want and have more characters to work with. Honestly I really wish that I got the entire Final Fantasy 7 experience updated since so far it’s done a good job of being a remake. It also suggests I’m probably going to like the next game more
Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a good update to a classic and is my favourite Final Fantasy game since 10 and I really apricated it though it’s not a perfect game. it suffers from a lot of padding to extend game time and the I wish the companion AI was smarter. Plus I personally don’t think the remake is as accommodating to new players as the original was. it’s very clear this was made for people who experienced the original game for an updated nostalgia trip and I can accept that but I think it will make it harder for new players to get involved with a much harder game with a higher difficulty curve newcomers. That being said this game exceeded my expectations with it’s quality and I was really expected to enjoy it way less than I did, the story is still excellent, the battle system is what I’ve wanted for some time in Final Fantasy and when you get the hang of the battle system I would say in a few ways it’s an improvement over Final Fantasy 15 plus I felt really motivated to play more and more. Fina Fantasy 7is a milestone of gaming that everyone should experience at some point in their life and I stress this is a really good game you should absolutely give a shot though my judgment may change as we complete the story going forward.
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