Review by Darksun45230

"Angels Have But One Dream!"

Over ten years ago the role playing game called Final Fantasy VII premiered on the Sony Playstation. A lot of people, and I mean a lot of people claimed it to be the greatest game of all time. If you ask this reviewer, yes, he was a fan too. The contents of this review however will not be based on the popularity of the Playstation version, but of the contents of this game, and its own merit.

Short Summary
Storyline: You control Zack Fair who played a pivotal role in the back-story of Final Fantasy VII. The magic of Final Fantasy VII has returned. The story is heart-wrenching as well as romantic. Don't expect anything less from Final Fantasy VII.

Gameplay: The Materia system has been redone, accompanied by the DMW system. The gameplay challenges and excites both RPG veterans and beginners. The conversion between turn based to action based will discourage hard-core fans of turn based combat.

Graphics & Music: With the best graphics to date. Period. Accompanied with breathless next-gen CGI. The inclusion of music found in Final Fantasy VII (PSX) and the movie “LAST ORDER FFVII” it makes for a inspiring soundtrack.

Overall: Amazing. It's an overall improvement to early aspects of Final Fantasy VII and more. Crisis Core is the shining star of the Final Fantasy VII's compilation. Angels have but one dream!

Storyline
The game takes off with Zack Fair around familiar scenery. From the very beginning the player is taken on an adventure deep within the world of Final Fantasy VII. Soon you explore the mindset of optimistic Zack and his friends, mentors, and heroes.

We're introduced to vivid, realistic characters. With doubts, fears, and pride, all with just a few pieces of dialog. If you don't pick up on the subtle hints, you might get lost.

As you move on, you travel to familiar scenery that one would find in Final Fantasy VII. Meet people, both new and familiar. And unveil mysteries to people that's only dream is to regain their lost pride. From beginning to end Crisis Core delivers a witty, romantic, and tragic story leaving one moved in heart and soul by story's end.

Gameplay
First, you have to ask a few questions. Does this compare in gameplay to Final Fantasy VII? What's been changed? Will my experience be different from before?

The Final Fantasy series has evolved from a turn-based combat system. One you might find in titles like Dragon Quest VIII or Final Fantasy X. Now we enter the time of the action based combat system. You've seen these types of combat in Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy XII. So is it better?

The changes are many making the adapting no easier. With a turn-based system, your characters and enemies stood in place. You could take all the time you need to make the next attack. And when you did you scrolled through a small menu and selected it.

Now let's compare that to the action-based combat. Your enemies move around a lot. You too are not limited by your movement. However, you don't have all time in the world to attack, because enemies don't wait. When you want to attack you scroll using the same menu and selecting an attack. And unlike a turn-based system, it acts immediately.

Accuracy has changed too. In a game like Final Fantasy VII, in turn-based combat all one needed to do in order to hit the enemy was cast a spell or attack normally. However in Crisis Core, you have to know who you want to hit. Here's an example. I want to use the magic Blizzard (the renamed Ice) against an opponent. The catch here is that a large block ice appears over the enemies head, that enemy has to stay put for less then a second for it to connect. If he doesn't, you miss.

Many environmental factors apply now. It's no longer just scenery. In an action based combat system, it's a disadvantage to be on a narrow catwalk during battle. In fact it's gotten this reviewer killed on many occasions.

In Final Fantasy VII, you had slots on your armor that allowed you to attached magic stones to them. These stones allowed you to use spells like Fire, Ice, and Cure. Now in Crisis Core we have that and more. Materia doesn't act all that different in Crisis Core. The catch is that you start out with only a few slots. And stay that way for a long time. The days where you could pack eighteen Materia into your armor is over. Long over. Now, you have to decide who you want to play as. This is done in order to balance the action-combat system. Plus the negative stats have been removed.

Where did the summoning go? It's not dead. You still can summon. However, it's not as easy. I'll get more into this later as we approach the DMW system.

Good news. You can level Materia. The difference between the Materia leveling in Crisis Core and Final Fantasy VII is simple. You get stats from Materia. In FFVII, you were restricted to Materia where when applied increased a certain stat and decreased another. Now there are no negative stats, just positive. And to make this even better, they added a whole new system, the Materia Fusion system.

The Materia Fusion system mimics a fusing. You combine Materia (taking away from the SP points, which are gotten from hitting enemies in battle) and making a whole new Materia to level. There are is a list of Materia combinations that make better Materia. Some Materia can only be acquired from Materia Fusion. It's a great way to get those extra stats.

Moving on, we arrive at the DMW system. The Digital Mind Wave System. How does it work? Better yet, what does it do? The DMW acts as a leveler, a gauge to use special attacks called limit breaks, and to summon monsters.

We begin at leveling. In this game, there is no experience. Instead, we have the DMW reels. Let me begin with how it works. When you hear the words “Power Surge” during battle a reel appears. There are faces on each reel; if the faces match by the end of cycle then you activate a limit break. It happens often. Now how then do we level? It works in a similar way, because there is numbers on the side that reel as well. When those numbers match “777” you level. Now you may be wondering how this is all possible. You may be asking ‘hey, how the heck can anyone play this game if leveling is so random? I don't want to end up level ten by the end of the game or overpowered too early.'

