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Final Fantasy VII Review

by Jason Venter

So far as I was concerned, there was one reason to buy a Playstation. That reason, of course, was Final Fantasy VII. I remember pre-ordering Final Fantasy VI, and I remember playing it through multiple times. My friend even liked to watch me play. That game had everything going for it, and it looked like Final Fantasy VII would provide even more reasons to love the franchise.

Unfortunately, that didn't end up being the case. But Final Fantasy VII is still a fantastic game, a worthy title in the franchise.

The first thing you'll notice is the most obvious: a new graphical approach. Instead of sprites, the characters are polygonal. But before you even notice the characters, you'll watch the camera center on a girl standing in an alley with flowers, then quickly abandon the alley and fly upward to reveal a stunning futuristic city complete with steam, motorcycles, and so forth. It's simply breath-taking, even now, and it was enough to make one drool when first the game shipped.

Graphically, the game continues in much the same fashion throughout. Sometimes this is good, as in the rather mediocre FMV sequences that follow, and sometimes it's bad. One example of the bad comes when you summon a monster to fight for you. Each creature has a stunning animation that accompanies it as it appears where your team members stood. Ifrit bursts out of the ground and scorches enemies with flame. Bahamut obliterates a floating island just recently ripped from the earth like a handful of soil. Everything looks beautiful... the first 100 times. Then you want to skip the animations and you find that you can't. You'll log up a fair amount of time in that game just watching those animations.

But enough about the admittedly spectacular graphic approach. What about sound? That's a disappointment, I'm sorry to say. I can't remember, really, a single song from this game. Sure, the end-battle music is pretty good, but it seems more like a repeat of the music from FFVI than any effort to be original. And as for the rest of the music, it's beautiful at the best of times, and annoying background noise the rest of the time. This simply isn't acceptable for a Final Fantasy game.

There are some out there who don't care about graphics and sound, though. I would point them to storyline.

In past years, the Final Fantasy games have almost always been about a great story. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the case of Final Fantasy VI. And while Final Fantasy VII doesn't eclipse the beauty of its predecessors tale (what game can, really?), it does do a fantastic job of revealing a world of mixed technologies and emotions. By the time you play through to the game's closing scenes, you have the feeling that you've just progressed through something special, along with a host of characters.

Sadly, those characters aren't up to par. I really admired the characters in Final Fantasy VI. They had personalities. You laughed with them (and if you were always a romantic, perhaps you cried). When they approached a certain place in the game, you knew what they might say. In Final Fantasy VII that is true to some extent, but most of the magic is gone. True, you know Barret is about to let out a string of profanity at any moment, but does that really seem like good character development to you? People are much more than the profanity they use, and Square seems to have forgotten that. In fact, each character seems rather one-dimensional. It isn't nearly as bad as it is in Final Fantasy VIII, a game that supposedly focused on human emotion and should have been much better, but it is something you're likely to notice on your second trip through the game.

Which begs the question: is Final Fantasy VII worth a second trip? And I'm not sure just how to answer that. I've played through some parts of the game a second time, but I never really felt compelled to do so. The story is still fresh enough in my mind that I have no desire to essentially relive a 45-hour movie. Final Fantasy VI had that magic, but Final Fantasy VII doesn't.

And in the end, I think that speaks for itself.

Rating: 7.8 (on a scale of 1-10)

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