Final Fantasy VII: 19 Glorious Years of the RPG Classic

Cloud Strife FFVII
Cloud from the masterful Final Fantasy VII.

We figured it was about time to cover Final Fantasy VII, one of the best RPGs of all time, a stunning masterpiece, and a shining example of how fantastic video games can be. With its sprawling gameplay features, emotive storyline, and endlessly dramatic action, this was a game which appealed to all ages and nationalities and swept up massive critical acclaim.

For us it’s the best Final Fantasy game and Square Enix is still to be applauded for what we consider the Blade Runner of video game entries. It was known as Squaresoft back in 1997 and this title quickly rose to prominence in the games industry thanks to a highly emotional narrative and engaging gameplay. It’s a glorious journey every video game fan must take.

Final Fantasy VII

Squaresoft had done wonders on the SNES in the early to mid-1990s and planned to release FFVII on the console, then changed its mind for the N64, but Nintendo’s console (still being cartridge based) lacked the storage capacity required. The company switched to Sony instead, whose PlayStation (CD based) had been a big hit. It finally launched in ’97 and, boy, did it cause a scene!

The narrative structure is complex but initially opens with protagonist Cloud Strife being hired to join eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE. He’s there to help blow up a Mako reactor owned by the megacorporation Shinra, who is draining the planet of its natural reserves and placing the planet (and everybody on it) in severe danger.

We’d like to draw particular focus to this opening siege on Midgar as it’s thrilling stuff and one of the best openings to a video game. You’re thrown right into the action and it doesn’t let up from there. Gradually, Cloud is drawn deeper into a complex world with a Shakespearian plot with added science-fiction elements.

Spoiler alert! It’s all uphill from there as the narrative takes you on a brutal journey towards its conclusion, notoriously wiping out a central character in the process. Many adolescent boys playing this freely admitted, back in 1997, this moment made them emotional. Pansies! However, it’s emotive stuff and an impressive feat, especially given 95% of video game scripts are horrific beyond belief.

Graphics & Soundtrack

We highlight further below the remake for Final Fantasy VII which is impending (largely requested by fans who want better graphics, rather than gameplay advances). Admittedly, the graphics (particularly on the characters) is getting seriously dated. Despite being a 32-bit console, the PlayStation marked an era where 3D graphics sat awkwardly onscreen.

Developers hadn’t mastered the process, which means the 16 bit SNES Final Fantasy games generally look better than Final Fantasy VII. However, the PlayStation’s CD abilities afforded the console to run the adventurous FMV movie sequences Squaresoft had planned. Ironically, this FMV now makes the difference between this and the real-game graphics even more awkward. However, the game has its genuine graphical charms and the pre-rendered backgrounds are still impressive – the overall effect is an immersive exerpience.

On a different note, the soundtrack is absolutely fantastic. From the opening score for the Midgar raid to some seriously creepy music for the game’s detailed psychological collapse of protagonist Cloud Strife, it’s inspired. There’s a clip of some of it above, although the entire soundtrack stretches over four hours!

Where can I play this thing?

Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII.

The fantabulous news is this classic is readily available on the PC and PS4. There are plenty of physical copies available off eBay as well if you want to get your hands on a copy for nerd based reasons. Have a look at our battered copy above! Mr. Wapojif likes hitting the thing… he doesn’t apologise.

Final Fantasy VII is also on Steam for you to buy and download. It’s absolutely worth your time and effort. Go on. Go and get it!

Finally Fantasy VII: Oh no… it’s the Remake

FFVII was released on the PlayStation in 1997 – this means the graphics have become rather dated. This doesn’t affect the game and, indeed, we feel it adds to its charm. Final Fantasy VII is from a time and a place – a different era in video game history before the arrival of the internet and massive mainstream appeal for the industry.

Regardless, for over a decade fans have droned on and on about a graphical update, and finally Square Enix relented. The result is the PS4 will have a complete remake no doubt in time to mark the game’s 20th anniversary in 2017. We were initially miffed about this. Many modern developers and gamers have an overbearing infatuation with graphics and it’s been detrimental to the industry, but we came round to the idea and accepted Final Fantasy VII is spectacular enough to warrant a remake.

Then the trailers arrived and our worst fears were confirmed. We’ll have to wait to play the game, but it’s not encouraging. Call us misery guts if you must, but the horrific voice acting and dialogue is a bad sign indeed. In addition, the Dynasty Warriors style isn’t particularly convincing. The whole thing looks seriously dodgy. Let’s hope they can sort things out, and may the memory of the ’97 classic not be tarnished!

2 comments

  1. Reading this made me feel old, one of my favourite games of all time. I bought the OST on release and use to listen to it at work, such a FF nerd! The game still has its charm however it was definitely best experienced first time around. The remake footage made me so sad, the fans just wanted a touched up version but Square looks like it’s cashed in and gave it the lightning touch. Not looking promising is it.

    • The soundtrack is epic, it’s what makes the game seem timeless despite the sprites having aged a bit.

      As I mentioned in the post, I did get myself worked up for the remake… until the footage began to come in. We’ll see how it turns out, but at least there’s always the original.

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