The Final Fantasy VII Remake is finally upon us, folks. So, it is no secret that Midgar and I have a rich history. One that stretches back generations. For me, Final Fantasy 7 still stands as one of the most memorable games I have ever played. All these years on, I recall upon the iconic RPG with great fondness—a true testament to its timeless appeal.
So naturally, when news first surfaced about a remake to one of the most beloved titles in my living memory, I was incredibly excited. But also, admittedly, a tad sceptical. One could even say somewhat apprehensive. Besides, the original had a massive impact on me growing up. And I would bet I am not alone in that admission.
Things just got a great deal more epic.
First off, it would be negligent of me not to mention just how beautiful this game looks. At every turn, Square Enix never fails to spoil us with spectacularly stunning visuals.
Each area of Midgar, whichever residential district you wander into, has been lovingly constructed using meticulous attention to detail—boosted ever further, by immense levels of polish.
In many ways, much of Midgar was off-limits in the original. So, building these areas from relative scratch using such an acute eye for detail, then finessing them further with a glossy overcoat is an impressive feat.
Again, it is what you might expect from a linear area of an old game. But that does not make it any less marvellous to behold.
But it does not stop there. What stands out the most is how realistic the characters are. For me, FF7’s roster bursts into being on screen. Whether that comes from interactions between fan favourites such as Cloud, Barret, or Briggs, the lifelike animations are so on point it is hard not to sit back in awe.
We have gone from simple text boxes and no spoken dialogue, to fully fleshed out characters, superb voice-acting, and well-crafted cinematics. The differences could not be starker. And yet, somehow, the remake still manages to retain the charm and feel of the first game.
Hats off to Square Enix, in this regard, you have worked wonders.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Gameplay: In with The New
Next up we have the gameplay, which must be said, was one of my most significant worries, going into the Final Fantasy VII remake. After all, I loved the traditional turn-based system of old. Both solidly satisfying, and above all else, robustly reliable.
So, I never thought I would be sitting here today, worshipping the reworked formula. But let me tell you, folks. It is that good.
Instead of using the old, active time battle combat system (ATB), Square Enix switches up the dynamic this time around, shifting focus onto real-time encounters. As you might imagine, the transition makes for some super tense exchanges.
With that in mind, the natural fluidity to combat makes for a much more streamlined experience. Using real-time, you can attack at will, while issuing tactics to two other members in your party.
On top of that, each player has an ATB gauge, which when filled, grants players a unique weapon ability. Similar in style, to how limit-breaks play out. By pulling up the command tab, you can elect to heal members and use various magic spells, just like the first game.
I also like how time stands still when selecting desired strategies. Better yet, bringing the action down to slow-motion puts plenty more pressure on the player, whereby each choice becomes pivotal. Thus, adding extra layers of intensity to each exchange.
Another key feature is “Punisher Mode”. This new inclusion does not impact your ATB gauge; instead, offering added strength at the cost of decreased speed. Being able to avoid attacks at will, while dodging oncoming moves is a godsend especially when you had to wait sometime to cast protective spells in the first game.
It just makes for a much more seamless combat system, this time over.
In short, the Final Fantasy 7 remake achieves what many other revivals so often fail to pull-off. Not only has Square Enix refined the combat to such a decent degree, that it matches modern expectations. But at the pulsing heart of it all, lies an amazingly polished, emotionally driven story that never once lessens its grip. And at times it takes the breath away.
Despite some small stumbles along the way, Final Fantasy 7 reminds us all what a great game the first was, with a spirited revival that is not afraid to stray from source material on occasion. In other ways though, it is a highly faithful remake of a much-revered classic.
I, for one, cannot wait to see what is in store, with the next episode.
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