When Final Fantasy VII was first released in 1996, it rocked the world of videogames by integrating CG cuts scenes and gameplay in a way that blew the minds of millions of little prepubescent kids. It lit the RPG on fire and set the bar for every future game of the genre.

Well acquainted with RPGs at the time, I was of an older generation of gamer, having weaned myself on classics such as Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI and Secret of Mana. Still, my little 13-year-old world was rocked just as hard as any other. I still remember the day of its release, rushing over to my friend’s house and watching as he played through the first two hours. I was enchanted and knew I had to have one. Somehow I was able to convince my father to buy me not only the game, but the system to play it on.

Over the years, Final Fantasy VII has lost some of its luster – hard-to-look-at graphics, a story mangled by poor localization, and a general ‘it’s-been-done-better-by-other-games-since’ vibe. Over the years, even my opinion of the game has fallen off, mostly considering it to be an ‘okay’ entry in the series and certainly not ranking near the top of the heap in terms of quality.

So, it was with mild excitement that I loaded up Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and gave the world another go. What I wasn’t prepared for was how fantastic the experience would be. The gameplay is fine, but I won’t spend much time dwelling on it, because the narrative is where the game truly shines.

One of the more interesting facets of the original Final Fantasy VII was the unravelling of past events, and how they led to the mayhem engulfing the world. Crisis Core explores these past events in much greater detail and shed light on many of the questions gamers were left with at the end of Final Fantasy VII. Foremost among these was the relationship between Cloud Strife (the protagonist of Final Fantasy VII) and Zack Fair (the protagonist of Crisis Core); the relationship between them was tragic, but sadly affected by the aforementioned problems with localization. Crisis Core fixes that and more.

Roles are reversed in Crisis Core, with Zack taking the role of leading man and Cloud stepping back into the role of a lowly foot soldier, endeared by Zack’s rank in the military outfit called SOLDIER, as well as his personality. It’s nice to see Cloud in his humbler days, and to see the roots in what eventually leads to one of the most important points in Final Fantasy VII’s plot, but it’s Zack Fair who really steals the show. Zack starts out the game as, well… an unlikeable prick. Over the game, though, we watch Zack react to the events tearing his world apart, to better consider those around him and as the story moves along towards its inevitable ending (that any fan of Final Fantasy VII will sure to be dreading) we start to understand just why Cloud so idolized the raucous SOLDIER member.

The story is helped along by a fantastic localization this time around, breathing so much life into the characters that I grew attached to them in a way that was almost impossible in the original Final Fantasy VII. Superb voice acting, great cut scene direction and a beautiful rendering of Final Fantasy VII’s Steampunkesque world all help drive the story home further.

Full of side missions, I found that Crisis Core was best enjoyed if I just ignored them all, plowing on through the story. Part of this had to do with the relative fun of the side missions (next to none) and also that I was just so damn curious to know what happened next, despite knowing all of the major plot points due to having played Final Fantasy VII. The second half of the game is where things really take off, and from the moment you first step foot into an ill-fated city from Final Fantasy VII, it’s a rocky ride of emotions until the bitter end.

The best thing I can say about Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is that it made me appreciate the original game even more. It reawakened the memories I had of the first time I laid eyes on it at my friends house and further fleshed out the story. I wasn’t ever a huge fan of the idea of remaking Final Fantasy VII, but Crisis Core has me believing. If they were to put the same level of effort into a Final Fantasy VII remake, we’d be in for a hell of a treat and a game that might finally live up to the potential that Final Fantasy VII held.

  • Sean September 29, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Were you so lucky as to play Final Fantasy. the original. What a game. I’ve beat that thing with party’s ranging from classic, fighter, black belt, white mage, black mage, to 4 black mages, 4 Black belts, or 4 fighters. I’ve walked the final bridge hunting warmech, and i’ve been ambushed by him and completely obliterated. I know the secret tip where you can fight for mega gold and experience early in the game. I suprisingly ran into warmech once on tiamats stage of the final castle!!!! [when going to recover the masamune of course].
    again, what a game. I think it is still the crowning achievement in role play games. it basically openend up the US market to the genre, and for those that don’t know, it was named final fantasy b/c it was to be the game producer’s “last chance” at a making a game before going belly up.

    oh i almost forgot, you can hold select and press a+b together 55 times to get to a minigame/puzzle that if worked correctly will give you a small, meaningless exp or gold bonus, don’t remember which.

  • aidan October 1, 2008 at 12:38 am


    I’ve played Final Fantasy, many times; but the only time I’ve ever actually finished it is the GBA remake. Certainly a fantastic game, and something that any true RPG fan should at least try out!