Reviews: Final Fantasy VII

Aged Horrible, And Wasn't That Great To Begin With

Final Fantasy VII, the game that everyone keeps telling me is the most amazing game to ever have been created and will ever be created, even its own remake will never hold a candle to it... I find it a mediocre game.

The graphics were pretty low on the Okay standard, even for 1997. I saw 3D Polygon graphics from 1995 that were better. And nowadays, it's actually painful for me to play the game with these graphics. About 30 minutes, tops, and I need to stop, cause my eyes begin to burn. I don't know if it's because of the large color difference between the nice, toned-down backgrounds and the brightly colored sprites or anything else. But I will ask: if they could make nicely proportioned characters in-battle, why not use them for out of battle? At least try to smooth Aerith's dress.

The battle system... well, it's basically the same one I've played in IV, V and VI. The materia is akin to the Espers in VI, 'cept you have immediate access to the spell/technique and don't need to unlock it. Though you do need an All Materia, if you want to multiply spells.

The story is okay... but the translation (particularly the German one I initially played in, before switching to English, the translation was that bad) is horrible. The (in)famous lines are not funny and minor alterations to the translation could have made things much more comprehensible.

The characters are unlikeable and I cannot care about them. I only like Aerith and Yuffie, but I do not care. Aerith's death? I laugh. Because the scene looks derpy and stupid, not tragic. Also, it was so obviously, you could smell it wind-down, coming from miles away. Cloud was okay at first, then became obnoxious and settled into being a boring hero character in the final third. Tifa is a pointless addition. The rest are not worth mentioning.

Finally, nothing VII did was new. To RPGs or Final Fantasy. Character death? II started it, IV, V and VI continued it and I cared more about those deaths, than Aerith's. The insane villain was better done with Kefka, in my eyes.

Perhaps it was a good game at the time, but I think people have overhyped and exaggerated the good parts. It doesn't hold up to today, in any department, it never did anything new and I had to force myself to finish the game. It was a chore for me to finish it.

In Retrospect, a Mixed Bag

This is decidedly a part of gaming history and was indeed - for the time - graphically pushing the envelope. In the major cutscenes and battle, at least. For the majority of the cutscenes you will be looking at SD polygonal people with a pre-rendered background.

Where the game shines is that it tried something different - a fairly complex story with some adult elements and was one of the first to permanently kill one of its characters AFTER you'd used them - an emotional whammy to all new gamers.

However, the game also gets muddled in itself. It's trying to handle multiple themes - the pointlessness of death, the dangers of corporatism, the need for environmentalism, and Cloud's search for his identity. Unfortunately, this muddles the message somewhat because very little carries through on top of the Giant Space Flea from Nowhere and untangling the whole Sephiroth plot as well. They're all fantastic ideas in themselves, but together get diluted somewhat.

Perhaps the biggest crime though is... the characters often seem shafted. Shinra is a menace for all of perhaps the first fifth of the game but this is quickly deconstructed when its leaders turn out to be comedic sociopaths at best, incompetent goon squad at worst. Sephiroth is supposed to be a looming menace but isn't even really there most of the time and his plot to ascend to godhood is pretty convoluted. Even the main characters often, for all of their issues, descend into comedy between Tifa's support underwear and Cloud's crossdressing or Yuffie's clumsy thieving.

That said if you can look past that the system is fantastic. It's standard turn-based JRPG style so it's easy to learn and use. Materia is equally intuitive and allows for customization and easy replication if you invest the time. The summons are a lot of fun too which is always a bonus. The plot moves around at a brisk pace but you may need to play through twice to catch the whole picture.

I don't personally think it's aged well but I can see why it was such an important game at the time. There have been better plots and better graphics but this is the one that really put JRP Gs into Western audiences' hands. It's also the start of the Pretty Androgynous JRPG hero trope so there is that as well.

Surprisingly still good

With equal amounts of gushing praise and venomous hate, I honestly had no idea what playing FFVII would be like. Needless to say, I was pleasantly taken aback about how much I enjoyed it.

