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  Navigation: Home » Hall of Fame » Final Fantasy VII  

Release Date:



Role Playing Game


9.5 out of 10

Average Reader Score:
6.75 out of 10 (6 ratings)
What score would you give?

  Top 5 Games of this Genre
1. 9.5
Final Fantasy VII
2. 9.0
Final Fantasy Tactics
3. 9.0
Skies of Arcadia
4. 9.0
Chrono Cross
5. 9.0
Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy VII

It's very rare that a game can truly be called a revolution. However, Final Fantasy VII crashed into the gaming scene back in 1997 with the force of a meteor (see what I did there?) and changed everything. Before its release, RPG games were seen as a rather geeky, reclusive genre; far from the mainstream genre you see it as today.

You see, Final Fantasy VII grabbed the public's attention with 2 things - a dark, cyberpunk setting (the initial city, Midgar, exemplifies this, with a technologically advanced aristocracy living on a plate, below which the sub-class live in poverty-stricken slums), and possibly more importantly, stunning visuals. Anime-style polygonal characters were placed on stunningly detailed pre-rendered backdrops for the main gameplay section, battles and mini games were rendered in textured 3D that was, for its time, very impressive, but more importantly actually worked well. However, most importantly, Final Fantasy VII was the first game to effectively and substantially use FMV. People were astonished by the high quality of the pre-rendered footage, of which over an hour is used in order to tell the game's massive plot. The FMV was also often merged seamlessly with the main gameplay graphics to give the game a truly cinematic feel - the camera swooped around and the backdrops came magically to life. For gamers only just moving out of the 16-bit era of sprites and Mode 7, FFVII was a revelation in both looks and atmosphere - and this helped Sony shift a fair few Playstations on this merit alone. From the second you turned on the game and were hit by the majestic brooding intro, with the camera meandering through and over the slums of Midgar, you knew you were in for something else. The feel of the game was again enhanced by a fantastic and extensive orchestral soundtrack where each track seems to fit its situation perfectly.

So we've established that, in terms of technology and widespread appeal, FFVII was on the leading edge. But what of the game? Without gushing too much, the game finds an almost perfect balance. It has an epic and enthralling plot, yet does not sacrifice gameplay to this end (unlike those dreadful FMV games on the Sega Mega CD). It keeps the plot firmly on track, and yet doesn't feel linear to the player - there is still freedom to indulge in one (or twelve) of the game's numerous side-quests. It is a challenge, without being so hard that you lose interest (or forget the plot whilst spending hours trying to beat a boss). In short, a very well balanced game. The plot merits particular attention, as it works on many different levels - simply, you're chasing a bad guy down, fighting an evil corporation and stopping a meteor from hitting the earth; however the game also explores the minds of its various characters, and the psychology of delusion. Too complex for you? You can just follow the plot at its simple 'good vs. evil' level then. There are a fair share of twists and turns - you may get so attached to the plot that you will even cry at parts (you probably know when). The characters are all detailed in personality, each has a purpose, and none of them are quite what meets the eye - certainly not the hackneyed RPG stereotypes everyone was used to! Besides, since when has any game called its mercenary hero Cloud?

As I said earlier, the gameplay of the game is excellent; its cinematic presentation doesn't get in the way of true RPG values. That is, the game is addictive, holds plenty of potential for you to customize your party, provides bags of playtime and most importantly, tells a great plot whilst still being top fun to play. The magic system, based around orbs called Materia is intuitive, and gives great scope for different attacks and tactical spells, whilst the mega attacks, the summon spells and limit breaks are impressive to begin with, but towards the end of the game get more and more outrageous. Battles, especially with bosses, are often very satisfying and deep, with the ATB system turning turn-based battles into something more dynamic and exciting, where time matters. Random battles are present, which may be irritating to some, but they are not as frequent (and thus as irritating) as in games like the still fantastic Skies of Arcadia.

Also thrown into the mix are some fun little mini games to take your mind off the main game, these are all necessary for the way the game takes you (so during the course of the game you will ride a motorbike, snowboard, conduct a Command and Conquer style battle and much more). These then become available to you to play in the arcade in the game's theme park, the Golden Saucer. The fact that amongst the myriad places in the game (all full of character and well designed, yet again) there are imaginative ideas like theme parks gives you an idea of how inventive and immersive the game world is. To navigate it, you get many different vehicles - by the end of the game you will have your own airship, and a submarine for underwater exploration.
However, it is the sub quests that lend the game the great asset of charm - for example, you can rear a stable of chocobos (Big Bird look-alikes that are used in a horseracing-style sport), breeding them together to get birds with special abilities which you can then use to get rare items in the game world. You can even become a jockey and ride them in yet another mini game. Can't be bothered? Just bet on the races of other people's birds for fun and profit. There are plenty of other optional quests and secrets, and side bosses aplenty (Emerald Weapon anyone?).

Even after six years, Final Fantasy VII still stands up as well as the day it was released upon replaying - a true gaming masterpiece, with plenty of replay value. It succeeded both in being both for RPG purists the best RPG since 16-bit classics such as FFVI and Chrono Trigger, and in bringing the genre to the masses and widening gaming tastes. Without this game, barely any of the RPGs you see on the shelves today would be released at all - Final Fantasy VII was the revolution. The only reason preventing this game from scoring a 10 is that if it was truly perfect, the games industry would have ceased to have existed - so don't expect any games to score better than 9.5, or we'll be out of a job!

So, what to do if you haven't played this game? Or if you played it for 15 minutes 6 years ago but "didn't really get it"? The equation is simple - you can pick up this game for €15, a PSOne for €50and a memory card for €5. Then you can experience 25-75 of the best gaming hours of your life. Got the game? Replay it, you won't regret it. Simply put, this is probably the best game ever, and one that I actually feel privileged to review. Play it now.

Tom Parry-Jones
There are 4 comments for this article.

Chuggy at 09:20, Thu 14 Aug 2003
Personally I don't think it'll catch on. I'm sticking with my saturn.

proudclod (Staff) at 12:09, Thu 14 Aug 2003
Too right sir. Tell you what, I'll buy that copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga off you for a tenner ;)

Chuggy at 11:47, Thu 21 Aug 2003
A tenner! Deal! it's not like its gonna be a collecters item or anything! n00b!

x at 16:26, Fri 22 Aug 2003
Aparently their making some virtua figher RPG for the saturn at the moment lads..
something about someones father getting killed.

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