Review by King Broccoli

"A rather good game"

There have been a lot of games released for all kinds of consoles over the years, one of them is Final Fantasy VII, a lot of them aren't, the one thing that makes FF7 so noteworthy is that it could very well be the GREATEST GAME OF ALL TIME! This may sound like a rather large and controversial call on my behalf, but there really is nothing on Earth like it, a person must try it for themselves before they can realise how compelling gaming can actually be. All of us Playstation owners should be thanking the heavens that ours was the lucky one that was granted the game, you buy the game you add up to one-hundred (and far more) hours of gameplay to the lifespan of your console.

Now some of you must be thinking ''Gee King Broccoli, how many times did Yuffie have to sleep with you to get you to write such a flattering opening?'' but I'm sure it would have remained unchanged even without those delightful two weeks. For you see Final Fantasy 7 is a masterpiece in every way, from the heart-pounding, adrenaline-pumping opening to the breathtaking (although confusing) closing video. Packed into these three CD's were some of the coolest and most lovable characters, intriguing storylines, a lovely soundtrack and a plethora of minigames. I just wish I could go back and play it again for the first time...

STORY
Yes, there is a story in this game, and it's not bad at all. It appears that there are three teams in this game. The nastier people are the Shinya, an evil corporation mining the world into oblivion, and Sephiroth, the strongest fighter the world has seen and an all-round evil dude. Playing for the good team is Avalanche, an unlikely bunch of characters each with different motives and tainted pasts. The story starts off small and slowly gathers momentum, more characters are unearthed, sub-plots developed until the fate of the world is suddenly resting on the shoulders of yourself, relying on every action you make! Brilliant stuff, should have been made into a book. :D

GAMEPLAY
Of course any true gamer will tell you that a pretty game doesn't mean jack if the gameplay has a level of enjoyment the equivelant of being smacked in the forehead with a wet fish. So you all better be thankful that the gameplay of Final Fantasy VII is freaking magnificent! You've got the nice story telling moments coupled with the exciting battles and it's very fine, but when you throw in an amazing collection of mini-games then you're in for an enormous treat. The controls are easy enough to understans, D-Pad moves you, and the action buttons select all kinds of things for you. The only downside is having to hold down the X button to run, to this day I still haven't seen anybody walk their way through the whole game!

Of course the vast majority of the battling is done via that controversial random method, but I'd have to say that the occurences in which you run into monsters are spaced out wide enough, and only under extreme circumstances should a perosn show disdain for this system. Despite all of the battles having the same basic premise there are a few slight variations, there are naturally different numbers of enemies you could encounter, and the way that they're positioned does add a bit of variety to the mixture. They could be facing the wrong way, YOU could be facing the wrong, way, you may even be fenced in by one on either side. This might not excite some people, but after you've been through a thousand or so battles you'll be glad to see something different now and again!

To bring a sort of a connection between the story and the battling a ''Materia'' system has been utilised. The materia is something that comes out of the planet, and it can be used quite effectively to bolster a fighting line-up. Some materia may contain an attacking element (fire, ice, water or lightening are good examples), an ability that your character during a battle (steal and other assorted things), or maybe even a SUMMON! These are really big gods that appear out of nowhere to beat the bejeezus out of your opponent, and they look magnificent. You should all be familiar with MP, so I'll just say that the more powerful spells and such take up more of your precious MP.

The levelling up in this game is superb, if you like you can spend hours battling to raise your character, but that's never as much fun! By progressing at the right pace and doing a more rational amount of battling you'll always find yourself in challenging fights. No fight is ever really impossible if you use some nice strategies, and that makes all of this fighting a lot more bearable.

But back onto the topic of materia, seeing as how it plays such a big part of the game. All of the weapons and armor in the game (except for that snazzy baseball bat with the nails in it!) will have slots in them. You can choose which orbs of materia you'd like to put in them, sadly the selected orbs are the only ones that can be used during battle, but you should be able to fit in everything you like! There are also things such as ''linked-slots'' if you put the right kinds of materia in here then they'll work in conjunction with each other. You can find some very handy combinations if you lok hard enough, and it adds some fine depth to pretty much everything mentioned above.

You will meet quite a few controllable characters along the way, and while it sounds like a pain to keep them all up on decent levels everything has actually been made quite simple. If a certain character isn't actually in your current party, they will still earn a fraction of the EXP you get. You can switch from character to character without too many worries about being easily overwhelmed by the next boss!

