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The Legacy of Final Fantasy VII

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Let’s get the apparent cleared out first: Sure, I’m a religious Last Fantasy VII fan. This can be a recreation pricey to my coronary heart and I cherish it deeply. I need to speak about why I feel this recreation is a masterpiece and my considerations for the Remake.

Last Fantasy VII got here out in 1997 on the Sony PlayStation. It bought over two million copies in Japan inside the first three days of launch. It additionally acquired overwhelmingly constructive critiques and has regularly discovered itself in quite a few “Prime 100 Video games Of All Time” lists. Even at this time, 22 years after its launch, it’s nonetheless thought-about as probably the greatest video games of all time.

It’s no shock that the Last Fantasy VII Remake is garnering monumental help and enthusiasm. It’s a recreation adored by many, as obvious by the cries through the E3 presentation.

For me, the Remake has provoked giddiness and a tinge of worry that appears to develop a tiny bit bigger each time I ponder over whether or not or not Sq. Enix can pull this off.

What made Last Fantasy VII such an enormous success? Does it nonetheless maintain up or are we sporting nostalgia goggles? And most significantly, why hasn’t Sq. Enix been capable of pull off a masterpiece in recent times?

Unraveling a Masterpiece

If I created a ballot and requested individuals what made Last Fantasy VII so nice, I’d get a variety of various solutions.

The story, the music, the Lively Time Battle (ATB) system, the characters, the open world, and maybe even the visuals?

The apparent reply is “All the above”. In any case, you’ll be able to’t have a great RPG with only a subset of these parts. Nevertheless, the rationale I feel FFVII really excels is due to the way it brings all these parts along with nuance, and most significantly, subtlety.

Let’s begin with my favourite one:

Music and Environment

Nobody doubts Nobuo Uematsu’s genius. He’s composed tracks for quite a few Last Fantasy video games and is extensively considered the most effective video composers of all time, even being known as the “Beethoven of online game music”.

I personally maintain the assumption that Uematsu’s biggest work has been the FFVII OST. With tracks like “Aerith’s Theme”, “Anxious Coronary heart”, and the ever-popular “One-Winged Angel”, the FFVII Soundtrack is superb.

The sport’s opening scene, from Aerith’s face to a view of Midgar to Cloud leaping off the practice is supported by “Opening Theme, Bombing Mission” – a monitor that begins off sluggish and mysterious, slowly constructing as much as a crescendo earlier than transitioning to a rhythmic and tense second half. It units the tone for the remainder of the sport – curious and thrilling.

The “Fundamental Theme” performed through the overworld is one other monitor that helps us set our expectations for the sport. It’s not cheery and thrilling as a whole lot of overworld themes in RPGs. It doesn’t push you to exit on an journey. As an alternative, it begins out sluggish and virtually scary, filling you with uncertainty and doubt. It builds as much as a extra thrilling half earlier than going again to being a bit of creepy. You simply don’t know what to anticipate, identical to the world of Remaining Fantasy VII itself.

The soundtrack not solely conveys the texture of the complete recreation as an entire however performs a task in fleshing out the sport’s many characters. FFVII doesn’t function voice appearing, however every character’s theme performs a task in defining who they’re and conveying their personalities to us.

Take “Aerith’s Theme” for instance. It’s sluggish, it’s peaceable, and it instills belief. It’s what Aerith is meant to really feel like. It performs whereas she’s dying in Cloud’s arms. It makes that scene all of the extra impactful.

One other widespread instance is “One-Winged Angel”. It’s a tense, virtually scary, monitor that does a incredible job conveying how terrifying Sephiroth is. It’s additionally fairly catchy.

I’d even go as far as to argue FFVII’s lack of voice appearing works to its benefit as a result of it lets these wonderful tracks stand out extra. The world and characters of FFVII are wealthy and alive because of Uematsu-san’s work.

World and Development

Ultimate Fantasy VII is large. The unique recreation got here out on three discs.

You begin out in Midgar, a big futuristic metropolis divided into sectors, with every sector having a slum. You’re launched to this darkish, polluted, virtually pitiful place run by the ShinRa firm. After a number of hours right here, you’re launched to the open world. The world progressively opens up so that you can discover as you retain enjoying the sport.

You begin by strolling to locations however understand there’s some terrain you possibly can’t cross with out sure automobiles. You’re given a buggy to cross shallows rivers with, adopted by a aircraft to traverse coasts. Quickly you get entry to a submarine that allows you to go underwater, and an airship that allows you to journey by air. The world is large (you even go to area at one level!), and this gradual entry to new automobiles and terrains provides you a way of scale and development.

