Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII review

Name: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
System/s: PSP
Developers: Square-Enix
Release Date: 3/24/2008

As I mentioned before, I saw Final Fantasy VII quite some time ago. When I first saw the game, I really loved it, but after finishing it and thinking on it for a while, I realized it was only alright. There were many problems with the game, and the story was extremely hard to follow, in general, I though it was a good Final Fantasy, but not the best.

I've often talked bad about Final Fantasy VII, mostly to explain to people it's not "god's gift to video games" or anything, it's just a pretty good RPG. So, when they announced the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, I wasn't extremely excited, After playing Dirge of Cerberus, not liking it, and watching the movie, Advent Children, which was 'alright', I didn't expect much from Crisis Core, in fact, I ignored it for quite some time after it came out. That was until a friend lent it to me, and even then it took me a while to even start playing it.

The game follows Zack Fair, a character that was shown extremely briefly in Final Fantasy VII, and only in a secret cutscene. He and his friend, Angeal are sent on a mission to find a deserting high ranking officer from SOLDIER (A Special Forces Unit). The story becomes more complex, and interesting plot points are revealed.

There are a lot of parts of the story where things happen that seem really impossible, and you just have to suspend the disbelief. There's also a lot of parts to the game where characters really are just slow reflexed, or clueless to further the plot, which can get annoying, when you watch something happen, you know the character could stop, and they don't...

However, on the flip side, there is a lot of really good story telling as well, with interesting characters, and a good backstory for a lot of events in Final Fantasy VII. There are many times I was surprised at how clever some of the story telling was, with flashbacks tied into combat, and some interesting plot twists. In general, the story is pretty good.

The graphics are amazing, being some of, if not the best on the PSP, looking better then even Portable Ops. The character models are detailed, the textures are high enough resolution, and the environments look great. Really, graphics wise, there's not much to complain about. The pre-rendered cutscenes are also quite good, perhaps not as good as Advent Children, or Dirge of Cerberus, but still close.

The music is generally good, with some really amazing songs, that I will listen to outside of playing the game, but it also has a lot of really forgettable music, which sound more metal-y and doesn't match the game as well. Still there's enough good music for it to get good marks from me. The voice acting is hit or miss, some of the characters are voiced very well, while others are almost embarrassing, the general voice acting is decent, nothing that will destroy the game.

Unlike Final Fantasy VII, this game is an action RPG, and plays a bit more like Kingdom Hearts. The fights are in real time, and you can doge, block, attack and cast magic, using the face buttons. The trigger buttons switch between attacks, magic and items on the menu, and the cross button accepts what you selected. While the combat works pretty darn well, the developers made it way too easy to just mash the attack button and beat almost every fight in the game. Sure you can use magic, but for most fights, it's easier to just attack repeatedly. This isn't to say all fights, as the later bosses will force you to do other things, but most of the small monsters just feel like grind.

Being a action RPG, the game is extremely liner, and the main storyline only took me a little over 15 hours to complete, but you can carry over all the items, and experience you collect over the game into a new game, to unlock more, and there are dozens upon dozens of side missions, which I am told can take you up to 100 hours to complete, so if you're into that, there's a lot of stuff to do other then the main quest.

One thing that really stuck me about this game, is the ending, which is one of the best I have ever seen among my many years of gaming. It's extremely well done, with a good mix of gameplay and cutscenes, but if I say anymore I will spoil it, so go play it yourselves.

What I liked:

The story was interesting, and I was happy to follow it to the end. The characters, and everything else kept the story going well.

Main Character:
One of the better main characters Square-Enix has popped out recently. Though he at first might remind you of Tidus, you realize he's not taking it seriously, and it's just a show he puts on. In general, I liked him a lot.

The gameplay is quite good, and everything works the way it should. There's a good mix of timing strategy and execution.

It's good. Beat the game. See it yourself.

Final Fantasy VII references:
The references to Final Fantasy VII were done quite well, and some of them were quite silly.

Be it remixed old tunes, or new tunes, this game has quite a few memorable tunes that you will end up humming to yourself.

Voice Acting:
Some of the voice actors are pretty good in this, the main character, Zack, for example. Sephiroth and Cloud were decent as well.

The in-fight flashbacks were genius, they made the game a whole lot better. Gave backstory without being too intrusive.

Pre-rendered Cutscenes:
The pre-rendered cutscenes are quite good in this game, being better leagues better then most PSP game's pre-rendered cutscenes.

Some pretty cool looking moves:
Some of the combat moves in this game look great, and are fun to watch the many times you see them throughout the game.

Good use of source material:
You can tell the developers really liked Final Fantasy VII (It's not the original team, though it has some of the members) the world is recaptured quite well, and they tried very hard to now tarnish the name.

What I didn't like:

There are parts of the story that are just bad, you have to sit back and go "Who thought this up?"

The game is really easy, I beat the game only dying perhaps 5 times, and not hacing almost any trouble at all. Most of the time you can win by repeatedly attacking without any strategy.

While there is a lot of good music, there is also a lot of generic metal music, in the style of Advent Children, which you probably will be glad to not have to hear after beating the game.

Voice Acting:
Some of the voice actors just aren't good and really get on your nerves, it's a shame.

Some pretty dorky looking moves:
After seeing some cool combat moves, it's a shame to see some of the worse looking ones, especially over and over again through the game.

Not enough environmental intractability:
Really, the environment is pretty static, minus chests and people to talk to. I wish there was a little more to it...

Camera can turn against you sometimes:
While the camera outside of combat is usually good, it can get stick on things, which is really bothersome. The camera in combat is annoying, due to the fact that it cannot be controlled, most of the time it works fine, but there's always those other times...

Main villain isn't very interesting of a character:
The main villain seems like a mix between some of the villains in other Final Fantasy games, and has little personality, which makes him very uninteresting.

Some parts of the game really test your ability to suspend disbelief:
There are really some parts to the game which will take you out of the world, because they make no sense, and aren't explained.

Feels like a spin off:
As good of a game as this is, it feels like, due to the fact that it is a spin off, it can't reach the feeling of a full game. This isn't actually completely a bad thing, more just a fact about the game.

Overall Scores:

Presentation 8.5/10: While there are problems with it, there is just so much good about it to ignore.

Graphics - 10/10: Everything looks spot on, can't complain.

Sound - 8/10: Some bad songs, and below average voice acting bring down otherwise fine sound design.

Gameplay - 8/10: While the difficulty makes things very easy, the game is still fun to play. Loads of fun.

Lasting Appeal - 8/10: While there's a lot to do other then the main storyline, it's not for everyone, as it is very simple, and there's not much story behind it.

Overall Fun - 9/10: Yes, it has it's problems, but they didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying this fine game. The ending is incredible, and worth playing anything to get to it, luckily the rest of the game is a lot of fun as well.

Yes, this game is worth the $30 price tag it currently bares.

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