There is something about Final Fantasy VII that has touched the hearts of the majority of the previous and current generation of gaming over twenty years ago, and now. It is considered one of the best video games of all time as FFVII brought JRPG’s to the mainstream level that we have never seen before. For years, many fans demanded a remake after the E3 2005 tech demo was shown to the world on what the visuals of that game would look like in a modern setting. With the release of Advent Children, Chrisis Core, and the Dissidia series, the demand grew more. In 2015, We got the first trailer and the announcement that Final Fantasy VII Remake was in development. Five years later, we can now say that we have this game in our hands again. What do I think of the remake, I will tell you right now as I review Final Fantasy VII Remake.
The casting choices for the character’s voices are very good. I even had to listen to old clips of Steve Burton, Rachael Leigh Cook, and George Lewbin from previous entries to see if I notice a difference between them and the new voice actors, and there were minor differences. If you were to tell me that FF7R’s voice cast have never changed upon playing this as my first Final Fantasy video game, I would have noticed. I also liked that many of the minor characters such as Wedges and Biggs had their stories fleshed out more as they feel like they mattered to the overall plot. But a slight knock on this is that many of the conversations with many of the NCP’s and minor characters arepointless as they do nothing but introduce them for them to be forgotten about when you move on to the next quest since they will not serve any relevance to the main plot. You would think that they fleshed out the minor characters out for a good reason. But logically, it made zero sense.
There were times that I laughed more than I did when I played the original game because there are pivital scenes that translated well from the original game, to the remake, but also added more depth to those scenes and made them feel much more alive. The biggest example, is the Honey Bee Inn sequence as Cloud had to be a cross dresser for a while. There is also a dance minigame at that Inn too. The cutscenes were done really well, and it felt like at times that I was watching Advent Children as I was playing the game. The cinematogrophy really blew me away from the start to the finish visually. The music did match the visual style of what we seen on screen, but I felt that the music is very over-orchestrated and I wish that we have an option to switch between the original music, and the current music. “Fight On!” is unrecognizable unless you are watching somebody else play. “Hurry Up” was totally removed from a part of the game. And they are throwing in too much of Sephiroth’s themes into the new arrangements, and in general it is a lot of noise with little substance.
When it was stated that the battle system would be revamped, they were not kidding. Even though there is a “Classic Mode” setting available, I would not recommend using it since this game’s combat relies on you to have full control of the character. The ground combat fixed all of the problems that Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3 had, but there are some limitations. Not having to change your party’s A.I while you are controling your character is frusturating, but I had to get used to it. When the air combat happens, the cameras are all over the place like it is a WWE Raw production especially when there are too many enemies on the screen. The boss battles is when the controls and camera angles are much more scaled and controled. Remember the sphere grid system from Final Fantasy X? Well, FF7R takes a slight inspiration from that system to level your characters and their weapons. The leveling grind is not as punishing as FFXV and that is a relief. Also, bonus points for the seamless loading times. I still have my original Playstation 4, and I experienced not one slowdown at all.
Knowing that this is going to be an episodic series of games, I was curious on how Midgar, which is the first area that can be completed in five hours in the oirginal game, was going to be handled. That five hours turned into 45 hours for me as there were more sidequests than I remembered counting the time on this remake. I see why they did this, but I felt that it was not needed as backtracking in this game is very incidential and time wasting. I even questioned myself why is the reunion being mentioned this early in the game? And also, why did Sephiroth appear within the first ten minutes of the game? Sephiroth was mysterious and he appeared when it mattered to flesh out who he is as he kept you guessing what his motive is during the first half of the game. Not in the first ten minutes. Cloud and Tifa’s interractions were the best of the game in my eyes, but I cannot say the same for everyone else as the writing for each of the characters were all over the place and inconsistant at times. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the non-major characters have a personality on this game that you can clearly tell instead of reading text, but the excution was very choppy. Speaking of the story, there are a lot of changes that I did not like. The time travel plot just completly ruined the canon as this remake feels like it has to tie in the other related media of the Final Fantasy VII franchise. Those big changes also appear at the end of the game and I have a feeling that these changes will be very devisive among the community to the level of Star Wars: A New Hope Special Edition. This is not what I had in mind when I wanted the remake as it really forces the player to accept this new direction of the game without being mindful to how and why veteran players appreciated the story and timeline.
Overally, I enjoyed most of Final Fantasy VII Remake. The art, visual graphics, and all of the characters feeling larger than life more than ever. But I cannot ignore the flaws that came with it. The most recent remakes on other video games had minor changes that made the experience better. But Final Fantasy VII Remake, changed to make the overall experience apalling to veteran players including myself. Final Fantasy V, VI, VIII, and XII are my personal favorites and this is not a review for me to favor one game over the other, but I perfer the original game over the remake. I was more frustarated, than satisfied with this experience. The fact that we also do not know when part two of Final Fantasy VII Remake will be released has more questions in my head than I can answer. But to put it simply, This just doesn’t even feel that much like a JRPG. It feels like a AAA western cinematic action game that’s loosely based on the original game. If other people like that about it, then so be it. But for me, this just isn’t what I really wanted from a remake at all.