In what seems like a lifetime of waiting, Final Fantasy VII Remake has arrived. The original, released on the PlayStation back in September of 1997. It was one of the PlayStation’s most influential titles of all-time. For years fans have been asking for a remaster of this beloved RPG.
So, when Final Fantasy VII Remake was announced at E3 2015 the crowd went bonkers. Now, almost 5 years later, one of the most wanted games in video game history is here.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Details
Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 Pro
Developer: Square Enix Business Division 1
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Genre: Action role-playing
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
A powerful story with unforgettable characters
The first thing you have to understand about Final Fantasy VII Remake is that this is the first in a series of games re-telling the story of Final Fantasy VII. Unfortunately, it’s not clear at this time just how many parts the Final Fantasy VII story will be split into. However, Final Fantasy VII Remake only covers the first section of the original game—Midgar, which is about 15% of the overall story.
The game is centred around Cloud Strife, an ex member of an elite group of warriors of the Shinra Electric Power Company known as SOLDIER. Now turned mercenary, he’s been hired by AVALANCHE, an eco-terrorist group who is trying to stop Shinra from destroying the planet. Your goal is to stop Shinra and take out the Mako reactors in Midgar, which are sucking life from the planet and draining its energy.
As great of a story Final Fantasy VII has, I found Final Fantasy VII Remake‘s story to be as good and then some. What makes it even better than the original is that the story is enhanced and expanded. There are quite a few plot additions and some major character development expansions. I don’t want to give too much away but I will tell you that Sephiroth, the game’s main antagonist, has a much greater role and is now involved earlier on in the story.
Gameplay that feels both familiar and new
One of the game’s biggest changes in gameplay is the battle system. The original offered turn based battles, which is replaced with a real-time fast paced action-based battle system. You control one of three characters and can easily swap between all three at any time or issue commands to your teammates with a press of a button.
Enemies now have a focus gauge that fills up when they are attacked. When it’s full, they become staggered. Thus, leaving them unable to defend themselves and wide open for attacks. Another new addition in combat is the ATB gauge. It consists of two bars that are filled up by attacking enemies, guarding attacks, or just waiting. When filled it will allow you to use unique abilities, cast spells, or use items in your inventory.
Throughout your journey, you come across a variety of coloured orbs called Materia. These allow you to summon monsters, cast spells and enhance your attack skills. Weapons are upgradeable and each have their own upgrade tree. This allows you to unlock additional attributes, and add materia slots. While Final Fantasy VII Remake‘s adventure is mostly linear, there are 26 optional side quests to complete with varying rewards.
Reimaging of an iconic game
Final Fantasy VII Remake is powered by the Unreal Engine 4 and looks simply gorgeous—most of the time. Cutscenes look amazing and provide a cinematic adventure throughout the entire game. Character models are breathtaking and truly bring our heroes to life.
As great as the visuals are in Final Fantasy VII Remake, there are also questionable areas. Some have noticeably low resolution textures and character models that look out of place. While graphics aren’t everything, these low resolution textures and character models are hard to ignore.
Final Fantasy VII Remake‘s soundtrack is every bit as good as I imagined it to be. The fully orchestrated soundtrack is a giant leap over the original’s synthesised sounds. The voice acting for the most part is really well done. There are times that it does sound cheesy and forced. As a result, I found Biggs, Wedge and Jessie to be my least favourite characters because of this.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is a reimagining of an iconic game done right
While Final Fantasy VII Remake isn’t perfect, I think Square Enix did a great job with the game. Watching the relationships grow and evolve between Cloud, Barrett, Tifa, and Aerith is every bit as magical as it was back in 1997.
New additions to the story help flesh out the main characters. And, gives you a better idea of the motivations and background story behind some of the characters. Combat was a major concern of mine, as I am a big fan of turn-based combat. With that being said, Square Enix has worked their magic to modernize it. And, at the same time, still retain some of the classic combat feel.
While some may not like that there is not a whole lot of exploration in the game, I prefer it that way. There is something to be said for a linear adventure such as Final Fantasy 7 Remake. It offers a finely crafted and curated experience that not many games can match.
+ Modernized combat system
+ Expanded story that helps to flesh out characters and add to plot
+ Fully orchestrated soundtrack
+ Amazing cinematic experience
+ Optional side quests add hours more of gameplay
– Some may find the game too linear
– Random low resolution textures and character models
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF FINAL FANTASY VIII REMAKE
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5