Final Fantasy VII Review
By - Richard J.
13 years ago there was one special game that brought the popularity of JRPGs to North America. As you probably guessed, the game I'm referring to is Final Fantasy VII. Before this game's release, the JRPG genre was super niche. The previous Final Fantasy game to be released was Final Fantasy III on the SNES, which was actually Final Fantasy VI for the Super Famicom in Japan. It didn't do much to bring new gamers to the genre, despite it being a fantastic game. All of this changed though when Final Fantasy VII was released in 1997 for the Playstation 1. The JRPG genre had finally struck a chord with North Americans, and instantly everyone was interested and that super niche genre became a little less niche. But the question remains for many: is Final Fantasy worthy of its recognition as a game? Or does its popularity blind people from what is in the game?
Right off the bat, Final Fantasy VII's story is messed up. Messed up in a crazy way, not in a bad way. It is hard to describe it here without giving spoilers, so I'll stick to the stuff that everyone already knows. That's right, if you think Final Fantasy VII is spoiled for you because you know that Aeris (or Aerith) dies, I recommend you still play the game as there is still a great story with unexpected twists remaining.
Aeris getting killed. In my opinion, it is the most emotional moment in video game history. Saria giving Link the Orcarina as he leaves Kokiri Village (Legend of Zelda: Orcarina of Time) is a close second, but Final Fantasy VII gets top spot because it has different layers of emotion. On the top, the cute, innocent church girl who Cloud loves is murdered before his eyes by the man he hates the most. On the bottom, you trained Aeris to be a completely badass healer, but she gets murdered. It's not fair dammit, it's not fair!
Needless to say, Final Fantasy VII has a fantastic story that every gamer should experience. It gets a little bit too crazy towards the end, but that can be easily ignored when compared to the rest of this video game narrative epic.
The gameplay is Final Fantasy VII is fairly traditional for a JRPG. The first part of the game has you confined to the walls of a district. Inside the district you control Cloud as he runs through little villages, meets new people, and encounters random battles. Once you leave the slums under Midgar it is much of the same, but open to the entire over world. The expansive overworld is easy to walk across with Cloud, but venturing too far could cause trouble. You don't want to go somewhere where the random battles contain stronger enemies than you. You also get various land, water, and sky vehicles to get you across the overworld quickly and safely. Another form of transportation is by Chocobo.
For those of you who don't know, Chocobos are big, yellow birds that are littered throughout the Final Fantasy series. They are most commonly used as a form of transportation. In Final Fantasy VII, you can also breed Chocobos to get better ones. These better Chocobos are usually of various colours. You can also race Chocobos at
The turn based combat in Final Fantasy VII revolves around JRPG cliches. Cloud has a massive sword and crazy hair, you usually always have a male "black" mage and a female "white" mage, etc. Instead of magic, there are special abilities called materias. These materias feature regular magic abilities and their upgrades Fire and Fira, Thunder and Thundara, Cure and Cura etc. There are also a bunch of less typical materias to be acquired. Towards the end of the game, there are materias that are essential to beating the game. The most infamous of these are Knights of the Nine.
Knights of the Nine, as the name implies, has the nine knights of the round table each taking turns to deal a ton of damage to your opponent(s). What's more infamous than the ability is actually the way you obtain it. In order to get to the little island in the corner of the map where the ultima is hidden, you must breed a Golden Chocobo which can run across anything. Golden Chocobo breading is a long and tiring process. You have to keep getting more-and-more Chocobos until the luck of the draw gives the correct colour and gender, for which you need top breed with another special coloured and gendered Chocobo. The whole process takes about 5 hours of horrible incest and failed experiments, but in the end it is all worth it.
Graphically, Final Fantasy VII is less than stunning. The painted environments are beautiful, but the character models (especially during in-game cutscenes) are far from great. The characters models are very polygon-y and look quite ugly for Playstation 1 game, especially when compared to the system's other two Final Fantasys VIII & IX. While the game may not look good, it does have a good excuse. Final Fantasy VII is a fairly early PS1 game, and developers were still trying to figure out the technology. Not to mention that it was one of the first full 3D games in the JRPG genre.
The less than spectacular graphics are covered up a bit by the fantastic audio in the game. The sound track is easily one of the best in the series. The 16-bit chiptunes of the previous cartridge releases have been replaced with full a full soundtrack in the series jump to disc based media. The soundtrack isn't something I would want to listen to by itself, but it fits perfectly with the game.
Final Fantasy VIII is easily one of the greatest games ever made. That statement is not based on its gameplay, but on the ground breaking, emotional story, and impact it had on the Western video game industry. If it wasn't for Final Fantasy VII, all of the JRPGs you enjoy playing would not be released here in North America. Even if you are not an RPG fan, there is no denying how great Final Fantasy VII is.
- Groundbreaking Story
- Classic JRPG Gameplay
- Fantastic Sound
- Poor Graphics Due to Age