Yes, I will keep using that specific greeting when I write anything about Final Fantasy from now on. Although I already mentioned in my previous post the fact I’ve already finished Final Fantasy VII Remake, I’m going in for another go around. I’m not using the Chapter Select option which opens up when you finish it. Rather, I’m playing from scratch. I’m still not adventurous enough to try playing the game on Hard Mode yet because of how Square Enix restricts you from using items during battle, something I had to do very, very, very often during some of the more difficult battles. The one against the Hell House sticks out to me the most. Gosh, I had so much trouble with that one!
So, right of the bat, you can tell I really love Final Fantasy VII Remake. I think it’s a perfect game. However, I will say it’s a very flawed perfect game. That may be a weird statement but there are a couple of reasons why I say that.
Before we move forward, I will be going into SPOILER territory as some of the things that caught me off guard are connected to the story. So, yeah. SPOILER WARNING!
First off, though, I do like to talk about the good stuff about Final Fantasy VII Remake and there is a lot of that! The best thing I can say about the game is I love all of the main and secondary characters of Final Fantasy VII Remake. I will say it did me take some time for me to take a shying towards the main character, Cloud Strife. I saw him as kind of an emotionless brat initially, but I think that was the point as you did see him grow from someone who was super stoic and kept people at arms length at the start. As the story went on, however, Cloud does start warming up to people and did become a much more likable person. For me, that’s really good storytelling as we got to see him and other characters evolve.
My personal favorite main character has to be Tifa Lockhart. It was a really close call between Aerith Gainsborough, though. I love Aerith’s more innocent and playful attitude. She seems to be more flirty and more honest about her feelings, which came off as really endearing to me. However, what made Tifa win the “best girl” award of the game was how she came off as a very torn character. She wants to save the planet and is all in favor of destroying the mako reactors but she also doesn’t want to see people get hurt because of her actions. This is precisely why I went all out with her and I was so glad to get her special cutscene in Chapter 14.
In fact, I really love all of the main characters, even Red XIII, who only appears near the very end of the game. Even if I didn’t spend so much time with Red XIII, I loved his personality. That’s thanks to some brilliant writing when it comes to how the characters interact with each other. The scene where Barret extends his hand to shake with Red XIII but the latter batting it away with his flaming tail made me laugh! It was a weird scene and doesn’t have anything to do with the story but it delves deeper into the personalities of the characters, which made me connect with them even more.
The excellent voice acting certainly helps. Final Fantasy VII Remake is one of the best voice acted games I’ve ever played and it stuns me how everyone, and I mean everyone, brings their best to the performances. Even the incidental characters, who are just there to give some background flavor, sound very good as well. If I were to really nitpick, the weakest vocal performance would be the barker in front of the Wall Market hotel. The guy sounded like an awful Josh Gad impression for some odd reason. Even so, everyone else gets high marks.
The gameplay is also very fun. I will say it took me a good while in order to really use the materia system to its fullest. I think I only started to really dive into it at around Chapter 9, which is the very middle of the game! This was around the time when Cloud and Aerith had to encounter the Hell House in the Corneo Colosseum. That darned Hell House just kept kicking my butt to oblivion until I fixed my materia loadout to make them more efficient in battle. I still have nightmares of that time, which is why I’m very hesitant to go through that without items!
I still really loved the combat system even with my ineffective materia setups as there’s just a lot of things to think about while in battle. You can go in brainlessly and just attack everything in sight. However, at a certain point, you do have to use your brain and act more tactically to get ahead. Switching characters in the heat of battle while also confirming what offensive spells or abilities on the fly is such a rush and incredibly satisfying when you do overcome enemies. Finding an opponent’s weakness and exploiting them while also expertly dodging their attacks is still incredibly fun!
I will complain about how I never felt the need to use buffs and defensive spells. I may have used Haste on Tifa a few times so she could boost her ATB quickly, giving her more Unbridled Strength power ups but that was basically it. I never really found a use for the other spells like Barrier and Resist because the buff doesn’t last long enough for them to really feel effective. It’s still a rush to be able to take out a horde of sahagin monsters before they turn everyone into toads!
