Final Fantasy 7 Remake - Game Review
Anti-Shinra Squad Returns
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix First Development Division
Genre: Action RPG
So after what seems to be nearly 4 years, another Final Fantasy game is finally released. And, it's not another new installment of the franchise, no it's a remake of the classic crème de la crème of JRPGs, Final Fantasy 7.
So how does the new remake fare? Besides the fact that this is a cut down part of the game consisting only of Midgard and stretched out with new additions to the narrative and some changes as well, this supersedes FFXV in a lot of ways. The game finally delivered on what makes Final Fantasy so great, the main ingredients from the early days even brought in full scope for the modern release.
This could be a GOTY, could be. But it does also seem like it got an early release since the system it was released for couldn't handle the visual prowess of the game overall and also the fact that it's a PS4 exclusive somehow adds up that this was supposed to be next-gen multi-plat release.
The game starts with Cloud, Barret and the rest of the Avalanche squad as they pull off a terrorist attack against Shinra, whom are poised to suck the lifeblood of the planet Mako for their dastardly new weapons and technological development. Taking place in the city of Midgard, you and the rest of your friends like returning characters: Tifa and Aerith go on an adventure to fight off against a giant evil corporation and one overpowered super weapon named Sephiroth.
That's actually as far as the plot goes, because this game is being split into 2 or 3 parts. Square decided to extend the Midgard section of the original game and add up with additional story details just to update it for the newly release. For the remainder of the game, you'll mostly be playing as Cloud, Tifa, Barret and Aerith only compared to the original which had 10 characters max. Though that's not much of an issue as all of these characters have depth and nuance more than they previously did.
There's not much to complain about the story, on the contrary, the story itself expanded fleshes out the world and side characters more, bringing some quality of life changes while elevating their presence far more. It improves and everything works out well, except for the ending that managed to ruin the entire flow by pulling something that contradicts with the rest of the act and just feels like a separate thing on its own thing instead of another connected tissue with much dismay.
But as it stands, the game has well written dialogues additionally with more quips, witty banter and humor. Even the side stories have some weight to them without feeling like fodder most of the time, though few not so much.
What makes FF7R stand out from all the Final Fantasy titles is the combat and exploration. A hybridization of old school tactics and real-time combat. Unless if you're mostly a fan of the old school play, there's classic mode just for that. The normal mode is where everything stands out. It is PERFECTION! You have your normal attacks, with ultimate or combat style shifts. The command menu allows you to pick moves, spells and use items while slowing time to a crawl. You can have a quick shortcut menu with custom picked prompts. All this while using a solid locking system. You can block or dodge enemy attacks, but you need to be quick about them as enemy attacks can be pretty tricky. Also, who can forget limit breakers? They don't.
Playing the game seems like a simple errand but where the combat also shines is in various kinds of enemies you'll face. You're thrown into different scenarios of different enemies all require that you adapt and strategize. Some enemies will ruin your flow with shields or being very agile, all of which requires that you rethink your moves. Parrying also helps most of the time, which isn't hard to do once you've mastered it. If playing one particular character doesn't work, you can switch to a different character during combat, frequently doing so in rhythm helps to create different tactics while using spells that the others don't have.
Inventory management is also where the game is at. Materia comes back, with new ways to upgrade your arsenal. Not only that but you can also equip your characters with different weapons you buy or find. Upgrading your weapons give you a lot of bonus stats, allowing you to use more Materia and upgrading your stats like health, damage, and so on. Such is the usual formula from the early games yet it works very finely tuned here. While being frugal about your upgrades is essential, there's enough extra content to let you grind in order to experiment with all the ways you want. You'll also need to change items for better stats as well.
While the main story will last you around 30hrs or so, there's enough extra content that'll take you another 30hrs to fully complete. While doing side activities, you're exploring the world itself, finding more about its mythos, characters and plethora of backstory related to the main campaign.
And then, there are the boss battles. Yes, there isn't any FF game without any boss battles and with the exhilarating combat system, boss battles are intense and a lot of fun to partake in. Some will be a lot more difficult to tackle which requires that you learn the best you can and use everything at your disposal at the highest degree of amelioration.
Combat and exploration are riveting, sometimes fight can be very challenging even to the point of being harsh seldom times. But take the punishment, learn better about the mechanics and comeback playing harder. That's how this game propels you into continuously playing. The holy trifecta being gameplay, exploration and characters from this JRPG, you're spoiled enough not to try anything that couldn't come close to it.
The graphical fidelity of FF7R is pushed up to the ceiling. From the character details, to the bloom, volumetric lighting and visual effects. Like it really shines while using the best of what UE4 provides. The environment can look opulent, from city streets to inside facilities. That being said though, the lower denizens of Midgard is where the visual troubles tend to be prominent. The game at times has ugly and muddy textures like with doors and houses, sometimes texture pop-ins occur as well, maybe due to memory issues.
The sound design is brilliant, the music is bombastic. In fact, it still uses musical notes from the original while being modernized as great reprises of them. Though, sometimes even the music during fight sequences can get pretty overbearing.
The game run smoothly as well. With little to no FPS hiccups and drops. It needn't be said that bigger battles with lot of set pieces will choke your hardware just a bit, but that's to be expected.
If you're super into JRPGs, look no further than this remake of a great classic. Heck, right now the classic feels a bit more obscure after playing this. That's just how good it is. The drawbacks are there, but Square has finally brought a Final Fantasy game that is sooo good, it puts them back on the map.
But to be lenient about its drawbacks, I just wish the game had a few more extra hour content. But hey, I guess that's mostly coming from my preferences. As for the visuals, once the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are released, it'll definitely get to multi-plat, including for PC; a platform that sorely needs to be played in for a much better experience. Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a great revamp of the great classic that still test on the pillars of great game and has officially been dethroned by this new realization. It's obvious what my score is going to be.