My best guess is that there is a hidden experience counter that gains as you defeat more and more enemies, or hit them. When that counter reaches the max the reels start and you level up. You can level up Materia in the same way as well. Materia also has its own hidden experience count depending on if it's attached to your armor. Sweet.

At last we arrive at summoning. What's changed? Will I like those changes? It's up to you. Unlike the system we were so used to in Final Fantasy VII where all one had to do was attach a summon Materia, this involves using them via DMW. When we achieve “Power Surge” and the limit faces are reeling, they sometimes change to befit a whole new reel. Summoning faces. Like Ifrit or Bahamut for example. When all those faces match then you summon them, which are basically performing an attack. Luckily, we can skip the sequence by pressing a button and getting to the results. Thank you!

Acquiring summoned monsters has also changed. Instead of receiving Materia outright, you must defeat them during a side-quest; buy them at a shop, and many other ways. Along with an astounding array of abilities that accompany them whether it be Odin's Zantetsuken, Bahamut's Mega Flare, or Phoenix's Rebirth Flame. The summon monsters are not something to pass up.

I did mention the Limit Breaks. For those new to Final Fantasy VII, a limit break happened when a character took a lot of damage. What is it exactly? It's an attack that did damage beyond what a normal character could do. Hence, Limit Break. In Crisis Core we explore Zack's many limit breaks. I can't tell you who the faces belong to sadly without giving away key plot points. Each face has its own limit break for Zack; let's start with the shadow limit. You'll get a lot of this at the beginning of the game, where the reel lands on a shadow face. When it does you'll perform a series of random slashes at one enemy. There are others that allow you get a critical hit each time you strike at an enemy, one that completely heals you and then some, and one in particular that performs a nasty combo on an enemy. Limit Breaks are a nice addition to Crisis Core. Don't neglect them.

Now it's time for the bread and butter of the game, missions. The storyline is separated into many missions; many involve combat in one way or another, while some don't. From the start, you are introduced to these quests, three-hundred total, that involve defeating a certain enemy, a summon monster, and heck about 1000 soldiers. With three-hundred missions it's bound to get repetitive. But they increased the difficulty so at least we can have fun!

Now when all is said and done what are we left with? Are the missions worth even doing? Why are they there? And where are Final Fantasy VII's legendary overpowered bosses, the WEAPONs?

You won't find WEAPON in this game. Sadly, we don't get to fight hulking monsters like that. So what does that mean? There're no bosses? No. At the end of the three-hundred mission road, is none other then a woman named Minerva. She serves as the games almost unbeatable boss. Who is she? Well, you'll find that out.

Though same changes are small while other big, they affect gameplay so that the overall experience is different. Will your experience be different? Yes. Will it be worse? That's up to you to decide.

Graphics & Music:
As soon as you pop in the UMD and start playing you'll recognize a familiar tune. Ask yourself, ‘haven't I heard this before?' If you have then you've played Final Fantasy VII and watched a few of the compilations. Right away we hear the music played from the Bomb Mission. Of course it's been radically altered, but the same nonetheless. So will this game do ruin to the music you've come to admire of the years? Do you really care? What about graphics? Are they truly what this reviewer is talking about?

The tunes you find Final Fantasy VII and LAST ORDER FFVII are very much present here. Often music has been redone with a different instrument. Other's are completely new, and sound great. With the sync of a heavy bass guitar along with thundering drums, it makes for one heck of a soundtrack!

Graphics, what makes them so special? Why am I so avid in saying that they are the best on the PSP? Let me start. At say, summoning. When a summon attacks, the graphics are so clear and definite that you can see the smoke pouring out of Ifrit's mouth. Maybe it's the stringy strands of energy forming at the base of Bahamut's mouth when he performs Mega Flare that get me. Must I go on? Okay, I will. Maybe it's the sparks that fall from Odin's blade when he brandishes it? Or dull blue flare in his eyes as he rides along a broken battleground waiting to deliver the next blow. It's not what's been placed; it's where they've been placed during the story. It's hard to explain without revealing spoiling the story. But you get the idea.

Overall, it's easy to be amazed by these fluid, flawless CGI sequences. As for the soundtrack, it will have fans of the music hooked, heck; I'm listening to it right now!

The Good

+CGI Sequences
+Materia has unlimited possibilities
+Emotionally driven original storyline
+Action-based combat is a welcomed challenge
+Pristine environments add depth to the world of FFVII
+Incredible soundtrack
+Innovative new DMW system
+Best title to arrive from compilation
+Game dynamics will have FFVII fans from the start
+The best graphics on the PSP
+Numerous mini-games throughout the game
+Includes fan's favorite FFVII characters
+Three-hundred missions that add length to gameplay
+Side-quest boss Minerva will challenge RPG veterans

The Arguments

-You only play as Zack Fair
-Die-hard Turn-based fans won't like the changes
-The storyline is short, many clocked around fifteen hours
-The plot is difficult to understand
-Gameplay becomes far too easy
-Replay value will drive away RPG veterans with easier New Game +
-Story's linear compared to FFVII

Overall
Angels have but one dream. To find this out one must play. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is the best game of the Role Playing genre. If not, one of the best PSP games of it's time. With unforgettable, realistic characters, the best music and graphics to date, and an epic yet tragic storyline about lost pride, this is a worthy title for all.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/12/07, Updated 05/27/08

Game Release: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (JP, 09/13/07)


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