Not solely is the world thrilling, however every particular person location on the planet is exclusive and memorable. There’s Junon – a metropolis recognized for its big cannon; Cosmo Canyon with its cliffs and purple skies; Wutai with its Japanese backdrop; and Rocket City with its… Rocket. Not solely are most locations hooked up to sure characters as their birthplaces, however every one among them is exclusive in the best way it’s portrayed and the way it performs into the story.

You’re additionally required to return to quite a few locations within the story and it’s fascinating to see how these locations are affected by the occasions of the story. The world of FFVII is a dwelling, respiration world.

Story, Characters, and Complexities

If I might use one phrase to explain the forged of FFVII it will be “numerous”. Right here’s who your social gathering consists of: A spiky-haired mercenary, a goofy terrorist chief, a bartending martial artist, a wolf-like animal, a flower woman from the slums, a kleptomaniac ninja, a gun-wielding shapeshifter, and a robotic speaking cat. How are you going to not love this forged?

At one level within the story, Cloud, Tifa, Barret, Pink XIII, and Aerith describe themselves as “A former SOLDIER First Class, members of AVALANCHE, a flower woman from the slums, and a analysis specimen.”

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Every character has a historical past that you simply get to discover in the course of the recreation that provides to their character and makes them really feel actual. The truth is, FFVII offers with numerous themes with its characters.

We now have Barret struggling to boost a toddler whereas additionally making an attempt to battle for the planet. We see him as this robust chief, however he has moments of softness and real fear when he’s with Marlene. We additionally later study his previous and the way his actions led to his city being destroyed. We see him wrestle together with his guilt which culminates in a battle together with his greatest pal.

Then again, we see Pink XIII wrestle together with his perception about his parentage. There are themes of honor, sacrifice, and household as Pink XIII learns about his heritage and his obligation. Keep in mind that this can be a non-human character we’re speaking about right here.

Even Yuffie, an optionally available character, is a layered one. She’s portrayed as a humorous, juvenile ninja, however we later study of her patriotism to her homeland and her want to revive it to its former glory.

All the characters of Remaining Fantasy VII have fascinating again tales and a stake within the overarching story of the sport. Every considered one of them feels necessary.

The forged, just like the world itself, can also be very complicated. We discover out that Cloud isn’t who he claims to be, we all know from the beginning AVALANCHE is actually a terrorist group liable for the deaths of individuals in Midgar, and we study that Cait Sith is definitely a ShinRa member. These characters are usually not one-dimensional. There’s depth and battle in every one among them.

The bigger narrative itself at its core is a narrative about good versus evil. It’s the basic story. Nevertheless, what makes FFVII stand out is the best way it handles this battle. Our heroes aren’t your typical heroes – they’re not royalty, they’re not superhumans – they’re only a bunch of misfits thrown into this journey. In reality, a few of them are terrorists, which makes you marvel in the event that they’re actually heroes in any respect.

We even have two totally different villains on this story: Sephiroth and the ShinRa firm. One is a strong, menacing being who has a twisted concept of methods to save the planet, whereas the opposite is an organization that solely cares about itself with no regard for the planet or its inhabitants. Each are terrifying in their very own methods.

Ultimate Fantasy VII manages to intricately weave all this stuff collectively to provide us a recreation that really looks like a journey with actual, plausible characters, and a world that has each literal and metaphorical depth.

So why hasn’t Sq. Enix been capable of create one thing nearly as good as this in recent times?

Keep in mind how I stated you possibly can’t create a great RPG with a subset of the above-mentioned parts? That’s what Sq. Enix has carried out with its previous couple of video games.

Don’t get me flawed, Sq. Enix hasn’t created horrible video games (We’re not counting FFXIV 1.Zero), however its current mainline Remaining Fantasy video games haven’t been as nice as video games of the previous.

Let’s do some comparisons. Word that these are extra at-a-glance comparisons than in-depth ones.

For reference, for many who deem this a legitimate software for crucial comparability: FFVII has a Metascore of 92 based mostly on 20 critics, and a Consumer Rating of 9.2 based mostly on 1709 scores.

Take Remaining Fantasy XIII. It has a Metascore of 83 based mostly on 83 critics, and a Consumer Rating of seven.2 based mostly on 2690 scores.