The graphics in Final Fantasy VII Remake, overall, are spectacular. Practically all of the character models for the main characters look like they belong in a prerendered cutscene! There were some times when I didn’t notice the transition between when Square Enix used the in-game graphics or prerendered movies. The only time I would realize when they were showing a cutscene not using the in-game engine was when I would notice Cloud had his Buster Sword equipped and not the weapon he’s supposed to have.
This, unfortunately, is a good segue to some of the stuff I didn’t care for. The graphics are really excellent but, if you look closely, you can see where Square Enix had to cut some corners to keep the game running smoothly on the “aging” PlayStation 4. A lot of the textures on the walls and backgrounds look really grainy, like they used low-resolution images for some areas. The first time I noticed this was during Chapter 6, where Cloud, Tifa and Barret have to take the long way to the Sector 5 make reactor. If you look down to the slums of Sector 5, you get to behold a rather bland and low-res image of a city. If you don’t look at it for long, you might not notice it. I did, unfortunately, and now I can’t unsee the terrible image quality they used in that section.
The background characters can also be rather laughable under close scrutiny. Most of them look really nice but a lot of them landed right in the uncanny valley to me. It certainly doesn’t help when you have the main and secondary character are perfectly lip synced to the character models then seeing the background characters just flap their gums around in a robotic fashion. There are some really weird moments when the game will spawn the same non-playable characters in the same area. I spotted 4 of the same old man around the Sector 5 community center. At least space them out, Square Enix!
As much as I like the story, Final Fantasy VII Remake leaves a lot of plot threads which aren’t resolved nor tackled within the game. I guess some of them are more for the future as they’ll explore the Cetra’s “promised land” plot point, Rufus’ plans for Shinra now that the President is dead and even what Scarlett was doing with the materia before she quickly abandoned the room before it all went to crap. More time will be devoted to them in future entries of the series as they were in the original PlayStation game. However, even the things they added, like the new motorcycle riding Roche and his obsession with Cloud, is never touched upon again. This made me feel like they had a plan for him but couldn’t really figure out where else to put him!
As much as I love the overall story, some of the dialog can come off as really weird. Weird enough to take me out of my suspension of disbelief and send me crashing down into reality. Things like Barret calling Cloud a double crosser just because he didn’t set the bomb immediately or Tifa always wanting to take a shower after a battle came off as strange to me. The worst instance was when Aerith made this weird horse sound effect after battling Abzu. When you need the voice actress to explain what’s happening, then you know something’s wrong.
While I did give a lot of praise to the combat mechanics when you’re playing, I do have a problem with what the other party members are doing during the fights. There are a lot of times when I would catch them just standing around doing nothing while I’m getting wrecked! You can give them some materia which does make them cast spells like Cure and stuff but I do wish they would actually be more smart and attack instead of blocking most of the time. I also don’t like flying enemies because it can be tough for Cloud and Tifa to take them on since, when they jump up to hit them, they just fly out of range! This is a huge problem during Chapter 12 when there are several flying enemies and all you can control are Cloud and Tifa! I just gave up chasing after them and just blasted them with spells to take them out.
However, the worst thing I can say about Final Fantasy VII Remake is, well, is how there’s a lack of imagination with the setting. Midgar looks like a futuristic city with a mix of contemporary setpieces like buildings and houses. I get that as it makes it easy for us, the gamers who are playing it, understand the world and imagine what life is like in this fictional world. I mean, you see futuristic looking motorcycles and tech high tech suits of the Shinra soldiers. Even the playground looks a little strange with the slides protruding from giant round cat faces.
However, Square Enix added some real life items like smartphones, machine guns and landline telephones that look like the smartphones, machine guns and landline telephones we have right now! Even a lot of the clothing the NPCs wear look so boring and ordinary. You see people in hoodies and cargo pants and that’s just boring! I’m fine with the Turks and most of the Shinra management wearing classic business suits. That’s especially true for the likes of Reno and Rude as they look really dapper in those outfits. I just wish a little more imagination was put in to the outfits the other characters would wear.
Even with all the issues I mentioned above, I tend to overlook them because, yes, Final Fantasy VII Remake is a very awesome game. The number of pros easily outweighs all of the problems to the point these issues can be considered nitpicks. If you have a PlayStation 4, you owe it to yourself to play this game. This is easily a must own.
What did you think of Final Fantasy VII Remake? Let me know in the comments section below!