Review by Crocomire
"One of the greatest RPGs ever created."
Thanks for choosing to read my review for Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation.
The story of Final Fantasy VII is one of the most important parts of the game. A company called ShinRa have built reactors all over the world to drain the planet's energy. The reactors suck up the energy and transform it into what is called Mako which is like the electricity for the world. Problem is, the planet needs this energy to survive and it is getting weaker and weaker as each reactor drains more of its energy. If ShinRa don't stop then it could be fatal for everybody living on the planet. But ShinRa don't plan on stopping. All they care about is the money. The people of the world use Mako all the time and ShinRa make big cash from it all.
ShinRa's headquarters are based in a rundown city called Midgar. Midgar is divided into sectors and each one is basically a slum. In Sector 7 are a group called Avalanche who plan on taking down ShinRa to stop them damaging the planet. But it's not just the planet they are after ShinRa for. Some of the group members have a history with ShinRa that has affected their lives so there's even more of a reason to stop them. Avalanche's plan is to blow up every reactor that is sucking away the planet's energy.
You start the game taking control of Cloud Strife. He's an ex member of Soldier, the elite military force of ShinRa. Cloud has a big history with ShinRa too and after he here's about this Avalanche group, he decides to help them. But Cloud is only after money. He's a mercenary now after his quitting job from Soldier and is looking for pay. Your goal is to take out the reactors in Midgar, playing the lead role of Cloud Strife. But things don't go the way Avalanche planned on. After bombing the second reactor, Cloud is stuck hanging from a ledge after an explosion. The reactor's bomb goes off and Cloud falls far below, away from his Avalanche pals, and his childhood friend, Tifa, who joins the group on their mission. Cloud meets a young woman called Aeris on his landing on a bed of flowers in a church. She takes quite a liking to him and just as they were getting to know each other, in walks a mysterious man by the name of Reno. Aeris hastily asks for Cloud's help in fighting off Reno and his Soldier troops as they try and capture Aeris. Aeris has her own secrets and is trying to avoid the ShinRa.
Cloud gets caught up in Aeris' problems and eventually, after finding Avalanche again, they help save Aeris from the ShinRa after she is captured. They head over to ShinRa HQ and Cloud finds what he didn't want to find. A sword form a very powerful man, who Cloud once knew from Soldier, planted in the back of the ShinRa president. This man is Sephiroth. Everyone has heard the tales of him. He used to work in Soldier and was very powerful. He was the highest ranked of all the Soldier members and everyone wanted to be like him. But Cloud has a past with him and he wants to settle the score. He and his Avalanche team members go in search of Sephiroth
I have found this FF to be one of the fastest FFs of the PlayStation games in the battles. Every character's moves seem to be performed quicker than in other games and that's something I really like. You have to have quick action or it can get boring. You may notice it is different to other FF in the sense that you don't have certain jobs' for each character, like Black Mage, Thief, Fighter etc. In FFVII, you give whatever magic spells and commands you want to each person.
There is also the very innovative materia system. I like this very much. Each weapon for you characters will have slots to place little balls called materia. There are many different types of materia Magic, like Fire, Cure, Ice; Summon, the big monster spells like Ifrit, Shiva, Bahamut; Support, these are materia which give added effects to your spells like All which makes you cure everyone in your team. There are others too and there are loads and loads of different materia to get throughout the game. Some slots in your weapons are linked and this means you can put in two materia that will give an added effect in battle such as linking Cure and All. This will enable you to cure all of your team members in battle all at once. At first it can seem a little complicated but it becomes very easy quickly. It can be quite a tactical affair too as equipping Magic and Summon materia lowers your HP but increases your MP. They also raise and lower other stats such as Strength and Spirit.
No doubt, the materia system is one big part of the game. You will have to use it if you are going to get anywhere in the quest!
You know, when I first played FFVII when I was a young lad and I had only just gotten out of the first city, Midgar, I couldn't believe how big the game was. To think I'd just gone through hours of game playing and I had only just exited the first city of the game, and then I enter the world map! In that sense, this game is huge. The world map is so big. You won't realize how big it is until you actually reach the outside of Midgar for the first time.
You guide Cloud's team through the world in search of Sephiroth, visiting many different areas such as towns, run down villages, harbors and caves. Not long after you reach the world map, you will come across the Chocobo Ranch. Chocobos are big chicken-like birds which you can ride on. You can actually go out and catch your own wild chocobo and raise it to take part in the chocobo racing tournaments, in a spectacular amusement park called the Gold Saucer, and mate them with other chocobos. You must raise chocobos in order to produce special chocobos which can take you over previously inaccessible areas such as over mountains and through rivers. The chocobo raising is one brilliant side quest in the game and you will get hooked on it. You'll spend hours and hours raising the perfect chocobo.
