Review by Ironblade16
A handheld experience like no other.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is a prequel to the original Final Fantasy VII released back in 1997 to widespread commercial sales and an enormous amount of critical acclaim. It really pushed the Final Fantasy series into the mainstream market, and for the first time, put it on the charts. This changed not only the franchise itself, but Square Enix (Known as Squaresoft back then) as well. Now, ten years after the original release, this game was released. This game focuses on the adventures of Zack Fair, a SOLDIER 1st Class who influenced the events of the original and played a major part in the development of several characters. Overall, he is an integral, yet underplayed character of the FF7 franchise. So, enough background information, onto the review itself!
Like I said in the introduction, this game is a prequel to the original game. You take on the role of Zack Fair, SOLDIER 1st Class. SOLDIERs are basically super-soldiers genetically engineered by the Shinra Electric Power Company. Shinra is a dominant corporation in the world, known for its harvesting of Mako (think oil; primary energy source) and also own the metropolitan city of Midgar. Enough of that, lets focus on the story itself. Basically, Zack is assigned to hunt down a missing SOLDIER known as Genesis. He turns out to be a rebel, and your mentor, Angeal seemingly joins him. What follows becomes more intricate as new events spark up and plot twists occur. The story is pretty good in my opinion, driven by Zack's character and his motivations to the ones he will try to protect. Overall, the story does its job and the ending will most likely bring you to tears, or at least pull on your heartstrings.
Some of the best graphics on the PSP. Seriously. The character models are superb, with enjoyable animations and some pretty good environments to boot. The environments, however, aren't extremely detailed and they can be recycled quite a bit, especially in the optional side-quest missions. The CGI sequences are a nice addition, and look absolutely beautiful, especially the end scene, which might be the most beautiful visuals on the PSP; period. There isn't much more to say about the visuals, however, just know that they are in fact excellent; besides recycled environments and some odd lip syncing at some points.
The sounds and such are pretty enjoyable. The soundtrack has a lot of remixes from the original, with only a few new tunes. However, it does its job and does well in blending you into the atmosphere and locales that you visit. The battle theme is nice, and quite catchy. In terms of sound effects; pretty basic, easily identifiable...simple. Voice acting? Most of it is good, but some of them fall back on typical Japanese to English dubs, which is way less than stellar.
Alright, here we go. Biggest section of all. Lots of stuff to discuss.
I guess we'll start off with the battle system. Instead of adopting the classical turn-based style used for the original FF7, this one changes things up a bit as it is actually real-time, to a certain degree. You still have random encounters, but once you do, you enter the "Combat Phase" in which you fight the enemy. Instead of being placed in a certain position and forced to select commands and take turns, you can actually move around, dodge, and use abilities in real time. At the bottom of the screen, there is a command bar. You can place materia, commands, etc. on this bar, and then us the L and R buttons to cycle through commands. Simply select the command, and you will use it, with a small one to two second delay. But enough specifics, lets just get to what I think of it.
The battle system is, in fact, enjoyable. It adds a healthy dose of innovation to the increasingly stale turn-based mechanics that have faded into the past. There are some epic fights later on in the game, and actually being able to move around and fight increases the realism and makes you feel like your actually fighting; not taking turns.
Of course, an RPG wouldn't be without its exploration and character customization elements. Throughout Zack's travels, he will visit various locales where he can explore the area; searching for treasure chests and such. However, this doesn't have the secrets and exploration of a full-blown Final Fantasy game; it is much more linear. However, it does its job well and works for this game. Character customization is varied, allowing you to equip different materia (magic, basically), as well as fuse various materias to make newer ones or add stats on to existing ones. The materia fusion system opens up a lot of customization to the game, for sure. Accessories can be equipped as well, boosting stats or providing other interesting effects.
Now, let's discuss missions. Missions are optional side-quest which you can access from the save menu. These missions are just small side-quest where the goal is to find said enemy, and destroy it (or several, in some cases). Now, mind you, that isn't always the objective..but in most cases, it is. These missions are repetitive and dull, but do provide amazing items and gear for use. Plus, they're great for when you are on the go, since they have little to no story involved. And after you've completed all the missions, you can go head to head with a special secret boss who is pretty much guaranteed to kick your ass the first time you attempt to fight her.
Well, that's about it for gameplay, I believe.
Overall: 9/10 (not an average)
Overall, this is a great game that you should play if you like Final Fantasy or roleplaying games in general. Hope you enjoyed the review!
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (US, 03/24/08)
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