Now the gameplay of an RPG isn't all about fighting weird looking things, so it would be wise to delve into other areas. In quite a few games out there you have a lot of people whinging in their respective boards ''I've been stuck for 29 years trying to find the single grey pixel on tho world map''. Thankfully there aren't too many areas in FF7 that suffer from this same curse, all your tasks can be completed in a respectable order without too much fuss. You should usually have a general idea of where to go and what to do next without being babied from one place to another. Granted, you will spend a few aggravating hours scouring the map for the next tricky location, but it all fades into significance when one considers the length and depth of the entire game.

Something else that adds enormous depth and a ridiculous amount of hours to the length of the game are all the mini-games you can try out. Perhaps you're interested in an arcade game of snowboarding, or maybe you're more of a lifestyle channel kind of guy and just want to raie some chocobos, Final Fantasy 7 gives you the chance to forget about the seriousness of the task at hand and just relax a while. You could find yourself at the third CD, you should be embarking upon the final scenes of the game, but of course you'd miss out on the 10 - 20 other little things you hadn't seen or done yet! Rushing through the game and getting a quick time may impress a few people, but it's guaranteed that you'll miss a heck of a lot of what thegame has to offer!

Overall, the gameplay of Final Fantasy 7 is sheer brilliance. The battling is fun to engage in, progressing through the game never feels like a chore, and you've got a ridiculous number of side-quests to participate in. If this isn't enough for a person then I doubt anything on this planet could satisfy their needs. The gameplay displayed here is pretty much poetry in motion, it's worth savouring every moment of the game, you'll be hard-pressed to find a flat spot!

GRAPHICS
It is just too hard to fault the graphics; super-deformed characters sound like something out of a $2 dollar freak show, but you just can't help falling in love with this bunch of misfits that you get to control. The characters have been given very thin limbs, big round hands and feet, and some oddly shaped heads with some of the most outrageous haristyles you're ever likely to see. It's a very cutesy look, so it can seem very strange when a misfit such as Barrett starts swearing his head off and throwing a hissy fit, it's got the same visual impact of Big Bird from Sesame Street doing striptease! They all look good enough just during the normal moments during the game but look even prettier when thrown into battle, the enemies that they face here are all imaginative and at times the bizarrely shaped creatures you square off against can just be downright funny. The clothing of all the characters is pretty cool, you'll learn to screw up your face in disgust at the sight of a Shinya military uniform or go ''Oooooooohhhhhhh'' whenever you see the pretty little pink number that Aeris is wearing. The characters aren't modelled as realistically as a lot of the others out there, but it's hard to disagree with their visual style.

Of course it is an enormous game, and somehow the surroundings of the characters manage to keep a high standard for the whole game. You'll get to visit some very panoramic scenes, you might even get to see some that are less than panoramic, but it doesn't matter, they all look superb. The world of FF7 is a big place, and you'll get to experience all kinds of environments. Snowy plains, deserts and grassy fields are all there in abundance, and the star wears his sleeveless shirt through all of them, he must get pretty cold.... So anyway, there are high levels of detail in all of it, nothing you could possibly think of has been kept out of these expansive worlds! Moving straight from the beauty of nature to the cold, harsh reality of a more urban scene can seem a little bit strange, but the transitions are done seamlessly enough. These are top backgrounds indeed.

There are more special effects in this game than can be counted on a ridiculous amount of hands, it's a very flashy game, particularly during the battles. All those special effects are very pretty and won't get boring. There's a smattering of FMV throughout the game, and it all looks very nice. The use of audio in them as well makes them very emotional pieces, high production values are all over the place! The eye candy in this game is enough to make it look a bit more exciting than a person might first think it is, after viewing all of those lovely, but not neccessarily original scenes (of course there's the fair share of ridiculously original scenes, so don't whinge at me!).

Despite the game lasting for so long these are graphics that you will never EVER get sick of. If a visual package can do that then it must be very damn good. A lot of eye candy here along with quaint little characters and beautiful scenery. If you want any more from the graphics of a game then you're being very silly, it would be inane to give these graphics anything other than a ten!

SOUND
To be honest, I haven't played too many RPG's at all, so I don't know the accepted standards for musical scores. All I know is that this one is very, very good and is extremely listenable. Most new places you come across will have a different song, and a lot of them are very memorable. You could be browsing through that new-fangled ''internet'' and come across a website that plays a little midi from the game, and all of a sudden you'll remember that section in the game and instantly have a strong urge to go back and play it again! The battle theme is greatness personified, capturing the fast paced action of a fight. None of them are too repetitive, although a few of the tracks do come a bit close, overall they're just a great bunch of background tunes to play to!

