Review by ShadowKnightZX

Reviewed: 04/21/08

Crisis Core -- Time to flex my honesty muscle.

I'm sure there are many people out there who bought a PSP with the intention of buying this game when it came out. They waited and waited, feasting on any tidbit of information that Square-Enix would toss at them, and now it's finally here. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, a prequel to the original Playstation hit, has landed on the Sony PSP.

Let me say, first off, I'm a Final Fantasy fan, and I greatly enjoyed Final Fantasy VII. With that out of the way I can tell you, honestly, that I am not a raving fan-boy who thinks it was the most amazing thing Square has ever put out there. So, with that out of the way, let's get to this shall we?

Graphics - 8/10: The graphics look wonderful on the PSP, there's no denying that. The in-game footage is nothing to complain about but the title truly shines with its CGI cut-scenes and summoning sequences. I would say my favorite moments would definitely be the summoning sequences, they're just downright stunning and made me wish I had a bigger screen to view them on.

Sound - 8/10: I enjoy the music in the game, even though there are somethings I really really miss from VII. The inclusion of new stuff is nicely done, and I am considering picking up the soundtrack, but not fully sure if I want to spend the money on it yet or not.

Gameplay - 6/10: The first thing to mention is the difference in battles between Final Fantasy VII and Crisis Core. The opening moments of the game feel familiar and new, but you're presented with the new battle system. Admittedly, it feels extremely clunky at first. It's been compared to being like Kingdom Hearts, but I haven't had some of the problems with Kingdom Hearts as I do with Crisis Core.

The first issue I had, one that took quite a bit of getting used to, was the Auto-Lock On. The game automatically targets the closest enemy to Zack and any commands you input will be focused on this target. The idea seems great and like it would come in handy but begins falling apart when you're hit by another enemy, sent back, have your targeted enemy run across the screen, then recover to chase down that same enemy you had targeted instead of recovering and auto-locking on to the next nearby enemy. If you are just starting out and getting used to things, expect to recover from an attack and try to input a new attack string on surrounding enemies just to see yourself charging your original target. This also leads to a one track mind of focus, with one of the only real ways of attacking more than one enemy was to attack one in a close group. A very close group.

The game introduces a new system called the DMW. It's basically a slot reel in the upper left corner that displays randomly generated character faces and numbers. The reel is meant to be randomized and something you have no affect on, which can be exciting and sometimes frustrating. Excitement comes from certain numbers, or combination of numbers appearing in the reel. Those numbers and number combos can net you temporary boosts like invincibility to nulling physical or magical damage. If the Reel matches up two characters faces, on the left and right side, you enter a "Modulating Phase" in which the middle Reel will continue to roll and you hope it's gonna land on the same character face. If it does, you can perform a Limit Break attack that is unique to that character. An example is gaining Aerith faces in all reels, this performs the healing Wind attack which not only heals you but pushes your stats into the Break phase, in which they exceed your current maximum amount, and makes you invincible for a short while.

There's also another element to the Modulating Phase, getting a combination of all 7's means your character will level up. Yes, leveling up is also based on the DMW. The same goes for materia, which requires a different combination to level up. Now, as a break, sometimes the Modulating Phase changes face and you will switch to a Reel full of Summons you've colleted or special helpers you've collected. Some of the Summon stars making a return are Phoenix, Odin, and Ifrit. Some of the helpers you find are a Chocobo, a Moogle, and even Tonberry. In order to gain these things, as well as character faces for the Reel, you must venture thorough the main game, and for some, you must complete missions.

There is a point where the DMW becomes a serious drawback for me, as I'd much rather actually summon or use a specific limit break than waiting on chance to make it happen for me. In fact, more often than not, I would land summon reels when I didn't even have the actual summon, but when I gained the summon, I almost never saw it land. This was most evident with the Phoenix summon for me. Though, when they do land, the visuals are sometimes utterly jaw dropping.

There's the inclusion of a new system called Materia Fusion. The concept is simple, mix pieces of Materia together in hopes of creating something far more powerful. You can also, later in the game, toss in items to be fused as well. In order to fuse anything you must use SP, gained from battles, to fuse the items together. Though this can make things cheap as you can start mixing up HP+ or even HP++ materias that give you +200% HP, the max end being +999% HP. You won't be able to do this right off the bat, but once you can you'll be finding new ways to mix up high level HP++ materia in no time. It is something fun to do, and adds a fun new element, but with the ability to create such powerful materia, added to items that break the Max HP limit... things seem slightly easier.

A good chunk of the meat of the game is honestly in the missions. The main story line can probably be beaten in 8 to 15 hours. Add in doing every mission and you will actually push into the 30 or 40+ hours of gameplay, and each one is relatively short which is just awesome for gaming on the go. The only drawback is that they're basically the same three or four areas with slightly different layouts.

Story - 5/10: It's passable, I suppose. It's really nothing you shouldn't know already, unless you're brand new to the series and think playing the prequel first would be a good idea. The main villain, Genesis, seems way too forced onto you, and is even thrown in areas that may anger you, like they did me. He's also incredibly annoying, spouting the same nonsense from the same ridiculous poem/play over and over again. He also happens to sprout a black wing and is obsessed with a female power. Does this sound familiar to anyone yet, or no? He's basically, to me, Sephiroth in drag.

Closing remarks: I enjoyed the game, and the end still got to me despite knowing what would happen. I needed to take time out to get used to the sometimes frustrating battles and relying on the luck of a random reel when I really needed a certain summon or limit to save my sorry behind, but sometimes found relying on that very reel to be exciting in the sense of not knowing what's coming next. The missions aren't very varied in the visual department, but are short and can be rewarding which gives you a sense of accomplishment for such a little amount of time and effort being put in, which is downright awesome for gaming on the go.

Final score? 6/10.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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

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