Final Fantasy VII – PlayStation
Platform: Sony PlayStation
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment NA
Release Date: January 31, 1997
Nerd Rating: 9.8 out of 10
Reviewed by: bbpower
To celebrate becoming an official Nerd Bacon author, I am writing a review on my all time favorite game. The one, the only, Final Fantasy VII for the Sony PlayStation. It’s the paramount of RPGs and the golden egg of Square. I was lucky enough to get this game, and the much-needed guide book, for Christmas when it was released in 1997. I didn’t even ask for it, my dad just knew it would be a spectacular adventure that no son should live without. I was a fifth grader at the time and this game was overwhelming to say the least. So, it sat stagnant for a year before I dove into an adventure of a lifetime.
I want to note; this game is way too in depth to give a quick thorough review. It just simply cannot be done without leaving out important details. I could write a book on FF7. Nay! A dissertation on this fabulous gift from the heavens. My overall goal for this review is to give a taste to what the game has to offer and let you, the gamer, discover the wonders for yourself. Much will be left out for the player to experience, since this game is far too good to give away anything important! I urge gamers to play the game and do not look up hints on the net. Don’t let someone else tell you how to play it, or show you how to do it! Figure it out the old fashion way like before the internet was there to look up cheats and hints. This isn’t some typical game that can be simply beaten in a weekend. Upon FF7‘s release, it barreled into the gaming world like a tsunami and the waves are still felt to the present day.
From the moment I started a new game, I was impressed. The introduction clip started rolling and the graphics were jaw dropping. Keep in mind, this game is closing in on nineteen years old now (ugh, that’s sad to think about) and considered bad graphics by current standards. Most of today’s youngsters would look at this game and be appalled by how lame it looks in comparison to current standards. They couldn’t look past the graphics to play, could not appreciate this amazing creation. Well, my fellow gamers, you will be in the ride of your life if you give it a try; just hang in there. I am pretty sure there were several times I blew off hot dates to play this game. A nerdy thing to do? Of course, but I regret nothing. Final Fantasy VII gave me so much joy and challenged me like no other video game.
This RPG is a single-player, open-world adventure where players control the main character, Cloud Strife, who’s an Ex-Soldier in the Shinra army. Shinra is an energy company, but acts as a governing body. They are corrupt, greedy, and full of terrible, backstabbing people. He starts off the game as a mercenary for the AVALANCHE group, who were essentially fighting for the planet’s survival. In order to accomplish their mission, Shinra had to be shut down. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Now, before I progress any further, I want to convey the complexity of this title. FF7 will take players through three action-packed discs (and it should have been even longer). There are puzzles, mazes, awesome cut scenes, combining “Materia,” unlocking secrets, breeding animals, racing, mini games, side quests, amazing characters with full back stories, vast array of arsenals, multiple self-choice story paths to follow, and nearly impossible boss fights. Yes, this game has it all, my fellow gamers. Players will be busy for well over 100 hours beating the main story line and another (50, or more) on side quests. I personally have an estimated 2000+ well-spent hours playing this game… maybe even another 1000 hours watching and playing with siblings. Some would say too much time spend on one game? I think not in this case, especially since there are two side-quest bosses I have never beaten to this day!
Final Fantasy VII is defined as the ultimate RPG game ever created. It set the bar for every other RPG. My brothers and I would use the term, “Is it VII good?” for new games coming out. The answer was always, “Yeah right, butt face!” or something “clever” like that.
Now, to get on with actual gameplay. The overall mission in the game is to stop the Shinra from pumping “Mako” energy out of the ground. Mako is essentially the life source in the earth and it’s used as a power source for utilities. The AVALANCHE group believes if too much mako is extracted from the ground, the earth will die. Shinra is also after the “Promise Land” which is a legendary place that is supposed to be an endless supply of Mako. An endless supply of Mako equals endless profits for these greedy devils.
The AVALANCHE faction is led by Barret Wallace, who is a very big guy with a gun as a hand and a bad attitude. Also in this group is the nice-bodied Tifa Lockhart. She is one of Cloud’s love interests and life long friend. Over time, several other powerful characters join the group in the efforts to fight the Shinra. However, as the game progresses, the true enemy changes and the group must stop a man by the name of Sephiroth. Players will need a lot of help to take on such an adversary.
Throughout the game, players hunt colored orbs called “Materia.” In a nut shell, Materia is harnessed magic and each type grants the characters that certain ability. For example, “Fire” and “Restore” are two types the game has to offer. However, there are over one hundred types of Materia one can find while playing this game. They range in utilities from healing members, to obliterating enemies with massive attacks, to supporting other types of Materia. There are five categories of materia that all the magic falls under. They can also be combined to give special effects to characters. There are hundreds of combinations to discover and I still have not done them all.
Each character has over ten weapons to find, steal, or buy. Cloud Strife for example is a sword expert. His weapons are beautifully crafted and the most desirable weaponry in the individual character arms race. As the game progresses, weapons will improve in stats and in Materia holding growth slots. This simple factor adds so much differentiation to the game. I absolutely loved it. It was not just a race to get the best weapon to defeat the enemies, but to use strategy in character and Materia growth. The impacts of your choices for every little decision ripples throughout the rest of the game. This detail alone is amazing and creates problem-solving scenarios to assist gamers in victory. There are also accessories and armors to buy, find, and steal that aid in fights and leveling up as well.
Items play a crucial role in defeating this Final Fantasy installment. There are hundreds to obtain in the general course of the game, but many are only available on side quests, or going the extra mile. Like I said before, there is too much detail to mention in a review. The side quests will build upon one another, so it is impossible to pick and choose what quests to do if you want the grand rewards. It just depends on how powerful you want to become to defeat the deadly forces all around.
