Review by Kaiden
"It'll be fun to vivisect a legend..."
There are games that just deserve a simple and plain Gameplay - Storyline - Graphics rating, while there are others that simply cannot be reviewed without appropriate background information. The average player could get himself flowed in a contingent crowd of idolaters and thus become a worshipper of the theoretical title; in the end one is either to ask for an objective review or to kneel down in adoration. The latter is often accompanied by very weak foundations and ideas, leading to preposterous and ridiculous outbursts of anger in defence of what one considers to be a deification, not a plain game. Consequently, gamers who should be united often tend to partake in disgraceful, cybernetic battles to enact a nonexistent winner, the Game with a capital G, the dreambringer, the One, and similar poetical lucubrations. In order to take up again what is aforementioned, I won't simply judge this game with a mere content listing, but rather discuss what has become a social phenomenon, because we aren't given the right to be unaware of such occurrences: they change history, history of games I mean, and much like Zelda: Ocarina of Time will do when released, this game did, and still does. What could once be so judged, is not to be considered a matter of personal tastes anymore: it's a matter of objective facts. You like it, you don't like it, it isn't important: you must know it.
What I cannot stand about aforementioned gamers is their behaviour: while I admit that in my youth I, too, was autartik and extremist in fact of almost everything in life (there were just black and white, not grey), now I'm very ashamed of my past attitude but still can't understand that of grown up people, because while I can still be 15 right now, others that are way older cannot stand the slightest criticism about a beloved item, being it constructive or not. In all honesty, in my humble and often secluded opinion, Final Fantasy VII isn't absolutely a game to worship as the ne plus ultra of RpGs, because of a myriad of things and facts I'll list, comment and demonstrate later. I'm quite sure that every single person that reads this review has already beaten this game at least thrice, so I'm not to discuss the uproar this release caused. What you might not know is that the main Final Fantasy SaGa isn't of huge success in its homeland, Japan, because there's a little gem shining over it, named Dragon Quest. Undoubtedly the game also acquired lots of space in Japanese people too, but its success is mainly due to its American release. Since we Europeans only get waste matter from the USA speaking of games, as we always tend to do, we ran to the shelves, hypnotized and tantalized by such -only described- beauty. Let's now discuss a bit these things and facts I had mentioned above.
Oops..! I bought a game just to relax... not to face reality...!
Before starting to argue, mind that I don't mean technical reality, but rather the social truth we're blasted by the news about everyday. By that I mean needy people who live in misery, kids who cannot eat and other huge problems which we are always been aware of. What I cannot stand is to face this reality in videogames: if you well analyze the fact, it's all a big pile of hypocrisy directly thrown into our faces. While I enjoy knowing stories, rather romantic ones, I don't feel like going through with a mysterious character through shantytowns in order to know other needy people. Sadly, this game costs a few bucks, so such needy people cannot afford it. Mind you, I don't entirely blame this, but let's just think about what Final Fantasy once was. Think about the first one, there was a princess, and four light warriors had to restore peace and save that princess. Medieval environment, toony monsters, a normal storyline. Now, Final Fantasy has grown to become a social weapon against our evil deeds, because evil lies within the heart of everyone. A way to enroll people to fight evil and while I don't have anything against that, if I want to be redeemed from my sins I'd rather go to the church or pray whatever God I may worship. I seriously doubt that terrorists can be redeemed by such social weapon. Also, every single character in this game (except for an useless cat sitting atop an also useless robotic... cat, again) has (or had) an utterly sad storyline, tell me if I could relax playing this game. This is also one of the reason for which I blame people who tend to describe themselves as the acme of dark, while playing text based online RpGs... I feel for them, somehow. And this is the same for what concerns this game.
It's fun to witness a local shop in a tiny wooden village selling adamantine weapons...
Another thing I don't understand about this game is the main environment. Let's compare things a bit with its successor, Final Fantasy VIII (yes, VIII, now you can start flaming if that suits yourselves): FF8 is set in a parallel present, and finally has a scholastic environment, introducing for the first time professors, students and lessons. Final Fantasy VII is just your little fistful of incredibly powerful rebels against a main empire (FF2 and 6, anyone?). It's sad to see how an human being can become so incredibly powerful without any kind of magical connection, by simply fighting billions of enemies and wielding a powerful sword (now tell me, how does a sword differ from another except from being better at cutting things? And well, how much can a sword be better than another at actually cutting things?). Now let's discuss a bit about the optional bosses, the Weapons. Those are mechanical beings created by the planet in order to protect it from damnation, destruction, apocalypse and whatever. Well, you see, we're told a rather fun story, seeing as those beings tend to slaughter the aforementioned fistful of rebels instead of the evil buddies. But this is fantasy. And, kinda fairly, you could object: "Yeah, right, who cares? 'Tis fantasy, ya' know?" Fantasy should identify itself in a rather magical environment. There is an Ancient Greek verb, "Fantasiàzein", also meaning "to show", "to display"... One is to be careful when judging fantasy. At least, FF8 gave us a nonexistent character growth without actually junctioning with superior magical being, because characters are truly human.
The burden of a Legend...
You can have the very same name on the game box, it doesn't matter. Once a game becomes a "living" legend, forerunners and heirs'll always be compared and tonguelashed by most gamers, because they'll be too blinded to actually have objectiveness but'll rather be always ready to outburst in order to defend their unique masterpiece. This is a heavy burden that games like FF8 arduously but proudly bear. In my (always humble) opinion, this is the most serious matter: if one is blinded by the crowd, he'll not be able to think with his own head anymore thus will seldom give away objective and rational judgements and thus denying the independence that should portray a gamer: the option to like or to dislike, providing solid evidence of facts. This is why I've always restrained myself from worshipping games (and I must admit that in my youth I used to, with Chrono Trigger, for example, but now I just consider it to be a great game, that's it) and I've also learnt not to give away verdicts without having solid proofs. Can I suggest you a thing to do? Pick up your FF7 and FF8 discs, try to play them once again, but as if you didn't know anything about them. Try to live them according to your experience and life, and tell me which is more enjoyable.
After all these tidbits of info, one may object that I haven't actually given any real information about the game: I'll be short and plainly simple. The storyline as I mentioned before is based on the usual "little group against bigger group" pattern and one good thing is that we aren't given secret evil beings, but just some plot twists. In fact, the story is quite deep and enjoyable, but still focuses too much about less lucky people in this world. If this saddens you, you'll better not touch this game. If you're a romantic kind of person, you'll just need to buy the first disk, then you can stop playing. If you are one of those darkminded people I was talking about before, feel free to play this... if you haven't already. The graphics are very good, being this the first installment with 3D elements: you get the usual 3D sprites in 2D backgrounds. All the characters are in the super deformed style which I absolutely don't like but these are personal tastes. Battle effects are very good though nothing spectacular, some summon monsters are very well designed while others are worth nothing in watching. The audio is in my opinion awful, because there isn't a single tune I can remember from this game, I just weakily remember the battle theme and the Theme Song, One Winged Angel, that's all. Sound effects though are very good, especially with summon monsters. The gameplay mixes your usual RpG elements with the Materia system where you place orbs (which contain magic, summons, various abilities...) in your weapons' slots. While a rather boring system, it adds to the customization. As for the difficulty , excluding the optional bosses, you should encounter no problems in finishing this game as 'tis ridiculously easy.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/29/05
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