Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation) Review

By Ofisil 31.01.2017 1

Review for Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation

The "Best Game Ever" has turned 20 today! Wait, though. Is Final Fantasy VII really the best game ever? Well, no, because the perspective of time has made it easy to see its many flaws. Should a two decade-old product be judged like that? Yes. Yes, it should… And yet, flaws or no flaws, this still remains a masterpiece. Few - if any - Final Fantasy titles have managed to affect people the same way this has, evident by the fact that it's the one "universe" in the series that everyone, including its developer (and yours truly), keeps coming back to. Why? Because, in the words of Barret Wallace, once you step in, "There ain't no gettin' offa this train we on!"

Similar to Final Fantasy VI, and unlike all previous instalments in the series, this doesn't just have a token plot revolving around a bunch of crystals and an evil dude, since it actually offers a storyline worth following, main characters worth caring about, and villains worth hating. Moreover, and again, like FFVI, Final Fantasy VII's world of Gaia is one where magic stands side to side with technology, with a tyrannical faction that uses both to rule, and a few people who dare to stand against it. Unfortunately, while there's plenty of good stuff in here, here's why the seventh Final Fantasy is neither the best game, nor the best JRPG.

For starters, this is the easiest one in the series - so much so that one can beat the very last boss with simple melee attacks, and without a single minute spent in grinding. This increases the boredom factor, and provides very little incentive to explore and gather useful items for the characters to equip… That leads us to Materia; a simple, yet great system that, basically, is nothing more than a bunch of magical gems that can be placed inside weapon/armour slots, and grant spells, passive boosts, additional abilities, devastating Summons, and even alter the behaviour of the Materia they are connected with.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation

While Materia provides the means to play more strategically, the low challenge throws that out of the window. Generally, there are many things about Final Fantasy VII that makes you wonder what Square was thinking. Some examples? Boring, speed-bumpy segments that ruin the otherwise great pacing; treasures hidden behind chore-ish "mini-games;" optional enemies that can wipe out a Level 99, fully-equipped party; and (the worst thing by far) the slow, slow battles that one must endure throughout this quest. That's not to say that this is a bad experience as a whole, it's just that these many flaws decrease the pleasure of each further playthrough.

Could the visuals be one of those flaws? Well, on one hand, the characters do look like LEGO people, and the backgrounds are heavily pixelated, yet Final Fantasy VII still looks great, and retains its unique charm, distinctive style, atmosphere, and character. One example is the very intro, which does wonders scope-wise, with the camera starting its journey from the face of a young woman, only to end up above a gargantuan megacity - the first epic moment amongst the many available. Moreover, the in-battle graphics are far better, and while the stuff that goes on in these parts can take a bit too long, it's all quite cool, admittedly.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation

So far, this is a mediocre-to-decent-to-good JRPG, so, where's the masterpiece? Well, while as a 'game' this isn't anything special, as an experience, Final Fantasy VII is a piece of art… and for numerous reasons. The first one is the overall pacing. Instead of the typical "20 minutes dungeon-crawling and five minutes storytelling," this has a perfect balance between gameplay and story segments, managing to engross the player in what feels like a riveting odyssey, instead of a chore-ish trek towards the final boss battle. What's good pacing without a great story to tell, though? Thankfully, the one offered here is one of the best in the history of the medium.

What starts as a simple "rebels versus evil corporation" mission soon turns out to be a globe-trotting hunt for a mysterious man, which in turn leads to a journey that deals with the very fate of the world, as well as the main character's tormented spirit. Furthermore, more than any other Final Fantasy, this one doesn't simply offer a storyline. Instead, it provides a carefully constructed universe, with its own unique "mythos," and with great pieces of lore being hidden in its many corners. All this, however, is never enough. In order for a great storyline to make a connection with someone, it has to be very emotive.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation

While great, the cast starts off as a pretty stereotypical bunch; the brooding hero, the angry black man, the cute girl(s), the "comedic" sidekick, the badass sword-wielding villain, and so on. As the adventure goes on, though, these fellows turn out to be far more than that, with the main hero and antagonist, as well as a very important female character, literally becoming the backbone of the whole deal. Luckily, this journey is more about characters and less about fighting monsters, and that's why most of the missions (both main and side ones) revolve around the cast, their respective pasts, and the way they are connected to the core plot - even the optional ones.

There's a certain iconic act here that shows what this is all about. The battles that lead to it are boring, and the level that it all takes place in looks like the JRPG equivalent of Barbie's enchanted castle, and yet it's a very strong, tear-jerking scene that's impossible to forget; a scene enhanced by fantastic music. Oh, yeah, we haven't forgotten about the magnificent OST at hand, but that's a separate review altogether… It's that good! Long story short, despite the cracks, mould, and rust on the gameplay section, from the depressing slums and the surreal Honey Bee Inn, to the mysterious City of the Ancients and the very heart of the planet, this is an epic quest like no other.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

As a whole, Final Fantasy VII is not a bad game, but it's certainly quite far from the flawless gem that almost everyone was talking about back in the day… and yet it has managed to resonate to the hearts of hundreds of thousands, mainly because, despite the boringly easy battles, aged visuals, and various other issues it has, underneath it all there's a fantastic, well-presented story, with an awesome cast that's hard not to fall in love with, and an engrossing world that grabs and never lets go.

Developer

Squaresoft

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I agree with you on the mini games. There's one, it's like a roller coaster shooter, that's pretty rough, but the submarine and snowboarding segments drive me nuts.

Still, I'd say this has some of the best areas in the series. Cosmo Canyon being one of my favorites, but I never really get annoyed entering an area, even if I know something awful is waiting for me there. Well, maybe the Temple of the Ancients...

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