Review by gmo7897

"More than 13 years later, Final Fantasy VII is still talked about as one of the best ever."

If you would have told me 14 or 15 years ago that there would be one single game that people still talk about and still play on a regular basis, I would have told you that you were crazy. However, Final Fantasy VII has become that game.

Most games come and go with time, but this game has withstood the tests of time and has taken its place in gaming history. From the moment the opening scene plays until the final credit rolls, you will be captivated by an amazing story and intriguing game play that will keep you driving toward the goal.

Story:

Final Fantasy VII really set the stage for gamers to be more engrossed in the story than most other games that were played at that time. There are times when you'll find yourself laughing out loud at a comment or action of one of the characters, and there are times where you'll feel the need to cry. There are moments of victory and of defeat. There are times when you'll find yourself questioning what's going on, and it may take hours of game play before you realize exactly what had happened.

As soon as the opening cinematic finishes, you're thrust into the action, and the story begins. The main story focuses on Cloud. Cloud is a mercenary for hire who used to belong to a top-notch military outfit known as SOLDIER. SOLDIER is the best of the best from the military run by a powerful corporation called The ShinRa Electric Company.

After a brief fight against a couple of ShinRa grunts, Cloud joins the other members of a group called AVALANCHE. AVALANCHE has taken it upon themselves to stop ShinRa from their plans of draining the planet of an energy source called Mako, which makes up the life-blood of the planet. The primary goal of AVALANCHE is to try and save the planet, which is a good idea.

Once you finish your first mission, you'll be re-united with some friends, and the game will start to allow you the freedom to explore some other areas around Midgar - the city where ShinRa is located.

After a few hours of play, you'll begin to explore more of the world and no longer be constricted to a linear story line. There are many side quests and side missions to undertake.

The rest of the game, the focus will primarily follow Cloud as he finds himself. The rest of the cast tries to help Cloud in any way they can.

There are also two optional characters who add their own missions to the game.

Story rating:

You'll laugh; you'll cry. There are unexpected surprises throughout the game. It'll keep you on your toes. It's a well-told story that can compete with anything produced before or since.

It's easy to give this a 10/10

Game play:

Another area where Squaresoft put their best foot forward. From easy-to-understand commands and a customizable controller setup to the ground-breaking materia system, the game play makes it easy to navigate the game.

Getting around is easy. The game offers the option of having markers placed on the screen to make it easier to find your way if you desire it. Colored triangles can light the way for exits and ladders, and a white finger can tell you exactly where your character is at all times. Once you leave Midgar, you'll have the ability to change the camera from the old-fashioned over-head view to the newer over-the-shoulder type view.

You will gain access of up to nine characters during the game (if you grab the two optional characters), and at any time during the game, you'll be able to use three of them.

The Materia System:

As the player, you're introduced to the materia system fairly early in the game. Materia are small balls with magic properties that you assign to slots in your weapon and armor.

There are five types of materia, and each one has its purpose for your journey. Magic and summon materia allows the wearer to cast different types of magic or summon creatures to aid you in battle. Support materia links to other materia to provide different combinations of attacks and defenses. Independent materia works alone to improve your stats, and command materia adds commands to your attack screen.

As you progress through the story, more materia will be opened up for you, and you'll be able to customize each character in your party to have what ever type of party you want - from a nearly invincible powerhouse team to a magic-wielding team of mages.

The system is explained in great detail at different points in the game, and a little trial-and-error will help you design the patterns you want. It's easy to understand and a lot of fun to play with.

Battle:

If I had one complaint about the game, it would be with the amount of battles you face. There are times where it seems like you're facing a battle every five to ten steps. It gets a little better when you gain access to the Enemy Away materia which lowers your encounter rate, but it still seems a little tedious at times. At least you can run away if you want most of the time.

The overall battle experience is fairly simple to understand. At the beginning of the game, you'll only have a few options from which to choose, but you'll gain more options as you progress. And, you'll be able to customize each character's battle menu.

Advancement:

It would be hard to imagine a role-playing game without some form of advancement, and Final Fantasy VII is no different. However, in this game, there are two types of advancement or growth, personal growth and materia growth.

After every battle, you'll be rewarded for your valor with experience points and ability points. Experience points are given directly to your characters who survived the battle, and ability points are distributed to the materia that the active party members have equipped. As your characters gain experience and levels, they'll become stronger. As the materia gains ability points, new spells and options will open up to the character.

