Final Fantasy VII – Review

One of the biggest names in JRPG’s, or arguably the biggest name in JRPG’s. Final Fantasy VII was the first game in the series since the original Final Fantasy to keep the original number when released in the US, as previous entries were skipped over and had their numbers altered to prevent confusion. This is also the first main title Final Fantasy to be released on a non-Nintendo console, something Square has kept to for the future games.

Final Fantasy VII is one of the best selling games in the franchise, on the Playstation, and one of the best selling games of all time. The game was cited as the killer app for the Playstation, and was definitely a factor in outselling the Nintendo 64.

Story:

You play as Cloud Strife, is a mercenary for hire for a terrorist group AVALANCHE led by Barrett Wallace, and Cloud’s childhood friend Tifa Lockhart is also a member. AVALANCHE is against the Shinra Electric Power Company and their Mako reactors, which they believe is draining the lifeblood of the planet. Shina is a megacorporation who has a monopoly on several facets of multiple markets, and even has control over governments as they also have military power.

Even though Shina is one of the main antagonists of the story, the overarching villain is a supposedly dead soldier from Cloud’s past, who is hell-bent on becoming a god by draining the lifestream of the planet.

Gameplay:

The basis of the game isn’t that much fundamentally different from traditional RPG’s, and even from previous games. Though somewhat similar to Final Fantasy VI’s esper system, FF7 introduces the materia system. Materia give you special and magic spells, and you can buy them at stores, though the best ones are found in the game. You can only equip a certain amount of materia to your characters, though buying certain equipment can either increase or decrease the amount of materia you can equip. Most of the time, the better the equipment, the more materia you can equip. Equipped materia can also level up giving you either stronger versions of those spells, or giving you more spells. Though unlike the esper system in FF6, the abilities you learn in FF7 are tied to materia, so if you unequip a restore materia, you cannot use heal magic.

The materia system makes the whole class/job system from the previous games to be pretty much non-existant, and only existing in remnants as the individual characters. and their special abilities. Speaking of special abilities, this game introduced the limit break. You have a limit bar, and after receiving a certain amount of damage, or a certain type of damage, the bar fills up. When the bar fills up, you can use your limit break, which is a super powered ability. Many of them are attacks, though there are a few that are support related like healing your party. These also level up, so your limits will become even more destructive.

Visuals:

This is the first “3D” Final Fantasy. 3D is used in quotes as it’s almost entirely 3D sprites on 2D pre-rendered backgrounds. The only time it would feel truly 3D is on the world map. Similar to the majority of FF games at the time, the majority of the game is played through deformed sprites, and when you enter a battle, the characters become full sized.

There were pros and cons to the pre-rendered backgrounds, though one of the main cons was that it was in the infancy of the style, so there were times where it was difficult to know where you had to go, and what was and wasn’t a path you could walk on. They would also throw in some goofy winding walkways which were kind of awkward to traverse with the D-Pad, or the path you were on was zoomed really far out, making it difficult to see. Luckily it seemed like Square knew that this would be a problem, so pressing the select button would show where doors were, but this didn’t bandage a handful of the problems with navigation.

Music:

For the most part, the music is pretty good. It does have a very depressing feel throughout the game, as it is a fairly depressing game.

Verdict:

Final Fantasy VII is a pretty good game, and one that you probably should pick up if you’re looking for a good RPG on the PS1. While some aspects of the game haven’t aged well, if you can stomach that, then it’s a fun experience. Though a big suggestion is to view the game in time goggles, as many aspects of the game have now become cliche’s and have been copied over and over, so what may seem overdone now was fairly new or uncommon.

Music: 8/10.

Visuals (Or Graphics): 7/10.

Story: 8/10.

Content: 9/10.

Conclusion: 8/10

Tales of the Abyss 3D – First Impressions

I was late to the 3DS craze, though regardless of that, I had to do what I do every time I buy a new console, check out the main JRPG’s on it. Seeing that Tales of the Abyss was ported to it, I decided to give it a shot.

For the most part, I’m digging the game. The graphics improved a lot from the previous games with full sized character models, not deformed “sprites”, bringing the graphics even closer to the anime artstyle. The only minor gripe is that despite being a late PS2 title, it still has a fixed camera angle. The other main JRPG franchises successfully went full 3D at this time, so I was hoping Abyss would be as well, but I digress. While I feel that I won’t be as fully engrossed in the game world like a full 3D world, this doesn’t take away from the gameplay as a whole, it’s just a nicety.

