Review by naga87
"Being critically acclaimed doesn't change how ordinary this game is."
The most talked about game! Amazing as it seems, it's just another RPG that is rather dated looking past the hype. Now I've never really been a big Final Fantasy fan, and only had played a few of these games in the series. The ones I've played are not bad, but to me there not godly as some seem to hold it. My first one being FF4, but I never even got close to finishing it. I was somewhat turned off over trying to level up a character that started at Level 1, but that is an outdated reason that I hadn't revisited. I remember playing VI which I actually liked and the plot was actually pretty good, but I am not crazy about it either, nor I have any real desire to play it again to be honest. I also had played some of VIII and IX as well. If you ask me, I think IX the best out of them all. Nine have a better storyline, gameplay, characters that I really cared about much more, and I hate that I'm most likely the only one that feels that way. Now lets explain this game in-depth. Keep in mind that this is from an older gamer's perspective, so it must be the reason why I always felt this way.
I don't know if it's because I'm not playing this on the original PlayStation, but these graphics are the best out of most on the PlayStation for its time. Sure there pre-rendered, but there still realistic for the most part outside of the blocky character sprites. The other FF games surpass this but this was shocking to some for its time back when people were still stuck with their 16-bit systems. If you played this back in 97, then you would be in for something if you seen the FMVs. Overall the graphics are not great, but not terrible either.
Most of the music in the game is not all that interesting to be honest. I only liked a few themes. Jenova's boss theme, the final bosses forms, Cid's theme, the boss battle, and the last dungeon. Most of the music sounded like it was based on a MIDI engine, but this is more true for the PC version. I do admit one thing, it does a good job at setting the mood for the game, but the music like everything else is just average overall.
For a RPG that is tooted to be the best, it has a painfully average combat system that is spiced up with a certain magic concept to make it somewhat addicting. There's a limit break system to make physical attacks more powerful, and there is the materia system used for magic. What I don't like about this system is that you don't learn magic by leveling up, but you have to learn it by gaining AP. I don't mind that too much since this was in IX as well, and I had less problems with that, but if it takes forever to learn certain magic abilities even late in the game, then it's a problem. I understand that it would be cheap for some magic abilities to be mastered quickly, but why is it that If I want extra materia late in the game I have to sit for a few hours and start over on that? That means that leveling up lower magic abilities that still has some use will take some time. Forget Level 1 or 2, you want 3 late in the game. At least the game was easy for the most part, so it's not so bad, but it's still a little irritating in that aspect.
Now lets talk about the mini games right quick. I find them to be painfully bad, mainly due to the terrible controls for them. The Chocobo races were the worst, and you had to beat one of them to get through to the next part of the game. Now that really didn't make me happy. Thank goodness for that Stamina trick, and that submarine you had to control was like steering a forklift in real life for the first time which can be somewhat scary since it's sensitive to turning or moving, but in a video game, it just bad controls. Overall there is nothing else to say about the gameplay since there is nothing special or groundbreaking about it. If you played a turned based 3D RPG before, then you already had seen it all.
The score is somewhat low because of a cast of characters that seem bland for the most part, and a storyline that is nothing special. It's weird because you got people who can deeply look into these storylines and make it out to be something that is not to me. It gets the job done and it's not bad, but it's nowhere near epic as it is made out to be. Its pretty much the save the world from destruction formula, and there is no real twist to it until you realize who the real bad guy, but what is the big deal if people had spoiled this enough times before I ever got to play it?
Let's take a look at the cast of Characters. Cloud, who is a trendy spiky haired, large sword carrying fighter with some head issues that for some reason never really get to fully understand, even at the end of the game. It would make no difference to me if he was a silent protagonist since he does not have much depth in my opinion. Now there is Barrett, who is a rated R version of Mr. T without the catchphrases, so make sure the kids stay at home for this one. Tifa, who is a supporting character for Cloud, and there is nothing else I really have to say about her. Next up Aerith/Aries, who is a flower girl, but with a mysterious past, but too bad that due to numerous spoilers by these fans of this game, a major FMV involving her has lost the its shock value! If only if they understand that we all never got to play this sooner! Next up, Red XIII, who is a lion type creature, but I really didn't care much about him so I have little to say. Now, Caith Sith, a cat riding a big stuffed Mog, and a bad fortune-teller, Yuffie, a lolita looking ninja that looks like a Coffee addict due to her portrait, and Cid, a white version of Barrett for the most part. There is one more character, but that is the ones I know about.
The cast sounds like they have depth, but most of them actually don't do much, or grow much since the game tries to focus only on mainly on Cloud, Tifa, and Aries, and Barret for some time. So the rest of the characters are pretty much as flat as everyone else. Its kinda like all those playable characters in Chrono Cross in a sense, but its like getting 4-5 of them instead of around 40, but that is another story. The Characters are not even interesting overall. Most of them are forgettable and hard to relate to since there is nothing to relate to in the first place. Someone like, Cloud, for example for the most part is like a brick, and everyone else is cookie cutter enough just there to fulfill their role in the plot.
Even the main villain, who is known as Sephiroth in this game, seems to not do as much as I expected out of someone who is held in high regard. He seems to get a lot of camera time during disc 1 and the early part of disc 2 at least. The last time you meet him, don't expect any dialogue or anything from this guy. I pretty much don't see why he is debated to be one of the best villains ever considering the fact that he is like just like a typical antagonist to me. I guess I missed something, but whatever it was it was not important enough for me to notice anyway. Maybe its his coat, long sword, and the fact that he looks like a badass, but in reality, he is not really someone like that. He may be a little sadistic, but that is it, or it could be the fact that he has a move that has the longest attack animation I have ever seen in my 20+ years of gaming. Who knows? To sum it up, basic storyline for a RPG, basic set of characters, mysterious main villain that does not do anything too major, except two things, nothing really truly special as I said earlier!
It's an alright game, but hype can ruin this game for those that can be impatient. The side quests and hidden abilities and magic will have you coming back for more if you care to do them, and the game near the end of disc 1 really starts to get remotely interesting. It's an alright RPG, but it's not in my top 5, hell, it's not even in my top 20 that is for sure, and I had not even touched this game since I finished it once, and maybe forever. I had not played many RPGs, but I find Skies of Arcadia (including the Legends version) be the best RPG I played. Maybe Grandia II coming in 2nd, but mainly because it was much shorter. I enjoyed the storyline and gameplay 5x better in both games than this one. I think the problem here is that this was one of those few games back then that did a few new things like interactive FMVs in a RPG, and the fact that this game had an epic feel to it that gets people to think that this is the #1 game on the PSX. I think it's just nostalgia that is making everyone think that this is still the best despite a large number of RPGs that came after this being better than this short blur. I honestly don't even see what is the big deal with the game looking past that?
I still think that Final Fantasy IX was better than this anyway, but it's not the best ever though, so don't get that twisted. Now that game is worth talking about more! I know it has a following too, but I hardly see anyone make any mentions of this game anywhere I go for some reason, but I don't really care since once something goes mainstream, it tends to be in danger of being overpraised (like what is happening to certain games people negated and ridiculed in the past in the retro community) for what it actually is, so I guess it's not really a bad thing since that means there will never be any negative backlash caused by such a scenario.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 12/18/08, Updated 04/07/14
Game Release: Final Fantasy VII (US, 09/03/97)
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