One thing I loved about FFVII was its immersion. The thing I have massive gripe about in RP Gs is how long they take for the plot to get good, often only getting exciting 7 hours in. Here? You start the game and BAM, you're blowing up a reactor! And it only gets better from there. Adding to the immersion is the incredible music score that really adds to the feel of the scene. Gameplay is your standard turn based fare, with a few extras, notably the Materia system and limit breaks. I loved the Materia system, as it was simple enough to understand, and yet gave you the creative freedom to create your own ideal builds. There were also plenty of puzzles and minigames that kept the gameplay fresh and interesting.

The thing I loved most about the game were its characters. I started off hating most of them, what with Cloud being a moody Jerkass, Barrett being a cranky Jerkass and Tifa being... dull. By the end, I genuinely loved the characters and wanted them to succeed! Brilliant character development indeed!

Inversely, my biggest beef with the game was its main antagonist Sephiroth. I had heard endless praise for him being a complex villain and the poster boy for Draco in Leather Pants. What I saw was an abrupt and unconvincing transformation from legendary soldier to Omnicidal Maniac, bizarre and vague sightings of him throughout the game (even though it was JENOVA, it still didn't feel very threatening) and the final confrontation with him just didn't have the right emotional charge to it, because I found him as a villain to be incredibly insubstantial.

Also of negative note were the graphics. Hilariously bad 3D models aside, the pre-rendered backgrounds were incredibly frustrating to navigate, as often the right path was obtusely hidden. Of particular note was the climb up to Midgar. I had no idea what I was doing.

Overall, it was still surprisingly good. It had an epic (and confusing-as-balls) story that was seriously engrosing! And man, was it long. I played it in 5-hr bursts during the holidays and it still took me 2.5 weeks to beat. Despite everything, I still found great enjoyment from this game and would totally play it again.

Final Fantasy Light

The often inexplicable popularity of Final Fantasy VII, a mid-tier series title at best, can be chalked up to simply being released at the right place at the right time. As western audiences had matured, as had their desire for more mature content. And in the mid-to-late '90s, the best way to ascertain and flaunt your "maturity" was to buy a PlayStation. Square made the very pragmatic move to steep the next installment of their previously strictly cult-classic series with things that appealed to the adolescents of the time; guns, technology, motorbikes, and most importantly, DARK GRITTINESS.

Sure, it attracted a good number of conscientious gamers expecting the quality that the Final Fantasy label had come to consistently deliver. But, overall, its massive popularity can be attributed to thrill-seekers who wanted a "cultural alibi" to chuck in between sessions of Tekken and Gran Turismo. People who've fond, nostalgic memories of a game they'll probably never play again, and who certainly never played another Final Fantasy game again. And if they did, they were immediately turned off by the inaccessibility of the immediate sequel, and the series' eventual return to its deeper roots before sprawling off into the hot mess it is today. I'm sorry if it sounds condescending, it's just the only logical conclusion I can arrive at after hours of research into the subject.

When the hype is set aside, as a game in its own right, Final Fantasy VII is still highly enjoyable, only mostly as a combination of good, addictive gameplay, fantastic music and memorable settings. The story, however, is an incomprehensible, labyrinthine puzzle that has no idea what it's trying to say. Most of the characters are relatable and makes you care about their survival, but (though this may probably be chalked up to the nightmarishly terrible translation) the plot itself comes off as something a kid made up while playing with action figures.

Final Fantasy VII is no cultural watershed; it's a highly flawed experiment that forgoes many of the series' virtues in a bid to extend its appeal to people that wouldn't give it the time of day if it were still grounded in the series' medieval fantasy roots. And for better or worse, Square got what they wanted...

Why plenty of people considered Final Fantasy VII to be one of the best game

So far, the reviews in here were either "this game has aged badly" or "this game is cliched", so this review may be needed to highlighted some good things that made the game known.

For the facts:

1. Relevant to history. It was the one who launched Eastern RPG into worldwide territory. Without this game, Eastern RPG will need more time to be acknowledged on worldwide level. The game's also introduced some mechanics that will be implemented for the sequels (like limit break).

