Final Fantasy VII Review

Review of Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII is easily one of the most beloved games of all times, with a stunning fanbase, both in its size and sheer zealousness of their argumentation. It’s easy to understand why – Final Fantasy VII has what everything a game needed back in 1997, a couple of hot females, a main character with freaky anime hair and a troubled past, very neat graphics and a storyline that, though full of holes, kept you glued to the TV screen four hours. The seventh installment of the main series was the game that brought Square’s RPGs to the American market, following the release of Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI, though neither of the previous games were any big sellers until after the seventh was released.

Let me just say that I’m neither a fanboy nor a hater of Final Fantasy VII.

The main story of Final Fantasy VII is very layered. While there is the classic good vs. bad conflict going on, between the protagonists which are made up of a resistance group called AVALANGE that are fighting against the evil corporation ShinRa and also the big bad Sephiroth, once part of ShinRa’s own army and a high-ranking officer there. After becoming mad when he found out that his existence was the result of an experiment and that his mother is an alien being, Sephiroth deflected from ShinRa to fulfill his own and his mother’s goal. Sephiroth wants to use the Earth as a space ship and by doing this, he will have to get control of the Lifestream, a force that lives within the world. To summon it, he must send a meteor into the Earth and create a wound big enough for the Lifestream to try to heal it and then take control of the Lifestream itself.

As this story progresses, players are also introduced to the interesting sub-plot of the main protagonist, Cloud and the confusion about his real identity. There is also the famous love triangle between Cloud and two of the female leads, Aerith and Tifa.

Final Fantasy VII follows the same type of game-play as the previous games in the series, with the active-time battle system being utilized. You select your commands and then watch as your characters makes minced meat of the enemies.

The game’s ability system, called Mateira, is where the gameplay of Final Fantasy VII really shines. Each Materia can be equipped to a weapon or armor wielded by a character. Each Materia will convey an ability to a character, such as a magic spell, the ability to use skills learned from enemies or just stealing stuff. Materia also gain experience, which in many cases will make them level up and become more powerful, granting you access to a stronger type of magic.

The “Desperation Attacks” from previous instalments returns in the form of Limit Breaks. A character that has taken a set amount of damage (usually somewhere above 100%, so it requires healing), another attack command will open up over the usual “Attack” command, and the character will use a unique move, which can do anything from dealing severe damage to the enemy to heal your entire party.

Graphics and sound:
While the choppy polygon figures of Final Fantasy VII might seem primitive today, they were revolutionary back in 1997. Final Fantasy VII was the first game in the series to utilize fully-rendered 3D polygons instead of 2D sprites. The 3D models moved around against a pre-rendered background which at the time was stunning. There are also numerous in-game video sequences that serves the purpose of masking loading times. Thus, Final Fantasy VII contains no loading screens, something that was very common back on the primitive PlayStation. The in-game full motion video sequences are also very well-made and detailed for the time.
The music is where the game truly shines though. The score is composed by Nobuo Uematsu, one of the long-time members of the Final Fantasy staff. It contains many unforgettable pieces and usually creates a perfect atmosphere for the scene. The music was re-mixed for the 2005 CGI film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

At GDC in 2004, Steven Spielberg was cited to say "I think the real indicator [that games have become a storytelling art form] will be when somebody confesses that they cried at level 17." Many players of Final Fantasy VII will claim that this happened seven years earlier, during the scene with Sepihorth, Aerith and Cloud at the end of the first disc.
Although one can debate on whether or not Final Fantasy VII is the best in the series, it’s hard to deny that it is the most popular one. It has spawned several spin-offs, for example Before Crisis (a mobile phone game released only in Japan), Crisis Core (PSP), Dirge of Cerberus (PS2) to name a few. The previously mentioned CGI film, Advent Children is a direct sequel to the story, while the anime prequel called Last Order: Final Fantasy VII was released in late 2005.
Final Fantasy VII still stands as one of the best titles on the PlayStation, with numerous awards as empirical proof of this. Despite some flaws, the game offers a long play time with good replay value, due to the many customization options available to you.
To me, Final Fantasy VII is one of the greatest games I have ever played. I will surely play this game from start to finish a fair few more times before I pack my things.