When I was thinking of which game I should write my first review for, I decided it would only be fitting to write it on my favorite game of all time (read about my top ten here). Now, you may think “oh, this review is going to be biased, he’s gonna give it a 10/10 because it’s his favorite game!” Well, yeah, that’s how reviews work. If you like a game, naturally you’re going to score it higher!
Keeping that in mind, I will try and give this game (and all the games I review) a more analytical approach when I review it. I certainly won’t just write “omg this game kicks ass, sweet game, lots of fun to play”. I am going to talk about the positives and negatives of each game, and who knows; maybe Final Fantasy VII won’t get a 10/10! So, to the review!
Final Fantasy VII sets you in the role of young spiky-haired Cloud Strife, an ex-SOLDIER member, who is now a mercenary. At the center of the plot is SHINRA, a company trying to drain the planet of energy in order to fill their wallets. Meanwhile, another ex-SOLDIER, Sephiroth, has his own agenda which will essentially make himself ruler of the universe. Phew!
FF7 is stunning!
While the story may seem complicated, underneath it all is the basic rpg-type storyline of Young-Hero-Saving-The-World. I usually get quite disappointed when I start an rpg and realize that I must save the world, however Final Fantasy VII does a good enough job of mixing the story up quite a bit in order to be a little less cliché and a little more interesting.
The colorful cast of characters add plenty of interest. These include a jacked guy with a gun for a hand and a temper, a talking cat sitting on a stuffed animal, a talking tiger-type animal, and several more ordinary humans with extraordinary personalities. While this game was made in 1997 and the absence of voice acting is to be expected, it’s still a little disappointing, especially reviewing this game in 2008.
The battle system is pretty standard, with magic spells and regular attacks. However 2 key pieces make it stand out. The first is limit breaks. Whenever a character receives damage, there is a little meter which begins to fill up. When this meter is full, instead of doing a normal attack, your character can use a limit. A limit is some sort of attack or spell which is very high powered. The attacks can usually do 2 or 3 times the normal attack damage (sometimes more) and sometimes to more than one enemy. The limit spells can be healing to your party among other things.
The second thing which makes the battle system stand out is the use of materia. Magic spells can only come from materia that you pick up, buy, or win. This materia is attached to a slot in your weapon or armor (different weapons/armor have more slots). On some weapons and armor, two slots are connected, and you can connect materia to each other. For instance, if you have the cure materia connected with nothing, you can cure one party member each time you use it. However, if you connect the cure materia with the ‘all’ materia, you can cure all your party members each time you use it! This is a very nice tweak to battling which provides for some cool combinations.
Final Fantasy VII initially appears to be a very linear game, taking place in Midgar, the giant city run by Shinra. The story moves pretty quickly as you progress along a very defined path. However, the story slows down significantly when you reach the world map, and the game opens up and changes quite a bit. Significant game play changes are usually risky, however FF7 is able to accomplish this transition seamlessly. You are still following the same story, except that you have a little more time to look around and explore.
Although the game seems more open at this point, the story still remains quite linear, usually telling you that [item/person x] is now at [location y] and you need to get there by taking [route z]. However, the twists and turns that the plot takes and the generally extremely interesting story really make it hard to notice this linear behavior
The game sounds great. The music is very compelling and really does an excellent job of describing the emotion and feel of a sequence. The sound effects are excellent, and several of them will be eternally stuck in my head.
Graphically, Final Fantasy VII is a complete masterpiece. The game is stunning to look at. From the ordinary game play to the battle graphics to the absolutely astounding CGI scenes, this game is jaw dropping (for its time).
The added bonuses to the game are great. You can spend hours in the Golden Saucer, a giant casino with tons to do, you can chase after the ruby and emerald weapons, you can try to breed a golden chocobo, or you can try and find the two hidden characters. While the main storyline probably brushes close to 50 hours, a pretty good length for an rpg, with the extra stuff to do, you can push this game well into the 60 hour plus range.
Quite frankly, Final Fantasy VII is my favorite game of all time. The story is absolutely the best I have ever seen in a game (or movie, OR BOOK for that matter), the graphics are beautiful, the sound is intense, and the battle system is unique. Despite a somewhat linear plot and the absence of voice acting and lack of a truly unique battle system, this game is fantastic. The characters are brilliantly colorful, from the npc’s with one or two lines to the main characters; this cast is one that I won’t forget for a very long time.
This game is one that is without a doubt worth the price of admission. Even today, in 2008, the $60 price tag on ebay for a used copy is cheap compared to the value of this game. If you haven’t played Final Fantasy VII, or even if you have, but you don’t own it, you need to get your hands on a copy now!
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