Final Fantasy VII PlayStation Review
The planet’s life force is being harvested and used as nothing more than a fossil fuel by the power hungry Mega-corporation, Shinra Inc. The planet is dying and it’s up to you to save it, but a much more deadly force than Shinra Inc. is threatening the planet and nobody is going to be safe.
Final Fantasy VII saw the Final Fantasy series jump from the 2D original RPG style used in previous Final Fantasy games and others like Pokémon. This jump was successful and pushed the PlayStation to its limits. The best FMV sequence in the game sees Sephiroth (supremely evil guy) walking though the fires of a burning town, the graphics are stunning, really sharp and the action is very smooth.
Compared to the graphics of newer games like Final Fantasy X and Doom 3, this might seem insignificant, but take into account that it was made in 1997 and they no longer seem too bad. The in-game graphics do what they are meant to and show everything that needs to be seen. I wouldn’t call them technically superior to the games of today but they are still clear and easy to look at. When you travel around the world map, the outline of the mountains and hills look pixelated and not very crisp, but the FMV sequences are still incredibly stunning and some of them look as though they were made last year.
Playing as Cloud, ex-member of the elite force called SOLDIER, you walk, drive and fly around the multi-cultural world that they live in, visiting different towns, piecing together the mixed up stories of the past and finding more and more about what you are going to do.
Final Fantasy VII has a unique style of using magic to your advantage. The magic comes in the form of compressed Mako, called materia. Materia can not just be magic, but can also be used for other different things:
– Independent Materia: e.g. HP Plus and Counter Attack.
– Support Materia: Used to support other materia by making them stronger or more effective e.g. All, which makes the magic hit every enemy on the field instead of just one.
– Command Materia: Gives the person that it is equipped to an extra ability e.g. Steal.
– Summon Materia: Allows the user to summon great spirits to attack the enemy e.g. Bahamut.
Materia needs to be equipped to be used. On most weapons and pieces of armour that you get there are a number of slots, these are where you put the materia. Equipping different materia gives different effects, they usually have advantages and disadvantages, for example one might raise your attack power by 3, but also lower your speed by 3. Materia can level up like your team members, it uses AP that you collect at the end of battle as well as EXP for your party members.
The battle system used is called ATB or Active Time Battle; it consists of a bar that allows you to use a move when the bar is full. You also have to take into account that the enemies are also running on the same system and can attack while you are selecting your moves, so you have to be quick! This adds excitement to the battles because you never know what is going to happen. When you are in a battle you choose from different selections like Attack, Magic, Summon and Item, others are also available depending on what materia that character has equipped.
You are hired by the vigilante group Avalanche to destroy a Mako reactor in the huge metropolis of Midgar. You are swept up into an epic battle for the survival of the planet. When you destroy the reactor you meet a flower girl called Aeris and discover she is the last survivor of an almost extinct race called “The Ancients”, the only one who can hear the voice of the planet and find out what is wrong.
We then find ourselves in the slums of Midgar and meeting back up with the Avalanche team:
– Barret Wallace: General macho man and the founder of Avalanche who has lost his left arm and instead had a gun grafted onto it.
– Tifa Lockheart: A proud member of Avalanche and even though it has been five years, her feelings for Cloud are still very visible.
For the first part of the game these are the only characters that you can have, but you are soon joined by:
– Red XIII (Nanaki): Red is a large and powerful beast with fire-red fur, he joins the team after you rescue him from a horrible Shinra experiment.
There are also many other characters that you come across in your long trek through the game, some better than others. Here is a list, in order, of the other main team members that start to help you throughout the game:
– Cait Sith: Trustworthy at first but his true views and reasons for joining the team become clearer later on in the game.
– Vincent Valentine: A character in hiding to keep the world safe from what Shinra has turned him into. He joins you to resolve the torture going on within his soul.
– Yuffie Kisaragi: Direct descendant of a ninja clan, she joins the team for the soul purpose of getting as much materia as she can.
– Cid Highwind: Long term Final Fantasy gamers will recognise this name as he is a regular character in all the FF games and has always got a wide range of mechanical knowledge.
Final Fantasy games have always been famous for their music and this is no exception. Composed by Nobuo Uematsu, the music fits the game perfectly and there is a different piece of music for every different place in the game. One of the best parts of the game is just to sit and listen to the music. The music that plays when you are in a battle is one of the best pieces of music in the game (apart from Sephiroth’s theme) as it keeps you in suspense and even manages to quicken your heart rate when you are fighting.
There is nothing more reassuring than a loud swishing sound when your sword cuts through an enemy, Final Fantasy VII has a large quantity of these sounds and it adds more enjoyment to the game.
With over 40 hours and 3 CDs of the story, you will never get bored; there are lots of things to do when following the story. Even if you do want to stray from the amazing story line, you can breed and race Chocobos (big, chicken-like birds). In the huge casino and general funfair building in the middle of the desert (think Las Vegas), you can play games like snowboarding, virtual arm-wrestling and even knocking people off motorbikes. There are also many hidden materia and objects to find that will add lots of time to the game.
This game does the series that destroyed the meaning of the word Final, extreme justice and is definitely a must play game. The game does take an age to complete fully, but that’s the beauty of it. You don’t want to buy a game that you will complete in a day or a week but Final Fantasy VII will keep you enthralled for years and years.
9.5 out of 10