2. It had many deconstructions and inventions that got carried into a trope. The core itself still feel like a typical Eastern RPG, but things like Cloud's arrogant hero deconstruction, and the possibility that AVALANCHE may really didn't know about the situation and keep fighting with possibility that they wrong, thus made them sounds like a wrong-intentioned terrorist as opposed to the usually true so-called terrorists in other media were some nice deconstruction. This game's also known for inventing things for both gaming and the franchise.

For the ooooopinion:

1. Great characters and plots writing. Flanderization by fans, haters, and Square themselves has made the characters seems shallow and possibly unlikeable. But seemingly overlooked stuffs will actually made things seems better if they got some attentions. For example, Aerith's death has been known by many, but how many of them know about stuffs that made her death seems sad?

2. Addictive gameplay. The game has good core gameplay, and many things that can keep you interested. For example, the snowboard game is so popular that a mobile phone game about it is made for Japan-only.

3. Awesome music. For weakness: Confusing graphic. The pre-rendered background can make paths looking confusing, making you encounter random encounters over and over again in the same spots. Lego Graphics can also made serious scenes seems funny instead. The game also took some time to become interesting, and the used to be innovative invented plot twists may looking cliched now instead.

In summary, this game's showed us on how Square has restrained itself. The game took many risks, being the first Square game with high commercial budget and take some deconstruction. 10/10 for the game (worth more like 9 actually, but every media with perfect rating usually had visibly flaws as well).

A good game that didn't age very well.

Final Fantasy VII has several minor problems and one major problem. That major problem is that it suffers from one of the worst cases of Seinfeld Is Unfunny in the whole medium of video games. Many elements of the game were mind-blowing when it first hit in 1997. The opening cinematic might not look like much today, but when it first hit, the sheer amount of detail and realism was staggering. The world was more detailed than nearly anything else available, and seeing the battles rendered in full 3D after the static sprites of FFVI could send chills down your spine. The plot was more original and psychologically complex than nearly anything else on the market at that time.

The problem is that games in general, and the Final Fantasy series in particular, continued pushing the envelope. Graphics got more and more detailed and realistic, worlds got larger, battle systems got more complex, and even more complicated and downright mind-screwy plots were written. In comparison, FFVII looks incredibly roughshod and haphazard at points.

This isn't to say that the game doesn't have any inexcusable flaws. It certainly does. The translation is notoriously iffy, and the graphical push ends up being a hindrance sometimes when its hard to tell what parts of the screen you can walk on. The script, while ambitious, can be heavily overwrought and occasionally narm-y. The battle system didn't really make any marked improvements over FFVI, a lot of the quick-time event type minigames are more aggravating than anything else (I'm looking at you, CPR).

But on the flipside, it has some solid merits to it beyond its ambition. The soundtrack (despite the fact that the sound files aren't of the highest quality) is still one of the best video game soundtracks ever, and the cast is one of the most memorable video game ensembles out there. Glitches aside, the gameplay is mostly solid, and it doesn't suffer from needless complexity or simplicity.

Long story short, FFVII might not look like much compared to the numerous games it inspired, but it's still well worth playing even though many of the elements look old and outdated. Despite the appearance, there's plenty of substance there.

The Greatest RPG Ever? Not for me.

I wanted to like this. I went in with an open mind. But...I didn't enjoy this.

Story-wise, I can see why this was so revolutionary, but it didn't really tickle my fancy. I only came in knowing one major plot twist (you know the one), but I just couldn't get into it. The main plot was okay, but I didn't really find myself getting very invested in any of the major characters; the only ones I really liked were the secondary ones like Cid and Red XIII. I also really disliked pretty much all the villains, especially Sephiroth. And, honestly, if you don't like the main characters, you won't enjoy the story.

I enjoyed the gameplay a bit more, although it has some problems in itself. The Materia system was well-implemented and creative, although I preferred FFVI's Espers. It's also a little too easy to break; I accidentally stumbled across Big Guard, and made the entire game laughable. The insanely long attack animations for the more powerful spells/limit breaks/summons also ruined a lot of the fun of fighting, simply by messing up the pace of battling.

