Review by Arkyron
Crisis Core - Overhyped, but Still a Great Game
Ah, yes, the long awaited prequel to Final Fantasy VII. This follows the story of Cloud Strife's predecessor, Zack Fair, as he goes up the ranks of SOLDIER. The opening cinematic easily draws in fans both new and old, providing both a good bit of nostalgia, and a good bit of flashy, mind-blowing stunts. Sadly, most of the other cutscenes are of a lower quality. I can understand budget and all of that good stuff, but why not serve out the best for a game that's a prequel to another said to be the best RPG of all time? That's a bit of a letdown, really.
The Story, as is to be expected, is simply amazing. Whether you played FFVII itself or not, you'll be drawn into the events beginning with the end of the war in Wutai, Zack's ascension to SOLDIER 1st Class, the Nibelheim events, and finally, the tragic end. Square Enix definitely doesn't disappoint in that respect.
Then you get down to the gameplay- where sadly, the most problems are found. For most of the game, so long as you're packing Cure or another of its forms, you can simply mash X. Boss battles are of course an exception, but still. The only difficult random encounters are found in the optional missions. However, I have to question how exactly Square Enix determined the difficulty rating for some of these! Some of the hardest missions are labeled easy, and some of the easiest are under Very Hard!? As Aerith would say, "Hellooooooooo?"
Another criticism I have is the delay between actions. Shouldn't a real-time-strategy be... well, ya know... real time? And then another sad truth- most enemies that aren't in side-missions flinch at every attack, leaving them completely open to be spammed to death by the simple attack command.
That being said, the combat system isn't completely screwed. The harder battles require that you actually use strategy. Proper equipment, materia, and actual skill determine the outcome in those confrontations.
Then, finally, we come to the DMW, or Digital Mind Wave. This, basically, is a RNG (random-number-generator) system that determines at various intervals whether you can unleash a powerful limit or summon. When the left and right character icons match, Modulating Phase will begin, and if the center character matches, you'll unleash a limit or summon and have your stats boosted to the point that they can actually exceed maximum capacity until falling back below it. This is also how the level up system is done, though it isn't as random as it seems. Each enemy has a hidden EXP count that influences the number generator until you finally level up. So, while it seems at random, it really isn't.
Another system I found interesting was Materia Fusion. After a few missions, you'll be able to combine materia and items to produce more powerful materia with stat bonuses. It takes some getting used to, but it's definitely very handy. In fact, it can save you slots for your better equipment. However, be advised, as it uses the exact same points needed to make the DMW spin, allowing you to level up Zack and his materia. If you begin to run low though, you can always convert extra materia to these points.
Also note that anything you obtain in one playthrough carries over to the next. Many people play through on normal mode first, then take a wack at hard mode. In fact, that's what I advise. While normal mode may seem easy, Hard Mode is VERY much true to its name. Even veterans can have trouble beating it.
And finally, we arrive at the amazing soundtrack. I doubt Square Enix could have pulled something better together if they'd tried. From original tracks to remixes of your favorite FFVII tunes, your ears will die of shear happiness.
So, here's the bottom line -
Gameplay - 7/10
Story - 10/10
Cutscenes - 8/10
Music - 10/10
Extras - 8/10
Overall - 8/10
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (US, 03/24/08)
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