Review: Final Fantasy VII (PS3/PSP)
by Ashe Collins on June 25, 2009

01-coverFinal Fantasy VII
Developer: Squaresoft
Publisher: Squaresoft
Genre: Turn-Based RPG
Re-Release Date On PSN: 6/01/2009

Earlier this year I got the opportunity to review Suikoden after it was released on the PSN. Today I get to review a game I had some fond memories of but haven’t touched in over five years. I got another taste of it again with its prequel last year. This game has many fans, some more rabid than others, and over time it has been placed on a pedestal by most as one of the best RPG’s ever made. While I like the story and the combat system, Final Fantasy VII has not aged as well as one would think. Just how does it stack up in today’s market as a PSOne Classic on the PSN? Let’s take a look.

Story
While Final Fantasy VII has this wonderfully dark and somewhat cyber-punk storyline going for it, you need a road map and a construction crew to get around the bulk of the plot holes to figure out what really is going on. Even with the extra games and movies in the Final Fantasy VII compilation I had a hard time following this game and I’ve played it before!

02-storyYou start off as Cloud, an ex-SOLDIER who’s gone mercenary and working with a terrorist group called AVALANCHE. AVALANCHE is hell-bent on bringing down the evil mega corporation called SHINRA by destroying the MAKO reactors around Midgar that AVALANCHE believes is sucking the very life from the planet itself. Cloud is just along for the ride at first, but after meeting and making friends in the group he decides to stick with them.

After AVALANCHE’s second hit on the MAKO reactors, SHINRA takes it personally and moves to wipe out a whole section of the undercity just to get at AVALANCHE. Our Heroes barely escape the attempt and raid SHINRA’s headquarters to retrieve their friend who was captured during the attack. After several blunders and an escape from prison, they find almost everyone at SHINRA has been executed, including the president of the company, by Sephiroth’s hand. After another harrowing escape from the building Cloud decides that Sephiroth is the bigger threat and manages to convince everyone else of this as well and the party begins chasing the black-caped man around the world.

While this sounds like it’s exciting and fairly straight-forward, there are a few problems with this. One of the bigger problems with the story is the translation. It’s often-times confusing and not very well done. Some of Aeris’ dialogue sounds like it was ripped right from Engrish.com. Cloud also rarely if ever gives any kind of reasoning for why he thinks Sephiroth is trying to kill the world, but the rest of the party just goes along with it. They do get something of an explanation later on, but their immediate ‘put Cloud in charge!’ reasoning really doesn’t make sense.

This is a fairly straight RPG story in that you don’t have many options to deviate from the story and are given even fewer story-telling options. While this would have been great when the game came out, with all the RPG options we have for story-telling now it doesn’t come across as well as it could.

Story Rating: Above Average

04-cutsceneGraphics
One of the bigger selling points in years past was how well Final Fantasy VII looked. While the rendered backgrounds and CG cutscenes have stood the test of time fairly well, most of the character models outside of battle really don’t cut it anymore. Their blocky look really doesn’t look that good on a big screen tv, but on a PSP is far less noticable. You spend most of the game looking at these models, and it just can’t hold up to the newer models in more recent RPGs. The battle scenes still look decent and on the PSP look fantastic, but the lower resolution textures really take away from the visual feel.

Summoning and magic effects still look fairly impressive, but some of them carry on far too long and there’s no way to skip them. Overall I wish this game held up better over time as I remember being slack-jawed the first time I played through it. It’s far from terrible looking but some texture re-vamping and a slight model overhaul would do the game a ton of good.

Graphics Rating: Decent

Sound
I’ve definitely gotten spoiled with the glut of recent RPGs with full voice acting. I kept hoping for any kind of voice overs but then remembered there aren’t any. The basic sound effects for the game feel very generic. Where the audio in this game shines is in the music, but even that has a bit of tarnish to it.

While the music was very well done and has some of the most memorable pieces in it, what hurts it is the synth style it’s played in throughout the game. This isn’t the best synth I’ve ever heard and in some areas that repeat themes over and over again, such as the Chocobo theme, the music can be grating. The battle music is fantastic and several other themes are really well done even with the synth style. If the music alone could be re-done with a full orchestra I think that alone would boost the game a lot.

Sound Rating: Great

03-combatControl and Gameplay
This game has a great combat and magic system, but controlling your character on screen can be a bit of a bear. This game came out before analog stick support was more popular and so it uses the directional buttons to move around, which would be fine, but it can make it a bit difficult to get your character to face just the right way to talk to a person, or to maneuver around different obstacles. At one point I got stuck in a bar between two people I’d just talked to and could not free myself and had to load up my previous save. Lucky me that was only a five minute loss of game play.

