alex9234’s Sunday Review
Welcome to another episode of Sunday Review. Yes, I’m finally going to review this game. I wanted to review a different game today, but I’ll save that for next time. Today, I’m going to review every old school Squaresoft fan’s favorite punching bag, the game that put the original PlayStation on the map, the most popular entry in the Final Fantasy franchise, Final Fantasy VII, which came out on the PS1 in 1997.
Final Fantasy VII takes place in the near-distant future on the planet Gaia, a planet that lives on an spiritual energy source called the Lifestream. It’s processed form is called “Mako.” During the plot of the game, Gaia’s Lifestream is being drained for different sources of energy such as electricity by the Shinra Electric Power Company, which is a world-dominating megacorporation that is located in the city of Midgar. Shinra’s draining of the Lifestream threatens the very future of the planet, as it is very likely it could end all life on the planet as well as destroy it.
FFVII follows the story of Cloud Strife, a mercenary who claims to have been a member of SOLDIER – Shinra’s military division. At the start of the game, he works for an Eco-terrorist group called AVALANCHE that is plotting to take down Shinra so the planet can recover. Cloud works with two Avalanche members – Barret Wallace, the leader who is also a father of a young child, and Tifa Lockhart, a young martial artist who is also Cloud’s childhood friend. Together, they perform a successful bombing operation of a Shinra Mako reactor in Midgar. However, their next bombing raid goes wrong, and after an attack by SOLDIER, Cloud falls down to the slums of Midgar, located underneath the main city. Cloud then wakes up inside of a church, where he meets Aerith Gainsborough, a lonely young flower merchant. Shortly after the two of them meet, the Turks – a group of spies who work for Shinra – attach both Cloud and Aerith, but the two of them manage to fend them off and escape.
While Cloud and Aerith are trying to track down the other AVALANCHE members, Shinra tracks down AVALANCHE’s headquarters, and collapses part of upper Midgar, killing most of the AVALANCHE members as well as the population living in the slums. Aerith is then captured by SOLDIER, as she is one of the last surviving Cetra – ancient beings that once roamed Gaia – and Shinra believes that she can lead them to the “Promised Land” – an unknown area of Gaia that is supposedly overflowing with Mako. Cloud, Barret and Tifa go to Shinra HQ and manage to rescue Aerith, but they are also captured after encountering a powerful lifeform called “Jenova”. Shortly after they are captured, their prison cell suddenly opens, and they find out that Shinra’s President has been murdered. They find a katana in the president’s body, and the group learns that this was the work of Sephiroth – a former member of SOLDIER who was presumed dead. The group then escapes Midgar, and they are joined by Red XIII – a member of an unnamed feline species that are part of a tribe that protects the planet and also have the ability to speak.
While searching all over Gaia for Sephiroth, Cloud and his group are then joined by Cait Sith – a robotic cat controlled by rogue Turk spy Reeve Tuesti, Cid Highwind, a pilot who dreams of becoming an astronaut, Yuffie Kisaragi, a young ninja and a skilled Materia thief, and Vincent Valentine, who is an ex-Turk and a victim of Shinra’s experiments. They eventually find Sephiroth at a Cetra temple, and he reveals his ultimate scheme – he plans on using the Black Materia to summon “Meteor” – a spell that will completely destroy Gaia with a meteorite strike. Can Cloud and his group stop Sephiroth and prevent the coming apocalypse?
Final Fantasy VII has gameplay that is similar to that of previous Final Fantasy games. Enemy encounters are random. The Active Time Battle system that was first introduced in Final Fantasy IV is also present in FFVII as well. When a character’s turn comes up, you can input a command for that character. Also, your characters’ commands will change as the game progresses, and will also change depending on the equipment you choose. Commands include attacking with your equipped weapon, using magic, summoning monsters, using items, etc. New to this game are Limit Breaks, where your characters can perform a special attack once a gauge is filled by enemy attacks.
Like previous Final Fantasy games, FFVII has an open world to explore. In the open world, you can visit towns, battle enemies, visit certain locations such as dungeons and caverns, take on side quests, and you can save your game without having to go to a save point.
Another addition to this Final Fantasy game is the use of orbs called Materia. Materia is basically made from Mako – the planet’s energy. You equip Materia in the slots provided by the weapons and armor you equip your characters with, and the number of slots will vary depending on the equipment. Materia is added to your equipment to provide new magic and summoning spells, different commands for things like physical attacks, statistical upgrades, etc. As your characters level up, the Materia that you equip your characters with also level up to become more powerful. You can also combine different kinds of Materia to create different effects and commands.
- All character pictures are courtesy of the Final Fantasy Wiki
Cloud Strife – Age: 21 – Cloud is the main character of Final Fantasy VII. He was originally a member of SOLDIER – Shinra’s military division, where he was part of the 1st Class, the elite unit of SOLDIER. Cloud now works as a mercenary-for-hire and decides to take on the job of destroying Shinra’s Mako reactors in Midgar with AVALANCHE. After meeting Aerith, as well as learning about Shinra’s true ambitions, he decides to join the remaining members of AVALANCHE to take on the quest of stopping Shinra as well as Sephiroth.
Aerith Gainsborough – Age: 22 – Aerith is a mysterious flower merchant who lives in the slums of Midgar with her adoptive mother. She is one of the last Cetra – ancient beings that wield magical powers that are very powerful, and because of this, Shinra has been hunting her down because they believe that she will lead them to the “Promised Land” – an area of Gaia that is supposedly overflowing with an endless supply of Mako. She decides to join Cloud considering that they are both targeted by Shinra, and during their journey, she becomes very flirtatious with him and gets more involved in the deepening love triangle between her, Cloud and Tifa.
