Right, so lets talk about FF7 briefly, there will be spoilers later on.
Final Fantasy 7 was the first game I really got nerdy over, it was the first game where I cared about finishing it, working out fancy tricks and tactics you could use the Magic/Materia system for, there was a time I was a regular in a final fantasy chat channel on IRC and gave out advice to players who didn’t have my (at the time) encyclopedic knowledge of the game (and decent knowledge of the latter titles), in fact some of my longest running friends were made over the love of the game.
Like all FF7 fans, I got my hopes up every time the game opening would be used in a tech demo to show of the latest Playstation capabilities, but I wasn’t excited when the Remake was announced.
“What?” I hear you cry! Let me explain.
Part of the beauty of the Final Fantasy series is that each game could use a different battle and magic system without relying on the previous, hell even the sequel to FFX only had a loose connection in its combat/magic to its predecessor.
But that freedom has meant I have seen the FF franchise move away from what I loved, towards a more action oriented system that really doesn’t work for me.
Ever since FF12, the franchise has shifted towards a system where you control a single character in battle, through out the various games they’ve had systems set up to issue commands to the characters you don’t control, and systems set up to automate your teams behaviour.
I have never been a fan of these, especially when you have to unlock basic instructions for your team, no matter how they wrap it up in the game.
When the FF7 remake was announced, my concern was that SquEnix would stick to this, and I was right.
But, and in my case it’s a fairly big but, SquEnix’s handling of the combat isn’t too bad, sure they have created a whole slew of new Materia to manage your combat, but I can let that run wild and see what new tactics they have included.
I played the Demo, and I loved it.
Now, you might be questioning, if I loved the FF7 Remake, why am I not praising it?
Because it’s now an FF7 Remake.
Okay, okay, let me explain.
What we have here is maybe 10% of the original game, the first 8ish hours (depending how quickly you play) padded out to a full game in its own rights, and that is where I take issue.
I get why they have done it, having to 3D model the sectors and slums, each building, they wanted to get their monies worth, so instead of modelling a location you’ll be at for 10 minutes total, they have created reasons to return, adding NPC’s and plots and quests galore.
I’m about 10 hours into the remake so far, and SPOILERS:
I’ve had new quests in the Sector 7 Slums, I’ve had ghostly apparitions that weren’t present in the original, Cloud is having psychic visions of the future and we’ve got new missions for Avalanche.
I don’t like how much they’ve had to create to pad out the game, I would much have preferred they scale down the scope, not create so many corridors between locations, and who needs a new wacky SOLDIER rival for Cloud to fight?
And the combat changes? I’ve yet to see any real deal breakers with the Materia system but I detest what they have done with spell casting and summons, now you need to charge a gauge to even cast a single spell or use items, and summons have their own charging gauge that only seems to apply in longer/boss fights, sometimes I just want to get into a fight and cast a summon to enjoy the visuals, I can’t do that any more.
Where as in the original I would go into an area, fight and level until I felt sufficiently strong (grinding, its what I do) in the Remake you can’t do this, they even block off areas with Cloud stopping in his tracks and a “warning” appear over you, forcing what was ultimately an open game into a corridor.
The more they add, the less FF7 there is and I do not like it.
With all this said, let me tell you something.
I am loving the Remake, I hate that it’s an FF7 Remake, but as a game in its own rights it is good, the combat is pretty fluid and it is beautiful, the challenges are fun.
Were it not a Remake of my favourite game, I am pretty damn sure I would love the FF7 Remake as a new entry in the FF franchise, more so than I loved 12 and 13, I will complete it happily, but I can’t say for any certainty that it will hold the same place in my heart as the original.
At this point, I’m gonna go 9 out of 10, when I complete the game I will come back and discuss some more, but until then.. gotta go play the game.