Review by lastfirstborn

"Look always to the internal flow of time which is far greater than the span of a human life..."

Welcome once again fair readers, to an unbiased-as-possible review for yet another classic title. I chose to wait, until this day, 7/7/07 to do the review, for obvious reasons. And yes, while there may be an influx of reviews for this title on this date, I simply could not resist.

This game was highly, highly anticipated. Some would say even overly hyped. It's one of the first to sell so many millions of units in both Japan and the USA during initial release. It symbolizes many things for many people. It was the first in a major franchise to make the leap in a big way over to a newer generation system of it's time. It was also the first to give us 3D in a rich, fantasy setting on a console system. Gorgeous graphics, stirring musical score, and much more. Some would say the storyline is standard fare for an RPG, I would say a needed and welcome addition to this series. I gave the title up to a Bugenhagen quote, not entirely because of what it means in game.

I come to you not a Squaresoft fanboy. Not an anime fanboy, nor a Cloud/Sephiroth fanboy. I come to you as a gamer. I will be as fair and descriptive as possible during this review.

I have gone through phases in my life where I drop out of the RPG gameplay I have so grown to love over the years and explore other territories. But the Final Fantasy franchise always seems to bring me back in. To this day, I have played every title in the series (yes, even the foreign titles). I'd like to think I understand the innerworkings behind each character, be they hero, villian or supporting cast. I'd like to think I understand what each game means in this universe. There are messages to be found, some hidden, some blatantly obvious. I am here to rate this game for what it was, and what it still is. If you have never played this title before, perhaps this review will help shed some light on the undertaking at hand. If you have played it before, read on anyway, and hopefully you'll agree with my points and ratings!

Graphics - Here, and now, the graphics are quite bad (especially on some of the map character models), beacause this is the year 2007. But at the time, I fell in love with the gorgeously rendered backgrounds and the quirky but cool designs for the map screen characters. In battle, of course, they look a bit more realistic and polished, and ooze cool factor. As I said, the maps themselves make the game, as they should. From gritty urban settings in an industrial, future wasteland, to wonderful, lush forests and frigidly cold icelands, even to underwater segements and scorching desert, this game visits all the locales you'd expect from a Final Fantasy title. And for the first time ever (of this period) in the series, we see lush, 3D detail! It's hard to go wrong here, as not only are the renders great, the detail is lovingly crafted in and you can really see it. The opening power plant holds great nostalgia for me and many others. Back to the characters, the battle animations and general movement is all, for the most part, spot on in a Fantasy world setting. The magic attacks are beautiful and flash, the summons (while a bit tedious in some spots) are long and well drawn, the battle clatter and hustle is all there. Item uses have their own unique look and flavor, just like in the previous, 2D titles. Bosses are gloriously fitting to their surroundings, and can be small or large, as all the enemy types are. This game, to this day actually, does not dissapoint me in this respect.

Sound - Ah yes, a staple, a foundation, and so much more to the RPG world crafted by the animators. This series has never dissapointed, and to this day still does not! The music is very, VERY well composed and played out. The sound quality is high by any standards as well. What else can I say? The soundtrack is actually one worth hunting down and purchasing. The music is memorable, stirring, and even the repeated bits (battle etc) never get too old or worn out before we get to see/hear something new. Considering the time the game was released, I am still impressed by the sound effects and great musical score here. Battle sounds are what you'd expect in the series, and add unique flavor to several itmes, attacks, and encounters in general. As do the sounds in towns and cities and throughout the wilderness of the world. They all add so much. Whether you love this game or hate it, it's hard to argue with the fact that the sound is spot on and well done. Nothing get's overly repetative, a huge flaw in some RPGs found even today. The sounds and songs will stick with you from the first time you hear them, to years down the line. A classic.

