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|A.P.I Review:||FINAL FANTASY VII|
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|Game Type:||RPG||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||September 1997|
Setting the Scene
After all the wait...after all the hype...after all of the endless advertisements and commercials, Final Fantasy VII has finally been released to the RPG hungry PlayStation audience. First of all, dear reader, I won't jerk you around by saying "Does it live up to the hype??? Was it worth the wait??...well you will have to read my review to find out!" Nope, I won't do that to you on this review... what we have here is a one of a kind, must have triple "A" title for all you lucky PlayStation owners. Get the game...but before you do, you may just want to read my review to get a bit more detail and background on this fabulous gem by Squaresoft. I promise not to write in any spoilers...I'll just give you a good solid foundation to get you prepared for the game release of the year!
Final Fantasy VII is an RPG game extravaganza...It's the new high water mark that all other games in this category will be compared to.
Jaw-dropping...yep, that's the first word that comes to mind... stunning is the next one...mind-numbing pretty much rounds it out. Yes indeed fellow PlayStation owners, this game is a graphics showcase extravaganza. The graphics are good...REAL GOOD! To start off, all of the background environments, with the exception of the battle and world screens are done in 2-D pre-rendered CG graphics. The backgrounds are truly breath taking and a wonder to behold. The details of the backgrounds are second to none. Everything is gloriously illustrated and displayed, with even the smallest details included for realism. The nice part about all of this is that the backgrounds are also interactive. You can find objects littered about, open and close doors, manipulate objects and more. The pre-rendered backgrounds even interact with your characters just watch the way the whole screen shifts and sways when you cross over a rickety bridge this is cutting edge stuff here folks. All of the characters in FFVII are depicted as polygons. At first navigating the polygon characters through and around the pre-rendered backdrops is kind of weird and strange looking, but after a few minutes you get totally into the game and come to appreciate the genius of this layout. Even when close up, or climbing objects, your character looks like it is firmly planted into the scenery. The characters are very well animated and detailed. It's wonderful just watching how nicely your party scales in and out of the backgrounds growing and shrinking in proportion to their positions in the environments. Battles are fought out in a fully polygon arena. The enemies and defendants are meticulously crafted and animated, adding a large amount of realism to your encounters. Just wait until you witness the magic spells or your first encounter with a summon Matera you won't believe you are playing this game on your PlayStation. I have never seen graphics like this so consistently used in a home console before. You also have the option of fixing your camera angle or choosing to let the camera "float". In this mode, the camera angles are in a constant state of flux swerving and swooping around the characters, changing perspective on the fly. Oh, and get this when you change a weapon on your character, it actually changes it's look in the battle mode this is pretty cool. Another really nice ingredient to this mix is the way that the Computer Generated graphics are seamlessly integrated into the game itself. One moment you are in complete control of your character and the next you are thrown into a fully computer generated environment. All of this is accomplished without ANY LOAD TIME. About the only load time you will experience in this game is upon the initial boot-up or the occasional scenery change but even then, the load times are so minimal that it will not detract from the overall enjoyment of the game. I really can't say enough about the graphical excellence of this game besides the fact that it is without peer in the RPG industry today. If you love superb graphics, what you have here is graphical nirvana.
Sounds and Effects
Sound effects play a pretty meaningful role in this game. During battles you are treated to all of the various clangs and whooshing sounds that the swords make. Gunshots and throwing weapons are nicely delivered in the sound department too, but the real showcase for the sounds are the Magic spells I can't put to words these sounds, but can say that they consistently match the graphical excellence of the spell. There are no voice-overs in this game, but who cares! It would probably end of ruining the game anyway. For the most part the sound effects are done very well, just nothing cutting edge here. Now for the music this is probably the weakest part of the game. This is not to say that the score is bad, it's not in fact for not using redbook audio, its pretty damn impressive. What I mean is that for the most part, the score is rather uninspiring. Don't get me wrong here the music matches the scenes very well and when compared to other games of this type, it would come out a clear winner it just doesn't match the excellence of the story or graphics. This doesn't mean that the game doesn't have its share of memorable musical moments though far from it. The battle score is fabulous immediately starting your blood pumping and adrenaline cooking. Walk into a sleazy part of town and you are greeted with an appropriate score. For the most part the music is quite grand and majestic, rising and falling and dragging you with it through the adventure. Like I said, the music is very good and with close to one hundred different songs you get quite a bit of variety. Overall though, it just didn't impress me as much as the other components in the game (which is totally understandable). You need to decide for yourself.
