Review by Slawdigi

"Old School Gamer says 8.7"

First off, some quick tidbits about me, Slawdigi. I am the epitome of an old school gamer. I'm old enough to witness the birth of video games and the culture that ensued. My first console was the Atari 2600, and needless to say Final Fantasy 1 was groundbreaking and hooked me onto JRPG's. FF was not my first RPG though, as the PC gaming world had Ultima and Dragon Warrior had already made it to US shores for the Nintendo a year or two before FF. Fast forward to mid 1997, and the gaming world is introduced to Final Fantasy 7 on the PSX. This game holds a special place in my heart not because of the fact it was my first RPG or FF, nowhere near it. 7 is placed high on my list because it was everything I thought it would be when I found out a new Final Fantasy was out in stores. Keep in mind, the Internet was primarily obsolete and news about new releases were only found in subscription magazines. I had no idea they even still made the FF series after FF2 (FF4 japan), so this game caught me off gaurd and because of that surprise factor, became an unforgettable experience.

I just wanted to get that point across so people that read this review will know that it didn't come from a mere fanboy of the series or a kid that doesn't really know what these games came from. Now on to FF7: CC

1. Story 10/10

--Final Fantasy 7 Crisis Core is a direct prequel to the events that take place in the PSX FF7. In this game, you take on the role of Zack Fair, who has many references in FF7, and play out his career with Soldier ...a top notch army funded by Shinra. The story in a prequel must be perfect and not effect anything that happened in the other. Square did a great job of this, as everything pretty much made sense when it was all said and done. The story dives deeper into the lies and deceit of the evil corporation named Shinra, and gives you the very young days of many of the beloved FF7 characters. If anything, the story in FF7:CC gives the player a more insightful look at how everything came together in 7, and why your main character was so unsure about everything at the start of the game. You also meet new characters in the game that all hold their own values and progression, and it all ties in wonderfully to it's sequel. Whether you would like this story without playing FF7 or not I don't know. I'm sure you'd be able to follow along though, and it'd be a great prequel to going back and playing FF7....for sure.

2. Gameplay 8/10

--This game plays itself out totally different than most of the FF titles, including the sequel of FF7. It is NOT turnbased like many of the other JRPG's of it's time and nowadays, but rather action orientated where you make moves on the fly, mashing buttons, all in real time. They did well bringing this new battle system into play all the while keeping FF7's materia system alive and newly refreshed. Materia grows lvl, and can now be fused into greater more powerful materia. Players can also spend many hours doing the side missions at any save point in the game. Of course, some missions require you to be at a certain part of the main storyline, and some require beating other side missions first. The mission system worked well IMO. Yes, the environments could have been more varied and detailed, but they still did ok with not beating the dead horse too badly. And yes, the missions at times were pretty bland and got repetitive. But all in all most were fun, some were challenging, and the items were well worth the frustration. The controls in the field and in battle are fluid. . There is also a Hard Mode if Normal is not enough, and a New Game +.

3. Battle System 9/10

--Like stated above, the battle system in FF7:CC is not turnbased. You walk around until you step into an area of conflict. Then, the music switches, you pull out your sword and go to work. The X button controls the use of your materia, which you can equip up to 6 max and flip through using the top buttons. The square button dives, triangle uses special materia like Dash and blocks, and the O button cancels. Ive never been a huge fan of ARPG's, but this system worked well IMO. Then there is the DMW. Most people either loved it or hated it, but to me it was just something else to help out time to time. Basically, its a slot reel that spins in the upper left hand corner as you battle through enemies. If the faces of the reel match up, Zack can perform explosive attacks (Limit Breaks), or even godly magic (Summons). Zack will often have a flashback of sorts during a successful DMW, where they show interaction with the corresponding face lined up on the reel. The fact that the reel is completely random (until near the end of the game) makes sense to me. The summons and limit breaks are so well designed it'd be a shame to milk them right from the start. I like the fact that you don't see them that often, and they kinda feel new each time it happens. You also lvl up Zack through the DMW, which really makes no difference at all. I was right about the lvl I thought Id be when the game was beat. (50).

4. Music 10/10

--Once again the FF franchise (Uematsu) comes through with a classic score to the series. Yes, they revamped a few original FF7 tracks. And when I say revamped, I mean, they made them better. But aside from the classics, there is plenty of new stuff to keep you listening. As big of a FF fan that I am, I couldn't get myself to like Dirge of Cerebus enough to beat I don't know if they took some music tracks from that game as well. Regardless, most of it was new to me, and I liked nearly all of the tracks. A lot of guitars were thrown in with the classic FF strings. A lot of upbeat tracks, and of course, your ballads and slower themes set the mood perfectly. The only track I had to cut down the volume of my PSP for was the ending JPOP love song. I can't stand them, but hey, it's just my opinion and not my kind of music. I don't feel like they have a place in RPG's, but more and more are incorporating them. Maybe the artists are popular in Japan and they use it for marketing ....but IMO they are better off without them ....hell, I can't even understand it.

5. Graphics 10/10

--IMO the best of the PSP to date. God of War could challenge it, only I think FF has more content to it, therfore making it more impressive for longer. The summons are clearly UNMATCHED. FF, since FF4j, has relied on summons as a staple for the franchise. Players expected to see expansive, overly done summon sequences especially after FF7 was released. This game goes above and beyond my expectations of a FF "summon". The sequences are FMV (full motion video), so they look as good as any PS2 video in any game I've seen. They are also drawn out, some taking as long as 2 and a half minutes to go through it's animations. But trust me, you won't want to skip them, even though that option is available. Character models are all well done, especially seeing what they had to work with from FF7's original models. Backgrounds and magic effects are smooth and seamless. Cutscenes are very much PS2-like, even closer to the newer gen's than most of what Ive seen on the PS2. Bottom line, if you are a graphics lover and would like a game just for that sole reason, you'll love this.

Basically, it is what it is. FF7:CC is the prequel to the heavily praised FF7. Players that have never heard of or played FF7 may not agree with this 9 rating, as some of it is nostalgia factor. Had the game been called something else with different characters and a different storyline, it'd still be a good enough game to pick up and try. Any and all RPG lovers should give this a try, regardless of your feelings on the FF series.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/05/08

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

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