Review by Dark115

"Sony's Triumph Card"

Nintendo must be kicking itself for letting Square slip away. It seems to be a fact that whoever has Square behind them will win the console war. It was true with the SNES, with Playstation and now this generation with Playstation 2.

Final Fantasy VII had a lot to live up to:
-it was a follow up to the highly appraised Final Fantasy III (VI)
-it was the first 3D Final Fantasy
-it was the first Final Fantasy in 3 years
-it was Sony's Triumph Card

So how well did it live up to all the hype? Well its considered by many to be the best Final Fantasy game made, only FFIII (VI) comes close, it successfully brought the series into 3D (after all, we're now up to FFXII), and many consider it to be the reason why Sony made its entrance into the console race so well.

Square has a reputation of putting out excellent A+ quality titles, such as Final Fantasy III (VI) and Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy VII is no different.

I was as big of a Nintendo fanboy as there was back in the day. I thought the Super NES was the greatest thing ever and there was no telling me different. So naturally when the N64 was announced, I was eagerly awaiting its release. I started saving up right away, unfortunately I was only 12 at the time and didn't have much income. So finally I had the money to buy an N64 and Super Mario 64 by the time the end of 1997 came around. But then it hit me, all those commercials for Final Fantasy VII, all the memories of playing Final Fantasy III (VI) and how I had to have another Final Fantasy. So I went to the store, picked up a Sony Playstation and a copy of Final Fantasy VII. Best decision ever and here's why:

Story
Well in my books, story has always ranked fairly high in games. If a game has a bad story, its sometimes not worth playing. RPGs are especially true to that fact. You play as Cloud Strife, a mercenary for hire. Your main goal in the beginning puts you in a rebel group named AVALANCHE and you're against a big corporation named Shinra, but the story develops into much more until you must save the earth. This story is one of the most well told stories ever in an RPG. The story takes you in from the get go, and puts you on a roller coaster of emotions. You'll laugh, you'll hate the villains, and you might even cry at some parts of the game. The cast of characters are amazing and well developed. I fell in love with every one of them and could feel for them. Each character has a background story that you're taken through during the game. You'll hate Sephiroth who throughout the game gives you more and more of a reason to. Some people find the story confusing, and to a certain degree it can be. After playing through the game over 30 times, the story can be understood through the first time if you get drawn in. The ending is also open to interpretation making for excellent arguements of what really happens after it all. Pure perfection.

Characters
There's Cloud Strife, who you mainly play as and he is an Ex-SOLDIER for the corporation Shinra. As far as main characters go, he is one of the best, very easily takes the lead when called upon Throughout the game he finds who he really is and it is done quite well, many people come to love Cloud. Then there's Tifa Lockheart who is Cloud's childhood friend and also a member of AVALANCHE, she is one part of the love triangle with Cloud. Aeris Gainsborough is the Flower Girl from the Slums that joins the group and completes the love triangle with Tifa and Cloud. She plays quite an important role in the plot. Barret Wallace, the Mr. T wannabe, is the leader of AVALANCHE who at first struggles to get along with Cloud, but later on becomes somewhat of a close friend. Red XIII is animal of the group, originally a research specimen, he joins the group to help save the planet. Cait Sith is a cat on the back of a giant stuffed Mog, there's more to him than meets the eye. There's Cid Highwind who is the pilot of the group, also messed over by Shinra he joins the group. Sephiroth is the villain of the who was once in SOLDIER with Cloud, later in the game he plays quite an important role.

Graphics
For a time where RPGs only existed in 2D sprites, Final Fantasy VII took the series and the genre to an area it had never been before: 3D. The backgrounds are beautifully pre-rendered, the map is well done in its lush entirety, the battles look realistic, and the FMV's are breath-taking even by today's standards. A lot of people had a problem with the character models outside of battles. They look like they are huge block pieces blocked together, and compared to today's standards, they don't really hold up. But this was 1997, and for the year I personally thought they looked fine. Seeing summons done in 3D for the first time was another amazing experience, never had monsters looked so good, had magic looked so good, had anything in a battle looked so great. And the FMV's were unheard of at the time. Once and a while Square takes you out of the in game world to amaze you, and they all run so seamlessly from the events happening in the story, a very smooth transition.

