Final Fantasy VII Review

Druce Chandler, Writer

      Final Fantasy VII (FF7 for short) is the seventh main installment in the Final Fantasy series (also one of the most known), and was developed and produced by SquareSoft (now known as Square Enix).  Final Fantasy VII released in America on September 7, 1997, and it is the first game in the series to be released on the PlayStation as the size of the game was extremely larger than an SNES game. Luckily, like all the other games, Final Fantasy VII is on other consoles now such as Microsoft Windows, PS3, Playstation Portable, PlayStation Vita, Playstation 4, IOS, Android, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch. However, this is the first Final Fantasy game to feature three-dimensional graphics, pre-rendered backgrounds, and numerous full-motion videos/ cutscenes. It is all due to Square getting to experiment with that technology. In addition to the 3-D graphics, and different story elements, the game still uses the Active Time Battle pseudo-turn based menu command system during battle. Furthermore, out of your cast of nine characters, you can only have three people in the main party compared to the other games allowing four. Depending on the scenarios you go to later in the game, the dialogue may be different from character to character. 

      Final Fantasy VII first introduces the most known protagonist in the series, “Cloud Strife” as a former member of SOLDIER, who turns to being a mercenary hired by the eco-terrorist group “AVALANCHE” that is based in the Sector 7 slums of Midgar (this part gets bombed later on). The group Avalanche is led by Barret Wallace, in which their goal is to fight the mega-corporation Shinra Electric Power Company, in which Shinra’s goal is to attempt to drain the planet’s lifeblood as an energy source for future profits. Cloud at first was only fighting because of personal gain as that was a promise he made to his childhood friend Tifa Lockhart, but after meeting many others, he will fight for other causes than personal gain. For instance, at the end of the game, everyone who is still alive decides to fight for more than just themselves as they decide there is something more of value to fighting for. Notwithstanding, Avalanche fights with Shinra for most of the game, but the true main antagonist of the game Sephiroth, Cloud’s nemesis, who becomes twisted after learning his true origins and it will lead to him wanting to destroy the world by casting the spell Meteor. Furthermore, Sephiroth in his true form is not seen until the end of the game as you will see him but only as clones.                                                         

    While that may be true, there are two main systems the limit brake system, the materia system. For instance, with materia they can be customized in anyway you want within four categories, casting spells, summoning, command abilities, stat boosters, or support materia (or materia that can link with other materia to enhance it). Just like how you see the experience gained with leveling materia does the same thing, but it works through a system of AP, if you get one to level up, you could get a better spell, command, support bonus, or more summoning times up to five at most. In addition, once a materia reaches max level it will show a small box saying ex. Fire is born, in which it means is that a materia is maxed and a new one was created. Likewise, there is still one more type of materia and that is the mega or Huge materia which are acquired through tedious missions in the second part of the game but you are only given one chance to get them. On the other hand, the Limit system runs on an ATP gauge like the battle system, and they fill by enemies attacking your characters. When the bar is filled it will be blinking the word “LIMIT BREAK” and they will allow each member to do one of the following actions: deal additional damage, heal, add statuses, potentially insta kill enemies, add defensive stats, or kill all your characters. Whenever a character kills a certain number of enemies or use limit breaks a certain amount of times, they will unlock better limits which are divided in levels unlocking better limits as well as being able to do optional side quests in the game to get the manuals once all the others are unlocked. There are two exceptions to the manuals, for example RedXIII (Nanaki), the wolf lion-like beast with a tattoo on his leg, and if you go to  his homeland Cosmo Canyon, you must go through the quest there in order to leave while receiving the limit break manual Cosmo Memory at the end of it. The other exception is Cait Sith who is a black cat riding on top of a stuffed moogle with a megaphone in hand, who only has two limit breaks Dice (runs on a formula) and Slots which can do a number of things but be careful as you may cast death on the party through it. Given these points, there is one more thing to be aware of and that is statuses on your limit bar such as Fury which decreases your chance of hitting with physical and magical hits but is useful for limit farming as your limit bar increases quicker, but sadness will decrease the rate your limit bar fills up. Not to mention there is mega weapons, and they have an interesting concept, and it works with power scaling on certain stats like limit gage percentage filled (Tifa’s Premium Heart) , HP (Cloud’s Ultima weapon, Cait Sith’s HP shout) , MP (RedXIII’s Limited Moon, Cid’s Venus Gospel), AP (Barret’s Missing Score) , kills earned (Vincent’s Death Penalty), level of enemies (Yuffie’s Conformer), or number of allies dead (Aeris’s Princess Guard).

