Review by usernamed1

"The first "cool" RPG"

When Squaresoft released Final Fantasy back in the late eighties, not much was expected from it (hence the title ''Final''), but what came of it was an unexpected hit which took the rather small company Square into the millions. What came after was the less ''loved'' sequel. Then, the third. None of which could mirror the first's greatness in both gameplay and sales.
But with the release of Final Fantasy IV, Square out did itself and broke new RPG grounds.
It had interesting visuals and had a story which kept everything together.
By the arrival of V, it became one of the classic series. Each addition added something huge to the series. Almost every role playing game has tried to imitate it. After VI, it seemed the series had reached its peak.
Some believers began to question if the series could get any better. Others questioned if the plots were getting repetitive, or dull.
But the doubts were replaced with shock when Squaresoft left the veteran Nintendo and announced it would release Final Fantasy VII for Sony's first video game system.
It was an outrage amongst the Nintendo fans. But soon, as rumours and images began to speculate, it became one of the surefire hits of 1997. The change from cartridge based format to CD was only one of the many changes; Making the characters three dimensional, cut scenes.
Once it was finally released, it was praised as one of the best RPGs and many critics considered it the best game of 1997. It toppled over everything else in both visuals, gameplay and storyline. With this game, it not only had much publicity, but also grew Final Fantasy series' fanbase from nerdy geeks, to anyone.
One year after its release on Playstation, it came out on PC.
The PC version was practically an identical port, apart from minor graphic upgrades.

VISUALS: Since this game came out back in the mid nineties, I can't grade this game on the same scale that I would Final Fantasy XII or Gran Turismo 4. Back then, it was easily one of the best. The in-game character models seem quite outdated (their deformed so gravely it makes a child's creation of playdoh look like a Michelangelo).
Apart from those, it looks incredible. The cut scenes still hold a candle against most cut scenes on PS2.
The in-game sequences are much cleaner and sharp than anything on Psone. Unlike most outdated visuals, this one doesn't seem to hurt it's gameplay.

SOUND: The musical score for this game has many catchy tracks and it's quality still sounds strong seven years later. But where the score shines, the sound effects darken; all of it seems a little raspy. Like when you defeat an opponent, it makes a sound of them dissapearing: a bit nasty. Or early on, for example, one of the secondary characters, Jesse, tells main character Cloud to press a switch. When you press it, Cloud makes a burping noise. Yeah, that's right, a burping noise! But these are minor things to complain about and don't dampen any of the game's moments.

GAMEPLAY: This is one of the many aspects of FFVII that changed significantly over the previous instalments. I still is an RPG to it's fullest, but the way everything is laid out makes it quite an intuitive game while still giving enough depth. For example, many of game's key points are only accessible to the player at later stages of the first disc (the game is played across 3 discs. The first and longest can take an average player around 30 hours. The second one 10 and the last 5): World map, summons, the ability to change characters, !he storyline!
All this gives the player enough time to familiarize himself with the heavy burden that is materia. In other words, magic. Materia keeps the game going and to only scratch its surface, you need to thoroughly read the manual and in-game tutorials. Only once I beat the game did I finnaly understand every bit of it.
The battle system is like any console style (read: Japanese) RPG: Turn based. A small bar slowly fills up and once its completed, actions may be entered. It makes for some quite intense battles that keep the game moving at challenging rate. Only once you begin to recieve every characters final weapons that the game becomes one sided.
That and the dreaded summoning of the Knights of the Round... 10/10

CONTROLS: The original on PSone had very, very solid controls. The only possible complaint was the lack of analog.
On the PC version, it depends on what you have; if you're using the keyboard, it's slightly intimidating but can easily be configured to your liking. I you have a controler, chances are the controls will be even better than the PSone's since it supports analog (ie: full 360 movement). This deserves a perfect score alone just for the simplicity: OK, Cancel, Menu and Directions. The ability to configure them to any keys makes it very intuitive. 10/10

STORY: Explaining the story would only ruin it for you. It creates one of the deepest character development in the history of video games. Some purists say its Sci-fi image ruined the FF series, but once you get past the first five hours, the game takes an unexpected turn and keeps you captive till the very end. Many found it lacking in areas, or otherwise odd, but an attentive reader can easily understand it all with one playthrough. Though quite complex, dark and engrossing, it can't hold a candle compared to the unbelievable mind screwer that is known as Xenogears.
But unlike Xenogears, FFVII held many more memorable scenes.

RENT OR BUY?: Obvious.

OVERALL: One of Square-Enix's masterpieces. The only RPG I can think of which was considered ''cool'' by a non-geek majority.
Like many people, this was the first RPG that I played and it opened the door for me to see many other great RPGs.

Unfortunately, it didn't get any better than this. 10/10

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/12/04

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