Save points are scattered around at key points, and some not so key. You can also save on the world map itself, as well as change out party members there. Unfortunately when you’re playing this on your system and need to shut it off and go do an errand or some such you can’t find a save point fast enough. Luckily for me the PSP just stops the game when you switch your system off.

What I really love about this game though as I said, is the combat system. This game uses the ATB system which keeps it on a moving timer so you have to pay attention to who’s turn is what and how fast the enemy is attacking. This isn’t terribly difficult and keeps you interested. The Materia system is great as it earns a kind of experience as your characters do so the Materia levels up a bit as you do and can become fairly powerful. Sometimes you have to get inventive with how your Materia is scattered about your characters depending on equipment they’re wearing and where you’re headed as you can’t swap out characters in battle like you could in more recent installments of the Final Fantasy series. This game also establishes the 3 party member rule that so many RPGs seem to use even today.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Very Good

Replayability
There’s a ton of things to collect in this game. In fact to get a perfect game you could spend hours upon hours trying to get everything. On a normal run-through this game could take you about 40-50 hours of play. Trying to get everything in the game possible could easily run you over 100 hours, but those hours will be grinding. Even though it’s Final Fantasy grinding and we expect it, this grinding will not be fun. Really the only reason to replay this game is if you enjoy the story. This isn’t like Mass Effect or Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII where you carry over your levels and gear to max out everything. You start fresh every time.

Replayability Rating: Below Average

05-cutscene2Balance
This is probably one of the easier Final Fantasy titles out there. While you can die or get game overs, it’s incredibly rare. Phoenix Down is fairly easy to get, and then there’s the Revive Materia when you don’t want to waste one of those. The boss fights may take awhile, but most aren’t impossible. I actually had a harder time with the first boss fight in the MAKO reactor than I did fighting Jenova on a freighter later in the game. It might offer up a challenge to those who’ve never played console RPGs or even RPGs in general, but it’s just not there anymore.

Price-wise you can’t really beat this though. You’re getting 40-100 hours of gameplay time depending on how thorough you want to play or max out. Looking on ebay, the price of the game has dropped considerably, but if you want this one new and in good shape you can pay up to $125 bucks for a disc copy, but on PSN it’s only $10. That’s a steal. I think I paid $20 for it originally when I first got it and I thought I’d gotten my money’s worth then. Add to that the ability to trade your save games between the PS3 and the PSP and you can take this bad boy anywhere.

Balance Rating: Enjoyable

Originality
This was the seventh game in the actual Final Fantasy series but it was a huge deviation from their normal games. They stream-lined and simplified equipment and the magic system. It was one of the first big RPGs to take that full 3D (kind of) leap. But then it went and borrowed from the cyber-punk genre that was popular at the time and kept that whole save the world storyline that all of the Final Fantasy games have. While it was fairly unique at it’s time and was hailed as ground-breaking, many games have come and gone that have done things more original than this one.

Originality Rating: Enjoyable

Addictiveness
Even though I’ve played this before and knew where it was going and what headaches I was running into, I kept playing. There’s something that keeps you playing beyond the story. Be it the combat system, the often quirky and bizarre character interactions, or just hoping to get to that next bit of pretty. When I wasn’t playing this on my PS3, I dumped my saves to play it on my PSP when I was out and about at the dentist’s or waiting to pick up my wife from work. Other than up this was the first game to really pull me away from Valkyria Chronicles which I’ve been playing over again on my PS3.

Addictiveness Rating: Great

06-combat2Appeal Factor
With the original game, the re-release of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children on Blu-Ray, several sequels and a prequel, you have to wonder if this would do well? I can see it appealing to those who want it on their PSP, but I’m betting a bunch of people already have the disc based version. For people who haven’t ever played the original or got sucked into the FF VII universe through Advent Children (yes I’ve met them in real life) and never played the RPG in the first place, this might be their chance to get it without breaking the bank, well if they already have a PS3 or PSP anyway.

Appeal Factor Rating: Great

Miscellaneous
While I’ve been a bit harsh on this game, I still love it and do enjoy playing it. Being able to take this massive game on the road is going to come in handy when I go visiting people later this summer. I do think this game could benefit from a better translation, some tweaking of the graphics and sound to accommodate the high-def audience that own PS3′s. But really you’re just getting the same game you’d get if you had popped the original discs in with this game, and that’s sometimes what people want.

