Review by Ofisil

"There ain't no gettin' offa this train we on!"

Final Fantasy 7 is a RPG developed by SquareSoft. Unless you've been leaving under a rock you must have at least heard something about Final Fantasy 7. This game, while not innovative in any sense, while it was quite flawed and boring at times, it captivated the hearts of millions of people across the gaming world. Was it just a hyped game? Lets find out…

Story: 10/10
Presentation: 10/10

This is the main thing in FF7… I you don't like it leave it! Don't expect flawless gameplay… in fact without its plot FF7 is just another eastern RPG. The game starts and you see a large, dark circular city from afar, then the camera zooms and you see something going on. A group of people of a Terrorist group called Avalanche is killing soldiers and tries to enter the core area of one of the 8 Mako reactors and you are one of them, Cloud Strife, an Ex-SOLDIER and now a mercenary. Avalanche wants to destroy the reactors one by one, because they think that Shinra, an extremely powerful company that rules this place and almost all the world, is sucking away the energy of the planet with them and it won't be long before the planet dies! The appearance of a legendary man that was supposedly dead breaks the monotony and from there on starts a journey in order to find this man, what his purpose is and how he fits into the big picture. From there on you'll meet several characters, which in my opinion are one of the best in all of gaming history. You'll delve into the past of all the characters and especially the main protagonist who has a dark secret that even he doesn't actually know! You'll battle with the one considered by many the greatest videogame villain of all time and see why he actually became the bad guy of the game something more complex than it looks.

I just love the plot of FF7, not only because it is actually a good plot… not even because of the excellent presentation that makes you wanna see more as you progress in the game, but for the characters! I love each and every one of them! At first they seem the typical RPG heroes, the heroic sword guy, the tough black, the sexy\sensitive\cunning females, the funny ones, the mysterious ones, etc. but as the game goes on you see that they are far more complex. Many of the game's sidequests actually deal with their respective pasts and binding to the main storyline of the world of FF7. I can go on and on about the quality of the plot here but I must stop… FF7 simply has a great plot… not as deep as Xenogears and Chrono Chross but the excellent presentation and characters makes up for it.

Gameplay: 7.5/10
Replay Value: 7.2/10

As I've said FF7 is a story driven game… if you don't like the story, it is very unlikely that you will enjoy its gameplay. Not that it is bad, I've actually enjoyed it the first, second and maybe third time, but it is certainly the most flawed part of the game. Generally FF7 is like any other Final Fantasy or eastern RPG. You move around some characters, searching for items, talking with people and of course fighting and leveling up. Now lets analyze each part one by one.

Adventuring in FF7 is quite good the first time, average the second time and utterly boring for the rest of your playthroughs. Searching for items in FF7 is very simple, some are just in front of you and some just need a bit of more hard work. There are only a bunch of special items that need a looot of time like the last summoning magic. There are some small puzzles involved, nothing special or mind-boggling and talking with people for clues is usually meaningless and no fun at all since people here are just the typical NPCs that say very boring stuff. However while adventuring in FF7 is quite easy there is a very big world ahead of you and you will actually enjoy searching around at least in your first time.

Now what about the fighting part? Like any other RPG while you wander around the place you'll fight some random encounters, (battles that start randomly). From there on things are pretty typical, with no innovations at all. Each time a character is ready, you select what he will do from a list of commands and that's it. The only problem: The extreme easiness! 99% you will just press the X button in order to simply attack your foes and you will finish the battles with no scratches at all! Battles are way to easy, even with most of the bosses and not only are easy but don't even require strategic play. Apart from all the questing and fighting though there are a lot of extra stuff you can do in the game, with a lot of mini-games available, gambling and generally a lot of stuff that aren't something great but at least they are here and help to break the monotony.

The only “innovative” part of the game is the use of Materia. Materia is a new concept in the FF series. They are small spheres of magic that you can insert them in your weapon's and armor's slots in order to enable more in-battle options. For example you have a sword with 4 slots and armor with 2. You insert the Materias, Fire, Ice, Lighting and Poison in the 4 slots and now you can use these magic spells in combat. Now the 2 slots of the armor are not simple slots but connected ones, so now you can make combinations. For example you can combine Fire with an All Materia, which means that Fire doesn't just burn one enemy but all of them! There are many kinds of Materia divided between 5 types like the green ones, which are the simple magic spells, the yellow which add one more command like Steal, Manipulate, etc, Purple ones that add to your stats like increased HP or MP, the red Summon Materia and the gray ones that are used in connected slots. Now while these Materia add a lot to the game, the easiness of the battles ruins the whole concept something that is a real shame. Finally a very annoying part of the game is the time magic attacks take. Believe me, when I play FF7 and make the mistake of lying in my bed I almost fall asleep!!! Magic effects although look wonderful take way too much time and can take from 10 seconds to an almost whole minute!!!

