Review by hecktic00

"Fingerless Heros Save the Day! One of them even has a mental disorder!"

1996 is here, and the Playstation is looking kind of stale. It's really not that big of a deal. Sure, there are a few fun games on it... But, like I said, it's stale. Stale to the majority, anyway.

I mean, after-all, this is the system that was supposed to bring us all amazing 3D quality and entertainment. Yet, we're still stuck with 2D games that look like they could have been easily placed on the SNES(Loaded, Beyond the Beyond, Theme Park, etc.) So, what's up? Where are all the games in amazing 3D?

Enter, 1997 and Final Fantasy VII. You know, back when this game was first coming out, I couldn't get through ONE commercial session on MTV(Yes, I watched MTV back then...) without seeing at least TWO FFVII commercials. Well, it might not have been MTV, I know it was one of those damn channels anyway.

And it was impressive looking indeed. FMV CGI sequences, fast-pacing, badass looking dudes with swords and meteors falling to Earth. Who could pass that up? Evidently, no one could... Because this game has become what legends are made of. I might be so bold as to state this is probably one of the most popular games out there, maybe even ahead of Mario.

But, questions surface... Who really knows how good this game is? Is it really based on our opinions? Well, I suppose in the end it is... But, can it really be that great? I mean, this game was commercialized and marketed so much that it even brought in tons and tons of NON-RPG fans. I remember playing it one day, and my brother(who can only stomach sports and racing games, btw) saw it and he said to me, he said... "Wow, that's awesome looking man! Let me play!"

And he did, and he didn't really enjoy it. But that's not the point, the point is he had seen the commercials and he saw the FMV stuff and a bit of the gameplay, and went ecstatic with joy. That's enough to get people to buy into it at least. And if even half of those people continue to enjoy it after playing it... Well, then you have a pretty big deal on your hands.

But does it deserve this? Hardcore gamers are sometimes split on the concept. And I'm certainly not siding with the bunch that claims it to be the best game ever. But, I do give it its due, I believe. I mean, I wouldn't call it a completely worthless pile of trash or anything, but I'm not going to give it a 10/10. And here's why...

Gameplay:

I've seen this system somewhere before. FFVI? FFV? FFIV? Hmm... That's right, the gameplay for the random battles hasn't changed since Final Fantasy IV(II in NA) was released. It's still the ATB system, and it's still random encounters, and no real special commands or pieces have been added to anything as far as the battle system goes.

Let's get down to it... It's a turn-based RPG battle system, kind of. The rate at which you attack is based on a little bar next to your health. When it gets full, you can attack. It's like a speed thing... I guess. I never really figured out if any of the stats actually increase how fast your bar fills... But, it does determine when you can attack.

Now, a big deal with FFVII's battle system is the fact that you can only have three people in your party at a time. That's one less than the previous two games. It feels kind of restricting at first, but the game wouldn't have really benefited off having a four-person party. It's easy enough as it is.

Next, the level up system is once again, pretty much the same. You gain experience points as you kill enemies, and that increases your levels and stats. There really isn't much to talk about as far as physical levels go, it's pretty elementary, standard RPG fare.

However, this Final Fantasy brings us the Materia system. Materia basically translates into magic. You gain little orbs as you go across the world and they'll teach you things such as magic attacks, monster summons, and various other commands.

Each materia comes with its own number of levels. As you increase these levels, you gain more spells/skills/etc. off that one materia. These levels are determined by AP points. Basically, it's the same experience system used everywhere else, except on a magical orb.

And, really, it's almost an exact copy of Final Fantasy VI's skill system. In that one you gained Espers that taught you stuff as they leveled up, and in VII you gain Materia that teaches you stuff as they level up. The difference is that when you learn a spell/command/etc. off a materia, it won't stay with you. You could master that materia and the spell will still go away once you remove it from your weapon/armor.

Oh yeah, I forgot, you equip these orbs by placing them in your weapon and armor slots. Each weapon you come across has a set number of slots in which you can place these materia orbs. The same goes for armor. So, you'll be able to learn and master many materia at a time. Another thing about weapons and armor is that you might come across a piece that allows for double or even triple materia growth. This will speed things up nice and proper, but you're usually left with fewer slots in those specific pieces of equipment. It balances out.

Ok, now that that's out of the way... Any problems with this? Not that I could find, and I've beaten this game probably 20 times. The materia system, while being obviously similar to FFVI's system, holds its own weight. The only reason why I don't like FFVII's gameplay is because the battle system is no different than the past games with the exception of only three people in a party at a time.

I believe this Final Fantasy was probably the first and the start of the big side-quests and mini-games trend in the series. Sure, FFVI had side-quests, but nothing compared to the likes of Final Fantasy VII. You'll even have a whole town/building thing dedicated to mini-games. On top of that you have one of the most notorious and mind-numbing side-quests ever conceived... It's called the Chocobo Breeding Side-Quest. My God, time consuming! But I suppose the rewards are awesome and you'll probably have some fun with it.

Cosmetics:

This game came with the transition of 2D to 3D. And, my God, I hate it. I'm sorry, but I can't stand fingerless character models, weird polygonal blocks forming what resembles a flattened human being, and odd coloration. I just can't. Not in this day and age, and not since I played NES back in the 80s. So, forgive me, but this game is UGLY.

Well, it's ugly outside of the FMV scenes anyway. Inside the FMV scenes, it's damn beautiful and great. The colors are still kind of dull and things don't look realistic yet, but it's still a wonderful sight and nothing is really terrible about it.

