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PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews

Developer: Squaresoft OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Sony 1 Player
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 


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 

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 

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'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 

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!
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 19/20

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