Review by DBehemoth

"A good game but a disappointing RPG"

FF7 has to be the most hyped game out there, with Internet speculation raging far before the official release. It is understandable, then, that I expected (nay, DEMANDED) the game to live up to all the babble (especially since some of it came right from Square itself.) After playing through a good portion of the game (CDs 1 and 2) and watching roommates complete CD 3, I came to the following conclusion. As a loosely intertwined series of mini-games, plot hooks and level building opportunities, FF7 fits the bill. As an RPG, it falls far short of my expectations.

Sensory Elements:

TV commercials for FF7 hyped FMV as the game's selling point, and they hit the mark. The FMV is absolutely beautiful; I found myself wishing that the cut scenes would never end. The rest of the game is a letdown graphically; the transition from pure beauty to polygonal nonsense is outright painful. As for the music, it's my guess that good ol' Nobuo Uematsu had only a week or so in which to compose the entire soundtrack. With the exception of a few good tunes, it consists largely of repetitive clinkers (with the added downfall of the key RPG tracks, i.e. the overworld, vehicle and battle music, being the worst of all.)

Theme:

FF7 falls back on quite possibly the biggest cop-out theme ever: chase a villain, who is powerful only by virtue of the game having said so and who receives almost no logical character development, across the world. Barret's constant references to "this train we're on" always made me laugh sadly, since the plot is really little more than a linear track which conveniently includes all major cities, temples, etc., with one (and only one) side quest for each character. In a way, it's only a tool to link mini-games, most of which are fun but some of which seem to be in there just for the sake of distracting the "my first RPG" crowd a moment longer (Mog House, the CPR scene, staying warm by repeatedly hitting a button...)

The characters of FF7 are particularly disappointing. Before the game came out, most FF7 sites had identical blurbs about each based on the info Square had carefully chosen to dispense. Example: Cloud was portrayed as an uncaring soldier with a hazy past, Cid as a foul-mouthed engineer, etc.. Unfortunately, none of the characters progressed past these descriptions in the game; while there were volumes of "character interaction," there was little development. Nobody had more than one or two dimensions, unless you count Cloud's little freak-outs. Most characters were downright annoying (Cait Sith, Yuffie, Cid, Barret;) some could have been done a lot better (Red 13, Vincent,) and one was surprisingly airheaded for being supposedly devoutly religious and deep (Aeris.) In general, they failed to impress me either as good RPG characters or as well-designed humans.

Mechanics:

Play control is good, aside from the occasional tedious game of "find the exit." Battle is especially easy, since slapping the Attack button (or, later, casting the same two-minute summon spell which doesn't get AT ALL repetitive over time,) is all that's needed. The Materia system is fun for a while, but it robs the already bland characters of any inherent power, save for the admittedly fun Limit Breaks. Still, the idea of swapping high-powered marbles rather than learning and growing in power is ludicrous in an RPG.

Overall:

I won't say that FF7 isn't _fun._ In fact, I had a blast with it at first, just hanging out with my roommates and admiring the eye candy. Then the glitter faded away and I was left with an empty husk of an "RPG." While I didn't want to endure more extremely frequent and pointless random encounters, I did enjoy snowboarding over and over (gotta love that Crazy course!) Though the illogical Sephiroth plot didn't tempt me, it was fun to arrange all those pretty Materia in the convenient holes in the Bangles (note to armor designers: what the hell?) In all, I think the sector of the Internet which is disgruntled with this game is justified. It may be fun, but it just doesn't cut it as an RPG, and certainly not as a member of one of the greatest RPG series of all time. It represents a disturbing trend in Square's recent policy, and I do hope they'll remember the old fans of the series next time rather than trying to appeal to the whole world and succeeding.

- Dark Behemoth


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 12/16/02


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