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Final Fantasy VII

PlayStation

Game Description:

This is the one game that most people will think about when they hear Final Fantasy. unless they grew up with Final Fantasy IV or VI. I grew up with this game being a shadow to which I wouldn’t be privy to until later, after the PS2 came out and after I’d fallen in love with Final Fantasy IX. Reasonably, when I went back and played it for the first time, I couldn’t get past the graphics and the lack of analog stick control. In order for me to enjoy this game, I had to put on my 1997 glasses and pretend I hadn’t played an older Final Fantasy.

If you’ve played Final Fantasy VI then the battle system will feel very familiar. There’s this new Limit Break thing which you can use when its gauge fills up, instead of when you’re nearly dying and had the die roll in your favor. You also can only bring in three party members, which sucks. Otherwise, it’s typical Final Fantasy stuff.

The graphics for this game are unimpressive today, but when it was released, it was like Squaresoft had found a magic unicorn and was trying to extract its blood while keeping its purity. In other words, even though they wowed a lot of people, specially the FMVs, they were still very obviously unrefined. The FMVs weren’t even consistent and would sometimes show a full scale Cloud walking around and doing stuff and sometimes, a “super deformed” Cloud instead. It was messy, but at the time, I guess it was crazy awesome. The backgrounds still manage to be very beautiful, however, and the little SD models carry a sort of charm, like acknowledging its earlier roots. And then you get into a battle screen and barf.

The sound in this game is perhaps one of the best things of this game. If you’ve ever been annoyed to death by some over-obsessed kid about this “Sephiroth” song, you know who to blame. Joking aside, however, even today, the music and sound effects still hold up. Sephiroth is the soundtrack a lot of people will probably associate to Final Fantasy VII, or Final Fantasy in general. It’s latin chanting with ominousness, letting you know “Dude, you’re fighting awesomeness.” And say what you will about Sephiroth, for a guy who isn’t half as awesome as Kefka, he still manages to outdo him in the sound department.

The story for this game is… Well, it can be hard to follow. Apparently, you’re part of a terrorist/environmentalist group who wants to save the planet by blowing stuff up. I don’t know how that could have worked well, but there you have it. After that goes wrong, you realize that there’s this white haired guy going around being all bad, you meet up up with people and before you know, the guys you were blowing up are helping you prevent a threat to the whole planet. If that made your head itch, realize that this is what I could say without spoiling it too much. It’s crazy and even when you beat it you will wonder what the whole point was.

I recommend this game, if only for a single playthrough, just so you know what all the hubbub is about. Don’t expect as much as its rabid fanbase might lead you to, or you may get disappointed. Aside from Crisis Core (where Cloud’s personality wasn’t mauled to death), this is the best Final Fantasy VII story, where the characters are cheerful and you might actually feel like caring about them. Unlike the movie where everyone was more depressing than Monday mornings. Apparently, if you can get your hands on the PC version, you should play that version for all the bug fixes and enhancement mods. I never did, but maybe those people are right.