RPG Review #50: Final Fantasy VII

NuMetalManiak
Well bring out the noisemakers, because I have finally finished my 50th RPG! Wonderful job me. And I had to make it special somehow. My 20th had Chrono Trigger, 30th was Xenogears, 40th was Chrono Cross, all of these were well-known RPGs, so what for #50? Of course, the widely, critically-acclaimed Final Fantasy VII. The iconic RPG that "revolutionized" the RPG genre for consoles, the one with iconic characters, iconic scenes and such. The 1997 PS1 game was a game-changer for the Final Fantasy franchise, spawning some spin-off games, a remake that'll come soon for the PS4, and of course, paving the way for the more edgy anime-haired Final Fantasy characters that followed. This is a classic game, all things considered, although I easily prefer VI anyways due to better story.

Gameplay: Fans of Final Fantasy series pretty much know how these games go. The Active-Time battle system is in effect and you can pretty much stop there as far as battles are concerned. Again, there's a ton of strategy that can be invoked in these games, much like VI had. Where VI had Espers, VII had what's known as Materia; little orbs that are collectable and purchasable. They have a number of functions, which include magic use, support skills during battles, summons, and special commands (so more than one character can steal from enemies, or use the Mime command, etc). All of these are color-coded accordingly, and are put on equipment. Sadly, there's only one weapon slot, one armor slot, and one accessory slot, and they dictate how many materia slots are what and which ones have paired slots (which are further enhancements). These materia gain levels just like the characters do, except with AP. Materia have star levels, and gain a star upon leveling up. At max level, a new materia of the same kind is born at base level. So in theory it's possible to get multitudes of high-powered materia if you know how to grow them. I'd say this is the most defining thing this game offered.

The character limit kinda sucks to be honest. FF4 had up to five characters in battle, 1 and 6 both had four-character limits. VII had just three. But on the subject of limits, let's look at the thing known as Limit Breaks. VII popularized them, although VI technically had them first as desperation attacks. The Limit Breaks, they sort of work like, I don't know, the force abilities from Wild Arms games. Characters get more Limit Breaks upon using one a number of times, or having a character kill a certain number of enemies.

Overall navigation outside of battle is a bit crude. I had to press Select to get some headers as to where to go sometimes, and it's not always obvious where to go in the pre-rendered backgrounds the game serves as settings. But it's okay. One other notable gameplay mention, the mini-games. Oh god. There's a ton of mini-games in this game. There's so many in fact, there's a whole area dedicated as a full-fledged mini-game zone, the Gold Saucer. You think I don't like mini-games? Well I don't, but the good news is that there were like only one or two annoying ones that were required, everything else was optional, easy, or not really rewarding in any way. And of course, there's the sidequests to take care of, like Chococo breeding, getting top-tier summons and equipment, and fighting the Weapons (Ultimate, Ruby, Emerald) who are much harder than the final boss. Overall, I'd say Final Fantasy VII delivered quite a lot for the players, which is likely one of the reasons people love it so much. Grade: A

Characters: Cloud Strife - The spiky-haired protagonist with the big Buster Sword you see on the cover. Of course, he's a main hero, expect him to be good at everything, be a bit of a jerk sometimes, as well as having emotional fits throughout the story.
Barrett Wallace - Look at this guy and expect a Mr. T reference. Barrett's obviously made for physical bulk, and his arm is actually a gun which he uses to shoot. He's actually quite a profane guy too.
Tifa Lockheart - My favorite of the females and Cloud's childhood friend, she is a physical fighter using her fists. Her Limit Breaks are unique with some slot mechanism being used and the fact she can use pretty much all of her Limit Breaks at once if you're lucky.
Aeris Gainsborough - The typically good magic caster whose bad physically. This may surprise you but I think she's the worst character in the game mostly because of how stereotypical she is.
Red XIII - One of my favorites in the game, this red wolf is the fastest character in game with great stats. I used him a lot. He fights with, hairbands?
Cait Sith - The weirdest character overall. It's a weird cat-thing on top of an overweight Mog that uses a megaphone battle. He's actually controlled by an enemy character and is used to spy on Cloud's party. One of his two limit breaks is similar to Setzer's slots ability from VI, which may or may not be fun to use. I never used Cait Sith all that much.
Yuffie Kirasagi - One of two completely optional characters, she's a materia thief from the oriental town of Wutai who functions like a ninja. She's got bad stats apart from speed and throws large weapons in combat.
Vincent Valentine - The other optional character, and my personal favorite. It's like he's Shadow the Hedgehog to Cloud's Sonic (assuming Sephiroth isn't like Shadow) or something like that. He uses large guns in combat, and even got his own game in Dirge of Cerebus. Also his Limit Breaks have him transform into beasts.
Cid Highwind - Always a Cid in these games. You think Barrett's vulgar? Cid pulls out more cuss words than he does. Of course he's a tech-savvy dude, owning cool vehicles. He fights with large spears and does amazing physically.

