Review by Tricky

"Not a bad game. Pretty enjoyable. But clearly overated!"

Introduction:
Final Fantasy is the best selling RPG series in the world. Never understood why, since there are RPG titles out there which are by far better than FF. So I can conclude already that FF as series is heavily overrated.

FF7 is also said to be the best of the series by many FF fans. This went so far that Wild Arms was just out of luck to appear at the same time.

Since I'm not that fond of Final Fantasy, I was never really around to play this title.
Of course when you hear the fans say nothing but good of this game, and reading reviews from magazines, you are tempted to get a lot of expectations.
A girl I knew from the internet convinced me to give this game a try.
But I didn't let my expectations depend on all the good I heard about this game.
This solely to spare myself from a big disappointment.

After having played this game a few times.... I was glad that I didn't let my expectations get the better of me. 'Cause I already suspected.

This game is one of the most overrated RPG games I've ever played in my life. As it comes to FF, that says something!

The Story:
Well, with that I begin with that part which is most overrated. The story is crap with a capital "C". That begins with the hero. Cloud has a terrible personality. For main characters in RPG games, I look for somebody I can identify myself with. There are many main characters in the world who fit that description. Virginia of Wild Arms 3, Tidus of Final Fantasy X, Ryu of Breath Of Fire III to name a few. As for Cloud. He is everything that I don't want to be. Calling him a uninterested, anti-social, selfish, arrogant dork would be far too kind. And having a bad personality for the main hero is already a strong ingredient for a bad story. The other characters are not really that much better. In fact, only two of them are characters that I actually liked are Tifa and Aeris. And that out of a party of 9 characters, is extremely little. Both girl appear to be falling in love with Cloud. And I don't see why. Both girls can get a much better guy, I believe. Aeris is a very interesting character, though. She has a mysterious personality, covered up in as well naivity as determination. That makes that you really get interested in her. Want to know her better. Alas, Aeris will leave the party halfaway the game, and with that the most interesting character is removed. (Out of a cast of 7 uninteresting characters, where Tifa is the only interesting one, you can get the picture that this does the interesting part of the story not so much good).

Well, when the terrible cast is there, you do need a very strong story to make it up for it. Alas, here to I encounter a terrible failure. The story is vague. And as the story continues only more riddles show up, never to be solved. At the end of the game, you understand even less of all of it, then when the story starts. I've played this game a few times, even with somebody with me to follow the story, so that we both could finally figure out what this story is about. We both were completely clueless at the end of the story.

Let's give a quick overview, shall we:

The game starts when you (Cloud) joins up with some kind of terrorist organinzation called AVALANCHE. You have to blow up a Mako reactor. Mako is some kind of energy sucked out of the earth, and used power all machinery in the world. This reactors are used by a cooperation called Shinra Inc. But the flaw in Mako is that Mako is required to keep the planet alife. Without Mako the planet will die, thus meaning the end of the world and all the life living on it. AVALANCHE is founded in order to stop Shinra, and Cloud was hired to assist the operation to blow up one of the Mako Reactors. I could follow the story that far. The second mission (once again to blow up a reactor) goes wrong, and Cloud gets separated from his comrades in AVALANCHE and he meets with Aeris. That's where the first riddles start. Riddles that never get their answers. Aeris is a Cetra, that is something I do understand, and she's the last living specimen of that race, but how did Aeris' race meet extinction? That is a question that never gets answered. And that is only the beginning. Some events that happen later bring Sephiroth into the story. There things get out of control completely. Sephiroth is one of the most popular villains in RPG history. I don't understand why. Calling him the absolute incarnation of insanity would be far too kind. Of course, madness is not a bad thing in villains. Galheon (Lunar, Silver Star Story) was also driven by madness and turned out the best villain ever shown in an RPG game. But Sephiroth is not good at all. He has good looks, and I guess that's what he must owe his polularity to, cause his personality is just so vague. What is Sephiroth's motivation? Why is he after the guys at Shinra. He appears to be going to destory the world, but what is the point in doing that? And also, Cloud seems to know Sephiroth from the past, but what did actually happen. You hear so many diffrent things about with happend between Cloud and Sephiroth many years ago, that in the end you don't understand what it was that really happened. There the story gets more and more complicated and vague. And when you think you understand it, new facts pop up making everything vague again. Even more vague. And in the end you just have a story line which is just a bunch of unsolved puzzles strangled in complete uncomprehendable chaos.