Tifa Lockhart – Age: 20 – Tifa is Cloud’s childhood friend. She is part of the Eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE, and she also worked as a bartender in the slums of Midgar before Shinra dropped part of the upper city on the area where AVALANCHE was stationed. Tifa is also a highly skilled martial artist, and will not hesitate to beat the crap out of anyone who tries to pull anything on her. Though she has feelings for Cloud, she is unwilling to confess to him, and ends up getting herself involved in a love triangle between her, Cloud and Aerith. AND HOLY SHIT DOES SHE HAVE HUGE TITS! Sorry, I couldn’t help it LOL.
Barret Wallace – Age: 35 – Barret is the leader of AVALANCHE, the Eco-terrorist group that is trying to take down Shinra and save the world. He began fighting Shinra when his hometown was destroyed by SOLDIER, who also murdered his wife. He also has a young daughter named Marlene, who also survived the assault by SOLDIER on Barret’s hometown. Barret also lost his right hand during the attack, and replacing his right hand is a “Gun-arm”, which can be equipped with various types of weapons like machine guns, explosive cannons, other physical weapons, etc.
Red XIII (aka. Nanaki) – Age: 48 – Nanaki is a member of a powerful feline species that also has the ability to speak. He joins Cloud’s team after he was experimented on by Shinra’s mad scientist, Hojo, who attempted to breed him and Aerith together, as he considered the both of them to be endangered species and wanted to preserve them.
Cid Highwind – Age: 32 – Cid is a highly skilled pilot, mechanic and technical scientist who dreams of being an astronaut. He and his wife Shera were part of Shinra’s newly created space program and Cid was going to become the first man in space, however, his dreams were crushed when his wife was trying to fix one of oxygen tanks just minutes before the launch, and he aborted the launch at the last second in order to save her life. Because of this, Cid has became incredibly frustrated and he verbally abuses his wife on a daily basis because of her concerns over the oxygen tank. He is also a very heavy smoker, and this is probably due to his anger over losing his chance to go into space. He calls Cloud and his group a bunch of numbskulls for fighting against Shinra, but he likes the idea and eventually joins them when Shinra tries to confiscate his airplane.
Cait Sith – Cait Sith is a robotic cat that has the ability to talk. He rides on the back of an unnamed robotic moogle. He can be rebuilt and replaced. He is controlled by rogue Turk spy Reeve Tuesti, who intended to infiltrate Cloud’s group to sabotage their efforts against Shinra, but he develops a change of heart and decides to help the group fight Shinra as well as Sephiroth.
Yuffie Kisaragi – Age: 16 – Yuffie is a ninja and a Materia thief. She is the daughter of the leader of Wutai, a country located in the western end of Gaia. She dreams of restoring Wutai to it’s former glory before it was defeated by Shinra in a bloody war.
Vincent Valentine – Age: 27 – Vincent was a former member of the Turks who was experimented on by Shinra’s mad scientist, Hojo. He was part of Shinra’s Jenova Project, and during that time, he fell in love with another scientist assigned to the Jenova Project, Lucrecia Crecent. When Vincent discovered her link to his deceased father, Lucrecia broke up with Vincent and entered a relationship with Hojo, who got her pregnant and experimented on the fetus as part of the Jenova Project. This angered Vincent, and he decides to join Cloud’s group in hopes of getting revenge on Hojo.
Well, Final Fantasy VII was my first Final Fantasy game. I picked it up in my first year of college, and I still enjoy playing it to this day. The gameplay is superb and easy to get used to, and the Materia system is also very creative. The soundtrack is of course a classic, and is one of the best, as well as one of the catchiest soundtracks in gaming history. The story is also very interesting, and full of incredibly bizarre plot twists that would make even Hideo Kojima lose his mind over. The side quests are also very rewarding, as you can find new weapons, limit break moves and powerful Materia spells while taking them on. I also like the near-distant future setting too, as it is a fresh change of pace from the first six Final Fantasy games that had medieval type settings. However, Final Fantasy VII is not without flaws. Though the CGI cutscenes are fine for the most part, the graphics are incredibly bad. Another serious flaw is this game’s awful rushed translation, as it is filled with errors and typos, and some very cheesy lines that sometimes appear more laughable than sad in scenes that are meant to be dark. The load times are also very bad as well, but then again, it’s a PS1 game, so of course the load times are gonna suck. Most of these issues have made old school Squaresoft fans call this game “overrated”, and what have you. Though some just decide to call FFVII “overrated” because they’re bitter over the fact that it’s more popular than Final Fantasy VI, which is considered to be the best game in the series, as well as other classic Square titles such as Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV, Front Mission, and even some of Square’s other PS1 hits like Xenogears, Front Mission 3 and Final Fantasy IX.
Well, I can reason with them in some areas. But do I think Final Fantasy VII is overrated? No. Despite it’s flaws, as well as some major ones too, Final Fantasy VII is still goddamn awesome. Has it aged badly? Well, not necessarily, but you can’t say that it’s held up perfectly either, what with it’s graphics and character renderings. However, the positives still heavily outweigh the negatives. Again, the gameplay is great, the soundtrack is a classic, the story and characters are all very well done, and it has a lot of replay value. Out of the 3 mainline Final Fantasy games on the PS1, I kept on coming back to this one the most. It’s not my favorite Square RPG – that would be Xenogears – but I still enjoy it very much. Are there RPGs better than Final Fantasy VII? No doubt (Again, Xenogears, IMO is better). But this is still one of the best PS1 games, one of Square’s best games, and one of the best games of all time. You have to play this at least once in your life.
My score: 8.75/10