But, back to the regular graphics. Am I the only one that wishes this would have been in 2D just with 3D cutscenes? I mean, ugh... The characters really don't even have fingers. They have stubs for hands and their arms, legs, and necks are about as skinny as a strand of hair. The rest of the bodies resemble simple blocks stacked on each other. Lame. Final Fantasy 8 and 9 were MUCH better.

In-battle graphics are much better though. The models are all full-sized, they all animate well, and they have hands! Super! The spell graphics and summon graphics are pretty cool too, although I could have hoped for less lengthy spells at times. I mean, a few of the spells last upwards of 3 minutes... =\

The towns are creative, and the game is set in a futuristic element. The game is really geared towards Sci-Fi and robotics. I guess machinery is the wave of the future. Nothing bad here.

The camera angles in towns and dungeons are fixed. On a few rare occasions, they are zoomed extremely far out. But that only happens in about 2 or 3 spots during the whole game, the rest leaves a clear view of the area. The camera in battles will change depending on the actions being performed. The camera on the world-map is moveable with your shoulder buttons.

Now, on to the music! One thing can be certain, with every FF game, Nobuo's musical talents increase and this game is no exception. I love FFVII's soundtrack! The music is really Sci-Fi-like(goes with the theme) and some of the tracks are even geared towards metal type stuff. Really well done and versatile.

Sound effects are alright, I guess. Some of them sound like SNES material, especially when something explodes. But I can't really complain, at least it isn't a bunch of bleeps and bloops, although I'm sure I heard at least one instance somewhere in the game.

Storyline:

Our spiky-headed hero is named Cloud. Cloud has recently joined up with a rebel group named Avalanche. With his help, they plan on blowing up a reactor that is sucking the life force from the planet. Led by Barret, you'll make your way through the reactor and eventually blow it up. On the way back, you'll pass slums and city streets... Everything looks pathetically trashed, and polluted. It seems like the not-so distant future.

When you get back to the town you're staying at, you'll run into your old child-hood friend Tifa. You'll eventually find your way into another reactor(there are 8 in all) which you'll make explode as well, or try to anyway. Eventually, the big corporation you're fighting against(Shinra, makers of the reactors) will destroy your town and send you into fury.

As you process through the game, you'll come to realize everyone hates each other really. One groups fighting this group, that groups fighting this guy, he's fighting the world, the world's fighting everyone, and you're fighting that guy. It gets kind of complicated with all the factions at work, but you'll get the hang of it...

Or not, the problem with the story in this game isn't actually the story. It's the execution and the way things are handled. Sometimes, the game will put a ton of emphasis on one subject to make you believe it's true, then completely turn around and say it's false but in a less-obvious manner than the way they handled the previous stuff. It can get very confusing and mind-boggling, especially if you aren't used to big stories.

Unfortunately, I really can't give you an example of this terrible plot execution, but just trust me it's there. It happens a lot, and by the end of the game you'll probably wonder what the heck just happened. Don't worry, a lot of people felt that way. It's extremely hard to completely understand everything in this game even after 20 playthroughs. Heck, maybe it wasn't meant to be understood. I don't know what went through the creators' heads when they did this.

And now for my biggest complaint about the game... The characters, oh GOD are they horrible. I'll break it down for you. Cloud = Mentally Unstable Weakling. Tifa = Big-breasted bar chick that could punch out Mike Tyson. Barret = Mr. T with a gun for a hand. Aeris = Sweet innocent girl. And it goes on that way for each character. Their personalities are about as deep as a rock.

And they don't speak very well either. Sometimes I honestly felt that a 15 year-old wrote the dialog for this game. A lot of it is cursing, a lot of it is slang, "Yo, git yer spikey butt back here! *@#$!" And there's another thing, 40% of the cursing is censored, 60% isn't. Why? Did they think it'd give more of an impact when it was censored? As to say, "Oh wow, if we have to censor this, it'll bring out more response from the gamer!" That's a negative. It just made me wonder why they were cursing so much.

The villain, however, is awesome. Sephiroth is the man. Call me a fanboy if you want, but he's completely destructive, full of hate, and powerful to boot. Not to mention, he has some of the most badass scenes in any game in history. So, yes, I love Sephiroth. It was one shining point that caused this game to not be a total failure in the character department. And I loved the way he manipulated things as well, even if it made things more confusing.

Overall/Explanation/Recommendation:

I honestly doubt anyone reading this would have not played the game before. In fact, many of you are probably ripping your hair out in frustration over me not giving it a perfect 10/10. But, you'll just have to live with it. Final Fantasy VII is, indeed, an over-rated game IMO.

The bottom line is that the battle system was a rehash of older games, the materia system wasn't too adventurous, some of the concepts in the game started out good but ended in failure due to making the game way too easy, and the characters completely sucked. Don't forget the story being too confusing and badly executed, and you have a slightly above-average game.

Now, I didn't even give it a 6... I don't know why, sometimes I think it deserves it. But, trust me, it'd be at the bottom of the 7 range. Probably around a 6.8. Yet, I do recommend this game. Everyone should play it, if only to see what all the hype is about. Besides, it has one of the best villains ever in it. ;)

So, go buy this game. I wouldn't play more than 30$ for it, which is probably not going to happen... I don't know why the price is jacked up so high, but things are what they are so I guess you'll have to deal with it if you want it bad enough. But, yeah, you gotta play this game sometime. Even if it's only to say you did.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 06/23/06


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