     As much as I could go on with the limits, materia, and the mega weapons there were more characters to talk about and where you get them. For instance, right after you meet Cloud and Barret, you will meet Tifa Lockhart who in the beginning is introduced as Cloud’s childhood friend, and the person runs the bar in the Sector 7 slums before it gets destroyed. Then, after fighting a boss with Barret and Tifa, Cloud will fall off a platform into the Sector 5 Church in which you meet Aeris Gainsborough, who is revealed as the last of the Cetra, who is an ancient race with powerful magic capabilities. Later on, when going to rescue Aeris from Shinra, you meet RedXIII (Nanaki) who was experimented on before being involved in an experiment that was set up for him and Aeris. When going to the Golden Saucer, the place where the minigames, arena and chocobo racing are at, but another character who was already mentioned (said to be the worst character in the game for various reasons) Cait Sith, who joins after giving Cloud a fortune, and join the party for unknown reasons at first until later. During the adventure to Rocket Town you meet Cid Highwind,the foul mouthed, chain smoking-pilot who dreams of going into space, and is the last mandatory character recruited. Last but not least we have the optional characters Yuffie Kisaragi and Vincent Valentine, in which Yuffie (or the Ninja Girl) can be found lurking in the forest terrain on the world map, but you must listen to Cloud giving his view of the Nibelheim incident first, be careful as she doesn’t make it easy as the right piece of dialogue must be picked otherwise she’ll steal your gil (money). Finally, Vincent can be found by exploring the Nibelheim mansion (Shinra Manor) through a safe combination and fighting a boss, afterwards a room will open in which he will be found in a coffin.  

     Earlier, Cloud was said to be more known and the reason is because of his iconic sword he has the Buster Sword on his back, a memento from Zach Fair and the sword has had a significant amount of appearances. In contrast to his Buster Swords, Cloud has had other appearances in the games such as the Kingdom Hearts series and Super Smash Bros. In spite of Cloud’s appearances through other games, Final Fantasy VII also has been said to be the best selling game of the series selling about 12 million units and counting varying from PCs to Consoles. However, in the dialogue you will be given choices, and with each choice chosen up until the second plot- related visit to the Golden Saucer, based on your choices Cloud could go on a date with Tifa, Aeris, Yuffie (if recruited before that point), or Barret. As you select your choices they will add, subtract, or have no change to a point system that starts at the beginning up to the Golden Saucer’s second plot-related visit. You most likely will get Aeris due to her having fifty points, Tifa having thirty, Yuffie having ten, and Barret having none, luckily it doesn’t matter who you get as it doesn’t change the story. Another thing you learn is that each character you get will have a backstory that will be expressed in words, cutscene, or a quest you can do. The last thing to note is that Final Fantasy VII is divided into three parts where the first is from Midgar to Aeris’s death, the second part where you gather the Huge Materia and for half of it Cloud is in a wheelchair due to high levels of mako exposure (Tifa will be unavailable for some of this time), and the third part which is when you deal with the Sister Ray cannon, find the mega weapons, or do any sidequest if not done so. Given these complex and extensive points, Final Fantasy VII while it may be the first 3-D Final Fantasy game, will always be one of the most notorious of its time due to how much backstory and how much gameplay elements that this game has, that is until the remake comes out, but that’s a whole nother story.