Review by Hurgle77
"It is impossible to overhype a game this good"
The pressure on FF VII to succeed was immense from the off. The first FF in 3 years following the success that was FF III, the first 3D FF, and Sony's reason not to buy a Sega Saturn (It turned out they didn't really need one). The game somehow still managed to surpass all expectations, and is widely regarded as one of the best games of all time.
FF VII is one of those games that you realise you are still playing well in to the night. It is by far the most epic game I have ever played, yet I have to admit, I have never completed another Final Fantasy game. It revolutionized the gaming industry and will be remembered by me, not a huge gamer, as one of the defining points of the 1990s.
The main protagonist is a mercenary by the name of Cloud Strife. Previously working for the enemy, he is now involved in the terrorist group named AVALANCHE, yet while the other members are searching for a better world, he just wants more money. AVALANCHE are trying to stop the evil well-oiled machine that is Shinra Inc., who are apparently stealing the lifeblood of the planet. The game really gets going however when we meet a flower girl named Aeris Gainsborough and the rest of the original group. The first several hours are spent in the city of Midgar, the biggest city on the planet, and one may notice the slow pace of the start, with not much plotline moving forward yet this definitely isn't the pace for the rest of the game.
There are twists throughout the whole game, with all 9 playable characters being central to some part of the plot. At the end of disc one (about 30 hours through for a first time player), there is one of the most shocking moments in video game history and from here on in, FF VII turns from a great game in to one which is completely unputdownable.
For me, the storyline is the main reason to play a game such as Final Fantasy VII, and the reason I believe this to be one of the greatest games ever, is the storyline is a definite 10/10
There are two main features of the gameplay: exploring, and battle. The battle system is much revamped from earlier outings, yet the principals remain very similar. The main differences are the limit bar - meaning when your character has suffered a sufficient amount of damage, they release an absolute stonker of an attack, and also the time bar, with characters only allowing to attack when the time bar is full. The limit moves and some of the later summon moves are by far the most powerful moves on the game. There is a great pride in seeing your characters improve so much in battle over the course of the game, starting with simple magic attacks to eventually summoning awesome mythical creatures.
The exploring side is more of a mixed bag. When you first enter a new place, it is extremely enjoyable to delve in to all the new mysteries, but there isn't much fun in going back to all these places. The world map is interesting, and I think we can forgive the complete lack of proportion. The random battles are normally fine, yet can become tedious at times when you just want to get on with the story.
I feel for a playstation game, the gameplay is generally good, and I can forgive the brief lapses when you have to track back to somewhere not particularly interesting, as you are normally greeted with a new storyline twist when you get there 8/10
For 1997, these graphics are truly amazing. They range from quite pretty in normal exploring action, to quite stunning, in cut-scenes and battles. I don't believe graphics are a particularly important part of this game yet in places such as the theme park of Gold Saucer, it is very impressive to see this world look so much more realistic 8/10
RPG's of today will have proper speech for the characters instead of dialogue just appearing for you to read, but because thw world is so immersive, I don't feel this to be a major problem, as it just increases your ability to mould the character how you would like them. The soundtrack of the game is absolutely brilliant though, with all the songs capturing the mood. From the haunting theme of Aeris to the humorous of Don Corneo, it is difficult to know how Squaresoft managed to get the soundtrack so right. 10/10
For anyone who enjoys any RPG in the history of gaming, you have to play this game. In my life I have only brought around 20 games, yet this is so far ahead of any others I have ever played. It is a truly magical experience, and the only way it could be bettered was if it was real life. I have heard talk of a re-release on PS3 with updated graphics, yet I feel when the original is this good, that would be completely unneccessary. I don't think I will ever play a game I found as immersive as FF VII. The storyline is pretty much flawless, with the Aeries and Vincent stories deserving a particular mention for being two of the best party members in any game, and Sephiroth being one of the best villains. It is a classic game, and I believe the pinnacle of the 1990s for gaming.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 10/29/07
Game Release: Final Fantasy VII (EU, 11/17/97)
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