Review by AsKo25
"Crisis Core: More Final Fantasy goodness for the Final Fantasy fanboy."
Let's get this thing going: For the uninformed, Crisis Core is the prequel to the PlayStation video game Final Fantasy 7. It follows the story of Zack, a man who works for the organization known as ShinRa as an elite warrior in a small group within the company known as SOLDIER. Zack is your typical young hero; wishful, optimistic, but also reckless. Since this is a roleplaying game (RPG), however, Zack and the other characters that you encounter during your playing time all develop and mature. This is what makes Final Fantasy so engaging: the story. Many people have been engrossed and felt a deep connection to the story and characters in Final Fantasy games, as they are on the level of a good movie or book, and the fact that you are controlling what's going on makes it all the more personal.
Gameplay wise, Crisis Core seems simplistic but it's very solid. Since you only ever have one character in your party (Zack), managing your inventory is far less complex than in Final Fantasy 7. You can equip 4 materia at a time, and later on you get the ability to not only carry more material, but you can fuse material and other items to make new ones out of the fusions. For those who don't know, Materia = magic and abilities in the Final Fantasy 7 universe. You can't equip different weapons, but you can have 2 accessories on at a time which alters Zack's attributes such as Attack, Magic, Vitality, et cetera. So, if you decide to delve into this creation fusion system, then you could spend hours experimenting to get those rare items that we all desire to have in RPGs.
The game has 1 linear plot that you can choose to go through, but on the side there's some missions that can be accessed through the menu whenever you're at a save point, and these just serve to level up your character and make sure you're nice and beefy for the next part of the story. The missions are presented in the form of tasks that are assigned to Zack by his employer, and they can involve things such as slaying summons (large demons that can be converted to your side in the form of materia), destroying drones, or collecting currency, which in this game is called Gil. These are all completely optional, but I would recommend completing a lot of these at the beginning, since they become a little bit of a burden later on when you have a huge backlog of them, and it's good to be a little over-leveled at the start.
The combat itself is rather enjoyable. It's all in real time, and you cycle through your commands with the L and R buttons on the PSP. The commands are displayed on a small horizontal bad on the bottom right of the heads-up display, and it has the Attack command, whatever Materia you have equipped, and the Items command. If it sounds a little bit like Kingdom Hearts, another game made by the creators of Final Fantasy, that's because they're pretty similar. One key difference in Crisis Core, however, is that you aren't just pressing a button to attack, you're selecting a command that tells Zack to attack, so there's a bit of a delay, and he'll automatically run towards the nearest enemy and attack them. You can freely run around and block and dodge though, don't get me wrong. This ain't your mama's Final Fantasy. Also, PRO TIP: Attacking enemies from behind is always a critical hit. Believe me, when I figured that out, it made some battles a whole lot easier.
The music is alright. There's some breakbeat metal-ish stuff in there, and some great arrangements of old FF7 tunes. None of it is remarkable or terrible, but it's pretty good. The sound effects are great though! The swordplay sounds are authentic, and they kept all the old menu beeps and boops from FF7 which is a nice touch. Gotta give Square-Enix (the creators of the game) their props here, nice job with the sound effects. The English voice acting is decent too, and they only VA the lines which don't sound stupid when said out loud, which was a smart, strategic move. So, spoken dialouge = good, text dialouge = not so good. Nothing in particular sticks out as being bad in terms of music or sound, so I'd say they did a good job in this regard.
The graphics are fantastic! It's so great seeing all the old places from FF7 in real time 3D, and the FMV cinematics are simply gorgeous. They look just as good as Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children, and are just as action packed. The ingame cinematics look great too, some of the best graphics on the PSP right now. One thing I noticed is that some of the ingame cinematics are rendered in real time, however some of them were prerendered and added in as a movie file. This was likely due to the 1.8 Gigabyte limit on UMD discs for the PSP, they couldn't fit everything in. Something that bothered me a bit about the cinematics were that there was absolutely no way to skip them. I am not someone who skips the story and gets on the game, but if you're stuck on a particular area and there's a ten minute cinematic before the gameplay starts, it's tiring to keep having to watch it every time you die and restart. Thankfully, there are also absolutely no performance issues, all of this runs flawlessly without a hitch.
Overall, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 is one of those games that a hardcore Final Fantasy fan would buy a PSP to play. It's got a fantastic story, beautiful graphics, and fun fast-paced gameplay. Essentially, if you have an interest in Final Fantasy, or RPGs in general, I'd go ahead and pick this one up.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 04/25/08
Game Release: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (US, 03/24/08)
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