Review by FFM

"Square going square? Maybe, but not soon."

A corrupted land. An evil industry named ''Shinra'' trying to ruin the world for its own greed. An undermined power no one knows of. As the game begins, you are presented with an FMV. Portraying the dynamic character Aeris (Aerith), you try to succeed in the sector 8 slums and run down the area of Midgar. Midgar is the metropolis that most of the story line is based around. It seems to have something extra to it, something more sinister then just its daunting appearance. Thus, the story of the young hero, Cloud Strife, begins. A rebellion group called Avalanche hires him. But this is only the beginning...........

You are suddenly ripped into the unique world of Final Fantasy 7. The first stand out spot of this critically acclaimed series is that of the ''Materia System''. By using slots in a weapon, which are in different amounts per weapon, you can totally customize your character. Let's say you wish that for when he dies, he would come back to life. Use the Phoenix with Final Attack materia. Materia can be acquired quite a few different ways. You can usually buy mostly lower-leveled materia at stores located in towns. The upper materia usually requires a side quest of some sort once you have gained a certain materia. Then you can change any character you wish to the preferences you want.

This doesn't come without a waste of time, and a lot of it. Spending hours at a time leveling it up at the beginning of the game is not rare. An example is the ''Ice'' materia. It is set foy you by default at the start of the game. By the time you get it mastered (Minus the hardcore nut like me that levels it up at the beginning), you will be well into the game. So through most of the game, you're restricted to making your character a total bad ass. Another restriction is the amount of AP needed to gain the materia a level. This occurs a little further into the game, though. Materia that turns the tables of the game will later be accessible to you. By 'turn the tables', I mean that they make the game really easy. For example, you can make Cloud counter attack four times for 9999 points of damage. Killing whole hordes of monsters with one hit will become possible! You can also cast magic that will lay 9999 13 times, which also gives you HP back. Or in simple terms, kicking the hell out of the enemy. It is like an old porno. It might be worn out and repetitive, but it is always fun. Until the tape breaks, anyway.

Materia only aids in battles, but there is another important part: the ATB, which is our ''Active Time Battle'' system developed for Final Fantasy 4 (2 in the U.S). This system is most widely used by RPG developers everywhere, and for good reasons. It adds depth to the game. It allows you to not just sit there and plot out a whole tactical plan in the original Final Fantasy for the NES. You could just sit there, leaving the game by itself, and not be attacked. But with the Active Time Battle system, you can no longer do that. Monsters attack based on their speed. Each monster has a different amount of speed; therefore, you need to hurry up and do what you have to do before he attacks. Unfortunately, I found the monsters' Speed/Power ratio to be a tad cliched. If he is slow, then he packs a wallop, and vice versa.

To attack during battle, you need to wait for your ATB meter to fill up. You can then choose to attack, use an item, or to utilize magic. There are even more options available later in the game. Attacking causes you to charge the enemy and, well, attack him. Or in GamePro terms: ProTip: Attacking does damage. Damage is based on both the strength factor and the weapon that's equipped at the present time. By selecting the option of ''magic'', you choose to cast a magical spell. Spells are the effect of having materia equipped. Damage dealt by spells is determined by magic power (DUH!). If you have low magic power, then when you cast fire on an enemy, they will just laugh at you and then proceed to kick your ass (Not really, I made that laughing part up)! Clicking on ''Item'' brings up a menu. Imagine this: You double click on an item to use it, and different items have differing uses. Some are rare while others are as common as grammatical errors in my reviews.

Either way, all the attacks, magics, items, and other abilities look outstanding. When Final Fantasy 7 was released in 1997, the graphics were groundbreaking, to say the least. The enemies looked nice with their variety of colors. At the time, all the other RPGs couldn't compare, graphically. The cinemas that played were all filled with lively colors and a deep amount of detail. Movies that are more notable are those that come later in the game. Tremendous detail could be seen in almost everything, except for the characters. The characters, to say the least, look as though they had a 1st grader to scribble them all into polygons. They're very blocky and even more chunky. They should take the guy that designed them and ship him to Antarctica.

On the contrary, whoever created the characters should be praised for the rest of his life! Do the names Sephiroth or Cloud Strife come to mind? If not, then join that one guy in Antarctica. Square has always, and always will be, making the most memorable characters. They reach out and touch you (get your mind outta the gutter). The development of them is extremely important to the fun factor of the game. You don't want to go through a game with a bunch of robots that have no emotions, do you? Neither did Square. The storyline is, at the surface, ''Bad guy takes over the world,'' though it goes so much deeper than that. Backstabbing, death, and plot twists are all included in it. Hey, but you can't do any of the above without a game controller. And oh how Sony makes some nice ones! You can bet your sweet ass that the controls are nice. Then again, there really isn't that much to the controls in Final Fantasy 7. You move up and down with the control pad. To select the action, just press X. You do have a lot of mini-games, though. Go chocobo racing for rare items. Play the submarine game to earn points at the Gold Saucer. The controller very easily manipulates all of these games.

Do you know who Nobuo Uematsu is? He is praised as being one of the best music composers in all of video games. All the musical scores are done with great mood setting tunes that will etch a permanent place in your mind. If you're in an area like a castle in the middle of the night, you will hear music that's suited for a dark and haunting castle that lives in the dark. The music really helps on setting a scene and for setting the mood to a certian time in the game. If you're in a cartoon world, you will hear the Barney Theme Song. Don't yell at me yet, I was just kidding with that one.

There's not any Dolby Digital surround sound incorporated into the game. Therefore, if you have a nice system, you might as well throw it out the window, or give it to FFM (that's me!). What else aids the music other than the sound effects? You have the nice ones like when Ifrit comes from the ground and you hear his roar before he incinerates that bad guy's ass. Also great is the ''Dudududu.du.du.du ...du. dudu''; that's the theme that plays after you win a battle.

Final Fantasy 7 is an epic that is not to be missed by any game player at all! Square has always delivered some of the best games in history, and they will only continue to grow in popularity. At the end of the game, you will feel as though you just finished one of the most awesome games that have ever been created by human hands.

Buy or Rent?

Buy, bottom line. Anyone without this in his or her Playstation collection must go and buy it now. That or let me punch you in the face.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/15/03, Updated 07/29/03

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