It’s a colourful recreation with an fascinating forged and a cool world. Nevertheless it doesn’t develop organically. The sport doesn’t slowly introduce you to the world and its elements. As an alternative, it throws complicated phrases at you and expects you to do some studying to determine what issues imply. “Fal’Cie! L’Cie! Pulse! Cocoon!”. Think about if FFVII began mentioning nonsensical phrases initially of the sport: “Jenova! Weapon! Black Materia!”.

The sport additionally doesn’t function any fascinating locations. There are many corridors that take you thru some cool wanting locations, however there are not any cities, no open areas, no locations that really stand out. Positive, there’s an “open world” about 30 hours into the sport, however you solely get to discover that for a number of hours earlier than you’re thrust again into slender paths.

The characters can be a hit and miss. There are back-stories to them, however none of them notably stand out.

Take Remaining Fantasy XV. It has a Metascore of 81 based mostly on 109 critics, and a Consumer Rating of seven.6 based mostly on 4011 scores.

Let’s examine the forged of Remaining Fantasy VII to the forged of Last Fantasy XV.

Discover something? On one aspect you could have a colourful, numerous forged and on the opposite, there are four dudes sporting black.

I get what Sq. Enix was making an attempt to go for with their FFXV social gathering – a narrative about brotherhood and friendship. Nevertheless, the characters have backstories that aren’t absolutely explored until you purchase DLC and watch the brief anime episodes they launched previous to the sport. The world and the primary battle additionally isn’t explored until you watch the prequel movie.

There are different characters within the recreation, however they aren’t fleshed out a lot both. Necessary characters die however their deaths really feel meaningless as a result of they aren’t explored a lot in any respect.

The world itself is lackluster too. It’s beautiful however feels incomplete. It lacks verticality and variety. Moreover, the second half of the sport takes you out of the open world and into corridors the place you’re anticipated to make use of stealth to make your means via. The sport’s pacing feels uneven and the narrative lacks coherence.

Regardless of Sq.’s efforts to make it really feel like an epic journey, it doesn’t really feel like a journey in any respect.

That is simply my opinion however I feel the story, world, and characters are important in a Remaining Fantasy recreation. The video games don’t should be open world, however they do must be nicely outlined and possess depth.

Okay we get it, you’re a Ultimate Fantasy VII fanboy and also you assume it’s higher than all the opposite video games. Why are you afraid of the Remake?

I’ve been hoping for a Last Fantasy VII Remake because the 2011 PS3 Technical Demo. The demo blew my thoughts and gave me hope that there would in the future be a Remake. I’ve had my fingers crossed since that day.

When Sq. Enix formally introduced the Remake in 2015, I used to be in disbelief and awe. I can’t wait to play the Remake. I preordered the Deluxe Version as quickly as they introduced it throughout their E3 convention yesterday. It’s troublesome for me to avoid this recreation.

Nevertheless, I’m afraid that Sq. Enix gained’t have the ability to pull it off.

Right here’s an inventory of JRPGs launched by Sq. Enix over the previous years.

Identify Launch Yr Metascore Consumer rating
Kingdom Hearts III 2019 83 eight.Zero
Dragon Quest XI 2018 86 eight.7
Last Fantasy XV 2016 81 7.6
Remaining Fantasy Sort-Zero 2015 72 7.5
Lightning Returns: Last Fantasy XIII 2014 66 6.1
Remaining Fantasy XIII-2 2012 79 6.eight
Ultimate Fantasy XIII 2010 83 7.2

These scores usually are not dangerous however they’re not nice both. Given this knowledge, my religion in Sq. Enix isn’t as robust because it as soon as was. I’m genuinely afraid they gained’t be capable of pull off a Remake on par with the unique recreation.

Listed here are my particular considerations:

  1. Releasing it in elements.
    Remaining Fantasy VII is an epic journey from begin to end. When the Remake was first revealed to be launched in elements, I turned skeptical. I’m afraid of what the means for the pacing of the sport and the story has an entire.

    I’m additionally afraid of what this implies for the gameplay. If we get a number of elements, will the fight system be constant throughout all of the elements? In that case, will it not get repetitive if the whole journey spans 100+ hours? In the event that they’re going to vary gameplay with each launch, will it not turn out to be an inconsistent expertise?What does this imply for various places within the recreation? In different elements that cowl different places of the sport, will we be capable of return to beforehand visited cities and cities within the recreation?

