Review by Sana chan

"This is THE game that started it ALL!"

Final Fantasy VII, the very first video game I’ve played on the PS one, might just be the best game ever created! The actual experience of playing the game was so special that it just cannot be described. This was not my first Final Fantasy game, actually, but it is THE one that got me interested in the FF series. I could never be such a devoted fan had it not been for this game!

Plot/Story - 10/10

The story of FF7 is extremely engrossing. The action starts immediately as you jump off the train in Midgar, and goes progressively deeper as the game goes on. This game is one of a few that NEVER bored me. Not even for one second. And I’m the type of person who gets bored easily, especially with games! I was always concerned about what will happen next and made theories about it. Now, what I hate about RPG’s is that most of them are predictable. But FF7 is not. Every time I think something will happen, it never does! I love it for throwing me off the track so many times. This story rich and woven with tons of plot twists and surprises along the way, which is a big plus! It keeps you in the dark for quite awhile, thus successfully using the element of suspense to beef up interest. It’s certainly one of the most complex and involved plots anyone could wish for!

Characters - 10/10

FF7 is where one of my favorite characters in video game history comes from - Tifa! But aside from personal likings, FF7 has a mix of well-developed, deep characters, including even the villains. (That is with the exception of optional hidden characters - who have stories of their own to an extent, but not as detailed.) No longer do we have some random guy who simply wants to take over the world, but people with intricate background stories! In fact, everyone has a back story of their own, each with different motivation, perception, and reasoning. Characterization was plenty and done well throughout the story. In fact, the characters were developed so thoroughly that their personalities, actions, and thoughts were close to the point of resembling real human beings. Many players tend to feel intense emotions (be it positive or negative) toward these life-like characters. Needless to say, this aspect of the game is nothing short of revolutionary!

Gameplay/Controls - 10/10

Just like everything else, gameplay excels in FF7. Aside from the normal random battle system, there are also tons of puzzles to solve along the way. Never your average boring RPG routine. (go in an area, fight, get out, beat boss, repeat) There are also several modes of transportation that becomes available as the game goes on, so not just on foot all the time.

FF7 has tons, and I mean TONS of side quests and mini games. Side quests include obtaining ultimate weapons and final limit breaks, optional bosses, Chocobo breeding, hidden characters, and more. Getting everything could take hundreds of hours! As for mini games, there are way too many to list. Just to name a few, you have the motorcycle chase, skiing trip, Fort Condor mach soldier battle, and even a slapping contest. There’s also a small in-game arcade with more mini games! These offer nice, occasional breaks from the main storyline, so you could clear your mind for a bit and continue with the complex depth of the story!

Controls, as usual for the FF series, work fine and has no flaws!

Battle System - 9/10

FF7 introduces the new materia system. It basically works like this, you find materia, which are objects that contain magical powers (there is a story behind them, but I dare not spoil!), and equip them to learn new moves, these include spell, command, support, independent, and summon materia. These add up to a nice combination of things you can do during battle, much more than just the normal options attack, defend, magic, and item found in most RPG’s. The game also has front or back row configuration you can set for each character. Front row does more damage but also takes more, back row does less damage but takes less. This battle system is very fun and customizable! Gotta love new concepts!

The limit break system was first introduced in FF7. You have a little bar next to the regular ATB bar that fills up as you receive damage. When it’s completely filled, you can execute one of your character’s special moves called a Limit Break. Each character has 4 levels and 7 different attacks. Each person’s serve a different purpose and each executes differently. For example, Tifa’s limit break is come the form of slot machines. There are 3 options - Hit, Yeah!, Miss. If you get Hit, she deals a normal amount of damage, if Yeah!, double that amount, and Miss obviously means a no-hit. When you reach a certain level, the slots for her previously learned attacks will be chained to new slots. (IE when you reach level 7, you’ll have 7 slots.) And Vincent’s is sort of like the status effect Berserk, where he transforms into a beast and executes his own attacks. I’m sure this is what inspired Rinoa’s Angel Wing in FF8. :) The limit break system is one of my favorite things about this battle system and it was makes it so fun and interesting.

Graphics - 9/10

FF7 was one of the first 3D RPG’s ever created! I’m not sure if it actually was the VERY first, but it just might be! This is actually the first time I played a game with FMV’s in it. When I first played it (which was a couple of years ago), I was really amazed by the graphics! The only problem was that the characters look like they have blocks as hands, and they don’t look very realistic, but what the heck! The rich background stories and distinct personalities of the characters make up for this! All environments, including town/building, forest and dungeon designs, are beautifully drawn and highly supplement the game.

Uniquely, FF7’s world is not that of a medieval land, yet not a futuristic one either. It is actually a combination of the two, if you look closely. You have small primitive towns and high-tech buildings coexist in this world, making it a strange but fascinating world to explore!

Sound/Music - 10/10

FF7 has awesome (for lack of a better word) music! Probably the best there is. It’s definitely ranked up there in the RPG category and even better than most other FFs’ music. The only one I like better is probably FF9’s. Many orchestral instruments were used in an combined effort to produce a variety of digital melodies (not just beeps), and they’ve succeeded big time! I sometimes leave the PS on at certain locations just so that I can enjoy the areas’ music. Also, some excellent compositions from past FF’s are remixed into FF7, including Prelude, which is one of the best. FF7 has many catchy tunes that will stick with ya long after you play. And of course, all tunes fit their respective locations/events accompanied. Nobuo never fails us!

Challenge - Varies

As for almost every Final Fantasy game, the challenge depends on how you want to play. This game has tons of difficult but optional weapons you can fight, including Ultima, Emerald, and Ruby. Breeding the Golden Chocobo takes literally days to complete. These, among others, are many challenging but fun and rewarding ventures that you can choose to do or not do.

If you simply want to beat the game, I’d say the challenge level is average. Some leveling up is required for the final boss, as he is no pushover. He casts lots of strong attacks on your party and protection spells on himself, not to mention having several forms and quickness. But, he is nowhere near impossible if you didn‘t rush through the game. Overall, FF7 lets you decide how hard you want the game to be, so newbies and veterans alike should be satisfied in this category!

To Buy or to Rent?

Of course you should buy this game! I played this game many a times since I first bought it, and it has never failed to absorb me into its tale once more. Belonging to the Greatest Hits collection, FF7 costs less than a measly $20, so there is no reason not to get it. Its value, however, is much greater than that. I believe it will be worth it even if the price tag is $50, $100, or even $1,000, because the fun of playing this game is virtually priceless. So get it now!

OVERALL - 10/10

Final Fantasy VII is probably my favorite game of all times. I just never realized games could be this brilliant before! Most other games became mediocre and boring after I played this one. It spoiled me bad. :) After playing this game, my entire assessment of video games changed. I used to only play games for the purpose of passing time when I’m bored, but after this, I became what you might call a “serious” gamer. I owe a lot to this game! Without it, I would’ve never gone after more RPG games to enjoy new experiences. I’m now a big time collector of Final Fantasy goods, and I don’t know what I’d be doing without it! FF7 is definitely very, very special to me.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/07/03, Updated 01/07/03

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