Review by Computerbug8

"Sure it's overhyped. But that doesn't mean it can't be awesome."

While I always like to play a good RPG in my spare time, I've never actually been a huge fan of the Final Fantasy series. As far as I can remember, a FF game has always been around when I ran out of games to play, but I'm really not much more than a casual fan. Why am I telling you this? Well, the main reason is that since I am not a huge Final Fantasy fan, I won't be looking for ways to make this game sound better than it is and I won't purposely overlook some of the flaws. In other words, this review will be unbiased.

STORY

In Final Fantasy VII (FFVII) you start off playing as a mercenary named Cloud Strife, a former member of a group called SOLDIER. However, he has since quit and joined with a resistance group made up of people who call themselves AVALANCHE. (Don't even bother asking what those are abbreviations for) AVALANCHE is after a company called Shinra, a giant corporation that makes its business out of sucking Mako out of the earth, which is the very important life source to the planet.

As Cloud, you have to help other members of AVALANCHE as they try to stop Shinra from sucking the planet dry. But Cloud soon learns Shinra may not be the only enemy out there, and that he may have a score to settle with someone from his past...(But after ten years, you probably know who that is by now)

In addition to the plot, there are also a lot of characters you meet over the course of the game. I normally don't get attached to Final Fantasy characters that easily, although this time, it wasn't as hard. A lot of the characters show personality and some traits that set them apart from all the others, which was nice to see.

Overall, I liked the story to FFVII a lot more than I thought I would. I've heard over and over that Final Fantasy games generally tend to have the best stories, and this game is a great example why. The story was told very well and its pacing was just fine and always left me curious to want to know what happened next. Unfortunately, it's not without its problems. For instance, there are a few plot holes scattered about, and even though the game opens with a bang, it really has a pretty slow start.

But despite some of these problems, FFVII still delivers a compelling story that will almost surely keep you hooked right up until the final showdown. If you buy FFVII and expect a great story, you won't be disappointed.

GAMEPLAY

FFVII delivers very solid game play. A lot of the time you're controlling a character (usually Cloud) and guiding him through dungeons and towns and trying to get to the next plot point.

But that's not all there is. The game frequently has you take part in some mini games, like going on a motorcyle chase, a part that plays more like an RTS or trying to get Cloud to safely ski his way through a mountain. Most of the mini games are fun, but a couple of them get really boring and very tedious. Luckily, a lot of the mini games are few and far between (most of the time).

But this is an RPG, and the aspect of gameplay in an RPG that people care about most is the...

BATTLE SYSTEM

Like FF games before it, FFVII uses a turn based battle system with time bars. This means you have to wait for a time bar near your character's health meter to fill up before you can attack.

The battle system in FFVII was a fun one to play, and it has a few parts about it that set it apart from others, the main feature being Materia. Materia is part of the levelling up system. During the game you can acquire different amounts of Materia and equip it to your characters for battle. When doing so, you give them skills like magic or other abilities that can become more powerful over time. The best part about Materia is that you can equip it and unequip to anyone at almost any time during the game while still keeping the same skills.

Another part of the battles are limits. When your characters take enough damage, their limit bars fill up and you can perform a big move. This move is usually very helpful, whether it heals your fighters or deals massive damage to an enemy.

People have hailed Materia as this awesome thing, and I really don't see what's so great about it. But it works, and that's what's important. The battle system is very easy to get the hang of and it's fun to play once you figure out how everything works in it. I never got bored of battles once in this game, so there's a plus right there.

GAMEPLAY OVERALL

FFVII provides a very enjoyable experience. Most of the mini games are fun to play and are too short to seriously get on anyone's nerves. Going through locations is easy enough and the battles are fun to play. My only complaint is about the random encounters and how they always seem to happen when you don't want them. But problems aside, this game has great gameplay. While there's nothing really original or great about this game, there's something that makes it hard to put down once you pick it up, which is a good thing.