Where to begin...where to begin...okay, well you begin your journey as a Mercenary named Cloud Strife. Seems that Cloud is an ex-member of an elite group called SOLDIER, but decided to go it alone for reasons that I will not mention in this review...The game starts off with Cloud and several members of the rebel group known as Avalanche, jumping from a train that has just pulled into Shinra's Mako Reactor No. 1. Cloud has sold his services to Avalanche to assist them in bombing the Mako Reactor. When FFVII begins you quickly learn that Shinra is an organization that builds these enormous reactors all over the planets surface in an effort to extract a substance known as Mako energy. The most apparent problem confronting you is that the depletion of the Mako energy is destroying the planet and ultimately it's inhabitants. At first none of this seems to bother Cloud...he is just in it for the money and doesn't really care what the reactors are doing to the environment. As the brilliant story line begins to unfold though, Cloud begins to realize the importance of Avalanche and decides to join the rebel group for good. It's around this time that the adventure begins in earnest and the game really begins to take off... Controlling your polygon character through the gorgeous pre-rendered environment is a little weird at first. The characters seem just a tad out of place with their surroundings...After about ten minutes of playtime though, you come to appreciate the level of detail that the pre-rendered environments provide and wonder how you could have ever played a game of this type without them. Everything is so seamlessly integrated into the overall game play that you begin to feel like you are actually playing a part in an unfolding cinematic movie event. Computer generated cut scenes flow so flawlessly into and out of the actual game play that occasionally you don't even realize that your on-screen character is waiting for you to move it around. How the hell Square managed to pull this off so convincingly is a mystery to me...but heck, I don't need to know how they did it...I am just thrilled to death that they did! The overall detail of your surroundings is currently unmatched in any other console-based game. Everything is meticulously presented down to the finest minute component. Lights from objects blink and flash, smoke pours out of smoke stacks, television displays flicker and change scenes...overall, there is a LOT of stuff going on all around you. While all this may seem really nice ( and it IS), the best part is that your character can interact with the backgrounds. You move in, out and all around your environment... opening treasure chests, picking up goodies and stumbling upon a number of secret passageways. Certain objects can be pushed, pulled, twisted or turned...it's all up to you to discover how and when to do it. Battles are another marvel to behold...In typical RPG style, the battles are thrown at you in a random format, but good lord what a way to go. Just prior to entering a battle the screen twists and turns into a melting/dissolving spiral dropping your team into the heart of the fight. It is about this time that you begin to take control of Square's innovative battle system appropriately called ATB (for Active Time Battle). What this fancy little title means is that both you and the enemy are given Time gauge's. The first time gauge to fill up whether it's yours or your opponents, is given priority for entering commands. The first few battles that you are in can be quite a daunting experience. You will probably find yourself fumbling for the right button combinations while the enemy is pummeling you. Not to worry though, after a few easy battles are under your belt, you will come to appreciate what this battle system has to offer real time, intense fighting! I also hope you like your monsters in many varieties So far I have logged over 200 significantly different creatures and the game is still going strong oh, this count does not include the boss monsters. In other words, the amount of nasties that you will encounter is staggering. Now then, let's get back to a bit more of the game itself...After wandering around for hours through the enormous Mako reactor area, meeting all types of characters and creatures and building up your little team, you are placed in one of the programs many interactive "mini-game" sequences. Cloud finds himself atop a supercharged motorcycle responsible for protecting his group of truck riding rebels from Shinra's SOLDIER's. You find yourself ripping down the highway, fighting off Shinra's minions while trying to reach the outskirts of the reactor. Soon you come to the end of the road and must face one of the games many boss monsters. Once defeated, you are free to leave the reactor area and proceed with your adventure. It's around this point that the game opens up big time! Instead of looking at the dark and foreboding innards of the reactor area, you are now presented with a fully 3-D polygon world that you are free to roam in. The world is wonderfully presented...allowing you to adjust the camera angles and zoom in or out to your own personal preferences. Get to a town, cave or any other fixed type location and your view quickly shifts back to the pre-rendered backgrounds. Simply amazing! The actual story in this game is also a winner. The game constantly presents you with decision-making elements that determine the path that your characters will take throughout the game. There are many twists and turns to that will certainly hold your attention, but it's the splendid character interaction that really throws the story over the top. There are many moments that the story-line get so intense that it will make you scream, or bring forth other emotions that video games can seldom claim to do. There is intrigue, discovery, manipulation, and yes even death you get to deal with it all in this game. I have not even mentioned the fact that the U.S. version has been "beefed" up over the original Japanese release. The story line has been clarified a bit, additional boss monsters have been added, and the game is now harder to beat. What a deal! Oh, and then there are the Chocobo's .ah well, get the game and see for yourself just what these critters are!
Value for Money
With over 50 hours of playing time (even if you're an experienced RPG'er) over the three discs, an engrossing story line, mini-games, lot's to see and do, and secrets that you will most likely miss the first time around, the game offers a wonderful value for your dollar. This is one of those few RPG's that you will most likely pull off the shelf again and again just to re-experience this glorious adventure and maybe try to breed a black Chocobo!
|GRAPHICS:||20/20||There seems to be no easy way for me to break all of this game down to a sentence or two but okay, here goes This is the current apex in RPG games. In fact it is probably one of the best OVERALL games ever created for ANY system. A game of this magnitude comes along very rarely indeed. I can't wait to see what else Square has planned to top this baby guess we'll see with Final Fantasy VIII! Until then though, get this game even if you are not into RPG's, the overall game is brilliant and should not be missed!|