So those are the playables, but as I said, VII is notable for its memorable cast, playable or not. Everyone knows Sephiroth already, so I won't mention anything about him. The few people who played Crisis Core are familiar with the name Zack Fair, although his role is only in flashbacks. The Shinra executives are all memorable too, the Turks, Rufus, Reeve, you name it. Fun characters that are memorable. I just don't like Aeris though. Grade: A-

Plot: Now I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to this, but there's already action from the beginning. There's two factions here, the Shinra corporation that runs everything in the gigantic city of Midgar, and the supposed terrorist organization known as AVALANCHE (in all caps). Barrett leads a group of these guys with a few redshirts as well as Cloud, who considered himself a member of SOLDIER (also in all caps). So these guys piss off Shinra by blowing up a Mako reactor and then escaping to their hideout where Tifa helps out. Cloud gets lost, and lands in Aeris' church, he agrees to be her bodyguard, and helps to rescue Tifa from some perverted guy (this is actually the infamous crossdressing scene, and no matter how much I look at it it Cloud looks like he's wearing baggy pants instead of a dress). The Shinra corps managed to undermine most of AVALANCHE, and Aeris is captured too. Cloud, Tifa, and Barrett all manage to rescue her, along with Red XIII, from that mad scientist known as Hojo, whose quite an important character. Sephiroth also comes into play killing a lot of people including the president of Shinra. The famous motorcycle mini-game involves Cloud defending his party as they escape the Midgar metropolis.

Yep, that whole section was entirely linear but now we reach the world map. At the next town Cloud reveals in flashback his relation with Sephiroth and they all go out to hunt for the bad guy (apparently Sephiroth is really a momma's boy). Yuffie may be grabbed along the way in certain forests. Cloud infiltrates the Shinra town known as Junon (these have some of the most annoying minigames actually). They find passage aboard a ship to the next continent where we see Barrett's past with a certain town before going to the Gold Saucer. Cait Sith joins here and we move on. The place known as Cosmo Canyon is Red XIII's home, where he has this grandfather Bugenhagen explain things. The next town is Cloud and Tifa's hometown, which although burned down by Sephiroth seems brand new and all. Rocket Town comes next, and we Cid getting backstabbed by Shinra and joining. Also Vincent could have been recruited.

Every party member and we are still in Disc 1 of the game? Anyways, Cait Sith is revealed to be a traitor during a Gold Saucer date scene, but everyone presses on anyways. Aeris joins up for the Temple of the Ancients, of which she's a descendant of one, and find out Sephiroth's motives for planetary destruction with a black materia and then become a god or something like that. Also Cloud gets manipulated in giving him the black materia and proceeds to beat up Aeris at one point. She sets off alone to an abandoned city, and while Cloud follows, he almost kills her, and the historic scene of Sephiroth stabbing Aeris through the stomach happens and she's pretty much dead now. Also Disc 1 ends.

At Disc 2, Cloud is still in pursuit of Sephiroth, through the snowy areas (even the snowboarding minigame). At the Northern Crater, Cloud goes into a brainwashed fit and falls into what's known as Lifestream; meanwhile a Meteor comes and endangers the planet. Tifa and Barrett are captured and set for execution and manage to escape with the others. Then they find Cloud in a disabled state in some town. Meanwhile, Shinra's after some huge materia, so Cid becomes party leader to pursue them while Tifa stays behind to help Cloud remember who he is. Turns out he never was in SOLDIER, but Zack Fair, the original Buster Sword wielder was. Cloud was just some ordinary soldier. But Cloud took Zack's sword after he died and all that.

Once everyone reunites it's pretty much agreed that they need to stop Shinra right now. Most of their lackeys fight them, and most of them die. The Turks would run off as usual, Rufus seems to be caught by a Weapon, and Reeve is revealed to be Cait Sith's controller. Turns out he's a good guy though. Also professor Hojo brings us with another memorable moment, him being Sephiroth's father. Him dying signals the end of Disc 2. At Disc 3, everyone's at Northern Crater and at the end we could simply fight off "One-Winged Angel" Sephiroth. Meteor is stopped by the Holy materia with the Lifestream's support while everyone watches. That's was pretty much the ending and it was actually quite bleak. The 500 years later thing shows that Red XIII survives, but then again he's different from the humans so whatever. Interesting plot with memorable moments, but a bad ending. Grade: B

Music: Of course this has memorable tracks. I mentioned One-Winged Angel, but there's others, the Jenova boss music as well as the regular boss music (rock tracks!). Even the chocobo music gets to you. The tracks were all pretty good. Grade: A-

Overall Grade: A-

So yes, FFVII did an overall decent job at being a fun RPG. Even though I prefer VI to this, it manages to provide quite a lot, and of course it's memorable. Not "the" greatest game ever, but it's decent. I'd recommend it but I'd recommend VI over this any day. And now that I'm done with my 50th RPG review, I can go ahead and announce I'll be making my very own Top 10 RPGs, which I'll do in a following post tomorrow. Sure, it's likely to change if I end up doing 50 more of these things, but oh well. I'm gonna say it right now, I've already made up my mind on which ones are gonna be on it, and sad to say FFVII did not make the cut!

Comments

Good review, I plan on getting it on Steam, IOS, or PSP. - Skullkid755

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