Was there anything I did like? Well, I did enjoy the music, and some of the minigames at the Gold Saucer were kind of fun. It's just...this really didn't click, at all. Age has not been kind to Final Fantasy VII, but even accounting for Seinfeld Is Unfunny, I can't really make myself like it. Maybe you needed to play it when it was new, maybe you need to play it on an actual console and not a crash-happy emulator, maybe you just need different tastes.

A doubled-edged Buster Sword.

I don't like being unoriginal. I really don't. But (deep breath)...Final Fantasy VII is my favorite of the Final Fantasy series. I love it. That said, I'm willing to examine it for flaws and I'm not blind to the negative consequences that has come out of it's success in the past decade or so.

First off, nearly everything in the game works for me. Most of the graphics (the world map, the pre-rendered backgrounds, the battle graphics, and especially the FMV sequences) are still appealing. The musical score by Nobuo Uematsu is brilliant. The gameplay/materia system is fun to play with. The characters are all memorable, with one of the best hero parties and one of the best casts of villains in any RPG.

And the story is epic in the finest sense: everything escalates, the adventure becoming bigger and grander as it goes along. Even the back description on the box says as much! And while it does get highly confusing toward the end, all the pieces to the puzzle are present in game for you to put together and make sense of it all. There's a difference between complex (made of difficult-to-grasp parts that adds up to something) and convoluted (made of difficult-to-grasp parts that get tangled up in themselves), and this game's plot is the former, not the latter.

Now, the problems. While I said most of the graphics are still appealing, there's one obvious exception: the damn in-game field character models. Seriously, they look like mutated LEGO people. Secondly, while I said the plot all comes together, everything involving Cloud's identity crisis could have stood to be less confusing. Thirdly, while it's not a part of the game itself, the hype surrounding it can get bad. I'll say it's the best FF game, but the best RPG? The best video game period? That's really pushing it.

Finally, the negative consequences it's had, from the "Compilation" of spin-offs to the waves of JRPGs copying it in terms of story events, characterization and complexity....these can't be ignored. As wonderful as the game is to me, it's greatness does come at a hefty price.

In the end, it's best to ignore the fan hype and negative outcomes, and just play the game. You may find it brilliant like I did, or you may find it dissapointing. But either way...you really ought to just play it.

A great game? Yes. The Greatest RPG Ever? Ehh...

I recently downloaded this game from the PSN Store, so due to Popcultural Osmosis, I knew about some of the plot twists ahead of time. That said, the game was still pretty enjoyable. A quick breakdown:

Story: 8/10

It starts off as a sort of "Freedom Fighter" plot, which while not particularly original, is pretty good, as far as plots go. Near the end of disc one, it shifts to a more "Save the World from an Omnicidal Maniac" story, which it hangs on to until the end. Along the way, each character in your party has their own backstory fleshed out a bit, either when you first recruit them, or a short time later. Nothing we really haven't heard before, one's the Last Of His Kind, one's your childhood friend, one had his hopes and dreams dashed, so on and so forth. The most interesting one is probably that of the main character, Cloud.

Graphics: 7/10

It's one of the first 3D RPGs ever, and it shows. While cutscenes and battles look really nice, especially for its time, in towns and on the overworld map are somewhat iffy. There were points that I thought the game would probably have looked better with sprite-based graphics, but for the most part, the 3D is good.

Gameplay: 8/10

This is what really matters. First up, the while the battle system is called "innovative" in the instruction manual, it's really just "turn-based, except if you take too long, the enemy gets another turn." I found the Materia system pretty nice, as well as the LimitBreaks. The only real problem is the difficulty. It may just be that I was overleveled, but with the exception of one boss early on, there was no point that I thought that I was going to die. Even while fighting the original "One Winged Angel," nothing he threw at me hurt badly enough to kill any of my characters. In fact, all his strongest attack did was fill up my Limit Break gauge enough to kill him that next turn.

Sound/Music: 7/10

Menu sounds are your standard beeps and doinks, boss music was nice. And of course, the final boss's music was great.

Overall: 7.5/10 Definitely above average, and for the 10$ download price, definitely worth it. Took about 45 hours to beat, and I didn't do too much extra stuff like chocobo breeding or fighting the two Bonus Bosses. Would buy.
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