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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Visuals (Or Graphics): 7/10.