There's a nice collection of sound effects in the game, they're very nice sounding and they fit the accompanying action nicely. Moving around the menus is a treat when you've got bouncy little sounds marking your every move, and the battles are just a joy to be in when you've got the enormous collection of effects to go with attacks and the like. It's not really hard to get sound effects right, but they've got these sound effects so right it isn't funny! They blend very well with the background music, and have a nice ambience of their own. Darn it, I think I'm almost running out of positive words to use in the review already! *Smacks Thesaurus*

Overall, the audio section is masterful and fits in perfectly with the graphical scenes. They combine to make a powerhouse design, one of the best (if not the absolute top) looking and sounding games on the Playstation. If you thought the music from Spice World was good, then prepare to be absolutely blown away!

THE CHARACTERS
With the good amount of characters that have been included in the game there was always going to be one or two that were a bit more shallow than the others. However for the most part the characters that you get to see and control are developed very well. All of them have from an interesting background, different motives and very different appearances. Each of the main characters will usually have an area in the game that will focus more on them, giving people a nice view of their past and personalities, and how this hourney is changing them. It really is quite easy to fall in love with these characters!

LIFESPAN
Awwwww, come on! This section doesn't really need explaining does it? Your first trek through the game may last anywhere from 60 - 120 hours, depending on what you do and how much you do of it. But it will prove to be not nearly enough, you'll play through the game a second and maybe even a third time! It won't quite be the same as that magical first time, but it will still prove to be immensely satisfying. Final Fantasy 7 is perhaps the only game that could outlast the lifespan of your console, if that isn't convincing enough for you then two burly men with steel poles are on their way to visit you, you'll soon come around!

FUN FACTOR
Yes that's right, Final Fantasy 7 is a very (times infinite!) fun game to play. It will toy with every emotion you could possibly have, and even some that never existed before. You might laugh at Barretts outrageous personality and erratic gesticulating, and mere hours down the track choke back some tears at the touching scene of Aeris' demise. There are no words (and if there are they're too big for little ol' me to know) that can describe the way that FF7 can make a person feel. Poignant yet playful, there is nothing on earth that is like it! You will also got a lot of satisfaction from completing the game, you'll probably sit there after the credits have been and gone, with a faraway look on your eyes, just touching on those great gaming moments that have passed. Ewwwww....so much melodrama in one paragraph!

CHALLENGE
You'll get the perfect challenge from this game, as long as you don't majorly screw up your level gaining. Even the newest of newbies should be able to handle the start, and there's a great learning curve from there on. A person can become quickly accustomed to the way the whole game works, and it makes the tougher bits that much more palatable! There are some battles out there that will be a lot harder than others, but that's all part of the game. You may see the GAME OVER screen numerous times during your time playing the game, but at no stage does your situation ever appear to be completely hopeless! At tiems a person could feel overwhelemed by the enormity of the tasks at hand, but persistence is the key. Just keep battling through the game and there's nothing imaginable that can halt you completely!

THE FINAL PARAGRAPHS
Final Fantasy 7 was the first game in the series to appear on a machine with more than 16-Bit hardware. This gave it the potential to have a lot more substance, things like FMV's, stunning graphics and CD quality music are all things that are superior to the earlier games in the series. Whilst some other people may prefer the older games in this franchise, and they are very nice games, I would have to give my big rubber stamp of approval to this instalment!

This will probably ne the only game that will get perfect 10's in every single category from myself, but Final Fantasy 7 deserves every word or digit of praise that it's given. I have never played a game before this one, and will probably never play one in the future, that will even come close to the sheer brilliance that this game exudes. So much magic packed into those three little CD's, it's hard to believe that one lone title could possess so many positive elements. I'm afraid to write anything else good about it at all, for fear of repeating all of those other positive comments, just be sure of one thing, Final Fantasy 7 could very well be the pinacle of gaming right up to this very moment. If you haven't played it, you should be scolded severely, and then go out and get it. If you don't own a Playstation, it really is worth getting one for those single game. Now let us all gather around in a circle and chant the words Final Fantasy 7 to the heavens, just to let them know how much we really do appreciate it!
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GOOD POINTS
- EVERYTHING!!!!
- EVERYTHING ELSE!!!!!
- SEE THE ABOVE TWO POINTS FOR HEAVENS SAKES!!!

NOT SO GOOD POINTS
- You have got to be kidding....
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GRAPHICS - 10/10
SOUND - 10/10
GAMEPLAY - 10/10
LIFESPAN - 10/10
FUN FACTOR - 10/10
CHALLENGE - 10/10
OVERALL - 10/10


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/09/01, Updated 07/07/03


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