Review by peterenshaw
"It goes beyond notions of perfect and imperfect."
When I bought my first playstation, I picked up a few games including Tekken 3. Unfortunately, the disk was scratched and it skipped so I returned it to the shop where the assistant told me I could exchange it for a game of equal value - financially speaking. What I ended up choosing was of so much value that the poor guy at the shop never really realised how much he'd lost from this exchange. The game I picked up in place of Tekken 3 was Final Fantasy 7.
I now live and work in Japan, and it's little exaggeration to say that the reason I chose to live and work here is that game that I picked up ten or so years ago.
The first time I stuck disc 1 into my old PS, the first thing that struck me was the music on the title screen. A really great tune. Then I chose "New game" and the opening cinematic started. Very impressive indeed. Into the game proper, and it doesn't let you pause for breath. Within a minute, you have your first fight and then proceed to meet up with your buddies.
Thus begins a game which transcends its genre. This is a game in the same way that Citizen Kane is a film; it is, but it extends way beyond what it is. It becomes iconic in and of itself. Final Fantasy 7 is not a perfect game - it has errors in translation and it can be confusing at times - but it IS a perfect experience. It is a masterpiece in spite of its few flaws and this is, in a way, more of an achievement than a quote-unquote perfect game.
The one scene that everyone talks about, at the end of the first disc, is a work of art so incredible that I seriously believe it will never be eclipsed in videogaming. Ever. Some things make you cry, but very few induce a genuine feeling of loss. This does. The boss fight that follows it is an incredible catharsis. I found myself in a state of controlled fury when I was fighting the boss. And then the cutscene continues and you cry some more. This is art in its highest form.
It is the story that makes Final Fantasy what it is in the end. The gameplay is superb, albeit arguably too easy, especially on your second time round - but then I again I like a game which lets you advance rather than one which kills you at every turn; and on top of that it's an RPG - a game where continuing along in the story is crucial. So the relative ease of the game is not, in my eyes, a fault.
The soundtrack is great, great stuff, Maybe a slight step backwards from FF6, but then again that would be like saying that whatever Da Vinci painted after the Mona Lisa was a step back. FF7's soundtrack is very, very good in its own right. The song that plays during the scene at the end of disc 1 (yes, I know that 99.9 per cent of you know what I'm talking about, but this is for the .1 percent who don't) is one of Uematsu's greatest works, and there are plenty of other classics throughout the game.
In a nutshell, then, Final Fantasy 7 may or may not be "the best game of all time", but it is without question the single most important thing ever to happen to the videogaming industry. I shall petition the Catholic Church to beatify Sakaguchi, Uematsu and everyone else involved in this divine work.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 06/15/09
Game Release: Final Fantasy VII (JP, 01/31/97)
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