So, with news of Final Fantasy VII finally getting a remake, I felt it was time to dust off the PlayStation One, dig out my old copy and replay it for the 20th time. But then I thought to myself, “bollocks to that, it’s the future!”, so I downloaded to my PSP, so I could play it on the go and quite frankly, it hasn’t been out of my hands. You see Final Fantasy games require a lot of your time, (well you could complete it in about 40 hours for just the story, but what are you, some kind of filthy casual?) and believe me, this is time well spent. An amazing story, fantastic characters and a combat system that makes sure that you can experience it differently many times over.
I’m just letting you know now, I’m going into spoiler territory, but to be honest if you haven’t played it yet, your feelings mean nothing to me.
The story begins with a rag-tag resistance group called “Avalanche”, who are fighting against “The Shinra Electric Power Company”. On the surface they’re a power company, but they pretty much run the world through fear and intimidation, and use their army to do so. You play as Cloud Strife, a former member of SOLDIER (an elite group of warriors), turned mercenary, who has been hired to kick ass by Barret Wallace, the leader of Avalanche. As you progress in the story you are joined by some of the best video game characters to date, all with a rich history and backstory. You soon discover that the legendary SOLDIER Sephiroth is planning something that could destroy the world, and it’s up to Cloud and his team to stop him.
The game play to Final Fantasy VII is random enemy encounters, and turn based combat, but at the same time it’s much more than that. For example characters each have special abilities called “limit breaks”, which occur when enough damage is taken, and allows the character to unleash a devastating attack. They can also equip items called “Materia”, to their armour and weapons, allowing them to fight enemies with magic and special commands. As the character levels up so does the Materia; however the magic Materia lowers physical strength and health, causing the player to way up the pros and cons of having it equipped. This kind of gameplay coupled with the nine playable characters, each with their own weapons and special abilities, ensures that you can have hundreds of different combinations and play styles, which gives it unlimited replay value.
There are nine playable characters you can recruit to make up a team of three, each has their own goals and desires within the story and each has a well-crafted history and backstory. Honestly I could go on forever talking about the taciturn main character Cloud, who is searching for a way to slay the demons of his past, or the brash and often rude resistance leader, who seems cold and dangerous, but all the while is a warm and loving father, fighting to make the world a better place for his adopted daughter, (I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING!).
Then you have one of the most memorable video game villains in the field, Sephiroth. Sephiroth is so iconic a villain; he is regularly voted the greatest villain in various publications. He is a dark, formidable opponent, who will not rest until “he becomes a god who would rule over the Planet”.
The music in Final Fantasy VII is some of the best (if not the best) music in video games or the world, yeah you heard me! Nobuo Uematsu has created some of the most beautiful sombre, melancholic music I have ever heard, to this day whenever I hear Aeris theme, I am transported back to my childhood home, in my bedroom, gobsmacked. But it’s not just the sombre music that is done well, the upbeat music is amazing and each character has an iconic theme that is instantly recognisable.
(Don’t Believe me? Check it out.)
One of the greatest video games in history, a gripping story that won’t let you go, you’ll find yourself eagerly feeding it hours of your day for weeks, amazing gameplay that is just all-round fun and some of the greatest characters in any media. I cannot recommend this game highly enough, if you haven’t played please do so now.