Review by The Unheard Z
ep·ic (adj.) - 1) Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size
2) Heroic and impressive in quality
Once in a while, something comes along in a specific category and changes the way things are done. Your Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan’s, Babe Ruth’s, John Wayne’s, and Jack Nicholson’s. Legends of their respective fields. Then there are things that come along and change the way things are done. Revolutionary landmarks. Things like the first automobile, telephone, computer, and lightbulb. Things and people that create a special rift that causes some things to change. Final Fantasy 7 (FF7) is one of those rift makers.
Probably the hardest thing to explain is why it’s such a phenomenal game. Perhaps the characters have a reason to do with it? Most definitely. The main characters in FF7 have become almost legendary in gaming. There’s Cloud Strife, the disillusioned mercenary that joins a group of rebels to take out an evil corporation. Of course we can’t forget about the main villain (who’s just as popular as Cloud), Sephiroth. A soldier with a past shrouded in mystery with purposes and plans that threaten the very existence of the planet. What do the two have in common? What is their connection to one another? And why do they both hate each other with a passion? Those are just a few questions in the 3 disk epic that will be answered.
Gameplay shines like the sun on a clear day. Through a simple system of equipping Materia (small spheres that give magic and abilities), your party becomes an even greater powerhouse as it levels up throughout the game. Materias range from being able to heal poison to summoning knights that can take out the Final Boss after only 2 casts. Each spell looks impressive as well. Brilliant flashes of light come onto screen at once from multiple areas. Enemies call forth attacks with such power Mars crumbles before the attacks. Pretty.
The beginning of the story is simple. Cloud joins the rebel group Avalanche to make some cash while Avalanche is trying to take out an evil corporation sucking the life out the planet to make money. Eventually, things will go a little haywire and you’ll leave the city that you start out in (Midgar). From there on, the basic plot for the rest of the game gets set up as Cloud acquires new skills and party members in his journey to ultimately save everyone. Keep in mind that there is WAY more to it than that, as you will find in just the first couple of hours of the game.
There have been side quests in other Final Fantasies (before and after 7), but 7 still has the most (and arguably most time consuming) ones. Aside from an ultimate weapon for everyone, there are some optional bosses in the game that have become well known. These beings are known as the Weapons. Massive creatures that possess more than enough Hp and power to wipe the floor with you and your puny little Bahamut. Each can kill a party member with practically a flick of their finger. Strategy, patience, power, and perseverance is required to rid the planet of the Weapon villainy. Just hang in there, though, because the rewards for victory are definitely worth it in the end.
The total number of hours it takes to beat Final Fantasy 7 makes it a game you have to stick with, as in most RPGs. The estimated time alone if you tried to go as fast as you could would still take you a good 45 hours of playing time. That figure doesn’t even include side quests. So it basically depends on how well you’re enjoying the game and how badly you want to see the well deserved ending (which is about 25 minutes long in itself). Of course, there is the possibility that you might get stuck somewhere in the epic. Most likely on one of the menacing bosses that populate the game.
The time-tested formula of leveling up in order to beat boss applies here as it does in most other RPGs. If a boss is too challenging, you probably have to level up more and get stronger in order to take the enemy down. That or you need to find a strategy. What’s the opponent’s weakness? How can I exploit it without getting slaughtered in a counter-attack? Will I be able to heal afterward? You need to take all of those questions into consideration, because one wrong move can send you to the Game Over screen in no time provided you are facing off against a boss creature. As for the way the big bad bums look, the graphics are extremely impressive, even for a PS1 game. Sure, things are blocky and look outdated. If you were looking for a game of beauty these days, you wouldn’t be playing a 5 year old game.
The question remains - Why is Final Fantasy 7 so great in the mind of millions of gamers around the globe? Honestly, there is no definite answer to that question. At least not an answer that can be put into words. Everything about it from the graphics to the characters to the story combine perfectly and strike a chord somewhere deep in the recesses of the mind, almost like magic. It may be old. It may not look like much anymore. But it is still one of the best games of all time, and for that it’s greatness will live on forever. The Final Fantasy series is renowned for the greatness of each title in it, and this one does all the other ones proud.
It still looks good as a PS1 game. With all the dazzling summon effects, big battles, and luscious backgrounds, FF7 is still a landmark game in the graphics department. Compared to Resident Evil 0 or Halo, however, it looks dated. Since FF7 is the most anime-like FF in the series, the graphics reflect that. Whereas 8 looks lifelike and 9 is a bit cartoony, 7 has an anime look to it. The graphical look particularly reflects on the characters, since each character’s artwork looks like something straight out of an episode of Japanese animation. Outdated yet still comfortable to look at, in simpler terms.
The Materia system is a cinch to control once you learn the nuances of it, like combining 2 of them in connected materia slots to achieve a special property. Leveling up is how it is in most RPGs. Get more experience, level up, and get stronger because of it. Each character’s special attacks (Limit Breaks) is a slight twist on how things used to be done, however. In FF7, there is a bar that fills up depending on how much damage each character is dealt over the course of time. When the meter is filled up completely, the character is able to attack using their Limit Break, which causes a heavy amount of damage to the enemy. Some attack a group whereas some attack only one enemy. Each one fills the screen up in brilliant flashes of light as well. Beautiful and deadly.
The epic conflict to save the world from an evil warrior is extremely well brought out in FF7. Revelations abroad throughout the game as do secrets hidden in the past. Twists and turns occur as well. One in particular has become legendary in games and invokes a sense of actual sadness when it occurs. As in other Final Fantasies, things don’t go exactly as you might expect them too. The player needs to pay attention in order to get the full experience out of the story, as well. This is made easier by watching the various cutscenes in FF7 (which is nice to do after a hard boss fight and scrolling through a bunch of text for the last 30 minutes). The character development and story are definitely a big reason why FF7 is so good. After all, it is a rarity that a game is able to get an emotion out of it’s player.
The music in the game is suburb and fits each area and event perfectly. From the trademark scale present in most Final Fantasies to the final battle piece, the music is strong throughout. Sounds match the special effects well and help magnify the intensity of each fight to survive and grow stronger. Each little noise gives off a certain effect to give the game more detail to it. Although the game itself is huge, there is a different piece of music for each new area so the tunes never get old.
Final Score: 10/10
Everything about Final Fantasy 7 mixes together to create a nice experience. From the side quests to Cloud’s hate toward Sephiroth to the music, the epic struggle and gameplay that has stood the test of time is incredible and worthy of every gamer’s attention. It might not be perfect (no game is), but it sure is great. Look past the few flaws to the true gem beneath. I guess it’s true what people say. 7 really is a lucky number.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 02/23/03, Updated 02/23/03
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