Final Fantasy VII – Game Review

Square – just the mere mention of the word brings to mind an incredible legacy known for producing some of the greatest RPGs, and games, of all time. The critically acclaimed Final Fantasy series is easily the most recognizable name in the RPG world and is the flagship of Square’s unrivaled RPG supremacy. Their countless other classics, such as Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger, have set the standard for the entire genre. With their intriguing characters, superb soundtrack, and epic stories, these games have continually set the precedent for RPG greatness. Square has definitely raised that bar of quality to towering heights with their latest masterpiece, Final Fantasy VII.

Final Fantasy VII, one of the most anticipated games of all time, lives up to all of its expectations and opens up a new era in the future of RPGs.

Square’s first 32-bit RPG is quite simply one of the most amazing games ever created. Over two years in development, FFVII spans 3 CDs and is undoubtedly Square’s biggest undertaking as of yet. FFVII easily surpasses most RPGs in terms of graphics, music, and has an epic story to go along with it. With a variety of interesting and mysterious characters, FFVII holds true to Square’s philosophy of having many intriguing personalities to go along with their deep and complex storylines. Complete with a truly evil villain, an exhilarating sense of exploration, and exciting battles, overall FFVII is an exceptionally well-balanced title, especially for an RPG, and even has an illustrious, grand theme park to add more depth.

The epic story begins in the futuristic and depressing city of Midgar, where you control Cloud, who is a cold and careless former member of the elite SOLDIER and has little recollection of his past. Cloud has recently joined a terrorist group, known as Avalanche. Their main goal is to stop the ruthless power company, ShinRa, from taking over the world and destroying the Planet, using their Mako reactors to gather the Planet’s energy for their own greedy, money-making purposes. The leader of Avalanche, Barret, realizes that if they do not thwart ShinRa’s diabolical plans of consuming all of the Planet’s energy, the Planet will die, as will its inhabitants. With their intentions of saving the Planet, Barret, Cloud, and Tifa, a childhood friend of Cloud who harbors feelings for him, embark on their fateful mission to prevent the inevitable from occurring. Eventually in Midgar, you will befriend two new companions: Aeris, a beautiful flower girl who is unsure of her roots and also develops feelings for Cloud, and Red XIII, a member of a near-extinct species who was imprisoned by the ShinRa. You will also discover a much more sinister threat than the ShinRa, one that presents a far more serious threat. Cloud and his fellow comrades are quickly faced with many new and puzzling questions, the likes of which will have them traveling all over the world.

As with most other RPGs, you will encounter several new characters on your journey through the many wondrous and exotic locations, as you attempt to figure out Cloud’s past and face the impending doom that awaits their world. This masterfully created storyline will constantly amaze and keep you on edge, while your characters’ destinies unfold during your adventure, just like an exquisite novel or movie.

Without a doubt, Final Fantasy VII has the best graphics of any RPG currently on the market.

The gorgeous graphics skillfully draw you into the game as no other game can, and sometimes you feel almost as if you are in the game, not just playing it. Every background has been painstakingly computer-rendered with the final effect looking nothing short of amazing, as each scene looks incredibly realistic. Each background features an impressive amount of detail and represents each locale appropriately, from the deprived and dirty slums in Midgar to the breathtaking and monstrous theme park mecca, the Gold Saucer. The overworld also contains a surprising amount of detail and can be panned around to get a more complete view of your surroundings, all in glorious 3D.

The battle graphics are also a sight to behold, as the well-designed camera pans around the ensuing battle as your party fights a variety of grotesque enemies.

Your polygonal characters appear very smooth in the battle and look quite realistic. The spells during the battles are all simply incredible and nothing short of awe-inspiring, especially the powerful Summons. Watching a gigantic, ferocious dragon wreak havoc on your unsuspecting foes or a hideous fire god incinerate the opposition is just awesome. The beautifully rendered sequences in FFVII are a vital part of the game, and they are stunning, to say the least. Some of the game’s most dramatic and adrenaline-pumping moments come from the astounding, polished rendered sequences, where they vividly showcase crucial points during the game in a way simply not possible without these superb scenes. However, overwhelming use of FFVII’s memory was used for these scenes and many may not like that.

A truly great RPG, along with an interesting story and premise, must have a good soundtrack, and FFVII does not disappoint in this critical area.

Nobuo Uematsu, the legendary music composer of the past Final Fantasy games, produces some of the best music ever heard of in a video game, rivaling much of the mainstream music of today. These songs are so excellently composed that they will invoke strong emotions during some of the game’s more dramatic and tense scenes. Some of the best songs in the game include “Aeris’ Theme”, “Jenova Absolute”, “Cid’s Theme”, and “One-Winged Angel” are all instant classics, and prove Uematsu’s superior ability to produce tracks that leave a lasting impression. FFVII also has many innovations that will keep you interested throughout the game.

Although the battles are still random and turn-based, which I have absolutely no problem with, the different battle options and magic systems manage to keep it fresh. The ‘materia’ magic system, though similar to the Espers of FFVI, is still unique and is laid out very well. You equip ‘materia’ orbs on your weapons and armor and depending on its growth rate, you learn that orb’s set of spells. However, you must keep the orb equipped in order to use its spells, unlike in FFVI. Also during the battles, you can use “limit breaks”, which are special attacks that become available after your character sustains a heavy amount of damage, similar to Wild ARMs. Then there is the Gold Saucer, where you can relax for a while from your stressful mission and play a variety of challenging and fun games, such as the miniature fighting game and the Speed Square roller coaster. Later in the game, you are even given the option to breed your own Chocobos and race them in the Chocobo Races at the Gold Saucer.

However, FFVII does have a few annoying things that many fans may not like.

The armor system in FFVII is very different compared to the prior Final Fantasy games and is very limited, only allowing the ability to equip an armlet and an accessory. The blocky polygonal characters look out of place on the rendered backgrounds and appear very odd with their “cement block” hands. Challenge is very limited due to hardly any mazes of consequence, as most areas only require just following the paths to progress. Boss characters are also extremely easy and really do not require any sound strategies to defeat. Many people tend to complain that the game is too linear and straight-forward, but I do not think that this affects FFVII. It manages to hold the story together, where the game would be very confusing and frustrating. These critics tend to forget that almost all other RPGs are extremely linear, but FFVII gets criticized for this because of the spotlight being put on it.

If you are even remotely interested in RPGs or are a long time fan, I definitely recommend this unbelievable, ground-breaking title for your gaming library. FFVII will be remembered as the game which brought the RPG genre to the mainstream and forever changed gaming as the result. With Final Fantasy VII’s stunning graphics, compelling and thought-provoking plot, and sensational music, this is one fantasy that you should make come true.