Review by LagunaVII
Welcome Back To The Ultimate Fantasy
In 1996 Squarsoft (now Square-Enix) released Final Fantasy VII for the Sony Playstation, It was this game that changed the way we look at RPG's forever, Many fans of the genre will tell you this is by far the greatest Final Fantasy of all time, and the one credited for introducing the genre to the Europe market. Now over a decade has passed and Square has decided yet again to expand the World of Gaia with their next and final instalment of The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.
As mentioned before it has been 12 years since the release of Final Fantasy VII and boy have things changed, Games are now presented in a more cinematic presentation, and with the music being beautifully composed, todays games feel like youre playing a movie, however many people think with the graphical and sound improvements, the storylines of the games tend to be poor. I am pleased to say with Crisis Core and the other games from the Compilation, this is not the case. With a great highly developed plot, this game take us back to the start and answers the questions that have been asked for ages about key characters and those mind bending plot holes of Final Fantasy VII.
Square-Enix have made yet another brave move, as with Dirge of Cerberus, the story doesn't centre around our spiky haired hero Cloud, but rather another character with gravity definite hair Zack Fair, Telling his story of how he rose through the ranks of SOLDIER, how he came to meet and befriended Cloud, fall in love with a well known flower girl and also become close to the hero known around Gaia, Sephiroth. With other characters returning, as well as new ones being introduced Square have really made this complex, Square has really helped this complex plot seem enjoyable to play, what with the revisiting of classic locations such as Midgar and Nibblehiem, the memories of VII will come flooding back, helping you make connections between the games, and unravelling the plot in a plausible way.
Its probably fair to say that the most avid Final Fantasy fan, will know the basis of this game, what with the game only being able to go one way, the ultimate end we all seen in VII, its safe to assume to destinies of the characters, however does this put a fault in game play? No Square has carefully created a back story for the major cast and lets the truth slowly develop during the course of the game, making it an enjoyable to trip to that inevitable scene at the end of the game, its a story that should grab the attention of many a final fantasy fan,
As mentioned before the game is centred around Zack, and this is the only character the player plays have, so gone is the need for turn based battles, replaced by a battle system that relates to Advent Children and that cinematic experience. The DMW (Digital Mind Wave) is a fairly simple battle system to understandable, making it easier for players who are starting their journey through this epic tale.
However with no control over the slots that are endlessly spinning in the corner, there are times that battles become daunting and start to feel, well like a button bashing frenzy. With no active battle system the skills of the turn based battle seems to have gone. Don't get me wrong you still require some tactics to get far in a battle, however with the nicely placed warning bar when your HP gets low you'll probably find yourself bashing attack until you need to heal. I feel the battle system however is just a practice run of what is to appear in Final Fantasy XII and look forward to seeing how the develop this. Hopefully making it work, as unfortunately I dont feel it does in this.
Why doesnt it work? Well unfortunately a lot of your characters development depends on these spinning slots with various characters faces and numbers on, as you endlessly bash those buttons in the battle the slots continuously spin, very so often you'll get 3 that will match and you'll be reward with either a status boost or an limit attack providing you dont run out of soldier points, however as I said the spinning is random and unfortunately you have no control, with the battle seeming as dull as it does I was surprised these slots were not similar to the slots of Tifa's limit break adding a bit of skill and maybe frustration to the battles
Fans of Final Fantasy will be please to know Materia makes a welcome return to the game, with a growth system as well. Introduced in this game though is a new addition to the Materia element, Materia Fusion. Other than using the DMW to level up your Materia you can fuse 2 level 1 Fires to gather to get a level 2, or fuse Fire and thunder to get Blizzard and enjoyable "mini game" finding combinations to get fairly good Materia to help you progress with the next part of the game.
As mentioned before the plot of the game seems to flow without any effort, so what if you want to go of the beaten track? Unfortunately there are no Chocobos to breed this time or Gold Saucer to waste your time at. Instead you may find yourself partaking in one of the hundreds of side missions in the game. In fact I recommend taking one of these up its a good way to get items and Materia. With these mission varying in difficultness and enjoy fullness, you will probably find you have beat the game in around 40 hours instead of the slandered 8 the story needs for you to beat it.
8 Hours I hear you ask, yes unfortunately the story is short and for the majority of players you will all know where it is going, does this make it less enjoyable? No! As mentioned before the story really is just a building of characters and filling in the plot holes created from VII, The introduction of new characters and locations helps allot as well. Also I think a lot of players will be pleased to find out that Sephiroth back story is built upon, however I dont know if this is a good thing or not as I actually found myself liking him as a hero and well when the inevitable happened it seemed well Star Wars-ish and my view on the character changed. In all honesty I prefer what they did in VII and left the character mysterious. I dont think I'll play VII the same again
Overall the game is another good work of art by Square, not perfect as I think there are a few things about the game that are, well rough at the edges, the camera system could be improved on greatly, there are a few times you get yourself into an awkward battle due to the camera, and with the battle system being as flawed as it is, it can really frustrate you. The battles at time seem more placed than random and with you only really able to go to one place on a mission it feels more like a Next Gen Streets of Rage than a Final Fantasy or RPG for that matter. However with a great score expanded on Uematsu work form the first game, great cinematic cut scenes and a story that just keeps giving, this is one game a Final Fantasy fan should be without.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (EU, 06/20/08)
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