Review by Achturn
"The spikes and sword don't always make a classic."
Final Fantasy VII, a great addition to the Final Fantasy series to some, an addiction to others. No matter how you look at it, you can't deny that the game was popular, and so they made sequels and prequels and everything else you could ask for, and some didn't come out as great as expected. The question of the day is: is this prequel to the playstation classic up to snuff? Or does it fall into the same rut Dirge of Cerberus fell into before it?
The PSP doesn't often get a hit of a game, and so, does this game make the cut? Is it the amazing prequel we've been promised? Well, I'd say that it's worth the pickup and playthrough, but unless you're a Final Fantasy VII fan, you might not find this as riveting as say, FFIII.
Starting with a cutscene of Advent Children quality, the story is engrossing from the very start, there's always something that'll grab your interest before things get boring, whether it's an epic battle unfolding, or meeting a familiar character and seeing how things began. It wasn't the same quality as it's predecessor, but at the very least, it didn't do anything to push people away, though it wasn't exactly perfect.
As far as the basic storyline goes, Crisis Core has everything a good story needs. A plot about holding onto your dreams, a villain with a cryptic past, evil scientists, genetic experiments, and a dynamic cast of returning characters that's sure to make you nostalgic. Though the constant switching of sides for characters was a bit of a headache, and sometimes it made you feel as though people were given a quick-written reason to switch just to fill in the gap spanning between CC and VII.
Playing the role of villain we have Genesis, a cliche with the goal of completing himself or taking down the world with his demise. He recites quotes from "LOVELESS" in almost every appearance, and though this would normally add to his character, the fact that he only recites a handful of lines over and over takes away from the learned appearance he could have had. Taking even more away is the fact that he seems very plain, and unappealing unlike his counterpart Sephiroth, who, while still being a goodie in CC, was still more interesting then the main villain of the game.
Supporting characters ranged from a standard soldier given a name who feeds you info, to classics like Aerith and Cloud, to Angeal, the mentor who guides Zack's way through soldier and acts as a friend, a father, and a brother to him throughout the story. Sometimes they added to the progression, some, like Yuffie, were carelessly stuck in for the sake of making it into the final credits. This made for a disappointing lineup with about 4 characters whom you actually grow attached to.
As for Zack, brilliant, the hero of this tale is portrayed with such zeal that he could have been known as a character more well known then Cloud himself if he wasn't dragged down so much by the lack of interest in his own life so much as the lives of everyone else. It's mentioned briefly where he originated, but if there were any other references to his life they were so few and far between that they were far from memorable. But overall, he was a magnificent character who you really become attached to by the end of the game, and it makes you wish he had a bigger role in VII.
Ah the gameplay, where do I start? I picked this game up thinking it would have the standard turn-based fighting I have grown accustomed to over the years, but I was shocked to find out that it was more so like a combination of Kingdom Hearts with an almost Quest element to it. I was a skeptic, I'll admit that, though when I did actually pick it up I found it to be quite enjoyable. The battles were fast paced and really dragged you in, and they brought a new depth to the element when you actually think about how much actual effort would have been put into the fights rather than taking turns (which would be out of the question in an actual battle). I did, however become quickly annoyed with the Digital Mind Wave (or DMW as the game calls it). Like a game of roulette it was random when you'd get it, though it was also random whether it worked and how effective it would be. So not only did you not have a choice when it happened, but you also didn't have a way of knowing if it would work, or whether it'd be worth using, you also had no choice but to activate it when it happened, so when you're about to strike the final blow on that Bomb enemy and it decides to activate, you have no choice but to open the roulette, and unleash your strongest move on the tiny little monster, while you could go an entire boss fight without ever getting the chance. This became more of an grievance than a help, especially during those gaming sessions when you'd open the DMW over and over and over again, constantly pausing the fight only to be denied again and again by lady luck. Next time squenix, at the very least make the DMW a separate option, so if you have the chance to use it, it becomes a separate button on the menu as opposed to stopping the action.
And while we're on the topic of stopping, the option to skip the cutscenes was strangely absent from CC, meaning that when you're fighting that midway boss who's so strong that it will take you at the very least 10 attempts to beat, you will have to watch the 3 minute cutscene many many times while waiting to beat the fight. This became frustrating after being stuck on about 3 boss fights, with some of the longest cutscenes in the game, and a good idea would be to find something to do during the cutscenes that you can do near your PSP so you'll be ready for when the fight starts, otherwise be prepared to now most of the lines of the game by the ending.
There's not a lot that can be said about the graphics of CC, they were amazing. with cutscenes that looked like they were straight out of an Advent Children sequel, and gameplay graphics that rivaled PS2 games, the game served as an excellent source of eyecandy...or rather it would, if only they had used some anti-aliasing in the game. nothing in the game outside of the cutscenes was without a sharp jagged edge around it, to the point where it looked as though the characters could have fought with their bare arms and still sliced each other open. from swords to their hair to the water, everything was sharp as a knife and deadly on the eyes. This being the only flaw, it's passable, but it would've been nice if you didn't have to watch sharp pixels shifting down their arms as the camera pans.
The remixed originals were very nice, but the new songs consisted of metal at almost all times, and this was somewhat of a disappointment considering how FF is known for their musical scores. The violin scores though did make for a nice change of pace, and I did relish the times when they were played, though they were few and far between.
The voiceovers on the other hand, weren't very enjoyable at all. The voice actors chosen to play the roles had voices perfect for the characters they played, but their acting jobs were bored and unenthusiastic, over emphasizing moments that weren't appropriate for the tone, and under stressing the important moments. even on the in between times, there was little variation in tone, and they spoke in an almost monotone at times (particularly Hollander, Genesis, Sepheroth and Andreal).
Overall, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was a decent game, not quite as good as some, but better than others. This game will probably not appeal so much to people who aren't fans of VII already, and will be devoured by those who are. So, if you're looking to Crisis Core as a reason to buy a PSP, look again, but if you're looking for a decent distraction, or to fill in gaps in your VII story, then you'll be pleased with this game.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 07/21/08
Game Release: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (US, 03/24/08)
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