Friday, April 17, 2020

Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

In 1997 Final Fantasy 7 came out.  A friend of mine bought it and a Playstation on the release day, and we spend all night long playing through the Midgar section of the game.  We were blown away by the graphics, and the characters, and the story.  The game pulled us in, and only when it was like 3 or 4 AM did we stop for some much needed sleep.

I, like the genius that I was, had spent my money on a N64, rather than a Playstation, expecting the Nintendo console to continue to be where JRPGs were headed, and was not able to afford a Playstation for almost another year.  (by selling my N64 to that same friend)  I became obsessed with this game.  When I finally got a copy of my own, I played it every single day for an entire year, looking for all of the little secrets held within.  In my opinion, it is the last truly good game in the Final Fantasy series.  The series never again reached the same scope and height that it did in Final Fantasy 7.  Looking back, it's not my favorite Final Fantasy game, that would be 6, but it's the game in the series that most captivated my interest upon release.

When they remade the opening cinematic to show off what the PS3 was capable of, I freaked out over the prospect of getting a remake of the game with modern graphics and voice acting.  I was sooooooo disappointed when I found that there were no actual plans for it.  I bought a PSP just so I could play Crisis Core when it came out, and I played through Dirge of Cerberus when it was released.  I jury rigged my laptop to hook up to my TV (that wasn't a thing back then) so that I could watch Advent Children the day it was released in Japan with fansubs.  And I was generally disappointed by all of them except for Crisis Core.  They just weren't the same, and seemed to have walked back all of the character development that the characters went through during the second half of the original game.

Anyway, fast forward to when they announced the Final Fantasy 7 Remake and I was very excited.  But with each subsequent news update on the project I became more and more apprehensive.  The game would be serialized.  The first game would only be the Midgar section of the original.  Despite all of the fond memories I have of that all-nighter my friend and I spent playing through the Midgar section, it's kind of the most boring part of the game.  It's a prologue that drags on FOREVER before the actual story begins.

But FF7 fanboy that I am, even in my 40s, I was, of course, going to buy it no matter what.  And I did.  And I was pleasantly surprised by it.  The graphics are amazing.  The English voice cast do a pretty great job.  The music is a mix of completely new tracks and reimagined old tracks, some of which have several different versions, like the original fight music, or the bombing mission music.  And there is this completely epic medley of, basically, all of my favorite tracks from the original game that plays during the amazingly cinematic motorcycle chase at the end of the game.  I felt the combat was a little clunky, but eventually got the hang of it when I realized that you could keybind abilities.  I played through on normal difficulty, and on that difficulty level there were some bosses that were exceptionally hard to beat.  One of them I did end up lowering the difficulty to easy to be able to get through.

The story has been fleshed out, and we get to spend a lot more time with all of the characters to better learn who they are as people.  I like what they did with the characters, for the most part, and I also really liked that we got to spend more time with Biggs, Wedge and Jessie, to build them up as people, rather than those NPCs that don't really have much going for them at the beginning of the original.  Mostly, the additions to the story are pretty good, but I don't really like the Kingdom Hearts-ization of the story much, with those annoying Whisper things.  I DO NOT enjoy Kingdom Hearts AT ALL, and I felt that Nomura's trying to force some of its BS into Final Fantasy 7 was not great, especially  in the ending.  While I do like the ending, I'm also a bit afraid of what it might mean for the rest of the FF7 remake series.  Because to me, it seems as though it was meant to be a, we broke the ties of fate, and now this story can go off in a completely different direction and leave the old game behind so we don't have to tell the same story again, sort of thing.  I really, REALLY hope that they do not decide to go that route, because if the rest of the story of the original gets the same treatment that the Midgar section did in this first game of the remake, I will completely love them.  If they go off in a completely new direction, I may like it, but I will probably be a bit angry that I am not getting what I was promised all those years ago when they announced that they were, in fact, remaking the game.

So, all in all, I really enjoyed it, and I hope that the rest of the remake episodes are handled as well as this one.  If you like the original, and were maybe a bit on the fence on whether or not you wanted to spend the time and money on the remake, I'd say go for it.  It's not an exceptionally long game, I finished in just under 40 hours, but at the same time I did not even come close to 100%ing it.  I do feel that I got my money's worth out of it, and look forward to the next, with the hopes that they do not do what I'm fearing that they will with it.

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