Review by MetalIceWolf
"Look past the pretty packaging and realize that the gameplay doesn't shine so well."
Crisis Core is the prequel to the million-selling, insanely popular original Final Fantasy VII that was released on the Playstation back in 1997. Since then, many gamers have credited it as being one of the best games of all time. Many years later, Square-Enix released spin-off titles of the original game, one of them being focused on Vincent, and this one here which tells the story of Zack Fair. Instead of going the action route like the other spin-off, Dirge of Cerebus, did, Crisis Core goes back into RPG mode like it's sequel, except this time it's an action RPG akin to Kingdom Hearts or Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
In Crisis Core, you're in the shoes of a young, good looking, spiky haired hero named Zack Fair. Zack is a new member of SOLIDER, and his goal is to become promoted to first class. Along the way, Zack encounters his friends, foes, and experiences plenty of mission experiences and hardships. The story reveals how Zack met the popular character Cloud Strife, hero of FFVII, and ultimately what happened to both him and Cloud. Sephiroth is in too, with an important story role along with newcomers Angeal and Genesis. Aerith also has an important role, and you'll be able to see how her and Zack's relationship develops. There are plenty of interesting surprises to be had, but since this is a review I won't be ruining them for you. The story is presented through beautiful cutscenes, and I'm sure that the plot will be really memorable to you. Overall, the story is excellent.
You control only one character throughout the entire game: Zack, and he's really easy to control. Battles are done by use of a menu that has you select to attack with your sword, with an ability, use a magic spell, use item, etc, and another button controls when Zack defends. L and R are used to switch your selections. I've never had a problem with the controls, they are simple to learn and easy to use.
The music and the sound are nice, the songs used fit the mood for the events that are occurring usually. There are also some remixed songs from Final Fantasy VII that will surely please fans and strike a chord to the nostalgia factor. Most of the same stuff is repeated, but at least it's good. Classic FFVII music like "One Winged Angel" make an appearance in the game, which is a wonderful thing.
BEAUTIFUL. Seriously, wow, easily one of the best looking portable games ever. The characters, the environments, the enemies, the weapons...everything is detailed to an supereme amount, and it looks as if you really are holding a PS2 in your hands. The cutscenes are amazingly pretty, and some of them are of the same style as Advent Children. The summons are fantastically presented, and even the menu system looks lovely! The game is sweet, sweet eye candy, and it seems like a movie. A movie that's slowly opening up as you play through the game.
This, is, unfortunately, where the game fails. The gameplay consists of a hacking/button mashing (and occasionally healing/using a item or magic power) fest. Since battles are the main meat of the game (aside from the pretty cutscenes), you're going to be fighting a lot. The battles are random, which is disappointing, as I am someone who enjoys seeing the enemies appear on the map with the chance of avoiding them if need be, rather than being swarmed by them constantly. Zack can use his primary sword attack, he can defend, or he can use ability moves or magic powers in combat. Magic powers consist of the usual Final Fantasy stuff, like Cura and Firaga. Another big thing about the battles is the roulette (called the DMW), which is constantly spinning during battle(unless you're effected by "Curse"), and if you get three of the same character portraits in a row, a special attack happens, as does an unskippable cutscene. These attacks are really useful though, as some can heal up your status or grant you special, temporary abilities such as invincibility. Not only are character portraits being selected through the spinning, but also numbers. Landing on a certain set of numbers earns you exclusive power-ups, effects, or leveling up your materia or leveling up Zack. Unfortunately, what it lands on is random, so you might end up spending an hour battling without a single level-up. But you could even get two level-ups in a row if you're lucky. This sense of randomness was not a good thing, in my opinion, though it does eliminate grinding, but really it just replaces it with luck. You'll unlock more DMW characters as the game processes. It was a cool, different idea, but it just seemed to lack substance in it's execution.
The other bit of the game is running around in the linear, closed environments. There's a map that will help you around. You can locate treasure boxes and obtain items that can help you out on your journey. Equipment you find can be used to strengthen up Zack in various ways, as can the Materia (which can also be fused together to produce stronger types.) The e-mail checking is a cool little addition to this game, though you can't actually reply to them. Every minute it seems, though, is another cutscene. The pattern of the gameplay goes like this: cutscene -> battle(s) -> cutscene -> more battles, with the occasional walking around freedom. The game is 50% cutscenes and 40% battles and 10% walking around, really, which is disappointing.
The game boasts hundreds of missions, which, when done, earns you a item, that could perhaps help you greatly. The sad thing is that the missions are always the exact same. You're tossed into a certain environment and you have to locate the enemies someplace, battle them, and then you earn the item and the mission is completed. It gets REALLY repetitive and thus lacks fun.
Overall, Crisis Core is a really pretty package. But it's beautiful cutscenes, interesting and engaging story, and the nostalgia, are really the only things it has going for it. The gameplay lacks fun, and is way too repetitive . The game lasts about 15 hours for the average player on just the main story and some missions, though it can take you longer to do them all. Regardless, if you're a big fan of FFVII or just looking for a RPG on the PSP and you don't mind the fact that it has repetitive, annoying gameplay, then feel free to check out Crisis Core. It is actually worth playing for the beautiful cutscenes and story alone.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 06/12/08, Updated 05/26/09
Game Release: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (US, 03/24/08)
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