Review by NagflarNaglfar
Square and Sony's lucky 7 or how to kill a console.
Its the fifth generation of gaming history, Nintendo is still dominating the console wars, and is sure the PlayStation will be no match for his new Nintendo 64. Suddenly, one of their flagship series, Final Fantasy, developed by Square, changes sides and joins PlayStation, specially for the cheaper costs of production. Nintendo still thinks this will make no difference on the console war, but they couldn't have been more wrong. Square releases Final Fantasy VII on 1997, which sells over 9.8 million copies worldwide, proving Nintendo that their reign was coming to an end, and in the process, killing the Nintendo 64.
How this game sold 9.8 million copies worldwide and almost single-handedly killed Nintendo's new console? The answer is pretty simple indeed: Final Fantasy VII is one of the best games ever made on its time, and a timeless classic with very few flaws and an incredible amount of attention on almost every asspect of the game.
The gameplay is pretty simple, assembling that of almost every RPG of Square at that time (and also today). You walk across the world map or an area, and you go into a random battle. The battle system assembles that of most Final Fantasys, including the waiting bar, which shows you when its your turn to attack. The controls are very easy and customizable, allowing very easy navigation of the menus. The battle menu is very easy to learn, for all you need to do is wait for the waiting bar to fill, and use the directional arrows to choose your commands, which vary from the always classic "attack" command, to the ones you get by equiping specific Materia (Magic, Summon, etc), then select it by using the proper button (depending on wether you customized it or not).
To move around you simply use the directional buttons or the analog stick, and move around until getting to the proper town, object, person and even boss you wish to get to.
You are Cloud Strife, an EX-Soldier member hired by the terrorist group Avalanche to help them take down the evil global company Shinra (which acts like the world's government), in order to save the world from dying. Along the way, you'll find many people who'll offer their help, some to help the world, others for their own personal reasons. And you'll also find yourself cuaght up in a romantic triangle, between your childhood friend Tifa, and a flower girl from the slums called Aeris. Obviously, a good plot dosn't work without an evil force existing, which in this case would be Sephiroth, another EX-Soldier member whom Cloud has a long story with.
Though this storyline is pretty common nowadays, during this time it hadn't been so used as today, and it worked to craft one of those very used storylines of today's videogames (along with the "chosen one"), and give this game another very remarkable and memorable asspect: it's characters.
Final Fantasy VII's characters are among the most memorable characters of gaming history for their deep storyline and great development, specially when it comes to its main protagonist and antagonist (Cloud and Sephiroth), who are recognized as some of the best villians and heroes of all time specially for their deep storyline and development across the game, as I said before. We also have very memorable characters like Aeris (who's dead is one of the most memorable moments in RPG history), Tifa, and Barret, who's storylines are also very well developed across the game.
This game has been recognized not only for its great accomplishments on the storyline, characters, sound and gameplay, but also (and mostly sometimes), for being the first RPG ever made to use 3D graphics, which made it a very good reason to buy it to begin with. The cinematics were called some of the best of its time, and the environments were awesome. The character's 3D models were also very good. Though nowadays many look back at it and laugh of how much they resemble a lego toy, during their time they were pretty impresive, and nowadays, many people still watch them and say "How good this game looks.", and indeed, afterall, its one of the best-looking game of the whole first PlayStation roster, being surpased by few (including Square's following Final Fantasies: Final Fantasy VIII & IX).
Like every other Final Fantasy game ever made, Final Fantasy VII has a collection of incredibly good and outstanding music, going from the memorable themes of its characters (like Aeris', to name a very good one), to the battle themes and the victory fanfare, which would show Cloud swinging his mighty Buster Blade. It also has a good amount of classic Final Fantasy themes, which were also made by Nobuo Uematsu.
The sound effects, like it's music, are outstanding. From the sound the characters make when attacking something or being attacked by something, to the magic and summon's sound effects when being casted against a number of vile beasts, you can always hear an accurate and very well executed sound that goes on with the cinematics.
PLAY TIME 10/10
This game was very deep. It not only had 3 Discs full of action and lots of battle, but it also had a lot of sidequests and mini games to be played. The game itself is long, allowing one to be sitted on his couch playing it for a good amount of time, but when adding the sidequests, the most powerfull summons, and the most powerfull items (that includes the Ultimate weapons and the best Materia), it can take you a good amount to finish it. I finished my first playthrough in about 90 hours, for I trained and leveled my characters and tried to get every single item. If you wish to don't get them, I can certainly tell you it will still take you a good time to finish the game.
Lets face it: this is no surprise. All Final Fantasy games (and I mean, ALL OF THEM), are full of replayability, like beating the hardest boss battles (which in this case would be the Ultimate Weapon, the Emerald Weapon, and the Rubi Weapon), or getting the best items (i.e. Quadra Magic, Golden Chocobo, and all Ultimate Weapons and limit breaks). Some of them are pretty fun and entertaining to do (lets put as an example the Golden Chocobo. To get it you'll have to race a lot, which in my opinion, it's pretty entertaining). But some others are very hard to achieve, like the Rubi and Emerald Weapon boss battles, for you'll need to have a very strong party with a lot of mastered Materia and their best weapons, not to include a good strategy to beat them without taking too much time. Though that last part may seem like a pain in your neck, if done correctly, it wont last long and you'll be able to say you completely won Final Fantasy VII.
To put it simple: this game is one of those games you still play countless hours, for all the fun it has to offer, and the incredibly deep storyline and its characters, not to mention the amazing sound effects (and its music), and the very well rendered graphics, which in it's time, used to leave people stuned.
This game was (and still is!), one of the best and most popular games of all time, making it one of the 2 best games of all time (along with Ocarina of Time). No wonder it managed to make the PlayStation such a complete succes, and managed to virtualy kill Nintendo's Nintendo 64. Up to day, no game has had such an impact on the gaming market as Final Fantasy VII did.
So excuse me please, for I have 2 Weapons and some Materia to master with my good old partner Cloud, for the 5th time.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Final Fantasy VII (US, 09/07/97)
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