Review by DanLionheart
"Not as good as it once was, but still a great experience."
FF7 is no longer an RPG which sets the bar, or an RPG which all others should be measured against. The graphics are no longer realistic, of course looking back on that today one wonders how anyone called that realistic. The game is not long at all (it was considered huge in it's era) for an RPG, barely hitting 50 hours, where as the recent Final Fantasy XII probably hits a quarter of it's story around 40 hours.
Nonetheless, Final Fantasy VII, a game that I even hold to be a bit overrated, is still a great Final Fantasy and RPG experience. If you have any kind of interest in a story driven game, especially an RPG, Final Fantasy VII is something to look into. One thing I do enjoy is that compared to the majority of Final Fantasy titles, FF7 is noticeably more sci-fi than the rest, focusing on advanced technology and very original concepts. I do enjoy the world that the game delves into, and I think that's why it's so popular. It's because the world of FF7 is so different but so similar to the real world. You have immoral lab experiments, murder, friendship, tragedy, and double agents riding mogs. Well, maybe not that last part, but you get where I'm going with this. It's always a good trait for any game, book, movie, or form of entertainment to present you with an original setting that feels like something you could actually live in. Final Fantasy VII does that with it's world of Gaia.
What keeps you interested more than the world of the game is the characters. You've got an unsociable hero, an innocent flower girl, a big bad black guy with a gun for a hand, and other interesting people that mix for quite a party. Square does a good job keeping you caring about the events of the characters, always introducing you to backstory, foreshadowing upcoming events, and giving a believable, yet surprising plot twist to spice up the story.
Now the reason for most RPGs and Final Fantasy games is the story. So let's move on. The combat system is one I've been mixed on even when the game was first released. You've got very basic turn based RPG elements combined with a Limit Break meter and a unique materia system. The materia really saves this game, because otherwise battles, which already have rather drawn out grinding and boredom, would barely be playable. The materia essentially gives you something to equip to your character's weapon, and it will represent a skill. So for example, you get a Lightning materia to cast the spell Lightning. As you go on, the spell becomes Lightning 2, and Lightning 3. But if you stop using the Lightning materia and replace it with some other materia, then you can't improve lightning. It's a very nice setup.
The combat gameplay is alright, and the story is amazing. Like any RPG, the amount of content here is quite a bit. Even for a game spanning three discs and 50 hours, which is barely halfway through standard RPGs of today, there is SO much to do in terms of side quests. There's extra summon materia to find, easter eggs, amazing bosses to battle, as well as a little backstory for certain characters to unearth. Although it's a shade below what it used to be, Final Fantasy VII still holds up as quite a great game.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/11/08
Game Release: Final Fantasy VII (US, 09/07/97)
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