  2. The complete first half being set in Midgar.
    Within the unique recreation, our first few hours are spent in Midgar after which the world opens up. I keep in mind spending maybe 5 hours in Midgar, in comparison with the 40-50 hour complete play time. That’s roughly 10% of the sport. Throughout their E3 convention, Sq. Enix introduced that the primary half (spanning two Bluray discs) can be set in Midgar. Once more, I’m confused about what this implies for the remainder of the story. If the primary half solely covers Midgar, which is simply 10% of the sport, what number of elements are we getting? Assuming the sport scales linearly, ought to we anticipate 9 extra elements after this one to get the whole recreation?And precisely how a lot new content material can they probably add to the Midgar part to span “a full-length recreation”?

    Midgar is iconic however the concept of spending 30-40 hours in the identical setting doesn’t sound like an ideal concept. Within the unique story, the Midgar part merely units up a number of the forged and their relationships. It doesn’t discover their backgrounds and it doesn’t go into the primary battle intimately. It’s merely an introduction to the sport.

    It’s regarding that an expanded introduction is all we’re going to get for now. If it has taken Sq. Enix this lengthy to only end the Midgar part, how lengthy earlier than we see the remainder of this elaborate world?

    For reference, Disc 1 within the unique recreation ends after we discover 2 complete continents.

  3. Taking liberties with the story.
    I perceive that this can be a reimagining of the unique recreation. Nevertheless, it’s unclear how the story goes to be reimagined. I personally really feel like too many modifications will go towards the essence of the unique recreation and provides us a Remake that’s too unfamiliar. A very good Remake, for my part, is one that’s recent however stays true to the supply materials.

    This concern ties in with the above. It’s clear that new content material goes to be added to broaden on sure elements of the journey. New content material is all the time good, so long as it doesn’t battle with the unique story.

  4. Secretive improvement, unexpected delays, and prolonged gaps.
    I’m glad we acquired a launch date at E3. Given Sq. Enix’s historical past with FFXV’s improvement delays, I’m hoping they’re extra clear with FFVIIR’s improvement progress and future plans. Ready round for information of FFXV’s improvement, and coping with delays in its launch was extraordinarily irritating. Ideally, Sq. Enix has a strong improvement plan and concrete launch dates for future elements.

    This ties in with my concern about releasing it in elements. The remake was formally introduced in 2015, and we’re getting the primary half in 2020. That’s 5 years of improvement. If we’re assuming Sq. Enix has spent 5 years simply engaged on the Midgar part of the sport (I hope this isn’t true, however that’s what it looks like), then how lengthy earlier than we get the entire recreation?

    It’s troublesome to guess what number of elements we’re getting. Contemplating that Midgar is just 10-15% of the sport, ought to we anticipate 5+ extra elements a minimum of? In that case, even when we assume that Sq. Enix will launch a brand new half each 2 years (which is unlikely given their historical past of releases, however I’m making an attempt to be optimistic), does this imply we’ll get the ultimate half round 2030? In fact I’m throwing round these estimations with none precise info, however given Sq. Enix’s historical past with delays, shuffling groups, and lengthy improvement occasions, I’m frightened about FFVIIR’s future.

  5. Fill-in-the-gaps DLC.
    An apparent flaw with FFXV was the truth that some character arcs have been purposefully omitted in an effort to promote DLC. There have been elements within the tales the place characters left the social gathering and got here again later, with a really obscure rationalization of what occurred, solely to be revealed via DLC. Since FFVII’s characters and their story arcs are an essential a part of the story, I might hate for them to be bought to me individually as an alternative of as one cohesive journey. Being an episodic recreation is one factor, however omitting elements of the story to be bought as separate adventures is one other.

This isn’t to say that Sq. Enix isn’t doing any good issues with the Remake. The presentation at E3 received me very excited. I really like the path they’ve taken with the fight. It’s an ideal marriage of quick paced motion and the old-school ATB system.

I’m additionally happy with the soundtrack. We’ve the basic tunes simply remixed sufficient to be new but nonetheless acquainted and nostalgic.

And naturally, the visuals. Sq. Enix has by no means disenchanted me with it’s beautiful depictions of fantasy worlds and characters. I’ve little question that the Remake might be completely lovely and can lastly present us the world in all its grandeur.

Nevertheless, these positives do little to assuage my fears. The reunion is at hand however solely time will inform if it’ll be well worth the wait.

Remaining Fantasy VII has been an enormous identify for 22 years. It’s a basic. It’s my favourite online game of all time. It has a popularity.

This remake will both strengthen Last Fantasy VII’s place as a masterpiece or crush it, together with the hopes and goals of tens of millions of followers who’ve been patiently ready for years.

It’s my hope that Sq. Enix will attempt their greatest to do justice to certainly one of their greatest video games and the legacy that it has created.