Final Fantasy VII (Xbox One) Review

By Shane Jury 08.05.2019

Review for Final Fantasy VII on Xbox One

Many a gaming enthusiast will be aware of the classic tale of the SquareSoft and Nintendo fallout towards the end of the Super NES lifespan, that saw the Final Fantasy series jump ship to the Sony PlayStation. That one move led to Sony's console gaining untold popularity and recognition over Nintendo's own 64-bit 3D efforts in the years to come. Since then, although the Final Fantasy series as a whole has graced other platforms in its newest numbered entries, the PlayStation one trilogy of VII, VIII and IX remained a Sony console exclusive, barring the PC and mobile versions of these games. In 2018 that would all change, in a Nintendo Direct announcing that both VII and IX would come to the Switch, with a press release shortly afterwards confirming the games for the Xbox One as well. How does the legendary Final Fantasy VII fare on the most recent Microsoft machine?

Final Fantasy VII tells the tale of Cloud Strife, a cold-hearted mercenary hired by the eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE to aid in taking down the dictatorial rule of Shinra, a power-hungry corporation looking to achieve world dominance. Via highly detailed static backdrops, impressive cut-scenes, and a vast array of memorable characters used throughout the entirety of the adventure, Cloud's journey of discovery, redemption, and revenge against a former ally-turned-harbinger of death and destruction, unfolds at a steady and solid pace.

The world of Gaia opens up at a pivotal moment in the story, and makes for one of the biggest explorable landmasses seen up to the point of the game's original release. A certain moment in the story that has since become widely praised for shocking and tear-inducing its audience still has equal impact today, and has arguably yet to be bettered in sheer surprise value. Although the lesser polygonal-rendering ability of the PlayStation is distractingly apparent in the blocky "LEGO men" look of the characters outside of battle transitions and cut-scenes, the animations used to effectively convey a whole host of emotions and reactions in conversational situations installs a strong sense of charm that would likely have been less apparent in more realistic models.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy VII on Xbox One

The game is presented in the original 4:3 aspect ratio, and has been primarily converted from the PC version, so character models and backgrounds have been sharpened for high-definition displays. Cut-scenes have been given a similar enhancement, although the cranky animation does more to show the game's age than the visual look itself. The music is kept in line with the initial release, and remains one of Nobuo Uematsu's finest works.

Sadly, the game retains the sound glitch found in the older versions of this release that resets the current overworld soundtrack after each battle instead of resuming it. Though this is far from a game-ending error, it is disheartening to see that Square Enix has yet to fix a bug from a version of a game multiple years old, despite doing so for a similar error in the PlayStation 4 version of Final Fantasy X, and especially considering this game's value and importance in their legacy.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy VII on Xbox One

At the core of it all is the battlefield and the role-playing elements surrounding it: Hit Points and Magic Points to determine health and casting ability, respectively; a Limit Break meter to unleash a strong attack when damaged enough; a levelling system that upgrades fighters and powers upon successful tussles; plenty of weapons and armour to obtain and learn to use; and the more unique Materia system that arguably has yet to find a rival in accessibility and flexibility.

Materia is essentially what the game's premise and events unfold around, and it takes the shape of countless elemental jewels that bestow their wielders the powers of the planet. In battle, this is in the form of magic spells, ranging from a simple earthquake or lightning bolt, to calling down individual Summon creatures that deliver a strong blow. Outside of battle, how characters can arrange these abilities is related not only to the level of the Materia itself, but the currently equipped weaponry. Many Materia work in tandem with each other via linked weapon slots, and learning how best to make use of each one is the key to progression. There were many tricks and glitches in the original game ripe for exploitation in this system, and Square Enix has left them all in, be it for the fans that once enjoyed them or just for the authentic retro feel.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy VII on Xbox One

Speaking of tricks, a brand new addition to this version is the three cheat modes, activated and switched off by pushing R3, L3, or a combination of the two. One will speed up the entire game by three times, which is a very handy function that helps with the game's authentically low frame rate speed, and doesn't affect the music or cut-scenes negatively. Another will switch off all random encounters; a very helpful one for getting from A to B without interruption. The third is akin to a "God Mode" of sorts; all health, magic and Limit meters are instantly restored while this function is kept on. Using any of these cheats doesn't affect Achievement gain at all, and can help iron out a number of the game's more aged aspects, while giving veterans a reason to revisit and enjoy anew.

One of the biggest reasons that Final Fantasy VII stood out back at release was the sheer amount of actual game there was to play; up until that era, the JRPG genre was somewhat of a commodity, so this title was the first experience for many that actually felt like an interactive movie. As such, there is considerable depth and a vast amount to see across what was three discs of content. With the 3x speed option, seasoned fans will have no difficulty blasting through and grinding levels at key points, and completionists will have a blast going for the Achievements. The relatively low difficulty bar is a helpful element for those new to the genre, as well. Final Fantasy VII may not hold up as well visually, but at its core is as enjoyable and hard-hitting now as it ever was.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy VII on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Finally bolting from the Sony Stables, the epic adventure of Cloud and company has lost little of its lustre over the years, retaining the complex narrative elements and magic customisation features that give modern games a run for their money. The sound bug issues are unfortunate, and inexcusable given the age of this version of the game, but what is retained remains as great in 2019 as it was upon release.

Developer

Square Enix

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  0 (0 Votes)

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

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