It has been over twenty years since Final Fantasy VII released on the original PlayStation and it showed gamers just how bright the future could be. For so many different reasons this title became an instant classic and achieved almost universal critical and fan acclaim, which has stood the test of time. Naturally, given it released in the early 3D days, it’s rather rough around the edges now, making it the perfect game to remake, an idea that was largely realized when people saw just how good the tech demo Square Enix made was. Now that part of this dream has been realized, fans and newcomers alike are able to see Midgar in all of its glory, a vision that far exceeds anything in the original experience, making it an exciting and frightening prospect. With so much on the line, can Final Fantasy VII Remake match the arguably unrealistic expectations fans have for the title or will it get crushed under the impossible mountain it needs to overcome? Here’s our Final Fantasy VII Remake Review.
Final Fantasy VII Remake retains the original story and further expands upon it. Unfortunately, it’s not the whole game but rather just the Midgar portion. Fans who have previously played the original may have remembered that the Midgar portion takes about six to seven hours to complete whereas, in the remake version, it could take you anywhere from thirty to fifty hours, depending on if you are to do side quests along the way. As someone who has played it several times from various platforms, seeing some of the key stories puts a smile on my face. It felt like that many of the scenes are familiar but at the same time, it’s new.
Since the remake only covers the Midgar portion of the game, it means that there is plenty to look forward to as far as contents go and there are about four characters that don’t make an appearance in this game: Cid, Yuffie, Vincent, and Cait Sith. While gamers who have played the original may feel like the Midgar portion is small, the remake expands it and gives more emphasis on how massive the city is. From exploring a Mako Reactor that can be finished in ten minutes, the remake version makes it somewhat bigger, making players finish it in about an hour.
For newcomers, Final Fantasy VII follows the story of Cloud, an ex-SOLDIER who joins the Avalanche group, whose mission is the destroy the Mako Reactor as they claim that it drains the life energy of the planet. From a simple mission of bombing and taking down Shinra, it further expands to a far exciting plot involving Sephiroth and others. Compared to the original, the remake version allows Square Enix to further dive into the characters’ stories and puts many details to the city of Midgar. The city now breathes life compared to the dull world conveyed in the original game.
As far as combat goes, it’s no longer turn-based. Combining the combat of Final Fantasy XV, which was real-time, and Final Fantasy XIII’s stagger feature, it feels like it’s the perfect combination of the classic and modernized combat system in a JRPG. It works well as it gives players to strategize their attacks while dodging and being active whenever you see an enemy. To use abilities and spells, that’s when the ATB gauge from the original kicks in. While in combat when Cloud is busy moving around, dodging, and hack-and-slashing his way through enemies, there will be an ATB gauge filling up. As soon as the bar is filled, you can then use abilities and skills. At that time, the battle is paused, allowing you to plan more efficiently.
When I first experienced the combat, it felt like that all the way through the end, I will be button smashing. Unfortunately, that is not possible. To be successful in combat, you will really have to plan it out and learn the moves of your opponent. Once you are familiarized with their moves, it gets easier. For bosses, it can get quite challenging and may take some time to get used to. While you can only control one character at a time, you will still have to consider using the other two in your party as each has their own unique skill as Barret specializes in long-range while Tifa is an expert in close-combat.
As far as content goes, there is a lot to look forward to in the remake version. While the game only covers the Midgar portion, the remake offers plenty of things to do. The game is divided into eighteen chapters and rushing through it without doing anything but rather than the story can take you roughly twenty to thirty hours. Since the game has a plethora of sidequests that acts like fillers, it can expand to fifty hours or more.
When Cloud finds downtime in his adventure like when he is in the Slums with Aerith, he can take a break by doing sidequests. These sidequests build Cloud’s reputation and will further give him rare items and Gil. Unlike the original portrayal of Midgar that was dull, the remake makes Midgar a breathing city, with a lot of people to interact with. Thus if you do sidequests, you get to learn more about its inhabitants. Though the majority of the sidequests are fillers and can get repetitive, you are free to skip it and simply rush through the game. Note that by doing sidequests, you may get rare items or even a rare summon that can be beneficial later on.
Visually, Final Fantasy VII Remake looks phenomenal. Back when the Advent Children movie came out several years ago, many had hope that the remake will be similar to it but alas, it exceeds the movie even further. Characters look a lot more polished and the world of Midgar is full of life. The voice-overs are new and are not the same as in Advent Children but the new voice cast does a phenomenal job bringing the characters to life. Cutscenes are well transitioned into the game. If there’s one thing that disappoints, there are textures in the game that is blurred out and pop-ins occurs sometimes, though it’s not really game-breaking.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Review – Verdict
Final Fantasy VII Remake is the experience fans have been waiting for. While it’s only part of the iconic story, which will take place over an untold amount of episodes, it does a much better job of presenting the core elements of the adventure. Not only is this a great way to make the experience different for fans and add more for newcomers, but it is also presented in a way that brings the two times together. Combat is not only a nod to the past but offers a challenge in a world that is finally fully realized, along with a wide number of characters that are associated with Final Fantasy as a whole. While time will tell if the adventure will be worth it, there is no reason not to invest in the first part of it.
[Editor’s Note: Final Fantasy VII Remake was reviewed on the PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]