Review by Jerec
Compelling, but shallow.
Crisis Core is a shallow game, rarely giving you a chance to deviate from the main story and explore, as the story whisks you from one chapter to the next at an incredible pace.
The story is well told, though. Zack, a minor but important character from Final Fantasy VII, is fleshed out and developed. His transformation from eager, yet reckless young recruit to a hardened, experienced SOLDIER 1st class is a compelling tale. He becomes very likeable, and its a sad tale because we already know his fate.
Zacks story features some new characters, such as his honourable mentor, Angeal and the poetic but insane antagonist, Genesis. It was fascinating to see Sephiroth as a good guy, until the familiar Nibelheim sequence, which is the centrepiece of the story.
Crisis Core tries to be a very cinematic experience, and it mostly succeeds. The FMVs are beautiful, the voice acting is high quality, and the soundtrack is excellent, with echoes of VIIs memorable score, with many new themes that fit the world perfectly. Sadly, there are scenes that are not voiced, forcing you to click through text boxes. These break the cinematic feel, often switching abruptly mid-scene, taking you out the story.
The battle system works fairly well for a one-man party, even though you arent given much control, except to attack and use magic/skills. A slot machine is constantly rolling, giving out status boosts and occasionally unleashing limit breaks and level ups. Levelling up is completely random. You might play for an hour and not level up, or you might level up twice in a single battle. The lack of control can be frustrating sometimes when the slots dont line up the way you need them to.
Battles are frequent - they happen every few seconds. Sometimes you can avoid them by hugging the walls, but this limits the camera and you can miss treasure chests. Sometimes the enemy will spin you around, or draw you back the way youd come, forcing you to cross the same area again and risk another encounter.
There are 300 side missions, but they are all much the same. There are half a dozen different environments, and no story to them. You simply wander around fighting enemies and picking up treasure. They are short, though, and are perfect if you just want to play for a short time. These missions really emphasize just how shallow Crisis Core is - there is a lot to play, but theres no variety.
Despite being a shallow game with plenty of noticeable flaws under its glossy exterior, Crisis Core is still a very compelling game to play, mainly due to the story. It was great seeing the back-story of Final Fantasy VII fleshed out, seeing Aerith, Cloud, and the Turks, making me long for a remake of that groundbreaking game.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (AU, 06/19/08)
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