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Birth of a God
Final Fantasy VII (Platinum Game) (PS)
Member Name: AverageJoseph
Final Fantasy VII (Platinum Game) (PS)
Date: 13/02/12, updated on 13/02/12 (5 review reads)
Advantages: Soundtrack, Story, Dialogue, Characters, FMV's, Environments, Battle System, Menu, Items, Length
Disadvantages: Dated Graphics, Poor Grammar, Fuzzy Translation
Stars bolt around the screen as if being gazed upon by some drunk in the middle of the night, only to fade to the image of a young woman holding a basket of flowers, strolling into a vast industrial city the only light being the faint flicker of houses and the green glow of the mako reactors, amongst the pitch black polluted sky above. "Final Fantasy VII" scrolls across the screen as a drum roll picks up, slowly zooming into a platform, with quick interruptions from a speeding train grinding to a spark spitting halt. A woman and three blokes jump out and take down several guards, "C'mon Newcomer" shouts the burly black guy in am armless shirt. A spiky headed blonde, purple jumpsuit sporting dude backflips of the train with a sword bigger than him. Battle commences and you are thrust straight into the fray, swinging said sword and conjuring lightning.
Cinematic gold within five minutes.
From start to finish, Final Fantasy VII is an intense roller-coaster ride in terms of everything you'd expect from a video game and more. As if seeing the copious amounts of five star reviews for this game wasn't enough, one quick search for FF7 provides commercial acclaim left and right. People hold this game close to their hearts, stick up for it vigilantly, often ignore its (minimal) shortcomings and its not difficult to understand why. Released in 1997, 2 years after the Playstation One's world wide release, VII boasted a brand new, groundbreaking experience. Not many games were spread across three discs.. but the length of the game pretty much demanded it. My first experience of this game was in 1998 whilst visiting a friend I witnessed something fascinating, simply hearing the music as I walked into the room was enough to peek my interest but actually seeing 3 mysterious characters using all sorts of magic and summoning gigantic beasts to aid them in battle was, for lack of a better word, breathtaking. A few months later the same friend turned up LATE for my 8th birthday party, suffice to say all was forgiven when I realised what he had given me. By far the best gift I have ever received, it put all other presents to forgotten shame, and that was the beginning.
The battle system in Final Fantasy has largely remained unchanged throughout the early games, utilising 3 varied characters, each with a different class or set of abilities and stats, to ultimately defeat an opposing enemy. Taking turns, making use of magic, physical attacks and abilities. Often offering a different experience each time. VII is no different but improves on its predecessors considerably with new additions such as the materia system.
Materia, a large part of the game involved not just in combat but story as well, is essentially an item equipped to enable the use of the specific magic within it. Its a rather unique system as there are so many combinations and levels in materia alone that its worth exploring the entire world to find every last type. The world itself is a strong reason alone as to why this game is so vast, featuring several locations ranging from the massive powerhouse conglomerate city of Midgar to a small snowy village where the only pass time is snowboarding. VII's amusement park, Gold Saucer is a marvel to behold, abundant in mini games that make the stresses of the game fade slightly if only for a moment.
Surroundings alone aren't enough however, Square had to go one further and get veteran composer Nobuo Uematsu to come up with one of the most memorable and emotional soundtracks ever made. The music enhances not only the environment but also effects the mood during dialogue. A whopping 85 MIDI tracks have never sounded this good. Whether its a sense of urgency, romance, pure adrenaline fuelled action, the soundtrack comes up trumps every time. Stories are a dying aspect in recent video games, its all for graphics and gameplay alone, with no magic, no plot, no heart. VII in many ways is like a novel, with thousands of conversations and sub plots to get stuck into, you can't help but experience them all. I can understand how insane that must sound, comparing similarities between a video game and a novel, but that just shows how in depth the story really is and how high I regard it. Keep in mind that many gamers would avoid or completely disregard a video game dubbed to have similar qualities of a book.
In the beginning you are thrust into a job with a group of environmentalists/activists/terrorists known as AVALANCHE, trying to take down ShinRa Inc. the ones behind the reactors that suck the land dry of its life source, mako. As you skulk through Midgar with your group you get to know all of its members, finding main characters along the way, get sidetracked, separate and reunite after major battles only to finally discover there is a greater evil at work. Events take you all around the globe via boats, submarines, airships, buggies and or course chocobos. You'll witness more incredible scenes at caverns, beaches, glaciers, temples, mountain tops, marshes, the ocean floor, the sky and even outer space, all whilst taking on nightmarish enemies and gaining new powers. Limit Breaks spice up battles using unique individual abilities to deal major damage after taking enough yourself. Secret characters hide away and must be convinced to aid you in your quest to save the world from utter chaos and destruction. If all that wasn't enough, you can try your hand at taking on optional bosses that appear in the later stages of the game, some with over 1,000,000 Hit Points.
Final Fantasy VII has endured so much success it has spawned several spin offs.
- Advent Children, a film set 2 years after the events of VII
- Dirge of Cerberus, a PS2 game revealing further insight to one of VII's most mysterious characters
- Last Order, a short anime film remodelling one of the epic events of VII
- Before Crisis, a mobile phone game about ShinRa's special branch, The Turks
- Crisis Core, a PSP game shedding light on events before VII
With all that you could say Square-Enix have milked the franchise, but to be fair to them, they have gone about it with respect to the original and catered to the fans needs. Its no wonder that with all this success, the internet forums are a buzz with the hype of a remake. If all my ramblings of reminiscant nostalgia hasn't at least tempted you, my apologies, but it is my impression that you are missing out on an absolute gem and the best game ever made. 15 years later, its still going strong.
Summary: It's like Elvis - 50,000,000 fans can't be wrong.