Content of the article: "My thoughts whilst revisiting FFVII. Outdated mess or still a gem? Absolutely the latter!"
I'm going to keep this as spoiler free as possible. My point for this post isn't just to jerk off a game with people who already love it, it's also to talk to those who are still on the fence about it. I mean, I get it, the game is very old now. I think this week (or last) marked the 23rd Anniversary of the NA release, so it's really getting on now. And for some, this can be a bit of a deal breaker. One thing I am asked all the time is 'does it hold up?' and I want to go through that here and explain why it absolutely does, and what you can do to make your experience better as a newcomer to the game (and even as someone who already played it).
Firstly, I do believe this game has held up graphically. This is definitely the part that has aged the most, but It still looks ok. It is janky in parts, especially in terms of character models (the lego looking people), but I still think there's a cuteness and a charm to them. The pre rendered backgrounds are still beautiful, as well (though needs to be modded to get rid of the pixellation. This is the only thing I recommend modding below, but it's not needed). I spent all my childhood wishing we got a remake, and whilst I'm glad it's here, I actually don't feel like we need it anymore. I think that no matter how good the remake is (and I hope it is fantastic), the original game will never be obsolete, and it still absolutely has its place. There are things you can do to improve this (see below for what to play it on, and modding it), but generally, it looks pretty ok as it is. It's certainly aged more than, say, VI, but is still more than playable.
Combat wise, I think this is still great. It's not the most in depth turn based combat, but it's certainly still good and fun. The main complaint I have with it is the animations can sometimes take a bit too long, especially summons (cough Knights of the Round cough). This can get tedious when you're just trying to grind for something or get to somewhere, and you come across some low level enemy and the fight takes a lot longer than it should because their attacks take 10 seconds or whatever to finish. But that is my only real complaint with it. It's still fun, and I absolutely love the Battle Arena still with all its handicaps etc. Turn based combat games have definitely held up a lot better than most others of its era, and this is no different. The materia system in this game is also a lot of fun to work around and figure out. This is the main twist to the combat, if you like, and it's done very well. It's still my favourite turn based combat function to date
The story I think is still very good. It does the usual FF thing of being grounded initially, and then spiralling into something much larger, and gets a bit crazy involving gods and the planet etc. etc. I love Final Fantasy for this, but keep that in mind. This is what they do, but for a newcomer, you might not realise that, and it might seem strange that something can go off the rails so nonchalantly. Just something to keep in mind.
The characters are fun and memorable. Cloud has a bit of a… Let's say, reputation, these days as a moody old git. Well I'm here to say that's wrong. Whenever someone says that he's dull and boring, I can only think that they must have only seen him in things other than the original game. Square Enix certainly ruined him as a character in anything else he showed up in (I have no idea how he's done in the remake), but in the original game he spends all of like a couple hours being moody. He then cheers up and is a lot of fun, and has many heartwarming moments and clearly trusts and respects everyone around him, something he states many times. If you want an example of what everyone says Cloud is, look no further than Squall in VIII, but that's a story for another day. The rest of the characters, other than one or two, are brilliant and very memorable. Cait Sith is probably mine, and usually everyone else's, least favourite. Yuffie is generally divisive. Barret can feel a little dated since he's made to sound like a stereotypical black American, but he also defies other stereotypes, since his main arc is making a better world for his adopted daughter, and he has some of the most heartwarming moments. But other than that there's a lot to love here with a lot of character development, great character designs, and good conflict. And Sephiroth as a villain is very good. He's not included a whole lot throughout the game, but he's a sort of style over substance villain. But he's just one of the main antagonists (the other being Shinra), and the way Sephiroth is included and shown is definitely iconic. There's a reason he's remembered so well
The music is absolutely stellar. I think that even non fans of the series might be able to recognise One Winged Angel, but in truth, the entire score is a masterclass from beginning to end. As much as I love other FF's and their scores, nothing is as star studded as FFVII. Those Chosen by the Planet, Fight On! (the boss theme), Let the Battles Begin (main battle theme) and many more, are all absolutely fantastic. This is one of the main things that sets this game apart from many others at the time, and even today. It really goes to show just how much music can elevate a game. What might be a good game changes into a phenomenal game if the score is done right, and that's what we have here.
The pacing of the game is also very good. As I mentioned earlier, there isn't much grinding. I played for around 100 hours but I was also doing a lot of the optional stuff that you don't need to do. I was level 99 at the end with everyone, and that's definitely not needed. Just going through the game normally, you will find it going from one piece of the story to the next at a good pace, and there's little grinding to be done. You can always do a little bit to make the game easier (or use Black Chocobo as mentioned below), but there isn't much need to do much extra. The game is easily beaten by just going through it normally.
And lastly, how easy is it to play today as a newcomer? I would honestly say very easy. I played this for the first time since I was a kid, and I found it very easy. The only time I needed a guide was to help with the optional stuff, which only truly hardcore fans will go for (like Ruby weapon). This is easily a pick up and play title, and with the ease of access being both cheap and being able to play on most things, this is very easy for anyone to get into. I don't think it'll give many people that feeling of slogging through a very old, outdated game.
OK, if you got this far and said 'oh wow, I feel like I want to play this now!', I'll now tell you what to play it on. This section will be about where to play it, and how to get the best experience whether you're a first timer or a veteran. I highly recommend playing it on pc, preferably with a controller. Whilst I know that not everyone does pc gaming, I think FFVII is classified as a 'can run on the toaster' type game, so it should be fine. I 100% think people should stick to the pc version for two reasons:
You can mod it. Whilst a lot of people swear off mods for the first time user, I think everyone should mod it, and I'll tell you how and why.
You can use Black Chocobo. This is a piece of software that allows you to edit your save files. Always make multiple saves if you're going to use this, so it doesn't corrupt anything. Again I'll explain why below.
So why mod it? How do I know what to mod if I've never played it? Well I'll try and explain simply here. If you're on pc, you can download 7th Heaven. This is a mod compilation/launcher. There's videos online of how to download and use it if you need, but this thing is fantastic. I don't actually use many mods, and I recommend new users only use a few. If you're new, only download Satsuki's mod (can do this within 7th Heaven), and there's a mod on the Nexus for upscaled icons.
That is all I recommend for newbies. This essentially keeps the game exactly how it looked originally, same backgrounds, same everything, just upscaled and not pixelated. The original pre-rendered backgrounds still look beautiful, they were just very pixelated due to it being on the ps1. This mod just gets that pixellation gone and is a massive improvement. That's the only thing I will say everyone needs for a first time. Other than that you're good to go. For veterans, there's all sorts of mods you can mess around with, but to keep the gameplay authentic for newcomers, I don't recommend that.
Also, why Black Chocobo? If you're a newcomer and you cannot be bothered to grind (though there isn't too much of this anyway), if you miss an item that you can't go back for, or anything like that, you can use Black Chocobo to save you hours of time. I don't like to use it much, but for people who cannot be bothered to sit through hundreds of hours of content and just want to get straight to the point, this save editor will really make your time with the game much easier and much quicker.
OK that's it! I hope you enjoyed reading, and hopefully we'll see some new FFVII fans in the near future. Now is definitely the best time to get into it, as the remake is happening, and there's a lot of hype going round. FFVII is mainstream again like in my childhood, it's brilliant to see. I can't wait to play the remake
- Should I buy Ghost of Tsushima or Final Fantasy VII Remake?
- YSB Nier Automata (PS4/Xbox One/PC)
- Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – a big RPG on a small console
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