For the story, while I’m only a few hours in and it’s slowly coming out, it’s been a bit slow, yet still keeping me entertained. Tear is a very likable character, and while Luke is kind of annoying, he’s alright. I’m hoping he becomes more likable as the game progresses, so hopefully he’ll mature. Mieu so far is the most useless character, as he seems like a mascot character and has no point besides being cute. Maybe he’ll become more usefull, but who knows at this point.

Tales of the Abyss is a pretty good RPG for the 3DS, though it doesn’t look like it’s changed much from the PS2 version, and the 3D capabilities of the 3DS don’t seem to be utilized that much, but it’s still a great buy if you’re a Tales fan, or just want to find a good RPG to play.

The Final Fantasy VII Question

Ah, Final Fantasy VII, a game I kind of want to skip over when it comes to reviews. I think the perfect word to describe the game is hype. That’s what got the game to mainstream success, and the factor that still keeps it going today. While hype itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the problem is when something has gained so much hype, that it then crumbles and creates a massive hype backlash, thus creating a dedicated hatedom. This is why the majority of the time FF7 is mentioned, it’s usually in the extremes: over-enthusiastic fanboys, and outright hatred. Usually these camps overshadow anyone else who has a less biased opinion on the game.

Well why is this mostly just for FF7, why not any of the other games in the series? One of the biggest reasons, is that FF7 had a massive marketing campaign. The Playstation was Sony’s first game console, and they were looking for that one killer app that would place them on the market, and that game was FF7. Final Fantasy was originally released on Nintendo consoles, but when they announced that the N64 was going to use cartridges instead of CD’s, Square decided to leave, because their new game was not going to fit onto a cartridge, and they chose Sony’s Playstation.

Sony knew that the Final Fantasy series was a critically acclaimed series on Nintendo consoles, so they were placing their cards all on the success of the latest entry to sell their console. So they advertised the living shit out of it. This then skyrocketed the game and also the console to superstardom.

While I mentioned in a previous blog about how this massive popularity started the first rift in the FF fandom, at the time this was a small minority in the fandom. Many fans of the series were very pleased with FF7. For a ton of the new fans, this was probably a first in anything for them. First Final Fantasy, first JRPG (or RPG), first “serious” or “mature” game, first whatever, and this blew their mind. Because of that, no other game has really left that much of an impression on them.

Further regarding “firsts”, because it was their first Final Fantasy, or first JRPG, many of the aspects of the game that people consider new and groundbreaking weren’t really new or groundbreaking. There are plenty of story aspects that were lifted from FF6 or previous  FF games (or JRPG’s in general). Also many people claim it’s the first 3D JRPG, which is incorrect, even for the Playstation. Wild Arms, while largely 2D, had 3D battle sequences, and King’s Field was a fully 3D world. While Wild Arms is known to plenty of JRPG enthusiasts, King’s Field is still relatively obscure. Since FF7 was their introduction, they weren’t aware that many of their so called “innovations” weren’t necessarily new or groundbreaking, it was just the one that got some of those tropes famous.

Final Fantasy VII’s popularity also caused a surge of RPG’s on the Playstation, many of which were either inspired by elements of it, or just downright copycatted. So several years down the line, if you really only played modern RPG’s and then went back to play FF7, many people found themselves being disappointed. Many of the tropes in FF7 have been done to death already, and nothing about this game is new to them. This and what was mentioned in the previous paragraph tend to be one of the leading causes of much of the hype backlash. Well that and annoying fanboys, but that’s kind of explanatory.

Though that doesn’t answer the question, is FF7 a bad game? While we can spend hours analyzing and possibly criticizing the originality of the story, or whatnot, in the end it’s a game and not a literary work, so we’re supposed to play it. For the most part, it’s a pretty good game, and has a lot of aspects of the game that let it transcend its formerly niche audience and live a successful life. The game is easy to pick up and play, and the mechanics itself are pretty easy to let you proceed through the game. Unlike FF8’s Junction system which to this day still confuses people, and has a more mixed reaction.

For FF7, the gameplay wasn’t challenging, and the game itself wasn’t necessarily challenging. It had a nice difficulty curve, and didn’t force you to grind for several hours. While this may be a deterrent for seasoned RPG fans who want a challenge, this was a good gateway into the world of RPG’s, and why it converted people.

All in all, Final Fantasy VII was a game that came out at the right place at the right time, and while it didn’t really originate most of its tropes, it was what made them popular. So to look at the hype and popularity surrounding this game, one must look at it through time goggles, and hopefully try and view this game in a less biased manor and hopefully enjoy this as just a simple RPG, and not a perfect super original masterpiece, and if you hate it I will kill you and everyone you know.