Final Fantasy VII - Review

The Gaming Standard

By: Red Raven

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 10
   Originality 7
   Plot 8
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

40-60 hours


Title Screen

   Ah, Final Fantasy 7. Who could ever forget the game that not only brought about the end of the 16-bit era and the beginning of the 32-bit one, but brought the entire RPG genre into the mainstream? Three years after it's release it is still the focus of good discussion, debate, fan fiction, and fan art. As with all things that break the common mold, many have questioned whether this game was really good or not. That question is just a moot point. Of course it was great, or why else would so many people have played it and so many other RPGs imitate it? Despite the fact that everyone reading this should have experienced FF7 already, I shall perhaps refresh one's memory of this Final Fantasy that changed an era.

   Veterans of FF6 will be quick to feel some similarities between the two, concerning the battle system. The Active Time Battles are the same, the commands are essentially the same, the summon spells are basically the same, the speed of battle is the same. Despite these, FF7 adds its own advances in technology to the mix. Battles are completed in a 3D cinematic style. Cloud and company are given the polygon treatment. Summon spells are now longer and more grand in scope and beauty. And an innovative new system of casting spells and summons, the Materia system, is implemented.

Not Exactly a Resort Town.
"Not exactly a resort town."  
The Materia system takes the place of the Espers of the previous game, characters can only cast the spells of the Materia (little colored orbs) that they have equipped on their weapons and armor. As you complete battles your Materia matures into a stronger version of itself, sometimes giving you access to more powerful spells, sometimes reproducing to give you another piece of Materia for free. Magic is not the only things Materia can provide though, certain ones can give you access to new commands such as Steal and Throw, they can provide elemental protection, and of course summon great creatures to dish out damage upon your foes.

   Out of battle sees you controlling Cloud and co. on an adventure of large magnitude. The game starts in the "steam punk" world of Midgar, a huge circular city suspended above the ground. The characters are all polygons, and they are imposed over two-dimensional CG backgrounds. This works surprisingly well, the characters never really look out of place on the screen. And Square even added a useful feature that shows you where the exits are while exploring the CG area, a handy thing indeed for people not quite used to the new concept yet. The menus are just your basic sort that you've come to expect in Final Fantasy games, nothing too complicated.

   The music featured in the game is somewhat legendary. While many would be quick to point out that Nobou Uematsu vastly changed his style for this game, it is of my opinion that it was an excellent move. With this Final Fantasy geared more toward the sci-fi arena instead of straight fantasy, moving towards more techno-jazz type of music was the logical step. As with most Square game the music seems to fit the entire scene nicely. There are even the regular amount of stand-out songs, such as Aerith's Theme, Weapon Raid, and of course One-Winged Angel. Buying the OST for this game is a good move and you wouldn't regret it. The sound effects in battle, especially ones caused by the summon spells, were very nice.

Can you say 'a...hem' on national TV?
"That's one big-aft gun"  
They never proved to be annoying which is what most people care about anyway.

   With keeping in the Final Fantasy tradition for a new world each game, there should be no surprises that this game contains originality. This is true with FF7 as well. One of the bolder moves however is the fact that the whole game world is more in the realm of science-fiction than fantasy, as stated earlier. Other innovations include the Materia system, the CG backgrounds, and pretty much everything else that we have come to expect from 32-bit RPGs. And I believe this is the first RPG to feature lots of minigames, a regular feature now appearing in all other RPGs.

   The plot was excellent as well. It starts small enough to get the causal gamer interested and it keeps building upon itself until you find yourself battling to save the planet. The transition is very smooth and many people probably did not notice it happening. The characters have their own distinct personalities, if somewhat generic. The building up of the plot brings about many special moments, and these moments are done very well and can bring out a variety of emotions from the player. As far as the localization goes, it is certainly up to par. No glaring mistakes.

   The replay value is okay, there are a good number of secrets that you may have missed or special bosses you may not have beat. It has just about the most replay value you can expect from a game with neither alternate endings or New Game+ options.

    The visuals were pretty outstanding for their time. While overshadowed nowadays by its successor, FF8 among others, it had no real peer at the time of its release. Most of the CG backgrounds looked fantastic. The only gripe that could be pointed out is the fact that most of the people in the game looked really deformed. It was almost as if the polygon artists were trying to find a blend between anime and computer graphics. The results are people with big blocky heads and arms, but very skinny joints. All this is off-set by the legendary FMV that plays liberally throughout the game. Only FF8 can top these awesome computer movies.

Hang 10 dude?
"Cloud catching some air"  
Overall, the visual department is great.

    The difficulty of this game is pretty easy compared to most other RPG. While it may have its difficult spots, most battles need only a quick summon spell to wipe the battlefield. In fact, through a little searching for a certain summon spell and a little leveling up, it has been said that you can defeat the last boss with a single spell. For the hardcore gamer in all of us, there are a few special bosses that are much more difficult to beat, but can be skipped if you're not up to the challenge. If you decide you need to find everything you'll find yourself a 60-70 hour game, 40-50 if not.

    Simply put, FF7 is an instant classic. It joins the ranks of its Final Fantasy ancestors and continues the lineage of the great Square flagship series. All the RPGs we now are flooded with can be traced back to the success of this simple game. While my enthusiasm for this game may seem eccentric, it certainly is not unwarranted. Go play the game. Tell your friends to play it. Then play it again. Like good wine, this game only gets better with age.

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