TVGA REVIEW: Final Fantasy VII Remake

Final Fantasy VII Remake breathes new life into the original story, characters and setting.

There are video game review sites that gave Final Fantasy VII: Remake a perfect score. While I wouldn’t go that far, there is little doubt that Final Fantasy VII Remake is a great game. Having played it from start to finish, I found it to be a game that was easy to get into and I appreciated many of its epic moments. It is a Playstation 4 exclusive that is worthy of all the positive press it has received.

Right off the bat, I feel it is important to mention that I played and beat Final Fantasy VII back on the original Playstation in 1990s. So going into the game, I was already familiar with the main plot and characters. I can’t speak for how a player that is new to Final Fantasy VII or Final Fantasy in general would take in Remake but if you are familiar with the original story, you’ll be in for a treat if you check out the remake. Just keep in mind that not every single detail is going to line up exactly with the original Final Fantasy VII and you will find a lot to enjoy. This is not a remaster but a game that was created from the ground up.

FINAL FANTASY VII COMES TO LIFE

Having played the original Final Fantasy VII, I don’t feel I was really prepared for what I was going to experience when I first booted up Remake. And I mean this in a good way. The graphics, the character models, the voice acting and the remixes of the memorable music tracks all just really exceeded my expectations from the beginning. It was as if Square Enix took Final Fantasy VII and truly made it come to life. The original Final Fantasy VII was a groundbreaking game in its time and it is an all-time classic game. But seeing Cloud, Aerith, Tifa and other characters looking more like real people with voices made me realize how much the original game could have benefited from having it. I can remember certain moments from the original game but there are a lot of details that I had forgotten. Hearing the dialogue rather than just reading it incorporates two senses instead of just one, making it that much more memorable. Remake actually made me pay more attention to the story and I gained a newfound appreciation for characters such as Jessie, Biggs and Wedge.

The battle system is also another way of making the game feel more alive as well. Rather than going with the original battle system that featured your characters on one side of the screen and the enemy/enemies on the other, the Remake system allows for free movement within the environment but you still have to wait until your ATB gauge fills up in order to execute an action. This actually was a major plus for me as it brought excitement to the battles and kept them interesting throughout the game. Also I liked that I was able to progress in the game naturally rather than having to spend countless hours grinding in order to finish the game. As a non-grinding gamer, this was very appreciated.

Cloud, Tifa, Barrett and chocobos together again in Final Fantasy VII Remake.

THE FIRST OF MULTIPLE EPISODES

Although Remake is a full length game, it is merely the first in what is supposed to be a series of games that cover the Final Fantasy VII story. Remake in particular only covers the events of Midgar so be advised that if you are expecting the full Final Fantasy VII story in the game’s 30-40 hours, you won’t find it here. Understandably that can be a make or break consideration in regards to whether or not you want to purchase the game but it is important to state this in order for you to know what you’re getting into.

Overall, the fact that this game only focused on Midgar made me better appreciate that city and its significance in the game’s plot. While it only encompasses a few hours in the original Final Fantasy VII, you will have much more time to become familiar with Midgar in Remake. This is actually a good thing because it is what happens in this city that sets the stage for the rest of the story. Spending time in Midgar allows us to see that the events of the game don’t just affect the main characters but everyone who lives within the sectors. Remake truly exposes us to the plight of the people who live under the reign of the Shinra Corporation and shows us why an organization such as Avalanche exists.

SOME MISSTEPS

Remake is great but it is still far from perfect. There are a number of flaws that you may encounter as you play through the game. It doesn’t stop the game from being one that you will enjoy but, in my opinion, it does affect the game’s replayability and immersion.

As I traveled with two or more characters in the game, I would find that I would repeatedly bump into the other characters on a regular basis. Constantly hearing the grunts of other characters because of the bumps became annoying very quickly and sometimes I would find myself stuck in certain areas within the environment until the other character moved out of the way. Now this isn’t just limited to Remake as I have experienced this in many other games where you have A.I. controlled teammates. But the frequency of bumping into other characters was lower.

Another flaw in the interactivity between your party members is when you have the other characters take off with warp-like speed ahead of you or you find them lagging way behind you. There were instances in which Tifa seemed a street block behind Barret and Cloud, only to then, along with Barret, zoom way ahead of everyone. Cloud, Tifa and Barrett are supposed to be a unit so they should be walking together. Also, with dialogue between the characters happening as they are walking/running, it is strange to hear the dialogue when the characters are not even in hearing distance of each other. The game mechanics should have been in place to better keep the party together as they walk and journey as it better conveys their alliance. Plus it makes more sense when they are conversing.

Next, there are instances of graphical inconsistency in the game. For instance, within a part of the game that takes place in the sewers, the overall environment is rendered well but then the water coming out of a pipe looks like a cheap Playstation 2 animation. This is a Playstation 4 game. Then there are seemingly random points where the characters don’t look as detailed and sharp as they should. It’s weird because overall the game is impressive graphically. But those instances such as the horrible water graphics and animation are head scratchers because they don’t belong in an otherwise well polished looking game.

The last aspect of the game that could have used more improvement were the side missions. While introducing you to the other citizens of Midgar, the missions feel more like fetch work than being activities that truly add to the game. I truly believe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt set a whole new standard for what side missions should be like as those missions literally were like mini-episodes with plot twists and very interesting revelations that added much to the overall game. Such an approach would have worked well in the Remake setting and would have helped the story become that much more vibrant. Overall, the pacing of the game could have been better with a more balanced feel of story and action. There were points of the game that felt tedious because of too much ongoing action and like the game was dragging along when there was a lot of story. When I finished the game, I had no desire to continue playing to collect everything. I enjoyed my adventure overall but I was also ready to move on to another game after I completed Remake.

Just like in the original Final Fantasy VII, materia plays a significant role in Remake.

THE FINALE

Remake is a well put-together game that will definitely wow gamers that have played the original Final Fantasy VII, especially in the beginning. It does a great job of bringing the classic game to 2020 and breathes life into a cast of memorable characters in a way that we haven’t seen before. Yet there will be points of the game that make it feel like a chore because of its pacing issues. For that reason alone, I can understand if this isn’t a game for everyone. But the game was good enough to keep my attention for nearly 40 hours and I saw it all the way through. As short as my attention span is when it comes to gaming, that is an accomplishment by Square Enix. And most importantly, the game was an overall fun game to play.

-TVGA

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