Review by Game Reviewer
"One of the best games of all time"
Final Fantasy 7 is one of the few games that deserve a perfect score. Not only was it a revolutionary game for its genre, it is also one of the few games that gets everything right. It popularized its genre, and it's series. It also popularized the Playstation, and brought it up to the level of what the N-64 was. Many people consider this the best game of all time, and people continue to buy the game. With sequels coming out shortly, in the form of Advent Children, Final Fantasy 7's popularity will peak again.
You take the role of Cloud Strife, a mercenary for an anti-Shinra group called Avalanche. Cloud is a former member of SOLDIER, and is well trained in fighting. He joins the group out of a need for cash, but soon he finds a bigger reason to stick around. When the legendary SOLDIER, presumed dead by Shinra, comes back from the dead, Cloud must track him down, and find out what his true goals are. Along the way Cloud struggles to deal with his past, and learns disturbing facts about his life. Facts that lay dormant within his very soul, facts that could destroy him. Joining him is his childhood friend Tifa, who has some secrets of her own. She may appear to be nothing more than fan service, but within her lies the key to Clouds past. Barrett the leader of Avalanche also joins in on the journey, in hopes of defeating Shinra for the pain they have caused him and his daughter. Aeris, a flower girl from the slums also joins Cloud, she has a mysterious origin, and an important role in the storyline. Characters from all over join Cloud on his journey for their own reasons, with backgrounds which depths rival those of the cast of Final Fantasy 6. The game includes some of the biggest shockers, which include one of the most widespread spoilers of all time. It's a story that involves love, hate, revenge, and betrayal. Everything an RPG could ask for.
Final Fantasy 7 is a turn-based rpg. A simple concept that most understand well. Characters have a gauge that tells them when to attack. If the settings are on wait, enemies will wait while you are in the menu, to use their moves. This is the easiest of settings. Then there is recommended, which is another easy setting. But the active setting, allows enemies to attack you even while you are in the menu. Apart from that, it's a relatively simple system. Characters have a set number of hit points, and other stats, as well as levels. But Final Fantasy 7 goes some steps further, beyond what other role playing games of its time had done.
First there is the materia system. This allows for the usage of magic, as well as other special moves. There are five types of materia. The first is magic materia. This type allows the usage of magic, such as fire, ice, and lightning. This materia levels up through ability points, and allows you to use higher level magic, such as Fire 2 and Fire 3. Once you master a materia, you can use it without having the materia equipped. If you link it to other materia, you can also add an element to your weapon or armor. The second type of materia is Summon Materia, which allows the user to summon monsters to attack. This materia is limited in use depending on the level the materia is. There are many types of summon materia, and many of them can do a lot of damage. The most powerful, Knights of the round, attacks 13 times. The third type of materia is command materia. This materia adds a command to your characters' menu. Some command materia allows you to find out how much hp the enemy has. Some allows you to use two items at one time. Some allow you to hit for extra damage. And some allows you to steal. There are various types of command materia, which allows you to further customize your characters. The fourth type of materia is Support Materia. This type allows you to add effects to your weapons and your armor. It also allows you to do some other things. Final Attack materia allows your character one last move when they are killed. One type of Support materia allows you to absorb hp when you attack. The final type of materia is independent materia. This type covers things that the other groups do not. One allows you to catch Chocobos, one lets you get extra experience points after battle, and others allow you to have such effects as added stats. By manipulating the materia system, you can create very powerful characters, who can use magic, summon mighty creatures, and use a number of commands.
Materia is limited however. Each weapon and armor has a different number of materia slots. Some slots are linked, which allow for the usage of Elemental Materia (a support type materia). Some slots are not linked, and thus have nothing to do with each other. Magic still requires MP, as does the summons. The other materia effects are always in effect, unless you unlink, or un equip them.
Other than Materia, Final Fantasy 7 also offers a new special attack, called a limit break. Each character has various numbers of limit breaks. These limits allow for characters to do more damage. Most characters have four levels of limit breaks that get progressively stronger. Characters must earn their limit breaks, and use them to get to their final limits. Some limit breaks allow for multiple hits, others allow for hitting multiple opponents. Some just do more damage than your regular attack. While limit breaks aren't a new concept, the way they were done, is. Instead of happening at random, there is a limit gauge, that builds up as you fight battles. When the limit gauge is full, you can use your limit break. You can only have it set on one level of limit at a time, and can only use limits of that level when you have it set to it.
Outside of battle, Final Fantasy 7 resembles a typical role-playing game. The dungeons aren't difficult, and there are few puzzles in the game. But where the game shines, is in the amount of extras it has. The side quests in the game involve a wide range of things, from Chocobo raising and racing, to fighting one on one battles. Many of the side quests allow for your characters to power up to their maximum extent. The game also includes a high number of mini games. The golden saucer is filled with these. From riding a motorcycle while fighting off enemies, to fighting underwater with a submarine, to even feeding a moogle to make it fly, the golden saucer provides hours of entertainment. It's not useless either, because you get GP at the golden saucer, which allows you to purchase new and better items. Some of them do not seem worth it, while others are more than worth the time. There is even a battle arena, where you can earn extra special items, including the most powerful limit break in the game, omnislash.
The graphics in the game have their faults. Much of the graphics look too much like polygons. But the full motion videos, which is another new concept that Final Fantasy 7 introduced to role-playing Games, look wonderful. They rival even the later Playstation FMV's. The battle graphics by no means look like polygons, in fact they are some of the best graphics of the game. Inside battle, it's a three-dimensional world, where characters movements are real. With the full motion videos and the in battle graphics, it's possible to put aside the world map graphics that gets so much criticism from gamers who dislike the games' mass popularity.
Another complaint by nay-sayers, is the difficulty in the game. Some say that it is made too easy by the ways to overpower your characters. With super limit breaks, and knights of the round alone, this game is made very easy. But some of the optional bosses make up for the games lack of difficulty in the main story. The final battles aren't easy, even with knights of the round. Knights of the round isn't exactly easy to obtain either. It takes hours of hard work to obtain. Even limit breaks are limited. The difficulty is more at your own pace. If you want to overpower, it's going to take a lot of time and effort to do so. The difficulty level is fine, even with the extra abilities that you can get. The battles may not be difficult on a normal basis, but before you try for knights of the round, and other powerful abilities, the game has a good level of difficulty. Even after obtaining it, the game doesn't turn all of your opponents into mince meat. It still takes some strategy, and some time to beat the game.
As for the music in the game, it's some of the best that Nobuo Uematsu has to offer. The remix of the typical battle music is the best remix to date, with a techno beat to it. The music for Shinra, and their subordinates the Turks, is some of the best music in a video game to date. That's not to mention the final boss battle music, with Latin vocals, that even today, people consider it the best video game song ever. All of the songs are appropriate for their part in the storyline, and a better job could not have been done.
There are few perfect games out there. There are even fewer that are so revolutionary that they define a genre, and popularize it. Final Fantasy 7 does just that. Not only did it popularize it with the mass advertising of the game, but it also popularized it by introducing new gamers to role-playing games. It does everything that a game should have to do. It revolutionized the role-playing genre, and still stands as one of the best games ever created.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 02/16/05, Updated 04/07/05
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