Gameplay - Here, is where some may begin to differ in opinion. Many say if you've played other titles in the series, this is nothing new or groundbreaking. And if you've been a big RPG buff, that narrows it down even more so. I do agree here. BUT, that does NOT make this game bad or boring by ANY means. I prefer the esper system of past titles, and other such things from RPGs to what's found here. BUT, this game still shines in the gameplay department. You see, they had to build us a title that was both good to fans, and easily accesible to the new players of the Playstation generation. It's both easy to play and hard to master, taking over and up to sometimes ninety HOURS of gameplay to fully control and understand. That doesn't mean it can't be beaten in around fifty hours. Some claim to have done it in less. But, my point is, you WILL find a good chunk of gameplay here if you like RPGs. Basically, a blurb of a single character wanders the beautiful maps. You climb things, jump things, navigate corridors and wide open spaces until you reach a goal on your map, be it a town, boss, or an item you need. While in this map wandering segments, you will be randomly (invisibly) attacked, and you enter a battle mode screen. From here, you can see all your characters in the current party group, and can choose to use regular attacks, items you have found over your quest, or magics of largely varying type. You can also opt to defend or flee this battle. When you reach a boss, the same things occur, but obviously the battle lasts much longer, as the creature or being you face is much more powerful than the random creatures you've encountered in this place. Everyone battles until one side is completely wiped out, dead. That's over simplifying things a bit, but it gives you the basic rundown of what RPGs are. In between these map segments and fights, you will be progressing the story in other places, maps usually with no combat. You can fully explore these places too, and find items, new allies for battle, and TONS of conversation. You can do favors for people and search about, or just take in a city. You also progress plot in places like this sometimes, where you see flashback scenes or have long talks with your group or the locals in a place. That usually sets you up on where to go next and it's back to adventuring and fighting some more. Again, that's VERY simple, but one way to look at the overall gameplay. Down to that, the battles are good, very good. You equip orbs called Materia to your characters clothing and weapons. There is limited space so you need a balanced team. It can help you learn to use healing magic, attacking magic, buffing and debuffing magic, along with loads of other things like learning enemy attack skill magic and using giagantic myth creatures in summons to fight for you. You also need to aquire and equip weapons, armor and find other items to help in battle. You can burned, poisoned, etc in battle, and can find items and magics to cure this. You can also do such things to your foes. The game is very wide open in terms of regions and creatures and fighting. I could spend hours typing out everything, but I think you have the very basic rundown for now. There are also loads of minigames and arcade game-like things to participate in. Some progress storyline, some are for items and materia. ALL are great fun. Again, easy to pick up and enjoy, hard to master and gain the best items. Many are memorization games, or arcade racing type games, but you'll also find tons of simulation type games and a great, GIANT theme park you visit in one part of the game with a myriad of carnival type games. That's just one of the many suprises found in this title. Enjoy!

Story - Ah yes, the meat of any good RPG, most will tell you. I'm not one to disagree here either. This game, like many in the series, has a flowing, LONG plotline played out over three discs and several hours. Now, the length of it is actually nothing new to Square (now Square-Enix). That being said, some of you may find the plotline epic. To be 100% honest, it's not so deep that it's impossible to grasp. It just seems very, very deep and involved if you don't play for long periods of time and then come back. If you actually sit down over a weekend when you don't have any obligations, and try to bite through the game fairly quickly, you'll find the plot is actually a little cliched, and very easy to follow. Again, that does NOT make this a bad storyline. This game has a WONDERFUL story, woven over several locations and through the hearts and minds of several strong characters. It focuses on our main man Cloud (you'll start as him and play 95% of the game as him). You'll find he's more than meets the eye, or is he lesser? That's what the game is mostly about, his past, his present, and what his future may hold. The story is also brilliantly told through his supporting cast, as they all interact with him and things unravel more and more. They will bring out many traits in his ever deepening and twisting personality, and there are a few plot twists here and there that will genuniely please and suprise. It's all about who WE are as people, in many ways. It also follows a standard RPG plot consisting of "we're a group of underdog heroes fighting a big evil, and then we discover a MASSIVE evil and have to save the world!". Again, I'm not downplaying this, and there is alot more complexity here than you'd think upon first glance. Like I said too, there are multiple stories and plot points interwoven throughout that main, almost generic storyline. Plus, EVERY character, even the supporting cast, for the most part, just oozes cool. Everything is really well done and easy to enjoy. You'll find almost all the characters likable in this game, and you will likely LOVE the main cast of heroes and villians. The charisma found here in this writing and these characters is definately part of what put this title on the map really. If you like RPGs, anime, or just a fun old tale spun new again, you will greatly enjoy this gem. I could go on much, much more, but I don't want to spoil it for you!

Overall, and in closing, I gotta say this is a premium title. It's got TONS of replayability. Great music and sound. Very good, memorable graphics (for it's time). And lovable, relatable, very cool characters throughout. There are tons of memorable moments in this title, and this game is just screaming CLASSIC! You really won't go wrong with it unless you just have absolute distaste for RPGs in general. You can still find all it's discs and it's guide in some places for very cheap. Of course, in other places around town or online you may find people are selling it as a collectable, and therefore hundreds of dollars! I do recommend you pick it up and would say it's worth sixty or seventy bucks still. If you find it cheaper than that, you got a deal! It represents many things to many people, both it's creation and it's exectuion (via gameplay, spin off titles, and it's movie!). This is not just a game, it is an overall experience, after you research it's history in the making. Enjoy, this is a gem for all time!!!

~lastfirstborn


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/09/07


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