Review by sinyx
"A review from a perspective you might on have seen before. *SPOILERS*"
OMG! 5?!?! Is he nuts or just an unenlightened soul who needs to be educated? Neither actually. In truth I am sick and tired of being told almost every week by kids and adults alike that this game is awesome. When I respond with my reasons as to why I don't rant over this game I have people agreeing with me and understanding why this game should not be raised to this level or even be mentioned at this level. So before you just write this review off as a guy who just wants to start a flame war on these message boards or somebody who just likes to beat on games because everyone else likes them, please hear my side of the argument.
To better understand my point some history is required. When this game came out it was revolutionary, in the fact that most all of your games were still 2d and side-scrollers. RPG's were at their height with Chrono Trigger and at the time the unquestionable champ Final Fantasy 3 on the SNES. This game comes on to the scene with 3 discs of gameplay and 3d models. People had to have this game, you went out and bought a PS for this game. I myself went and got my first job to go and buy this game. And then the fan boys came. Now on to the review.
The music is clean and clear. Opening up with the now classic Final Fantasy theme and of course the ever beloved battle victory theme. These were done to perfection. However, the actual in-game music gets over used. Wandering the overworld you are stuck with the same trumpeting music, and while when you first hear you get blown away it wears on you quickly. Same with the theme in Nihbihilem, they play that BGM everywhere. All in total there are only about 8 tracks in the entire game. 90+ hours of the same music. But now this isn't to say the music is bad and its not, the only reason I give it a 7 is because of its over use and repetitiveness.
The sound on the other hand leaves something to be desired. True that while this was really the first game of its kind. The obscure sounds of some of the attacks just don't sound right. Some of the monster growls sound really muffled, and they reuse the gun shot sounds and explosion sounds for every weapon. All in all I wasn't impressed here.
Well, really its an RPG. Hard to screw up the controls here, so I will instead count the menu interface as the controls as this is where all of the game is played. The menu is well laid out, esy to figure out where you need to go to find out information. Standard select, back, and cancel buttons. You use the D-pad to control the cursor. The few things that require you to do things out of the menu are done ok. Like the mini-games in the Golden Saucer for example. They respond well and never really are to blame for losing or messing up. Again, being that it's an RPG you really aren't put in situations like in Mortal Kombat where if you can't block or punch at the exact time you need it and so you lose. All in all really well done here.
Ah yes, the most pivotal part of any game in this game it takes second place to story. Here's the thing, this game has you wandering around alot. And I mean alot. Anyone who has played these games before knows the drill, you walk around a dungeon or area and randomly encounter. Tried and true, so if it ain't broke don't break it. This does get annoying when you are in a dungeon and you need to fight a boss, before you get to the boss you usually have taken quite a smack down from the baddies in the area. Plus it does consume alot of time. However, as stated earlier this is part of the game and it is required for you to level your characters and advance in the game.
The skill system otherwise know as 'The Materia System' was a really cool way to handle your skills and abilities. You didn't need to level one character to get your Ice spell leveled or your Cure spell leveled. You could transfer the Materia, which is a little colored orb you place in an armor or weapon slot, to any character you want. This unfortunately only appeared in this game, and had a poorly done variation presented to us in Final Fantasy X.
Now, all this seems like it warrants a higher rating than a mediocre 6, but because this game is really story driven it becomes part of the gameplay and that is covered in the next section.
This is where the game falls desperately short. This game is huge, and so therefore needs to give you an urge to continue on. Some reason to want to beat this 3 disc game. What we start with and what we end up with are to very different things.