I mentioned the Gold Saucer, a spectacular amusement park built high up above the ground on the planet. When you get here you'll be instantly amazed and you will not want to leave. There are different arenas in which you can participate in many things. The Battle Arena is probably one of the best arenas because you have to enter a fighting tournament and each round that you win, you progress onto the next, more difficult round. You can get some of the best items in the whole game from the Battle Arena and you'll have to do a lot of character building beforehand if you want to succeed. Like the chocobo raising, you'll spend hours and hours here in this amusement park.
I have never seen so many side quests before in one single video game. FFVII isn't just about getting through the game and defeating Sephiroth. Not by a long shot. With all of the towns, secret caves, the Gold Saucer and the chocobo raising, there are so many side quests and different missions to do. You'll spend even more hours simply completing all of these quests and collecting all the special items.
Now onto the character building I mentioned. After each battle you'll gain experience points. After you get so many points your character will rise a level. For every level you gain, you get stronger. Your strength, hit points, magic points, as well as many other stats, will all increase. Levelling up is one of the keys to beating the tougher enemies and bosses in the game. You also must level up your materia. You do this by equipping them to your characters and at the end of the battle, the ability points you receive will be added to your Materia. After your materia reaches a level, you'll gain more powerful attacks for that Materia. For example, after levelling up a Fire magic materia, you'll gain the ability to use Fire 2 which is a more powerful fire attack.
The difficulty is just as you would expect from a huge Final Fantasy game. The bosses are where it's at though. You will encounter many boss battles throughout the game all at different times, sometimes you expect them, other times you don't. But they all give you a tough time. Sometimes it's a case of finding the enemy's weakness and using the best attacks against it. Needless to say, you'll see the game over screen all too often.
Don't worry about the length of FFVII either. This game will take hours just to get through the main quest. Then there are all of the side quests, character building, defeating the secret bosses, raising chocobos, Gold Saucer events, obtaining all the characters' ultimate weapons the list goes on and on. Definitely one of the biggest ever video games.
FFVII takes advantage of every button on the PlayStation controller. Anyone who's played other Final Fantasy games will be familiar with the set up but those new to games like this may find it a little complicated at first. The circle button is your main action button which you use for confirming selections during battles and in the menu, talking to people, and examining things on the ground like items or signs on walls. The X button is your cancel button for travelling back in the menu and de-selecting commands. Square isn't used much but in battles, it hides the command menu so you can check your hit points and defence barriers. Triangle brings up the main menu when you are on the field and it also switches between your party in battle. The D-Pad moves your character around and highlights selections in the menu and in battle.
There's no analog control as this game was made before the analog controller was brought out. But that doesn't affect anything. Using the D-Pad is just fine to move your character around during the game. One slightly annoying thing to get to grips with at first is that you have to constantly hold X to make your character run on the field. After not long, it becomes second nature but it might be a little frustrating for some players.
All in all, the controls are very well suited to this game but the lack of analog and the need to hold X to run might annoy some people.
FFVII came out early in the PlayStation's lifetime and it's clearly not so beautiful by today's standards. But back then, these were some of most realistic graphics ever and I have to say, it still looks great even now. The backgrounds and settings for the towns and caves are pre-rendered so they really do look life-like. These are what make FFVII look so good. It's the actual character models on the field that are the downfall because they are actually quite ugly to look at. The character's eyes are the only things on their faces and the rest of their bodies are very blocky. You can see where each big block connects, especially on their arms. It's not wonderful but after all, games aren't about graphics it's the gameplay. And with FFVII, that is exactly what it's about.
If you have played any other FF then you'll know just how beautiful some of the music is. FFVII has one of the best soundtracks of any video game and it's all done by the great composer Nobuo Uematsu. He really does know how to make music and there are some really catchy tunes that you won't be able to get out of your head even when you're not playing! The right music plays at just the right situations in the story too. Everything fits in so well with the dialogue. Absolutely nothing wrong with the sound here.
If you haven't played a Final Fantasy game before then this is a perfect starting position. It's where I started off and I was immediately hooked from this game and onwards. Put quite simply, FFVII is one of the greatest video games ever made. Don't believe me? Go play it. Don't let the site of the character models put you off either, this is an old game now after all.
The story will keep you glued to playing it through from start to finish and even after you beat it, there are absolutely tons of extras to do. It really is quite extraordinary how huge this game is. You'll become attached to the characters and will want to see the game through to its end to see what will happen to the characters, the story and the planet.
I could go on and on but by now you should know that this game is worth your cash. Do your best to find a copy of this game and play it through. You won't regret playing one of the best games ever made.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/07/05
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