Review: Final Fantasy VII

In 1997 the seventh installment of the Final Fantasy series was released for the PlayStation. Although, it was actually the fourth part. Of course we now know why Square seems to count as my nephew with his "one, two, many…". After several releases, we now see FFVII on Nintendo Switch and Xbox One. Let's take a look at the latter.

When you mention the name Final Fantasy, most people will immediately think of PlayStation and the seventh installment. I have played several games in the series, just off the top of my head these have been VI, VIII, IX and X. However, I'm honestly playing part seven now for the first time. I hope I don't get people with pitchforks at my door now, but the story certainly isn't one of the best in gaming. Maybe it's a factor because it's not 1997, or knowing the big shock moment in the plot ruins it a bit. Despite that, the story does have excellent character development.




In general, stories in JRPGs don't appeal to me, but Final Fantasy VI and IX really captivated me. It's always nice to see the names Biggs and Wedge again in a Final Fantasy game. Despite having fun with the game, I don't think it's the right game to play for the first time 22 years later.

1997 in 2019

The fifth generation of consoles is struggling. The early days of 3D weren't the best. While 16bit games retain their artistic value, the first 3D games are often difficult. Also, gameplay standards weren't set yet and low framerates were acceptable (why this is still an issue in this release is beyond me). Look at Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64, used to have so much fun with it, but now I wonder how this ever made it to the market. The same goes for Resident Evil. They are landmark titles, but now I find them almost unplayable.
There are of course a few titles from this generation that are really timeless. Look at Super Mario 64 and Metal Gear Solid. I can still play this one. But in Final Fantasy, that pill is too bitter for me. Certainly how little has actually been improved on this release.

Improvements?

After playing Final Fantasy VII on the Xbox One, I also tended to drop this under the "Retro Review" category. This version is based on the original PC version. For the most part it is similar to this PC version. The changes? Higher resolution characters with shadow effects, "enhanced" backgrounds that are really just slightly blurry, and some extra features. Of course it's always nice when there's new functionality, right?
In this case, I would have preferred to have put the energy elsewhere. If it's too slow for you, you can play the game at triple speed. You can turn off the random encounters, although you need these, because you can't play an old JRPG without grinding. The worst thing I think is the battle booster. This will fill all your bars during a battle. Even if you don't use this feature, having an ace up your sleeve still feels like cheating. I would have preferred a modern safe function to have been applied. I would also have been happy with the ability to pause the game anywhere, such as time, a cutscene or a counter. Seriously, who ever thought that a counter would continue to run when you pause the game?
But perhaps the most important question: why haven't the frame rates improved yet!? 15 fps during battle? Come on Square.

Verdict

This also leads me to the question: who is this release for anyway? Too little has improved to justify a purchase for old fans. For the new generation, or just gamers who have never played it, this Final Fantasy is not very accessible. In addition, a full-fledged remake is in the pipeline.
Do I recommend this game? In principle I say yes, but mainly because of what the game has meant for the current gaming landscape. But then I recommend spending a few euros more for an original version for the first PlayStation. Do I recommend this game for gamers looking for a classic Final Fantasy experience? No, I will always recommend the sixth part and Chrono Trigger. If you ask me which 3D Final Fantasy you should play, I'll say X or XII.


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