Before I start, I just want to mention that I have never played the original game, so don’t expect any kind of comparison with the title released in the late 90s.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is easily one of the most anticipated games of this generation. Is all this buzz justifiable? Well, the truth is that the original work is one of the most acclaimed games ever, reaching a huge success when it was released on Playstation in 1997. However, contrary to what you might expect, this remake is only the first part of several games to be released in the future. This first game focuses on the Midgar area and stretches events a little further. Stretching is not exactly the right word, perhaps complementary.
The story of Final Fantasy VII revolves around a company that controls the planet’s energy for its own benefit, rather than social progress. We play as Cloud Strife, a former soldier of that same company who has now joined a group of rebels called Avalanche. The goal is obviously to bring down the company’s empire, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Along with Cloud on this adventure, we also have Barret, Tifa and Aerith. Each one of these characters has a very important role in the unfolding of events and it is in combat that they show their personality well.
Cloud is a relatively complete warrior, Tifa is more hand-to-hand combat, Barret is a “tank” focused on heavy and long-distance attacks, and finally, Aerith has in magic its biggest weapon. Each one uses a certain type of weapon and there are several that we can obtain throughout the campaign. Each one of them has a special attack and once they reach 100% affinity with one, that so-called special attack can be used with any other weapon. This encourages the player to change his weapon without any fear of not being able to use some specific attack they liked.
Let’s talk a little bit now about Materia. This consists of small crystals that we get throughout the game and that can be applied to weapons and some equipment. There are many versions, where some of them give a boost attack to magic, fire, ice, wind, among many other possibilities. The more they are used, the more effective they will be in long-term combat. It is possible to combine several types of items, allowing a detailed customization of each equipment or character.
Unlike the original game, the remake combat is not just a turn-based. In general, it is more focused on real-time action. In fact, the game has a mode called classic, which is the format most similar to the old system, if you want to opt for this route. In terms of combat, each character has two types of attack and, if you prefer, you can simply use these during most of the game. However, the “magic” is in the ATB (Active Time Battle) system.
This system slows down time and allows you to activate certain powers, consume items, or even perform special attacks. This is extremely important as we can also scroll through the different characters and activate on each of them, a specific offensive blow or a buff that benefits some companion. Being able to change characters in combat always makes the combate intense, especially if we can be constantly using ATB features. I also want to mention that it’s possible to invoke “companions” to fight, which have the name of Summons. They can only be invoked at certain times and once active, they remain in combat for a while. As soon as their time is over, they execute a very powerful final attack, coming out of action in great style taking into account the animation of the attack.
Unlike what might have seemed, Final Fantasy VII Remake is not an open world, as the game is divided into zones and chapters. Nevertheless, some zones are big enough to allow a good freedom. Before moving on to a new chapter, the game always asks if you don’t want to do anything else in the current one, because some side quests end up getting lost. However, this is only a problem until you finish the game. Once you reach the end, you can choose which chapter you want to play in and complete everything there is to do, be it the side quests, pick up various items, music and weapons.
When it comes to visuals, there’s no denying that this is a great game, although a bit haunted by some texture problems in certain places. Even though I noticed something here and there, it was never as “serious” as when I finished the game and returned to chapter three to do some side quests. That’s when I started noticing some “big” texture problems. However, nothing that really bothered me to the point of taking the fun out of the game. The level of detail in the characters is something extraordinary, but no less incredible is the detail of the Materia applied to the weapons/equipment, which can be seen in full gameplay and videos.
As for the scenarios, there is a good visual variety. From the poorest areas, to the most developed places in the city, or the Shinra company building itself, there is a great visual disparity that makes our trip even more special. The interiors of certain buildings themselves, contain many delicious details that end up also giving a more unique touch to many of them. As for the soundtrack, you wouldn’t expect anything else besides greatness, considering the names involved in its production.
The quality of this remake is remarkable, but not everything is perfect. In addition to the texture problem I mentioned earlier, the camera is also an aspect that creates some difficulties. During some combats, especially in tighter areas, the camera ends up hiding several enemies. One of the (though temporary) solutions I came up with was to increase the distance from the camera through an option in the menu. This caused the field of view to increase a bit and softened the problem.
As someone who has never played the original work before, I can say that Final Fantasy VII Remake is a great game. I confess the biggest disappointment I have had with it was the narrative. I felt that there was never that moment that left me speechless, although I also understand that this is only a brief part of a whole more extensive narrative. I really liked the combat system and the way it can be approached in the most varied ways, taking into account the specialties of each character. Despite the small texture problem, this is a visually amazing game and it’s nice to walk through several areas on the map (I’m talking about you Wall Market). Whether you’re a fan of the game released in 1997 or if you’ve never played this or any other title in the series, it’s impossible not to advise what is easily one of the best games of this generation.
Combat mechanics and ATB system
Some texture problems
Camera in combat (some cases)
Release Date: 10 April 2020
Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG
Platforms: Playstation 4
Review copy provided by Ecoplay.