Audio
I don't have anything but praise for the music in Final Fantasy VII. This is by far the best video game music ever. Final Fantasy VII is the only video game soundtrack I've ever bought. The music goes with the tone the game is putting through to you, it is done so well that it is as good as voice acting would have been. The battle theme and boss battle themes are by far the best ever seen in an RPG, even better than Chrono Trigger, and thats hard to beat. Nobuo Uematsu does his best work here, and deserved to be praised for every piece in the game. Sound effect wise, everything is done excellently. The sound of magic being used, the sound of a sword slashing, or a gun shooting, all done perfectly.

Controls
Control isn't really important in RPGs, but like any game you need a fairly good control or its no fun. Well thankfully Final Fantasy VII takes the standard RPG controls and re-uses them faithfully. The only thing that might give you trouble is if you've played Square games later than FFVII, they switched confirm to X, rather than O. But other than that really standard. Use the directional pad to move around or go through menu's. Triangle opens up the menu screen as in most RPGs. Perfect controls

Gameplay
Final Fantasy VII like most RPGs follows the same basic path: Go through the story, fight a boss, continue through the story, level up when necessary. Each Final Fantasy game is unique as in each one a new cast of characters and story is given and they always change the way battles are done. In Final Fantasy VII they introduce the "Materia" System. Basically Materia are orbs that contain commands, magic, and summons and such in them. When you give a character a piece of materia, they have that ability, and the materia levels up as its equipped. I personally like the Materia system better than all the other Final Fantasy games magic systems. Its been criticized for the fact that the characters aren't as unique in battle as they were in the past with their different jobs. Now anyone can be a white mage or a summoner, but each character if you look closer has different attributes such as a higher attack or a higher magic attack. Each character also has their own unique attacks called "Limit Breaks". These Limit Breaks get activated when you get attacked enough and they do either support magic or extreme damage to enemies. The story is roughly 30-50 hours depending on your skill level and it feels longer. There are tons of extra secrets before going to beat the final boss also to give even more gameplay. There are also tons of mini games to play that feel as if they could be games on their own, very fun, and I've spent hours on them. The biggest challenge in the game are two creatures called RUBY Weapon and EMERALD Weapon, which are extra bosses that have over 500,000 HP. The game has tons of gameplay for you to enjoy.

Difficulty
Well the game is fairly easy, especially compared to old school RPGs that required you to level up for 2 hours before moving on anywhere. Some might see this as a good thing, some as a bad thing. Only a couple of bosses actually gave me trouble during the game, and I kept myself at a low level on purpose to up the challenge. Fighting RUBY and EMERALD were a challenge though and thats where the pros go for a challenge anyways.

Replay Value
I personally have gone through the game over 30 times and I am still ready to play it anytime. The game has never gotten old to me even after 7 years. The mini games alone such as the snowboarding game has racked up over 30 hours for me. The time it takes to get everything in the game and get ready to battle RUBY and EMERALD takes quite a lot of time up. My clock on most of my files that i've played through reads well over 99:99 so considering this is a game without multiplayer, I've played it more than any single player game ever.

Rent or Buy?
BUY! In fact buy a Playstation and this game if you don't already own it. How can you not already own this masterpiece? What will it cost you? $40 at the most? For the game that paved the way for all RPGs after it, its well worth it. Remember I bought a $200 Playstation plus FFVII for $50 at the time and I still have no regrets.

Overall: 10/10
Final Fantasy VII is one of those few games that has lived up to the hype before it. It is one of the most loved games of all time, it was voted "The Best Game of All Time" by the GameFAQ voters. It won Game of the Year awards all over in 1997. It made RPGs mainstream in North America and made Sony's Playstation leap to first place in the console wars quite easy. While no game is perfect, this is as close as it gets.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/06/05


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