Review by NecroDave
"FF7: An Objective Review"
I'll put a quick disclaimer in here: I love Final Fantasy VII. It was the first game I bought for my PS1, I bought it on my birthday, lots of sentimental value. That said, it is not the best RPG ever made. However, it is also not in any way bad. It was groundbreaking when it was released, but if you look at it objectively, many RPGs have told a better story, had more memorable characters, or had better graphics, or a more engaging battle system.
Story - 6/10: With any good RPG, you start with a good story. FF7 has a decent one, but it takes quite a bit of time to get started. I'll admit, when the game first started, I got the impression that the Shinra Corporation was going to be the primary antagonist. As it played out, though, they become a thorn in your side in a story that attempts to be much more sweeping in scale. However, while initially presented in a capable manner, the story ends up having problems in the form of slow development. By the time you get to anything profound, you may find yourself questioning whether or not you want to continue playing. I also find fault in the ending, which I feel was rushed.
Characters - 6/10: In an RPGs characters are the driving force behind the story. If the player doesn't care about the characters, then the player will not care about the story. Over the course of the game, only a few of your party members get any real attention. Cloud gets the brunt of it, naturally, since he's the main character. The ill-fated Aeris also sees a lot of development, as does Red XIII. The other characters seem to have maybe one brief chapter of the game to flesh out their motives and history, and that's it. What you're left with is a cast that maybe only half of whom you actually give a damn about. Aeris sees more development in the first disk of the game than Barret or Cid do for the entire duration. On a more personal note, I can't stand Yuffie Kisaragi, and I think this game would be better off without her.
Gameplay - 5/10: Hard to score high here. FF7 uses the same skill menus and ATB system present in most RPGs before it's release. What does garner some praise is the Materia system. This system of buying crystal orbs that contain knowledge of the planet, and then socketing them into your armor and weapons to call on elemental forces or perform specialized actions is a welcome form of customization. It also is not without risks. Loading a character up with spell Materia makes them magically strong, but physically weak, so a balanced medium is required. Also, certain characters take to a caster role better than others. I enjoyed the Materia system for the slight tactical edge it gave to prepping your party for battle, while not being too grandiose.
Graphics - 5/10: The graphics in this game are neither bad, nor breathtaking. The majority of the game is your character's polygonal sprite on a pre-rendered background. The does make the sprites easier to see, but it also detracts from the impact of the body language the characters use. The CGs are very well done, but are few and far between, with many FMVs using a sort of enhanced version of the same polygonal sprites as opposed to CG rendering. The battle graphics are very nice, from the character and enemy models to the attack and spell effects, although it should be noted that one can step away to prepare a meal during the animations of some of the summon spells.
Overall - 6/10: I cannot and will not say that Final Fantasy VII is a bad game. It blew me away when I first bought it, and I still get it out for a playthrough every now and then. However, the game itself is somewhat overrated. What makes the game truly excellent is the world it's set in, and the expansive universe it has created over the years, with material fleshing out the characters and the backstory.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 03/22/11
Game Release: Final Fantasy VII (US, 09/07/97)
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