On a final note, one of the lesser problems that can be quite annoying at times is the appearance of some bugs in the game, something unheard for a console game in my opinion. Usually bugs in console games are just a few that don't severely affect the game, but here bugs can completely destroy the gameplay because the can make you unable to get an important item and given the fact that the game can last for 30-40 hours that is not a simple matter.

Graphics: 8.5/10
Design: 9/10

A big debate whether the graphics of FF7 are good has been going between fans, haters and non-fans. For me graphics are 3 things: Graphic quality, meaning how good a game's graphics are “technically”. For example Doom 3 for me has good GRAPHIC QUALITY. But that's not enough… there is also the overall design, a self-explaining term in my opinion. Warcraft and Diablo series for example where never wonders of graphic technology, but had excellent design without a single pixel used in a bad way. But still that's not enough for me… a game just got to have “life”, to make you feel as if you are truly “there”, it must have atmosphere! And that's what saves FF7.

FF7 is the first FF game that uses 3D models moving in pre-rendered backgrounds ala Resident Evil, something quite common back then when it came out. CG backgrounds are simply great. Nice unique areas and not the typical grassy area, dungeon, forest, desert, blah, blah, blah! You start your journey in Midgar, a dark, circular metropolis with a large plate covering the sky and giant energy factories around it, giant machines in every corner and ghettos filled with people. Then you go out in the open fields and that's where the real deal is. From there on you'll travel through, strange caves with glowing minerals around the place, enter mysterious temples and frightening mansions, dark forests, areas full of wonder and many, many more.

The only problem with Final Fantasy for many people, (not for me), is the simplicity of the character models which are just a bunch of squares throw in together. I agree with the simplicity problem, BUT I don't care! You know why? Because these little simple polygons have a unique design. Each character has his own style and is quite distinctive something very important in videogame characters. They have simple but good animation and their funny gestures make them even better. But you know these simple models are the ones you use when moving around… the in-battle models are wonderful! Far more detailed and with better animation. Finally the in-battle special effects are really wonderful and breathtaking when a Summon magic is used which summons a demigod to do your binding… however these magic spells take too much time…

Sound: 7.5/10
Music: 10/10

Final Fantasy 7 shows us what music in videogames is all about! There isn't a single theme that I don't love and that hasn't stuck into my head. Every single track is wonderfully composed and fits like a glove to each area or event. There is a great variety in tunes too! Where should I start? The epic battle theme? The famous atmospheric prelude music? The funny themes, the creepy ones, the fast paced, the slow, moody ones, or one of the greatest compositions in the history of videogame music, One-winged Angel??? Every single music theme is simply absolutely fantastic with the only flaw here being the MIDI-like quality. One final note: RPGs are notorious for having good music… that gets boring too fast! You see after listening to the same battle theme for the 1000th time you WILL get a bit annoyed, but here the music themes are far better than the average RPG music, (and longer), making them sound good even after hours of gameplay, especially the battle theme. Apart from the music the SFX are good also, nothing special and a bit too 16-bit if you ask me but quite decent and distinctive.

-A wonderful plot with a great presentation
-Excellent characters & character development
-The new & innovative Materia
-Very good graphics, great character design
-One of the best OSTs

-Battles are too easy, like the rest of the game…
-Magic in battles takes way too much time!
-Some bad Bugs

Also Play:
Chrono Trigger (SNES)
Final Fantasy 3 (6 in Japan)(SNES)
Final Fantasy 8 (Playstation)

Not really recommended but part of the franchise:
Crisis Core (PSP)
Dirge Of Cerberus (PS2)

Overall: 8.7/10

So in my opinion Final Fantasy 7 isn't a perfect game, but you either hate it or fall in love with it… I, despite the game's numerous flaws have fallen in love with it, mainly because of the plot and character development, however if I wanted an RPG with a better gameplay I wouldn't choose FF7.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/06/09

Game Release: Final Fantasy VII (US, 09/07/97)

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