FF7 Review (#2)
Okay, I'm sure just about everyone on knows what FF7 is by now. Unless of course, you've been living under a rock for the last couple years, that is. FF7 was Square's first RPG on the Playstation, in addition to being probably the most heavily advertised RPG (in the U.S. that is) of all time. It was the catalyst that has managed to bring a flood of RPGs to the States ever since then, and for that we are thankful. Or are we? In addition to being a major RPG on the Playstation, FF7 appears to also be a dividing line between RPG players. Many of the players familiar with Square's older games on the Nintendo and Super Nintendo disliked FF7 for a variety of reasons. However, many of the newcomers to the RPG world loved FF7, and will use it as the standard by which all other RPGs are measured. Ok, that's about enough of my ranting, onto the actual review.
Regarded by most as the least important thing in an RPG, FF7 brings us an unprecedented level of graphical prowess. Featuring fully polygonal characters placed on detailed rendered backgrounds, FF7 was one of the most graphically astounding games that we had seen, upon its' initial release. It featured a good bit of FMV, showing the characters in a more detailed way than had ever been done in an RPG. The FMV allowed a few scenes to be expressed very well, that I, for one, don't think would've been anywhere near as powerful with the in-game graphics. In battle, the characters were quite detailed, and both their attacks and spells show off quite a bit of graphical prowess on Square's part. The only thing lacking FF7's graphics, sadly, are the standard "field" graphics, as you could call them. Your characters are the epitome of super-deformed, short, featuring monstrous heads, and ridiculously over-sized hands. However, aside from that small infraction, FF7's graphics are quite nice to look at.
Sound and Music:
Ah, music in a Square game, arguably some of the best in the industry. Many would say FF7 was one of, if not the worst of Nubuo's work, I for one, disagree. FF7 did have a very different tone in its music than FF6, its most recent predecessor. In FF7, the music is far less cheerful and happy than in the previous games. It has taken on a far more modern and dark tone, which, while not well received by many gamers, I felt fit the mood of the game well. A few of the tracks, "Aerith's Theme" for instance, are some of the greatest, and most moving pieces I've ever heard from a video game. "One Winged Angel", the final boss theme, is another great from the soundtrack, featuring voices singing along in Latin, which really fits the final fight very well. The sounds in the game are nothing to write home about, but, not harsh on the ears either. Personally, the actual sounds in an RPG never stick out much to me. There are, of course, no voices (aside from the singing in "One Winged Angel") in the game, but, it lends a bit of a silent movie air to the whole game. Some would prefer that Square have voices, I for one, couldn't care less.
Ah, the battle system, different for every FF game, always something new and interesting to try out. This time around, we have the "Materia" system. Using your two main pieces of equipment (weapon and bracelet), you can equip anywhere from one to sixteen different materia on each character. Each materia has its' own unique properties that effect your characters in different ways. Magic materia, for instance, lowers your HP and strength a little, but raises your MP and magic a little. The stronger the materia, the more severe the change. The more you raise your magic materia, the more spells you get out of them. Summon materia, holds, as the name would suggest, your summoned creatures, many of whom you'll recognize from previous FF games. By raising the levels of your summon materia, you'll be able to summon those creatures more often in battle. There is also support materia, which can be attached to other materia to cause an added effect, for instance, "Elemental" materia combined with "Fire" on your weapon will give your attacks a fire attribute, thus, doing more damage to ice creatures. There's also independent materia, which do things on their own, like raise HP, MP, or allow you to occasionally counterattack. Finally, there is command materia, which, when equipped, will allow you to use new commands, like "Steal", "Sense", and "Throw". When there materia gain levels, they often allow you to use a more powerful ability, for instance, "Steal" becomes "Capture" which will allow you to attack and steal simultaneously. All the materia level up on their own using AP which you gain after battle, and can hence be switched around on your characters to create the combinations you need to defeat a boss.
This, in my opinion, is really where FF7 shines. However, rating the story is far more difficult, given the subjectivity of the whole thing. The basic story behind FF7 is that the corporation "Shinra", which controls a large portion of the world, has been taking advantage of both the people and the planet for far too long. They suck the life from the planet for use in their "Mako" reactors. Recently, a small rebel group going by the name of Avalanche has formed to attempt to stop Shinra's continuing destruction of the world. Our main character, Cloud, is working with Avalanche currently, and plans on helping them to blow up one of the reactors in Midgar, which also happens to be the city in which Shinra's headquarters is located. Throughout the game, we learn more of Cloud's past, and why he has joined the rebellion, get tossed through enough plot twists to make you want to play the game again just to fully understand it, and get faced with powerful enemies. There's also a good bit of story that isn't required for you to beat the game, but, that can be discovered at various points to help you better understand the intricate plot behind this game.
Another spot where FF7 shines is its characters. In total, the game has nine characters, seven of which are integral to the plot, and two which are optional, but add more to the game. Cloud, our main character, is a former member of SOLDIER (I'd assume this is an acronym, but, they never tell us what it stands for…), who has recently decided to work for the rebel group Avalanche. He's a relatively cold person, not letting much out, or anyone in. He claims he's only in any of this for the money. We then have Tifa, childhood friend of Cloud. She is also a member of Avalanche, and the one who got Cloud the job with them. She also desperately wants Cloud to stick around even after the job is over, her reasons for this will make far more sense later in the game, though. Also, we have Barret, leader of Avalanche, and resident of Midgar. He watches carefully over his daughter Marlene, but also cares deeply about saving the planet from Shinra. One of his hands has been replaced with a gun, but, no one truly knows how that came about, at least in the beginning. The other 6 characters are revealed throughout the game, but, I wouldn't want to spoil anything, so, I won't mention anything about them here.
Well, that's that, all I can say in conclusion is that, if you haven't already given this game a try, you really should, I don't think you'll regret it.-Dann Burdette
Be sure to check out our complete list of other Final Fantasy Reviews.
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