A Flawed Masterpiece
FFVII had to be a superb game in all sectors, mainly because Square had to prove themselves without Nintendo. Moreover, it was one of the most highly publicised games that would mark the beginning of the golden era on Sony's brand new Playstation. It also had to be revolutionary and had to break the ground in many ways. The graphics had to be equally mold-breaking and should awe the gamers, so that they wouldn't be able to pull themselves away from the game.
The story of FFVII basically is a very fast moving story that rarely slows down for a breather. It starts with the sabotage of the Mako ( something like Nuclear) Reactor, by the game's protagonist Cloud Strife. He is a part of a rebel group called Avalanche. They are trying to dethrone the defacto ruler of the planet, Shin-RA Inc. Obviously, this might sound a basic FF plot, but what begins as a rebel mission soon becomes a desperate attempt to save the planet itself.
Square did make a game, and what came out of FFVII of course is history. But, that doesn't necessarily mean, FFVII is a perfect game.
GAMEPLAY : 10/10
One of the real strengths of FFVII was that it's fluid gameplay which could make even the RPG- newbies get instantly addicted to it. Of course, the staple of the battle system remained the same. It was the Active Time Battle (ATB), which was continually used in FF and many Square RPG's ever since FFIV.
The real downpoint of any Japanese RPG's, is the random battles.
Basically, random battles means that you will be 'put' into fight with enemies who cannot be seen on your view. This can become an obstacle in adventuring. However, luckily in FFVII's vast lands the random battles have been considerably reduced.
Square also had to be innovative and had to bring home something new for their already existing fans. This innovation didn't exactly come in the way Square would have expected, but the Materia system was perfect in many ways. Basically, Materia system derived from all the good things in the magic system of FFIV and FFVI, to create a great system.
Materias are orbs which, when equipped to a certain character give them the power to perform such abilities, magic spells, summoning etc. Materia are of four colors - Red ( Summon), Green (Magic), Yellow (Command) and Blue ( Others).These materias, also grow in levels just like your characters but while you gain the EXP points, materias require AP. When a materia orb does gain a level, you will either learn a new ability of that type or you will be able to perform the command more number of times. The materias can be bought from special Materia shops in the town or can be found in various places in the world.
GRAPHICS : 9/10
The game broke ground with it's graphics too. According to many, FFVII's graphics were said to be light years away at the time when it was released. Of course, future games on PS, like FFVIII, MGS and Chrono Cross would be even more graphically stunning, but the deal was that FFVII was a game in 1997, and it was nothing like people had ever seen before.
Even, the lush graphics of N64's Ocarina of Time looked dull against FFVII's flashy and sharp graphics. This showed the graphical capability of PS itself.
The FMV's are the real places where even today you will admire them.
The character models do look different in cutscenes, in battles and in FMV's, which is something that gamers playing today will notice.
And that is where is a minor downpoint.
FFVII's graphics how much advanced they were, became immediately outdated by the time FFVIII came out.
People who in today's next-gen era will have to see through the Lego-block like character models, to get into the real beauty of the game.They will have to imagine themselves to be in 1997 and play FFVII.
If you can do that, then you will really enjoy the game a HELL lot.
If not, then you will wonder as to what this ga-ga about this game all about.
SOUND : 10/10
FFVII's soundtrack is again a one that like graphics depends largely on your mood. Unlike the masterpiece of a soundtrack, FFVI had FFVII falls short of it.
It would be suitable to describe FFVII's music, as usually flows with the rhythm, but occasionally is outstanding.
Yes, FFVII's music during much part of the game, flows through the game. It basically means that the music is not ear-catching at many vital cutscenes.But, when FFVII's music does become alive at the end of Disc One, you really start to take it's full delight. Nobuo Uematsu with FFVII proves once again that why he is the best musician in the video gaming industry. Aeris' theme is a sensationally smooth tune, that wafts sadly through your ears. But, you can notice some striking similarities in the opening 5 seconds of Aeris theme and that of Aria di Mezza Caraterre of FFVI.
The individual character theme is again interesting, and again the overworld theme, draws you into the game.
Of course, there is the single BEST ever soundtrack for a boss battle in the games of all kinds. I am talking about the One-Winged Angel. It's so sensationally exciting and heart-pumping that it is undoubtedly the true gem of FFVII's soundtrack.
VALUE : 9/10
Spending a few dollars, to buy a game as great as FFVII should normally not even be considered, but the thing is that once you go through the entire 50 hours of gameplay, with sidequests, minigames and all, what would make you to play FFVII again? Of course, playing the game all through it is a great fun.But unfortunately, non-RPG fans and RPG newbies might not see so.
The reason is the sheer amount of stuff packed into FFVII. From the Oh-so lengthy main quest, to tons of sidequests including recruting optional characters- Yuffie Kisaragi and Vincent Valentine and then completing their sidequests and more. Then defeating the weapons, playing minigames, like Bike Attack, Roller-Coaster shooting, Snow boarding, Submarine battle, Arm wrestling etc. Then there is the Battle Square, where you win fights to earn battle points to exchange for rather useful items.
Then obviously there is the lengthy but important sidequest of Chocobo Breeding. Catching them, feeding them, racing them in special Chocobo Derbies, mating them and then getting very useful items from inaccessible areas. ALL of these above noted things might sound fun, the first time, but many of those the second time might not look as good as they did one time. Of course,FFVII afficionados might say otherwise, but the thing is that FFVII should really have had a New Game+ option like the one in Chrono Trigger. That would really improve the replayability value and you wouldn't have to level up unecessarily every time you play again.
TILT : 9/10
Why 9, you ask? Well, it is 9 and not more nor less. It is a rule that RPG's have to be satisfying to a gamer when they complete it. The satisfaction on completing a RPG game, you sweated through for 50 hours is something that cannot be compared.
FFVII, unusually didn't please me That much as it should have.
Because, the ending left a lot to be wished for.
What I mean, to say is that we do not toil through 50 hours of highly entertaining yet tedious gameplay to see an ending that is incomplete of sorts.Sure, it might build up a suspense for the Compilation series of FFVII, but that basically isn't of any sense.
Imagine, you are watching a cliffhanger scene of a movie and suddenly light come up and, you have to wait for the next sequel to come out. That is a movie that is hardly 2 to 3 hours. But, the case with FFVII wasn't the same. It needed a complete ending. And it felt as if the final FMV was cut just to make us wait for 20 years for the Compilation series to get over with.
What happened to all characters is the question every RPG gamer asks to the game?
And, unfortunately FFVII does not reply to any of thise questions.
It's a small thing but it cannot be ignored altogether.
At the end FFVII, is a superb game, that is a rare specimen which decided the future of it's genre as well.
But just because it is the most influential RPG title ever, doesn't mean it is the best ever.