The enemies in this game are designed with much creativity and complexity. There are hundreds of different basic enemies, bosses, and side-bosses called WEAPONS. Each location has different enemies and some of these enemies are crucial to game progress. Some carry secret items players either have to steal, kill, or even morph into items to carry on successfully. You even need items to assist in some of these battles, but I will not spoil any of the fun.
As stated above, Final Fantasy VII is an open-world game, meaning characters can adventure off the plotted route to discover new places and fight enemies; it does not jump from level to level. Players can skip certain parts (at their expense) and continue the game. There is an overall story line to follow, but it can easily go off course for as long as the player wants to level up characters and for endless other reasons. It is typical to burn through a whole day adventuring the maps and finding new areas and talking to strangers that fill the towns.
Players will encounter endless battles throughout the game. In fact, it’s the majority of time spent playing this game. Sure, there are hours upon hours of adventuring, but everywhere players go there will be forced battles. The battling in this game is a turn-based style, meaning you can attack, then have to wait a certain amount of time to attack again. This adds an immense amount of thought and strategy to earn your victories, but also adds a sense of uncertainty because the enemy is also using strategy. There can be up to three characters battling at one point and all three are used at once to fight. This allows more leveling up and crucial teamwork to beat this game.
The levels take place in towns, mansions, mountains, remote villages, craters, and even underwater. Square maximized the world Final Fantasy VII takes place in and then some. There are unlock-able ships, cars, buggies, planes, and submarines to adventure this wonderful place to reach hidden places. Players can catch, race, and raise birds called Chocobos to explore the far edges of the map to located even more secrets. Yes, this game has it all. One of the main functions in this game is “save points” to save your hard work.
Another detail in the game that is interesting; currency is called GIL. It is important to earn money to buy needed goods and pay for services, or even donate to certain causes. Players will discover the value of the merchandise they are carrying can be sold to earn more GIL, as well. Money is hard to earn at the beginning, but players need it!
I have only praised this game so far, so I am going to give the negatives I have come up with over time. Throughout the game, I get annoyed with some of the corny dialogue. However, it is appropriate to the game and fits the characters. I know in the “Remake” Squaresoft is working on now, they will update it. Also, the type of graphics are a little kid-like for today’s age, so I can understand why younger gamers cannot superficially get into this game. However, it is in no way an excuse not to play the best installment of Final Fantasy. One other minor detail is I wish there was a difficulty setting to make the game harder. This game is HARD, but after you beat it several times you sometimes wish it was more of a challenge. My main criticism of this phenomenal title is WE WERE CHEATED!
How were we cheated you may wonder? Well, let me tell you. In order to get Final Fantasy VII done on time, the developers cut out several side quests and did a poor job in doing so. There are rooms that players cannot get to, items that have no use or cannot be reached, and teasers that have no story to go along with them. Were these little details left in on purpose, or did they just do a lazy job in removing? I will leave that opinion up to you to answer.
After you play FF7 and appreciate it so much, these little detail make you so mad! This game, which is already so amazing, could have been even better! In the late 90’s I thought there was no way it could have, but when these details surfaced it was clear the public did get an unfinished game. There are so many unanswered stories, so much mystery clouds the game. I an praying when the Final Fantasy VII remake is released Square adds these removed side quests back into the game. I don’t care if they charge $200 dollars for the complete version and it’s six discs and takes me three years to beat, I want the COMPLETE game and they better not try and make it “better” or more up-to-date format. I want the original game, but graphics improved and it to be longer… nothing more. Do not fix what is not broken, Square Enix! Do not make it like the newer Final Fantasy games, because they were jokes compared to FFVII and FFVIII.
Overall, this game is amazing… it really is. It left me starving for more and has kept me restarting over and over since I first played back in 1998. However, it does not get a perfect in my book, because of the details in the last paragraph. Still a Nerd Rating of 9.8 out of 10 is the best score I have ever given a game and it will more than likely never be given again. FF7 will cost gamers around $25-$100 depending on version, but it is worth every penny. Source the guidebook for around $10-$30 as well to assist. There is a black cover version of the game, which is the original, a lesser expensive Greatest Hits green version, and a rare typo black cover edition which has a misspell on the back case cover. I say collect them all to love and cherish. My black cover version is shrink wrapped for protection and I play the greatest hits version. That is just me, though, I am a nerd.
So, if you are looking for a serious RPG challenge that will take you several months, if not over a year to beat, pick up a copy of Final Fantasy VII. You will not be disappointed. If you are, you cannot handle the game. Sorry, but I am not sorry. It’s completely okay, too. My genius little brothers, who are currently 14 and avid gamers, could not handle the game right away. They could not get over the so called “poor” graphics. Also, the younger generation is coddled in current video games. Games are too easy to beat now-a-days and give unlimited tries at the point where they died. If they cannot beat it quickly, they give up. Yes, there will be spots in this game that may take gamers hours to beat and the complete absence of continues is rough, but that is what you can expect from what many consider the best video game of all time. It’s the ace in by book and will forever have a special place in my heart. FF7 is not meant to be taken lightly, or to come in with leisure. Final Fantasy VII demands respect, or it will chew you up and spit you out. Over 11 million copies sold of this game worldwide, so you know it’s got something going right.
When you have given this installment a fair shot, move on to my second favorite game; Final Fantasy VIII for another similar adventure. I, like millions of others, am patiently awaiting the remake of Final Fantasy VII and hope they remake FFVIII as well. Game on!
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