Pity.

Gameplay
Of course, when you buy a game, the first thing you want is an enjoyable gameplay. The gameplay of Final Fantasy VII is enjoyable, but does not offer anything really out of the ordinairy. If you want something revolutionairy, then skip this title, cause FF7 does not offer that in any single way. The game is in SquareSoft's patented "Active Time Battle" system (called ATB for short), and is really basic. It does not offer anything really in-depth things or anything. So if you have played other FF titles with the ATB system, heck if you played any basic RPG games in general, then you will get the hang of this game even before you started on it. What is unique is the materia system. It does not really alter you battle strategy though, but it does give something new. Materia is what gives you spells, skills and other abilities. It's just setting things once, and only a few adeptions during the game, that makes the puzzle. Another point is. You have 9 characters (of which one will be removed halfaway the game), of which you may only take 3 with you into a mission or a dungeon or the worldmap. Because of the materia system, you can give any characters the spells/skills you want, and no character has real outstanding advantages or disadvantages. Which basically means that when you set your main team (which was in my case Cloud, Barret and Tifa), there's no need to change the party at all during the entire game. The only exception is for a few dungeons in which taking a certain character is an obligation. Characters that are not in your party do level up so there's no need to take them, in order to keep them up to level (it does happen a little slower, but nothing serious). So that makes a party of 9 characters with only 2 interesting in personality and only 3 you will actively use. The only character that really shows something unique is Tifa, since she's a martial arts expert, allowing her to do all her limit break moves (extra powerful moves you can do when your limit bar, which increases when you hurt, reaches its maximum) in succession.

So the gameplay doesn't offer anything new. I don't like ATB, but that's personal preferrence. When it comes to gameplay FF7 is just an avarage game. The difficulty of the game, still offers a good challenge, so that makes the game still very enjoyable.

Graphics:
There was a time that games were really sicko about 3D. Everything had to be 3D while the old 2D games looked 10 times better than 3D titles. FF7 is a game that also suffers from this trend. With as a result that the graphics look absolutely horrrible. During the battles they look a bit better, but I was not really impressed though. And the 2D pictos they used to depict your party members are even worse. They really don't do the characters justice. In fact they don't even LOOK like the 3D versions of those characters. Especially Aeris has a very bad Picto. I never judge a game by its graphics, so I won't do it this time, since I live by the motto "Good looks are fine, but it's the game that matters". But since I got to note something about the graphics I have to give a fair judgement here.

Music:
The tunes are fine. Not exceptional. But they fit the game fine, and give the game, that mood as (I believe) the game creators intended. But since I hardly understand the story, it's always guessing.

Controls:
The controls are just fine. The game is basic, so that makes it easy to make the controls that way that anyone with RPG experience can pick it up, but still, the game is easy to control, the keys are completely customizable, and the menus are very well organized. I only only speak good words on that department.

Conclusion:
Now you will ask me: "Is this game a total waste of money?"

The simplest answer would be: "No!"

The game would be a total waste of money if it was completely crap, and that is not the case. Despite the fact that the story is crap, and that the gameplay does not offer anything new, the game is enjoyable and challenging. In the end that is what truely matters, doesn't it.

All I can advise you if you are to buy or rent this game, is: Don't set your expectations too high.

Many people want to ask if they should either buy or rent this game. I say buy. Final Fantasy VII is a very huge game, and will keep you off the streets for awhile. If you buy the game, you got all the time in the world to play this game without having to fear your renting duration period to expire. If you are doubting this game will be good, then I say to rent it first, and to buy it if you think the game shows promise after having tried it during the renting. But that's the advice I personally give to all RPG games, though.

So, to cut it short in one sentence. Challenging game, but don't set your expectations too high.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 12/18/06


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