GRAPHICS

This is the hardest part of the game for me to make a decision on. The graphics can be very...unappealing one moment but the next be very good looking. Let me try to make that a bit clearer. When you're not in battle, the environments look well detailed, but the same can't be said for the character models. The characters look chibi when you're not in battle, but when you are in battle, it's a very different story. The character models are much better looking and more impressive in battle. There's more detail and they look more realistic.

During parts of the game, you see a FMV during big events, and they look great for the Playstation. While they're not as amazing today as they were then, they still look nice to look at.

Another problem I had with the graphics involved how easily some things on the screen blended in with the pre rendered environments. A lot of times during the game, you'll have to interact with part of the environment to continue (like walk across a plank or climb a pole) but these items you need to make use of blend in a bit too well with the parts you can't interact with and become very hard to detect.

But with the chibi character models and the difficulty of seeing what's part of the pre rendered environment and what isn't, the graphics to this game are pretty darn good.

SOUND

Well, there's no voice acting in this game, so I'll have to evaluate the music strictly on the music, and that probably helps the game more than hurts it, because the music in FFVII is really good. The music that plays when you're in a city or town usually fits the mood very well. There's also battle music, and while the regular battle music sounds a little plain, it's definitely memorable and fun to listen to. The other boss battle tracks sound great, up to and including the infamous song One-Winged Angel against the final boss and villain of the game. (And you know who that is by now, right? But, in case you don't...)

The music to this game is really great. It's memorable and it's great to listen to. While FFVII isn't exactly my favorite soundtrack, it's still a very good one and you'll likely be impressed by it.

LENGTH

This is one of the game's more minor problems: its length. I usually like a long RPG, but FFVII isn't really too long. It clocks in at around 35 hours without doing any of the sidequests, which is okay, but it would have been nice if the main game was a little longer.

The side quests add quite a few hours to the game, though, including some of the optional bosses that will make you want to take some time levelling up to fight.

Not much else to say about the length, so I'll just move on.

REPLAYABILTY

Not too bad here at all. This game has plenty of replay value if you feel like going back to play some of the sidequests you missed the first time around, but with the Materia as part of the levelling up system, you can also set up a few challenges for yourself such as not equipping any or not upgrading it. And I wouldn't be surprised if you just wanted to play this game again just for the sheer heck of it.

PROS

+Gripping and epic story
+Great and memorable music
+Fun battle system
+(Somehow) Addicting gameplay
+Fun mini games
+Quite a few side quests
+A lot of replay value

CONS

-Main game is not too long
-Random encounters can get annoying
-Quite a few mistranslations
-Graphics outside of battle aren't too great
-A few plotholes

CLOSING NOTES

Yes, I just mentioned a few problems like translation errors and plotholes, but as Barret would say, "You got a to go on" and learn to ignore these problems and enjoy the great experience FFVII has to offer. Even though the random encounters can get annoying, the fun battle system makes up for them. And there are a few plotholes (That I can't point out due to spoiler purposes), but these are made up for with the enticing story that left me wanting more as I went on.

Anyone who follows the gaming industry knows the huge biased towards FFVII and that it's guaranteed to appear in the top five of any "Best Games Ever" list. There's no doubt in my mind this game is over rated. People say it's the greatest game (or at least RPG) ever, that it's a legendary game and have given it all sorts of praise over the years. While it's not as over rated as Ocarina of Time (I really don't know what people see in that game), it's definitely nothing too amazing. When I was playing this, did I feel like I was playing the greatest game of all time? No. Did I feel like I was playing a legendary game that defines RPGs? No. Did it feel like I was playing a fun game that was hard to put down after a while? Yes.

You're hearing this from someone who isn't a huge Final Fantasy fan and mainly played this game to see if it was the greatest game ever like many people have said it is. Don't play this game expecting a mind blowing experience. Just pick up this game if you want a fun RPG to play and you will not be disappointed.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/11/06, Updated 07/28/08

Game Release: Final Fantasy VII (US, 09/03/97)


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