Review by YSF

"FFVII marks the direction that future Final Fantasy is heading."

Few years back, i wasn't ecstatic with the overall PlayStation's libary, with a lack of aplenty RPGs. However, it was one company who influenced me to buy a PlayStation, instead of a Saturn. And, that was SquareSoft. With the announcing of the release of FFVII to the PlayStation, i knew that i had to play it. And, i'm glad i make a right choice, buying a PlayStation.

The vast leaps of technology from the 16-bit to the 32-bit is what concerns everybody. FFVII does put a hint of what you can expect from the future FFs and what future SquareSoft games will be liked.

I got to say that FFVII has lived up to the hype, revoluntarising the RPG genre once again.

One of the noticeable change of FFVII is to go with prerendered backgrounds and polygonal characters over sprite-based that is onced used in the SNES. The prerendered backgrounds creates a cinematic feeling, while so, the enviroment isn't in full 3-D. For the first thing, you can't rotate the camera angles, and because in certain areas, where the camera angles are placed very far away, the characters, objects, surroundings tend to look very small. Thirdly, it allows limited space for free-roaming, unlike the traditional sprite-based that can offer.

The characters are polygonals, giving more of a deformed look. Characters, especially Cloud show a lot of gesture movements, and i guess that's what Square is aiming at-to portray a person through his actions, facial and expressions, other than dialogues alone, which traditional sprite-based is impossible to do.

While so, the facial, and the deformed look has failed to portray the characters very successfully. Nevertheless, for the first time, Square has done perfectly well, for FFVII was one of the first 32-bit games Square is making.

As of a traditional custom, FFVII has no story connections with other characters. It puts you in the role of a mercenary, named Cloud, teaming up with a group of resistance called Avalanche, aiming to stop the evil corporation, Shinra from her conspiracy of sucking up mako energy. The twist is not just this alone, with the mystery of Sephiroth, Jenova and one may wonder what is the Promised Land about? (If you haven't completed)

The music, though not much of a vast improve from the standards set by FFIV to FFVI, is excellent. The music fits the atmosphere perfectly well, from the starting mako reactor to the crater. Even the final boss theme, One Winged Angel, suits everything perfectly well. All in one, the memorable musics are bound to give you an unforgetable experiences.

One of the reasons why Square choose Sony over Nintendo, is to integrate the use of Full Motion Videos that can't be done in a cart-based system like N64. There are really some good cut-scenes like the motorcycle chase, ending etc, which more or less enhances the cinematic feeling.

While so, perhaps technology is one of the factors, FFVII has lost the 'Pure' and 'Fantasy' fun that the 16-bit RPG enjoys, heading into a direction of a movie, and more of a sci-friction story. Unlike other FFs, this is the first FF that do not have a single castle. Nevertheless, gameplay is top-notch, and everything is incredible from start to finish, and characters still possess a huge amount of in-depth.

Just like every new Final Fantasy Chapter, a new battle system is being implemented. Gone is the Esper system that is so widely familarised, and replacing it is the materia and the limit break systems.

Each weapon and armour have materia slots, and all magics, summons, commands etc are known as materia. The materia system works by inserting one of the materia to the slot. If you insert a fire materia, Cloud will be able to use fire magic. What really revoluntarised the genre is the fact that they are many linked materia slots, hence allowing for experimental purposes, creating complex materia combinations.. Breaking out of traditional battle combat is the ability to have more than four commands.

The limit break is awesome, and devastating. Each character has a gauge bar, and once being attacked the gauge bar will rise, and when it is full, you can execute limit breaks.

The flashier magics, limit breaks, that climax with the summon materias bring combat into a whole new realm.

The success for FFVII does not depend on this solely alone. For the first time, the world map is in full 3-D polygons, giving endless explorations, once you have a Gold Chocobo and the Highwind. It is not just this alone. Final Fantasy VII also has an underwater world , and now, you can submerged with a submarine. Impressive, and in short, FFVII's world map can be accessible by land, sea and air. What's more do we want?

Another interesting aspect of the game is the ability to breed chocobos. Though FFVII doesn't has a flying chocobo like FFV, the ability of a gold chocobo to be able to cross oceans, climb hills brings over a feeling of excitement.

Unlike other FFs, FFVII has mini-games aplenty like chocobo racing, snow boarding, motorcycle chase etc though some may critise that the mini-games are useless and a waste of time. Still, it adds to the challenge and besides we can bet with chocobos, during a race, why not?

Game length is long, with tons of secrets to improve replay value. What's more is the exclusive Emerald and Ruby Weapons that were added to the US version. (Excluding the International Version).

All in one, FFVII changes the fate of the PlayStation, from a RPG-fear system with countless RPG-clone. Possibly the greatest hit in 1997, Square has onced created a megahit classic title.

I just wish that the future FFs, will not be like FFVII, focusing on the mainstream of the majority, and forget about us long-time FFs fans and becoming more of a Sci-friction story and strays away from the simple, pure fantasy setting that the 16-bit FFs enjoy.

Story : 8.5/10.0
Graphics : 8.0/10.0
Concept : 9.5/10.0
FMV : 8.0/10.0
Music : 9.5/10.0
Sound : 8.5/10.0
Gameplay : 9.5/10.0
Replay : 9.5/10.0
Challenge : 9.0/10.0
Presentation : 8.0/10.0
Overall : 9.0/10.0


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 12/16/02


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