BY DEAN MOSES
Game: Final Fantasy VII
Platform: PlayStation 4
Rating: T for Teens
Final Fantasy is one of gaming’s most beloved franchises. Dating back to the Nintendo Entertainment System, it is one of those games that has always produced an element of mystique, a childlike wonder that generations grew up romanticizing. I am sure many readers have fond memories of discussing in-game urban legends at recess. Now, these new-age folk tales are about to begin all over again thanks to the remake and release of Final Fantasy VII, one of the franchise’s most beloved installments.
Right from the get-go, the game wants you to know this is no mere re-release but a full-fledged re-invention with the word remake displayed in bold letters during the opening cinematic. We follow Cloud, a mercenary hired by a rag-tag group of eco-terrorists named Avalanche. This foolhardy but well-meaning band yearns to take down Shinra, this world’s all-powerful power company, which harvests the planet’s spiritual energy. Although this plot device may sound a little muddled, it is the companionship on the journey which truly sells the experience and draws the player into Shinra’s murky underbelly. In order to take down this evil corporation, Avalanche will need Cloud’s extraordinary fighting abilities, and you to control them.
The Final Fantasy franchise has typically used a turn-based mechanic, which sees you commanding members of your party instead of controlling them in combat directly. In hopes to please both old and new fans alike, the developers have incorporated an amalgamation of both the classic playstyle and a more action-oriented approach. You can control Cloud and friends in real-time with the added ability to pause time and select a special skill which will devastate an opponent. Not only that, you can also summon a monster to aid you in battle, use magical spells, and healing items.
When not facing off against bad guys, you must explore the game world. While not a massive free roaming environment, the cityscapes, subways, and factories are brimming with detail that give the illusion of a larger space than we are actually afforded. The simple action of running through this world is pleasing to the eye and mind.
Pleasing to the Eye
Speaking of pleasing to the eye. Ever since I was a child, I have always seen the Final Fantasy games as pioneers in the graphical department. From the original PlayStation to modern day, this series has delivered jaw-dropping visuals, and Final Fantasy VII Remake is no different. Cloud, for instance, looks akin to an animated film from the likes of Pixar. The emotions dis-played on the characters faces’ are palpable and the voice acting goes a long way to give each man and woman life, making them feel like living, breathing people. There are also mini games such as darts that add a little extra substance.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is a love letter to fans of the original and an epic new journey for those who have yet to experience it. Story-telling, gameplay, visuals, and voice acting are all on point. However, nothing can be perfect. Controversially, this remake will be re-leased in installments as an episodic experience. Thankfully though this first section will still take at least 30 hours to complete.