Review by LSSJ_Sephiroth

""Men cry not for themselves, but for their comrades.""

Ahh Final Fantasy, such memories you bring about. Your impact on the world of RPGs cannot be denied. You captured generations of gamers with your lovable characters, interesting storyline, and incredible visuals (for your respective times).

With the release of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII for the PSP, we take a look back at one of the most highly revered and highly questioned RPGs of the series, and even further. Being a prequel, Crisis Core maintains the same feel of that of the original, yet still adds something fresh to the mix of Final Fantasy RPGs bombarding the market.

But you didn't come here for me to bore you with all this talk. You want to know how the game is. So lets start shall we.

Story: 10/10

The story is fabulous and can be up there with that of any other FF game made. You play as Zach, a SOLDIER 2nd-Class who is training, under the mentoring of Angeal, to possibly attain the rank of 1st. While the game adds many fresh faces to interact with and learn to love, it still maintains many a large amount of characters from the original. One would think that having such a large cast from the original would require one to play the first to understand who several of them are, but the game does an admirable job of filling in the blanks itself.

Amidst your training, one of the three SOLDIER 1st-classes, Genesis, goes MIA during a mission and takes many SOLDIER 2nd and 3rd-classes with him. This is where the story essentially begins, as it will hook you in immediately as you follow Zach's journey to ascends in SOLDIER and his investigation of the Missing SOLDIER and his followers. I won't spoil anything else then I would ruin the entire game for you.

Gameplay: 7/10

The gameplay, while adequate, can leave some feel like it is lacking. Unlike the Final Fantasies of old, the combat system is, for the most part, in real time (The reason why I say this is because there are pauses between some attacks, like Final Fantasy 12). In Combat, you select which ability you wish to use with the shoulder buttons, while you select them with the (X) button. You can evade enemy attacks with the ([]) button, and block using the (/) button. While the control scheme looks good on paper, combat feels like you are essentially mashing one button to kill your enemies. This type of impression can leave a number of individuals feel wanting more.

An additional factor in the combat system is the Digital Mind Wave system. This Slot machine type component allows you a chance at performing a Limit Break/Summon (depending upon the pictures) and to level up Zack/your materia (depending upon the numbers). Your chances of obtaining one of these are affected by you health/MP/AP levels and also the type of situation Zack is in. While the situational aspect makes the game seem more clever, they are usually scripted events during the main storyline. Aside from Limit Breaks and leveling, your DMW results can also give you positive status effects that can help you in battle.

Aside from the combat system, the other problem with the gameplay is that the Random Battle system feels flawed. The sections of the game where random battles occur essentially appear as a mixture of skinnier hallways, and wide, circular hallways. While the skinnier hallways almost never have random battles, you can barely run 5 feet within the circular sections without running into one. This can get frustrating really quick.

However, these are two problems and the remaining factors of the gameplay make up for it. There is a fascinating Materia Fusion system that allows you to fuse materias into more powerful ones and even add extra effects onto them.While there is the main storyline, there are also side missions, and a town for you to explore. The side missions, while some may find them similar, I found to be fun and rewarding as they provide their own little storylines through mission briefings. They also reward you with plenty of powerful items that help you through the game. The town allows you to speak with citizens and join a fan club even. The mail system adds even more to the story/feel of the game. There are tons of meat in the gameplay to keep you playing for a long while.

Interface 9/10

The interface of Crisis Core is very well attuned to the PSP control system. The map is available via the ([]) button, by which you can see where you are intended to go and where it is possible to go within the area. The main menu is available through the (/) button. This simple menu design makes it easy for anyone to navigate. Items and Materia you accumulate throughout your adventures can be sorted either manually or automatically. The only problem with the automatic feature is that it needs to be used periodically. For example, if you use it relatively early in the game, and then gain more items/materia, your stuff will no longer be in the automatic order. So repeated use is deemed necessary by an option that is supposed to make it "automatically" done. But I am nit-picking here, as it isn't too big of a problem.

Graphics 10/10

This is where the game truly shines. And shines it does, indeed. Since the dawn of the 3-D era, Final Fantasy games have been known for pushing a systems graphical power through beautiful cut scenes, complex character models and stunning effects. This edition does not disappoint. To date, only this game and God of War: Chains of Olympus have matched, if not surpassed, the Playstation 2 in graphics.

The in game graphics are fabulous. One could compare them with Final Fantasy 12 and there could be a good argument as to which is better. Character models are fantastic, as well are enemy models. Environments are the weak point of the graphics, yet even they are quite good. The greatest achievement of the game's graphics would definitely have to be the cut scenes. One need only watch the Ifrit summon once not to be amazed by the awesomeness of these visuals. And that is only at the beginning of the game, just imagine what is to come later.

Audio: 10/10

Another of the key defining Final Fantasy aspects is the music. While Nobuo Uematsu was the original grandmaster of the Final Fantasy music, our new man, Takeharu Ishimoto, picks up from where Uematsu left off. A magnificent job has been done on the newcomer's part. He has taken up to burden of a composer who has been considered a god by some, and leaves us wanting more. Combat music, field music, cut scene music, all is done well and we should all thank the new guy for it.

Replayability: 9/10

While many would believe a single player RPG would have no replayability after one playthrough, not true. While Mass Effect has proven it on the Xbox 360, Crisis Core proves it on the PSP and without the extra benefit of an achievement system.

The game has an additional playthrough mode after completion that many know as New Game+. This mode, as seen in many other games, lets you play through the game once more while retaining many of your stats/items. This allows you to play through from a different perspective, play a harder difficulty, try a different play style, make different choices in the game. New Game+ should be a mandatory option in all RPGs, as it adds to the experience a whole other level.

Total Rallied Score: 55/60 = 91.66% (repeated of course)

My score: 9/10

Conclusion: While this game is not a system seller, it is definitely a must own for all RPG fans who own a PSP. While the DS is more known for its RPGs, the PSP should not be forgotten or else gems like this will be lost in time by those who considered the PSP to be for racers, sports, and platformers. This game proves that the PSP is more versatile than most are led to believe.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/01/08

Game Release: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (US, 03/24/08)

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