Review by DBehemoth

"A good game but a disappointing RPG"

FF7 has to be the most hyped game out there, with Internet speculationraging far before the official release. It is understandable, then, that I expected (nay, DEMANDED) the game to live up to all the babble (especially sincesome of it came right from Square itself.) After playing through a good portionof the game (CDs 1 and 2) and watching roommates complete CD 3, I came to thefollowing conclusion. As a loosely intertwined series of mini-games, plot hooksand level building opportunities, FF7 fits the bill. As an RPG, it falls farshort of my expectations.

Sensory Elements:

TV commercials for FF7 hyped FMV as the game's selling point, and theyhit the mark. The FMV is absolutely beautiful; I found myself wishing that thecut scenes would never end. The rest of the game is a letdown graphically; thetransition from pure beauty to polygonal nonsense is outright painful. As forthe music, it's my guess that good ol' Nobuo Uematsu had only a week or so inwhich to compose the entire soundtrack. With the exception of a few good tunes,it consists largely of repetitive clinkers (with the added downfall of the keyRPG tracks, i.e. the overworld, vehicle and battle music, being the worst of all.)

Theme:

FF7 falls back on quite possibly the biggest cop-out theme ever: chase a villain, who is powerful only by virtue of the game having said so and whoreceives almost no logical character development, across the world. Barret'sconstant references to "this train we're on" always made me laugh sadly, sincethe plot is really little more than a linear track which conveniently includesall major cities, temples, etc., with one (and only one) side quest for eachcharacter. In a way, it's only a tool to link mini-games, most of which are funbut some of which seem to be in there just for the sake of distracting the"my first RPG" crowd a moment longer (Mog House, the CPR scene, staying warmby repeatedly hitting a button...)

The characters of FF7 are particularly disappointing. Before the game came out, most FF7 sites had identical blurbs about each based on the infoSquare had carefully chosen to dispense. Example: Cloud was portrayed as anuncaring soldier with a hazy past, Cid as a foul-mouthed engineer, etc..Unfortunately, none of the characters progressed past these descriptions in thegame; while there were volumes of "character interaction," there was littledevelopment. Nobody had more than one or two dimensions, unless you countCloud's little freak-outs. Most characters were downright annoying (Cait Sith,Yuffie, Cid, Barret;) some could have been done a lot better (Red 13, Vincent,)and one was surprisingly airheaded for being supposedly devoutly religious anddeep (Aeris.) In general, they failed to impress me either as good RPG characters or as well-designed humans.

Mechanics:

Play control is good, aside from the occasional tedious game of "find theexit." Battle is especially easy, since slapping the Attack button (or, later,casting the same two-minute summon spell which doesn't get AT ALL repetitiveover time,) is all that's needed. The Materia system is fun for a while, butit robs the already bland characters of any inherent power, save for theadmittedly fun Limit Breaks. Still, the idea of swapping high-powered marblesrather than learning and growing in power is ludicrous in an RPG.

Overall:

I won't say that FF7 isn't _fun._ In fact, I had a blast with it at first,just hanging out with my roommates and admiring the eye candy. Then the glitterfaded away and I was left with an empty husk of an "RPG." While I didn't wantto endure more extremely frequent and pointless random encounters, I did enjoysnowboarding over and over (gotta love that Crazy course!) Though the illogicalSephiroth plot didn't tempt me, it was fun to arrange all those pretty Materiain the convenient holes in the Bangles (note to armor designers: what the hell?)In all, I think the sector of the Internet which is disgruntled with this game is justified. It may be fun, but it just doesn't cut it as an RPG, andcertainly not as a member of one of the greatest RPG series of all time. Itrepresents a disturbing trend in Square's recent policy, and I do hope they'llremember the old fans of the series next time rather than trying to appeal tothe whole world and succeeding.

- Dark Behemoth


Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 12/16/02

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