Gameplay rating:

It's easy to get around, and there's plenty of room for customization of your characters with the materia system. Easy game to play and enjoy. I can only complain about the number of battles fought. If that were not so high, this would have been the perfect gaming experience.

A very high 9/10

Music:

Nothing sets the mood of a game like music, and the mood set by the music of this game is always right on target. For long-time fans of the Final Fantasy series, the game opens with the familiar "Crystal Theme" that has been a mainstay of the series since the first game.

There are over 90 tracks on the original soundtrack of this game. Each song representative of the area through which you're traveling through at the time it plays. If you're traveling through the slums of town, the music will make you feel like you're in the slums. When you find yourself in a church, the music makes it feel like a church.

The main theme of the game is over seven minutes long, so even though you'll hear it many times over, it won't get old because of the length of time it takes to cycle through it. The battle theme sets the tone of battle nicely.

Finally, there's the key songs that finish the game - Birth of a God and One-Winged Angel (complete with Latin lyrics). This one-two combination of songs provides the strongest final-boss combination of music in any game I've ever played.

A majority of the music (exception being One-Winged Angel is done with MIDI sound, which would be my only complaint is any.

Music rating:

Beautiful score to this game. Seriously among the best soundtrack of any game. A wide variety of music that sets the mood, no matter where you are. A fantastic selection of music.

Easy 10/10

Graphics:

This may be where the game lacks a little luster. Although the graphics were good for the time, they weren't the best, and they definitely have not aged well.

The opening scene shows a pretty, brown-haired girl with blue eyes looking at something on a wall. This single scene is the most memorable for me because it was the first time I had ever seen CGI graphics like these. Everything seemed to flow, and the characters were smooth. It was a beautiful way to open the game as it really caught my attention.

The game uses several character models for the game. There are the field models that are used in towns, villages, dungeons and on the world map. There are battle models, which, obviously, are used in battle. These are a little higher quality than the field models. Finally, the cut scene models are used during the CGI cut scenes that occur throughout the game. They are the highest quality and are actually quite good.

The field characters are a little blocky, and their feet often look like their wearing some type of clown shoes. None of the characters have mouths. While this is kind of nitpicking, it is noticeable, especially in the rare instance that there is a scene when the characters talk, the camera is focuses on their face, and there's no movement.

Final Fantasy VII was one of the first games to use pre-rendered backgrounds, and it makes for smooth transitions and movement around the world and different maps.

Graphics rating:

They weren't the best for the day, but they were definitely in the top tier when this game came out. The CGI scenes still look good today, but huge feet and no mouths is kind of laughable. Wouldn't score well today, but for the time, it was well done.

8/10

Playtime/Replayability:

First time you play through this game, expect it to take about 40-50 hours. There's a lot of story to follow and plenty of exploration to keep you busy. The game is also not extremely difficult, so you should never feel so overwhelmed that you would want to quit. However, even after your first play through, you can go back and play it again.

With the number of side quests the game offers and the amount of time they can take, there's plenty to keep you busy for several times through the game. Completing all of the side quests involved with the game will take 60 hours or more to finish, but the game plays so well, you won't notice it.

There are also a number of challenges that other gamers have designed to continue adding to the replay value. With the materia system, it's easy to "handicap" yourself to make the game harder.

Playtime/Replayability rating:

Even ten years after my first play through (I was a little late to the party), I still put this in my system from time to time and give it another run through. I have even downloaded it to my PSP from the PlayStation Network just so I could take it with me anywhere. First-timers should finish a game in about 50 hours, but there's so much more to do, you can easily put over 100 hours into the game without noticing. Go back and challenge yourself and enjoy the story again and again.

10/10

Final Thoughts:

An amazing game overall. The story is riveting, and the game play is simply amazing. This game still rivals most of the games released today. The graphics were great for the day, but there are some minor flaws with them. It's easy to challenge yourself and go back and play it multiple times. If you're a fan of role-playing games and can put up with less-than-modern graphics, this is definitely a game you should check out.

Overall Rating: 9/10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/08/10

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


Would you recommend this Review? Yes No You must register to leave a comment.
Submit Recommendation

Got Your Own Opinion?

You can submit your own review for this game using our Review Submission Form.