Review by rinks361
"The Best Final Fantasy Ever"
After reading some users reviews who gave this game anything less than a 10, and all of those who rated this game 6 or less, I had to write my own review. First off, this review is unbiased unlike many of the reviews that other people have submitted. Being old enough to of had the game when it first came out in 1997, and enough common sense to know this fact, I will be reviewing this game from that point of view, not comparing it to other titles of the genre that came out after it like many reviewers have done.
First off, the combat system. It's very similar to every Final Fantasy game before it with the exception of the earlier games that did not utilize a Active Time Bar. The only difference is the jump to 3D graphics and a much more impressive game world. Even all of the Final Fantasy games after it (8 to X-2) use the same concept of ATB, selecting your action, and repeat. That's why it's called a TURN BASED RPG. Those of you that don't like those kinds of RPGs, why even rate this game or play it to begin with? You don't see me knocking sports games because 1, I do not like them and therefore 2, I do not play them! Even Final Fantasy XII uses a similar system only they implement the Gambit system and you don't have to control each party member. Back then, many lengthy RPGs didn't have the system resources to show enemies on screen. Those games that did were, period, very bland (for our real RPG addicts...ode to a game about a Knight, a baby dragon you can raise, and little combat toys you can summon in battle).
The biggest features of this game was probably the Limit Break and Materia systems. Not only did the Limit Break system add some variation to the standard "run up, hit or miss, run back" combat, it started a revolution into the flashy special moves that have been seen in later games like the Legend of Dragoon, Skies of Arcadia, Magna Carta: ToB, etc. Hitting an enemy with a 20 hit combo while shooting lightning out your weapon and flying around the screen in an alternate dimension is the ultimate way to say "Yea...I'm that bad-ass" and totally pwn your enemy. While some characters were considered useless, it was still fun to unlock all of their Limit Breaks to see what other flashy things the characters can accomplish.
As for Materia, it added a deeper character development and strategy to the game. No longer were you stuck with picking, "Ok...one white mage, a black mage, a warrior, and a thief...Hope this works better than the last party I made..." You could add Materia to any character and it not only added extra magic feats, but boosted or lowered stats accordingly. You didn't have to worry about not having a black mage that didn't learn Ice or isn't in your party before the battle and now you're getting hammered by an enemy that is only weak to Ice...and you neglected to save at that last point... Now your characters can be all that and still kick some ass. Even the summoning Materia were a nice addition, continuing the trend started by a previous Final Fantasy game of calling in a massive avatar of pure destruction upon your enemies and watching a 20 second cutscene of the slaughter take place.
The graphics: As stated before, Final Fantasy VII was the first title in the series to go fully 3D (not 3D in the sense of today's "red and blue lens" and 3D glasses with a Pixar film 3D). They were not the greatest of graphics, but by the standards of 3D visuals in (1997!) were pretty decent. While some areas could have been improved (which were in later titles, ie block hands/feet, facial features, etc). It felt like you were in a real world instead of running around some 2D map for the entire game.
Some nice additions to the graphics were the in-game flyby's of the scenery and cut scenes that made up the story. It really seems like Square was trying to show boat and say, "Look what we did!" While some obstacles were a little difficult to maneuver because it was after all, one of the first 3D RPG's out, you eventually could tell what was a ladder, what was a path, ramp, etc. It was also impressive how you could tell what could be ran underneath of (that's called visual depth); it wasn't just random 3D objects on the screen that you could run on top of in some areas but could not on others (see also Baten Kaitos Origins, tutorial area, room with the round table and beds in it).
The story: Superb! Remember, the game is of course Japanese so it has the slightly whimsical storyline and ragtag cast of characters, but FF7 put more detail into who these characters are and what they mean in relation to the player (Cloud). It has all the elements a story should have: setting, problem, resolution, twist, problem, resolution, etc. It's full of that "What happens next" mystery that will always keep you guessing. It has drama, suspense, comedy, romance, the whole nine. I would love to see what kind of story those who rated this game's story as being bad or bland think is a great story (Halo? Uh...no. Movie deal was canceled remember? Run around and shoot is not a good story line for any movie. Sorry!)
While there were many twists and turns, the game made sure you understood what was going on (the Japanese knew Americans can't catch a clue so the dialog was slightly changed and added for the US version to include extra plot points and insights). The story has many sci-fi elements in the technology, lore, and general plot. It was one of the first games I can remember that included a story line outside of "I'm a Knight, meet a King, save the Princess, visit other castles, save the kingdom, happily ever after, thee end" story lines that many RPGs are infamous for. FINALLY! An RPG that goes outside of that realm and hits a little closer to more time realistic situations. While I'm still waiting for an RPG that would take place in current times (much like Shadow Hearts was doing), Final Fantasy VII really was a breath of fresh air from the typical hack n' slash of Zelda, the Kings and Princesses of turn based games, and the nonexistent story lines of mediocre "maze" RPGs.
Sound: While the sounds are limited (due to the PS1's specs) the sound score is very nice and fits the scenery and situation very well. While it would be nice to get a voice over RPG, remember this was during a time when voice over was hardly ever used, if at all, in games. Every RPG that came out during that time, and the consoles in years before, you had to READ to get the story. Sorry if many of you are illiterate, but read a book some time! (Only then you might complain there are no pictures...)
Overall: Final Fantasy VII was innovative in many ways. It introduced new systems as every game had done since the first game. Presented new graphical ideas. Ventured into a new realm of story telling. It presented users with a main character who HAD character and strayed away from the silent, unnamed hero of older games. And finally, got players to truly care about the people they traveled with (I know many of us cried when Aeris died!). If anything, this game deserves a remake along side the remakes of Final Fantasy 1 through 6 for GBA, DS, PS1/2, and PSP.
While the game might not warm the hearts of those who are just now playing it for the first time on their PS3 through PS Store, it is still a solid gem of a game and madly popular among the real TRUE RPG gamers.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/24/09
Game Release: Final Fantasy VII (US, 09/03/97)
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