Review by Psyke
"Staying true to the FFVII universe, and possibly the best RPG on the PSP"
It's been ten whole years since we first laid our eyes on Final Fantasy VII on the Playstation. Fans of the game would remember memorable scenes and characters from the game, as well as a deep and revolving storyline which focus on Gaia theory and the lifestream. FFVII was widely considered to be the best RPG game ever, and since then we've seen many other FFVII related media in the form of games, anime, and even a movie.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is a prequel to Final Fantasy VII. In the original FFVII game, Cloud Strife was the main protagonist, and the plot focused on his fight against Sephiroth, and in the process he was also seeking for the reason of his existence. In the game, Cloud was having an identity crisis, and he confused his memories with those of Zack's. Zack's part in the game was minimal, although his role in the plot was very crucial. It took Square Soft 10 years to finally complete Zack's story, although the anime "Final Fantasy: Last Order" did explain most of what happened. I strongly advise that the player, before starting FFVII:CC, to recap on the plot of FFVII (through the plot analysis on this site), watch Last Order, and perhaps Advent Children after you've finished the game. This way, you will get to enjoy the game fully without being lost in the many references. Bottom line, if you've never played FFVII, you will find yourself lost (plot wise), and many of the scenes will not mean anything to you, such as why Cloud didn't reveal himself to Tifa at Nibelheim, who was in the coffin at the mansion basement, etc.
Graphics and visuals:
Visually, the game is stunning and possibly the best that the PSP has ever seen. The in game models are very detailed, and reminded me a lot of FFX on the PS2, particularly the 3D backgrounds and the details given to the surrounding areas. The frame rate for certain cut scenes look a little choppy at times, but the game plays at a very smooth rate during fights. Magic spells and limit breaks look great, and some of the enemies look so detailed you'd be surprised that they can pull this off on the PSP. In short, CC:FFVII has set a new graphical benchmark on the PSP.
The CG scenes in the game are amazing. From the starting scene where Zack faces off the Shinra soldiers on the Midgar train, to the final tear jerking sequence where our hero finally realises his dream. The 3 way fight between Genesis, Angeal and Sephiroth on the Junon cannon is possibly the best, and rivals Cloud's and Sephiroth's showdown in Advent Children. The summon sequences are also in full CG, and are absolutely breathtaking. There aren't too many of them though.
Music and sound:
Taking over as music composer is Takeharu Ishimoto. Throughout the game, you will hear many familiar pieces from FFVII, composed by Nobuo Uematsu. The battle music, victory fanfare, Aeris's theme, are all still here, although slightly changed. Listening to the music definitely sets you in the mood, and if you're played the FFVII before, you can be sure that you'll recognize many of the themes.
Like most of the other Square Soft games these days, voice acting has become an integral part of story telling. Cut scenes in real time features realistic voice acting, and features many returning voice actors from Advent Children.
As a RPG, you'll find that the game is as linear as can be. But that is to be expected, because we already know how the ending will be like before we even start the game. By itself, the game is also very short. You can complete the game in around 12 hours, if you skip the missions section entirely.
Having said that, I must say that the game features a very extensive mission section. There are lots of missions to unlock, and although you'll be running through the same few areas, you get to fight newer and tougher enemies. It is also in the mission section that you unlock new shops, new items for materia fusing, new equipment, etc. Basically, you'll find that apart from plot progression, you'll be doing missions most of the time. It is also though the missions that you're gain the most satisfaction from, through getting valuable items to level up your character.
Materia and summons return in the game, but in a totally new way. Gone are the materia linking chains, but a whole new aspect of materia fusing is introduced. After some time of game play, the player is given the ability to fuse 2 materia and 1 item together, either to create a new materia type, or to increase its statistics. Besides leveling up traditionally, materia fusing is the other option to strengthen your character, but you'll need to hunt for specific items to create the materia you want.
On the topic of leveling up, you'll find that Zack does not have any experience points, and that a slot machine determines whether you level up or not. Sounds dumb at first, and totally unlike Final Fantasy, right? Yes, I agree some what that the randomness can seem a little frustrating at first, especially when you cannot skip the limit breaks. But as you progress, you'll find that through the materia fusing, your character becomes very much customizable. There are tons of spells to master, and it's also possible to break your HP/MP/AP limits to reach 99999. This significantly increases the replay value, since you are able to port over your stats and items to your new game. It's a very addictive process, trying to figure out what materia you can create, and how best to raise your statistics without wasting valuable items.
FFVII: CC is a must get for all FFVII fans. Again, do watch Last Order first, which is easily accessible through youtube. Great graphics, fantastic music, a high replay value, and a chance to finally experience the entire Nibelhelm event through Zack's eyes. For those who don't read Japanese, the wait for the US release is a painfully long one, but it will definitely be worth the wait.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/08/07
Game Release: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (JP, 09/13/07)
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