Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core

I have just finished Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. I honestly am not sure what someone who is not a die hard fan of FFVII would think of this game... Pretty cinematics, interesting story, weird/simplistic gameplay maybe? Even someone who just played through the first game once and thought it was pretty good. Oh, for those reading this but are not "In the know" as it were, Final Fantasy VII was released back in 1997, Crisis Core is part of a project called the "Final Fantasy VII Compilation" which, it seems, primarily is releasing a series of games and other products to fill in the questions people have about Final Fantasy VII. The movie, FFVII: Advent Children, was the first entry and expanded on the story in the game by showing the world as it stands two years later (And shooting down the odd theory that humanity was destroyed at the end of VII) while also telling a rather good story. Of course, the funny thing about it is, as the director himself admits "I'm not sure what someone who never played FFVII would think of it." I think they would be impressed with the visuals and find the characters cool, I'm not sure how well they'd follow the story outside of "Okay, he's the bad guy, he's the good guy, and the good guy has some sort of inner struggle that he's dealing with." The movie does come with a digest version of the Final Fantasy VII game's story told through a series of short clips of dialogue and cinematic sequences, which could catch you up to speed, but playing the game is the best way to know. The other aspect of the compilation to be released stateside is Dirge of Cerberus, an action title focusing on ex-Turk, Vincent Valentine. A very cool character, and it introduced us to Genesis (If you collected all the G Reports that is) who is prominent in Crisis Core. Sadly the actual game part of Dirge of Cerberus was found somewhat lacking, which even I will admit. It was entertaining for a while, but I reached certain points where the level design was so utterly dull and the shooting so repetitive that I just wanted to skip to the next story point (Which were generally good or interesting). Ah, but Crisis Core, Crisis Core is a wonder to the fan such as I. Firstly, it reveals the story of Zack Fair, a character who is scarcely mentioned in the original Final Fantasy VII, but is actually nearly essential to understanding the story entirely (I'm guessing portions about him were cut due to space issues). So playing this game fills in SO many gaps. At the same time it introduces new questions, primarily these two "When is the Playstation 3 full blown Final Fantasy VII remake coming out?" and "When is the sequel where you have to face Sephiroth and Genesis coming out?" So, maybe they aren't so much about the story, but they are important questions. OH, huge question answered as to "What is Aeris looking at at the very beginning of the game?" Not a fountain as we have previously thought, actually a leaking Mako power system!... Okay, maybe not so important to you, casual reader, but this was a profound revelation for me. There were many other things that were very interesting: The "Loveless" play is mentioned more indepth, the nature of Sephiroth's origins are further unveiled, Aeris' relationship with Zack is fully fleshed out so you no longer have the Tifa-Cloud-Aeris love triangle question (So much fanart now irrelevent... Well, except its still fun!). Also, just seeing old scenes from Final Fantasy VII told with realistic characters, and they adequetly recaptured camera angles to reflect the old 2D shots in a number of cases, it was great. And if you're playing, don't think the game ends after Nibelheim, oh no, its a good 3-4 hours of gameplay after that. Hmm, I guess one serious question I have is whether the creators had all this in mind at the beginning, like all these story elements. The part that has always felt added on to me has been Genesis because he isn't mentioned AT ALL in the original game, like not even hinted at. I understand why he's in the story as it stands now, but I just wonder if he was originally planned to be in there.

As to elements other than the story, the combat is pretty fun, though you can fairly quickly get to a point where you overpower the enemies in the normal play mode. However, there are a goodly number of side missions with challenges that are quite difficult, some especially if you lack Death protection (And by that I mean immunity to the instant kill spell "Death"). Some end up more of a filler chore, while others are an interesting challenge, yield a useful item, or are somewhat humorous, such as run-ins with a young Yuffie. Also you'll want to do some of them at least, because otherwise you'll be stuck with two accessory slots, and you'll really want all four. Another interesting aspect is the Materia Fusion system. Materia is a type of crystal that grants magical powers or other nifty enhancements. The Materia Fusion system allows you to Fuse any two materia into a new materia (Though it may be exactly the same as one of the old ones, so be careful). I need to find out how to fuse some really cool stuff and see if Ultima is doable.... Anyway, the final gameplay innovation is the DMW, or Digital Mind Wave (I think Digital Memory Wave would be more accurate personally). The way it works is that, as long as you have SP (Which is nigh unlimited) these three slots keep on turning slot machine style. They stop and re-start and have a number and picture on each slot. As its slowing down, if the two images of the sides match, it'll pause the action and pull in close on the DMW. Then you hit the X button and it'll either stop on the matching picture, or it won't. I don' think you really have to much control as to whether it does or doesn't. If it does match, then you will deploy an associated special attack called a "Limit Break" (Yes, they returneth). Of note are Aeris's Healing Wave, Cloud's Meteor Shot, and Sephiroth's Octaslash (Thats why he loses you see, shy of Omnislash). Sometimes it'll switch over to a Summon set or Fun character set. The summon set will unleash one of 5 summons, as you collect them, in awesome cinematic form (Ifrit, Bahamut, and Odin are pretty faithfully recreated aside from being more awesome). Fun characters are like Chocobo, Cait Sith, Tonberry, etc. Oh, nice thing about the summons? You can opt to skip their animation after you've seen it. They be shiney the first time you see them, but the same one five time in an hour can get old.

Ah.... I guess thats it for now. I'll put up some Final Fantasy related pictures soon I think.

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