What might have helped this on the PS3 is the options to change the screen size like you have on the PSP, to play it at original size, to scale it up to top and bottom, or to zoom and fill the screen. As it is, the PS3 just takes the game and fills the screen with it, mercilessly stretching it across my HD screen. The PSP was far kinder to the game. I do wish they could have tweaked it just a bit.

Miscellaneous Rating: Enjoyable

The Scores
Story Rating: Above Average
Graphics Rating: Decent
Sound Rating: Great
Control and Gameplay Rating: Very Good
Replayability Rating: Below Average
Balance Rating: Enjoyable
Originality Rating: Enjoyable
Addictiveness Rating: Great
Appeal Factor Rating: Great
Miscellaneous Rating: Enjoyable
FINAL SCORE: ENJOYABLE GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
Gaming Rexes are sad! A straight bundle of the original PlayStation title, the PSN release weighs in at 1.4 GBs which can fill up a PSP memory card and take up a bunch of hard drive space on your PS3 quite fast. If you don’t have this game on disc, this is definitely one that’s worth the price if you’re a Final Fantasy fan, or even if you’ve heard a lot about the title but never played it. My first console RPG, I’m still enjoying this game over a decade later and with this release you don’t have to worry about missing or scratched discs and can lug it around with you if you have a PSP.



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Ashe Collins

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  • BeatPunchbeef

    Dude, you can change the PS3 screen ratio for the game only – while in the game. Hit the home button and choose “Screen Size” (or something like that) and choose NORMAL instead of FULL. Boom, done and done. Best part is that it only does it for this game, not the whole system, and it also has the manual for it as well.

  • Ashe Collins

    Apparently it doesn’t have that option if your PS3 is set to full screen instead of widescreen. I’d since found that out later. For some reason when I unplugged it and moved it in my entertainment center it lost all it’s settings and I had to set it up again.

    Thanks for the head’s up though.

  • sephiroth

    when they make this game for the ps3 it will shock the world those that have now been let down by the recent final fantasy games such as final fantasy 11, 12 and 9 but when they remake final fantasy 7 which mayb confirmed after final fantasy 13 and final fantasy versus 13 has been made the makers of final fantasy 7 might get together to remake the best game in the world ff7

  • Ashe Collins

    I liked XII. To each their own though. I think there’s a lot they could do with a remake of Final Fantasy VII, but I’d rather see them come out with new games than going back to the dead horse of Final Fantasy VII yet again.

  • http://www.alexanderlucard.com Alex Lucard

    Final Fantasy XII is the only FF I’ve liked since I, II and Tactics.

  • chris

    Considering the most important part of any RPG is the story, I doubt there is much they could do make 7 better. You’d still have the same uninteresting and entirely unlikable characters in the same boring story.

  • http://www.alexanderlucard.com Alex Lucard

    Chris -

    They could kill Cloud and Sepiroth in the first fifteen minutes and instead have the game revolve around Aeris throwing tea parties for Barrett. “What kind of scones should I make today? Blueberry!”

    I’d buy that just for the outrage.

  • Ashe Collins

    Well they could put in all that crap that got ret-conned in with all the other games they’ve made to shoehorn in on this one.

    And maybe get a decent translation.

    And… yeah I got nothing.

  • Mr ScaryTT

    Im so sick of all this FFVII fanboy hype crap! It was a great game don’t get me wrong. I finished it a few times when it first came out. I just wish they would finally admit that it is being remade, put it out and be done with it! I’ll buy it and and play it again. Then they can finally get around to remaking FFVIII! Thats my favorite FF game anyway! I dont care what anyone says about it!

  • Fantasy_Assassin24

    Yes final fantasy 7 is and will be the best game ever. If they realese it on PS3 I would go as far to say that it would outsell the final fantasy 13 that is muchly anticipated. I cant wait to see what ff7 will look like with PS3 graphics thats so awesome man…………

  • kyleismr.smiley

    Hey “sephiroth ” **** you! Final Final Fantasy XII is one of the best! I loved Tactics Advance, and therefore loved the world of Ivalance! FFVII is my 2nd fav so far.

    And yes Final Fantasy XI was kinda eh, but some people liked it. And I have heard from numerous people that FFIX was the personal favorite of some.

