Platform: Playstation, PS3, PSP, Windows
I got this game for Windows shortly after it came out, but my computer wasn’t strong enough to handle it. So I returned it and bough a bunch of You Don’t Know Jack games. Yeah.
Anyway, I eventually borrowed this game from a friend and the Playstation from my brother and fell completely in love with the game. I’m a sucker for anti-heroes, and Cloud was a perfect character to express my teen angst. I’ve fallen out of love with it a little bit over the years due to the poor graphics and the poor final chapter of the game.
One thing I loved about this game immediately is that the entire plot of the game isn’t shoved in your face right away. Yeah, there’s some missions and some local bad guys, but your characters certainly aren’t heroes and there’s absolutely no desire there for them to be heroes. I also loved the darkness and overall somber mood the game portrays at the beginning while you’re still near Shinra’s headquarters. Even after you reach the main game map, the game is engrossing as you methodically travel from town to town, solving local missions, subverting local bad guys, gaining new party members. The first disc represents some of the best Square had to offer, ever. I suppose I should spoiler it, but it’s been 17 years, so fuck it: Aeris’ death is great. I was sad to see her go, and sad about all the time I spend building up her stats. But it was great for the plot. Like Stephen King, I was glad Square wasn’t afraid to kill off someone it made you care about. There’s nothing more lame than feeling comfortable that every good guy will always triumph.
The gameplay is similar to Final Fantasy VI. Replacing espers are materia, but it’s virtually the same concept. It also carries the same problem as VI, in that every character can eventually learn every spell. And the best spells at the end of the game call out some of our favorite Final Fantasy deities like Shiva, Ifrit, Maduin, etc. Unfortunately, these spells can take up to a minute to play out in a gorgeous cut scene. For a few go arounds, they’re great to look at. But after a while, I really don’t want to see the whole animation. The game’s best summon can take well over a minute. Blah. Regardless, it’s fairly intuitive. I just wish there was more to distinguish each character as far as ability goes.
Many people criticize how awful the graphics look, what with all the polygons. While this didn’t bother be in the late 90’s, it definitely is jarring now, as opposed to the SNES games, which still look fantastic today. I’ve played this game twice and have been able to overlook the graphics, but it definitely hurts things.
Final Fantasy VII would rank higher if not for the long and plodding last half of the game. Once you meet all of your party and visit every town, the plot surrenders itself to a bunch of sidequests and leveling up to keep interest, which is only for so long. The final boss is incredibly easy, so it’s not like you need to spend a lot of extra time on side quests; but there’s so many that one feels obligated to check out some of them. At least I can brag that I was able to defeat both Emerald and Ruby Weapon. Of course, by the time I was strong enough to do this, I was able to defeat the final boss with my eyes closed.
I’m pretty sure I’ll never play this game again due to the aforementioned issues, but it did resonate with me quite a bit at the time, which counts for something. I would still recommend that fans of the series play it through once, if for nothing else than the story which is fairly tight and occasionally moving.