Long Return to Midgar
A couple of days ago I finally completed Final Fantasy VII Remake, a re-imagining of the 1997 classic. And while I was skeptical if Square Enix could pull this off and meet the immensely high expectations of one of my all time favorite games ever, it’s been a long time I had so much fun in a game. Here’s why!
Some of you might have already seen YouTube videos of people crying during the opening cinematic of this game. And while I wasn’t tearing up (barely), once the Final Fantasy VII logo appeared in combination with the opening music, it got me quite emotional. It’s been more than 20 years! If you’ve played the classic, Remake hits you right in the feels. The game just rides on a giant wave of gaming nostalgia. But that isn’t its only strong point.
Combat for instance. I had my doubts in the beginning about the real time combat, but admittedly it is more than OK once you get the hang of it. It plays more or less like the classic ATB system if you just focus on building meter and ignore blocking attacks completely, which in combination with positioning does add another layer on the already complex and fast paced gameplay. There is a Classic mode which might seem appealing to us oldschoolers, but unfortunately it puts the game in easy mode taking away most of the challenge and fun. My advice is to give normal mode a shot and bite through the initial sour apple. It’s the way the game is meant to be played, and quite frankly it’s awesome!
“combat options are almost limitless and there are plenty of strategies to kick this game’s ass”
For example, new weapons unlock weapon skills that can be used on all your weapons once you’ve gotten enough proficiency. Once you unlock Aerith’s Arcane Ward, it will enable you to cast double spells with for instance Cloud. This in turn enables you to stagger your opponent more quickly opening them up for Tifa’s big combo damage. Another option is to make Barret your long range damage canon while Cloud and Tifa keep the enemies at bay, kiting them around the battlefield. Combat options are almost limitless and there are plenty of strategies to kick this game’s ass.
Another big plus is the materia system. Granted, I’m biased as hell cause the materia system was my first introduction into jRPG’s. The modern take of it still feels epic and right. You start of by collecting materia and equip them in your characters’ weapon materia slots. When a materia is equipped it earns XP during combat, unlocking better skills over time. Switch it to another character and these skills carry over. This way you can swap them around in your team or even sell them for big cash at your local weapons or items vendor. Plain, elegant and simple.
“the game dives way deeper into the first chapters of the classic paving the way for some extra deep character development”
Final Fantasy VII is not a 1 on 1 remake of the original. The game dives way deeper into the first chapters of the classic paving the way for some extra deep character development. And while Cloud isn’t really an open book protagonist (you’ll learn why once the story unfolds), I did love spending my time together with him, Barret, Tifa and Aerith. The side characters are also worth mentioning, especially thirsty Jessie, Charlie Sheen look-a-like Biggs and dog agility specialist Wedge (Slap! You’ll see!). The game has some pacing issues though, where some parts of the story just take a bit too long. In addition sometimes it feels more like your watching a movie. Luckily the world of Midgar is a joy to be in (game wise that is … ) and these cutscenes do add to the character depth in the long run.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is an amazing game, so in my book this one’s an easy recommendation. It’s far from perfect, but on the other hand it’s way better than I ever could have imagined. If you can get past playing this gem on the almost retired Playstation 4 (which still performs amazing, this game is quite the looker), buy it and relive or discover a modern implementation of an all time classic. If you’ve decided to skip this one I strongly urge you to reconsider one it’s out on PC.