    So cut the crappy FFVII fanboy crap out!
    FFVII, was okay in the day, but a then all the prequel and sequel stuff came out. Never playing FFVII in the past I was so exited about Advent children . . . then when it came out I was like what? This is it? That movie sucked! (sucked compared to all the hype it caused)
    And I like Crisis Core, but I still havn’t beat it, I’m using a modded psp with cheats, and I’m still forcing myself to play it.

    When you get out of your little world of emo dressed people lifting ginormous swords that fail epicly in real life . . .come join the rest of us and move on to bigger and better games!

  • david pickering

    OK FIRST THINGS FIRST 1-10 EXCEPT FOR 9 WERE GREAT 11 SUCKED I DONT CONSIDER IT TO BE A FINAL FANTASY 12 WAS TRASH THE WHOLE STORY LINE WAS JUST OK BUT REALY THE THING THAT MADE THE FF SEIRES SO GREAT WAS THE FIGHTS AND WHEN U MAKE IT WHERE U SEE THE MONSTERS AND U RUN INTO THEM AND JUST START FIGHTING CRAP AND THEN U ARE MORE FOCUSED ON ONE CHARACTER INSTEAD OF ALL OF THEM IM A CLASSIC RPG PLAYER AND THE NEW FIGHTING STYLE THEY HAVE COME OUT WITH IS SHIT 7 IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE THE BEST FF AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ANYTHING LIKE IT AGAIN

  • saida

    WHOA PPLS! Chill out! It’s just a game.. If i were to start talking B.S. about COD4, I’d be friggin’ attacked by fanboys… It’s only a game. U like or not, there’s nuthing to do…(I could just kill you jk)Stop freaking out…

  • Death Ruin

    I have enjoyed Final Fantasy games sine the very first one on Nintendo. I liked them so much I actually bought a Famicom just to get FFII and FFIII. I was upset when they called FFIV II and FFVI III. But when FFVII came out I was in total shock and amazement. It was like every final fantasy before it was just an appetizer for this great game. The storyline is probably the most memorable I’ve ever followed. It seemed like ever final fantasy game that came after 7 was just moving in a down hill direction. I still liked 8, loved 8 actually, 9 was just crap. They tried to hard to go back to the roots but just couldnt bring the story to its full potential. FFX… the first Final Fantasy to have a sequel… was so undeserving. The main character was a little whiny bitch with daddy issues, not to mention a little surfer boy trying to play hero. 11 would have been an awesome MMO but they tried to hard to copy the Korean style of grind to such an extent that you’d have to play it 20+ hours a day 7 days a week for 2 years and you’d still only reach level 20. 14 claims to have changed that and made it WoW easy to level. Final Fantasy 12 is by far the WORST instalment of the series. The storyline was garbage, the graphics were definately downgraded from 10, the music score sucked, the battle system was a rip off of 11 the game as a whole was just a huge disappointment and total waste of 60 bucks(got the collector’s edition). Characters from just about every final fantasy have been in other games, but only one game features a character from this game and he was garbage in that. The psp version of FF Tactics had Balthazar. But on the same note cloud has appeared in about 8 games. Dissidia being the newest which as sad as it is does not include a final fantasy 12 character story path. That just goes to show how much Square Enix is ashamed of that game. FF13 is probably going to be great but I’m not getting my hopes too high. Versus 13 on the other hand I am putting right where I put 7 when it came out. As for a remake of 7, yeah it would be awesome, fully voiced, upgraded graphics and physics engines, Have The Black Mages do the music scores, add in a few missing plot points, like the guy in the tunnel when you first meet aeris, is it Zack or not? The number 2 tatoo on him suggests yes but you never get any real answer to that question. DO NOT give people the ability to revive aeris, that would just defeat te purpose in her death. Yes, I loved aeris just as much as anyone else. I even cried the first 6 times I played through the game. But giving you the ability to somehow bring her back would remove the emotion from that entire sequence. If not a remake of 7 I would suggest a playable version of advent children or a game based around the events between the end of 7 and the beginning of Advent Children. But as I’ve caught myself rambling again I’ll end it there. Go ahead and bash my comment like I know you all want to. Bash to your little hearts desires because whatever you have to say against me I can come right back and prove you wrong… I will bury you with your own words.

  • Pingback: Diehard GameFAN | Final Fantasy: Then and Now (Part 1)

  • denmoe

    make a final fantasy 7 it,s one of my dream come ture,s i hope they make a mode for sephiroth he,s my fave i dont like fighting him it make,s me sad:(

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