At first Cloud (the main character) is a mercenary for hire helping out the group of terrorist vigilantes known as Avalanche. We are given a brief description of how mining 'Mako' which is refined into 'Materia' hurts the planet and is killing it. So basically you're helping tree huggers stop big business. Ok, cool I can get in to that killing the planet isn't good. Follow this up with some witty banter. Once you are done with this part you meet Tifa, ah and so the trouble begins. Cloud and Barret, the leader or the group, head down stairs. Tifa pulls Cloud aside to ask about their childhood, after getting a few options and responding we see Cloud and Tifa sitting on a jungle gym. Well now that we established they were friends and such its time to go ahead and blow up another reactor. What follows is a series of attacks and events that result in Cloud running into Aeris, the last of her kind although we don't know this yet. Shin-Ra the company you're fighting also seem to have a thing for this girl. Apparently she can go to a land of infinite Materia. The group of course won't let the company get her as this would endanger the world even more. Eventually, we make it to the evil corporation's head quarters. Well we get captured, and in the cells we go to sleep. Then uh oh, a problem blood and bodies litter the floor! We free our allies to rush upstairs and see the head of the company dead with a huge sword in his chest! We escape and about 50 minutes and a mini-game later we get an explanation. Now this is where the story goes wrong, we see Cloud as a young soldier in shin-ra's elite army, yea apparently he wanted to be like the great Sephiroth whom is dead but some how killed the corporation's owner. So anyway we see Cloud's first mission with his hero Sephiroth and of course things go wrong. The Mako reactor is going haywire and guess who is leading tours there? Tifa! So now Cloud must make a rescue and he does. But later that night Sephiroth finds a mysterious room that leads to a shocking discovery, Sephiroth is a clone! A clone from an ancient race of beings (Guess who is part of that race? That's right Aeris.) known as the Ancients or Cetra. What happens now is sad, we get about 3-4 different versions of what happened there. At one point we believe that Cloud is another failed experiment to clone the Cetra. We are also given backgrounds on Barret, Cid, Red XII, and Aeris, which other than Cloud, Tifa, and Aeris have no real bearing on the story other than to fill time. Let's not get into Vincent who unless you unlock him and unlock his story you miss a very important detail of the story. The same applies to Cloud, you can unlock a 'secret' story about his past and a mysterious guy in his past known as Zack. Believe it or not this story clears up some confusion in the main story. So after almost 2 discs of getting scrambled and confusing stories they sum it all up in one cut scene that explains everything but the secret stories. Here it goes:
Tifa knew Cloud was lying at the beginning of the game, rather than tell him what she knew she kept it secret because "she had to know it was the real him." Atleast that's how she explains away her deception. Cloud is not a clone, he was infused with materia which is how he has 'heightened abilities'. The Mako reactor incident where Sephy goes nanners actually played out like this. It was Sephiroth and Zack who went to the town with a small platoon. Cloud was just a grunt not one of the elite, embarrassed he kept his helmet on. When Sephiroth goes to join with his 'Mother' Zack gets hurt, when Tifa is put in danger Cloud steps in getting stabbed through the gut he picks Sephy up on the sword (with it still in him) and throws him down the reactor. Thought dead Sephy really just fused with the mako stream and has since become this entity.
Thats it. That is the whole story pretty much. I have cleaned it up alot and I'm sure it is still very confusing. The ending of the game makes even less sense with the creature named Red XIII (supposedly the last of his kind) running with his kids 500 years in the future. No explanation of how they got out of the volcano, no explanation of how they stopped the planet from blowing up. It just ends. So I'm left hanging with this ending that provides no closure at all just simply an open ending for a sequel. This is what makes an epic story? This is endearing? You form no bond with any of the characters, your too busy trying to figure out if you are even liking a character that exists in the game. Sephiroth while a big presence in the game isn't really in it. More over the final boss battle is lame and way too easy, leaving you the gamer with simply 90+ hours of your life wasted with a resounding thud for your reward.
This lengthy review comes to a close on these few facts about this game. I still see no reason as to how this is the best game ever. The only people this game appeals to are the die hard anime geeks who just simply love the fact that Sephiroth is pretty much and homage to Vampire Hunter D. This doesn't warrant the endless character battles these characters have won, nor the greatest game of all time polls. You never really feel bad to see these characters go, just if they happened to be a high level and you're stuck with out one of your good characters. Any other game with these strong scores in other areas would have scored better, but a story driven game like this needs to have a strong story. If not for that fan boys out there this game would have died out long ago. They tried a similar story in FFX and the masses replied in the same manner of which I am writing this review. Do not mistake cool looking anime characters as a good story. Because without seeing them and reading my synopsis, try to stay interested in the story.
Play the game just for the game play alone ignore the story, it is worth playing just to see what it's all about.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 03/19/07
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