Review by TigStripe

"Reaffirming my Faith in FF7"

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is the much-needed prequel to the smash-hit (and often overhyped) Final Fantasy VII for the original PlayStation. I come to you both as a veteran Final Fantasy player as well as a gamer who can look at a game objectively, and give you two different opinions about a single game.

Shall we break things down?

Gameplay: Battle Mechanics and moving the story along
FF Fan Opinion: 6/10
Objective Opinion: 2/10

Yes, that's a 2 you see. The battle system is severely lacking, as it's even more hack-n-slash than the Kingdom Hearts series. The overuse of the Square button to dodge attacks is present in almost every battle in the game, both story and random. You might have to heal every now and then. Maybe. The enemies' AI is pathetic beyond belief, putting even Dirge of Cerberus enemies into “genius” categories…a lot of random battles involve you running up to a still enemy and beating it into a bloody pulp without much retaliation at all.

Materia fusion and equipment is nice, as it does allow you to customize Zack's stats to a certain degree, but there are really no important stats aside from Strength, Vitality, and Spirit. You can even offset low HP with higher levels of the latter two, unlike most FFs.

FF Fan: 7/10
Objective Opinion: 8/10

This game looks good. It really does. From breathtaking Advent Children quality videos to the lighting on the magic spells, the PSP's hardware is pushed to contain Crisis Core's animations. The only real downside is that this game was on the PSP, which is a weird hybrid of PS1 and PS2 technology, which disallows for perfect polygon rendering, so you do see polygons on character models, but it's not enough to throw a low score at.

My main beef with the visuals of this game come from being an avid FF fan, in that the spells are not flashy at all. They're not even impressive-looking, honestly. The Summons and Limits are nice, but we're talking FF12-style magic, which is nothing more than lackluster.

FF Fan: 9/10
Objective Opinion: 9/10

It isn't Uematsu, but it's danged close. Utilizing mostly tracks from FF7 and remixing them with a more rock feel, Crisis Core delivers nostalgic music alongside familiar settings such as Nibelheim, while not deviating from Uematsu's style enough to irritate veterans at the new music of places like Banora.

From an objective standpoint, the music is quality, the voice acting is quality, and the sound effects are crisp and really the only sound that will get on your nerves is the sound of Zack's sword slashing through something (refer to gameplay section for what I mean). There's no reason to give this game's audio ratings anything less than near-perfect.

FF Fan: 10/10
Objective Standpoint: 8/10

Here's the part everyone wants to know about: Crisis Core's storyline. Does it stand up to powerhouses like FF7 and FF9? Surprisingly, yes, it does. Filled with familiar faces and locations, Crisis Core is blessed with the ability to do what most FF's severely lack: character development. Non-veterans to the game won't be heavily disappointed, because characters are described in various ways through dialogue, email, and story points, all coming together to show who these people really are. As for the story itself, an objective gamer would kind of wince at the cliché of LOVELESS throughout the entire game, but seeing as how it fits in with the overall plot so well, it's a necessary evil. My only problem with Crisis Core's storyline was the vague nature of Genesis' goals near the end of the game. We originally believe he wants one thing, but he seems to go for a different goal altogether, and it's never really explained.

For those who are returning FF vets interested in this game, you'll probably do the same thing that I did as you play this game: a certain interaction almost made me cry, and another pointed a finger at Zack in an accusing manner. If you play the game, you'll probably notice the exact moments I'm talking about.

New characters like Angeal and Genesis add a sense of uniqueness to this game, since leaving them out would make it feel entirely too close to FF7 for most newcomers to the series. After all, what FF fan doesn't know the happenings of Nibelheim? We needed something else as a grand finale, and Crisis Core delivers.

That brings me to my last point about the storyline, and that is the ending. Without spoiling anything, the Ending itself is enough to boost my ratings of this game's storyline by at least a point on the objective gaming rank. Being an FF veteran, I know what happens to Zack, so I was expecting Squeenix to do something epic. Boy, I wasn't disappointed. The ending left me breathless. Because of the nature of the ending of Zack's story, even those who don't know the full story will appreciate the ending as a true work of art.

Replay Value:
FF Fan: 10/10
Objective Opinion: 5/10

There's a New Game + mode in Crisis Core. There's also a Hard Mode. I do not recommend playing Hard Mode without a New Game + file available. For fans of the series, this game is good enough to play through more than once, similar to its sequel. For people who want to play through it again because of sheer replay value, I say this: if you like a challenge, play Hard Mode your second time through. Aside from that, there's no real difference, and almost no reason to play this game a second time. I gave it a 5 because it has a New Game + option and has an amazingly difficult Hard Mode in comparison to its normal difficulty.

So the overall standings are:

FF Fan Opinion: 8.5/10
Objective Opinion: 6.5/10

Final thoughts:
This game is good for its storyline and its audio/visual aspects. Its gameplay is terrible compared to other action RPGs. It's too simplistic and repetitive. The rest of the game makes up for it. If you're an FF fan that enjoys FF7, this is one of the greatest things since fire. If you're an FF fan who doesn't enjoy FF7, it may just change your mind.

Buy or Rent?
Not sure you can actually rent PSP games, but “Keep or Trade” works. If you're an FF fan, buy this game. Do it. Stop reading this and go buy it. Your life will be better for it. If you're not big into FF, this game's a great play through, but only takes about 12 hours to beat, and isn't really worth a second play unless you just LOVED it the first time. Buy it, play through it, and sell it back to where you bought it within a week for a full refund.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 04/07/08

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

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