Final Fantasy VII Remake review

by on April 6, 2020
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Release Date

10 April 2020

 

Final Fantasy VII changed my life.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? And I suppose it is, really. But I don’t mean it changed my life the way a death in the family would, or a terrible accident, or a sudden windfall. It was more like the subtle bloom of changes that take place without you really knowing it, like when you’re in a relationship that you won’t realise is significant until it’s over, and it leaves you knowing things about yourself that you weren’t aware existed to know in the first place.

I played it for the first time on Christmas morning in 1997, when I was 16 years old. Up to that point I wasn’t a big gamer. It wasn’t as accepted back then, wasn’t something you shouted from the rooftops as much as hid behind a forced love of football and biking. Or at least, I did, anyway. But it was a gateway game for me, the first one I ever fell for, the first one I ever played for over a hundred hours, the first one I rinsed every drop from, the first one I played from start to finish more than once. For most of a year it was the only thing I played besides the odd bout of Street Fighter with my brother, until, eventually, I moved on. I never went back to Final Fantasy VII, but it had cemented in me a love for games and gaming – and in particular RPGs – that has endured for the last 23 years.

A screenshot from Final Fantasy 7 Remake

I’m telling you this because it’s important to know that the original game is special to me. It’s the reason I haven’t played demos of the Remake, why I avoided trailers and spoilers as much as I could. I’ve tried to stay impartial, to take the Remake at face value and be as professional and unbiased as possible – but I was simply not prepared for just how much it would matter to me again. I wasn’t prepared for the feelings.

It says something when my first fifteen minutes with the Final Fantasy VII Remake were spent grinning like a child as the title screen music played. I kept trying to click a button to start, but ended up, well, not. It’s an exceptional piece of music, and it spoke to parts of me I’d all but forgotten. The memories it evoked weren’t physical, weren’t of a younger me playing FF7 in my Reebok Classics; they were more like sense-memories of a time before I had to do all this troublesome growing up. Eventually, though, I did press that button, and plunged once more into the world of Cloud Strife and Avalanche. I’ll be honest, the magic did begin to wear off after some considerable time, just a little, but the opening few hours with Final Fantasy VII Remake are almost mesmeric.

These early hours are also where the Remake stays closest to the source material. This is not simply a re-skin: like the Resident Evil 2 Remake, this is something absolutely new, built from the ground up, that uses existing characters, situations and story beats as framework alone. This is a spoiler-free review and so I’ll be gentle, but to anyone who knows the story, almost every relationship protagonist Cloud Strife is forced to form is tinged with tragedy.

Aerith is adorbale as ever

We begin with eco-terrorist group Avalanche breaking into a Mako Reactor in the city of Midgar. Mako is the life energy of the planet and, while it allows the evil Shinra Corporation the power to create wonders of science and magic, its misappropriation is bleeding the planet dry. This particular cell of Avalanche has hired enhanced but haunted ex-SOLDIER Cloud Strife to help them break into the Mako Reactor and destroy it, dealing a blow to Shinra in the process.

Those initial chapters, spent controlling Cloud alongside the gruff, overbearing freedom fighter Barret Wallace, are amazing. The original was a turn-based affair, like many other JRPGs of the time and indeed developed since, but Final Fantasy VII Remake does away with that in a controversial decision that will surely upset some diehard fans. That said, the combat in Remake is the absolute highpoint. Fluid, fast-paced and deep, it mixes real-time melee combat with tactical pauses to select spells, abilities, items and Summons.

Even controlling more than one character, the action is hypnotic. Character animations are unbelievably smooth, the pace of combat slowed only by some of the enemies taking maybe a mite too long to defeat in the early game. Spells are unlocked by socketing orbs of Materia (the physical manifestation of Mako) into weaponry and accessories, which allows you to use magical elemental attacks as well as a variety of passive and active buffs, debuffs and automatic actions.

All relationships matter in Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Initially you’re introduced to systems on systems, from Materia to weapon upgrades to abilities. Each weapon you equip comes with a new ability, which you learn by using it in combat., An example is Cloud’s Nailbat, which replaces his sword but slows his attacks considerably. It never felt natural to me, so I used it until I learned the highly damaging Disorder skill and then switched back to my sword. This is not a game that throws equipment at you, though, and weapon and accessory upgrades come slowly.

Thankfully, you can equip trinkets to unlock buffs or upgrade specific Materia orbs through use, for example elevating your Fire spell to the more powerful Fira, and then Firaga, which uses more Magic Points to cast as you go. In battle, you’ll need to fill a segment of your Active Time Battle (ATB) gauge to use any thing but basic attacks, either a spell, ability or item such as a Hi-Potion or Phoenix Down to revive a fallen ally.

Several hours in you’ll receive your first red Materia, the Summon known as Ifrit, which calls a colossal fire spirit to fight beside you. Unlike in the original where a Summon was a single use attack, in the Remake they remain on the battlefield beside you until their timer runs out, and you can use their special attacks in the place of yours as long as at least one segment of your ATB gauge is filled. You’ll unlock more as you play, usually by besting them first in a VR simulation created by teen genius Chadley, and each one is a screen-shaking spectacle, especially when their timer runs out and they unleash their devastating ultimate attack.

Combat is amazing in Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Combat is the mainstay of Final Fantasy VII Remake. You’ll almost always control Cloud, with other characters switching in and out as the story dictates. It’s important to note that the Remake has added so much and fleshed out the source material by such a degree that several of the 8 recruitable characters aren’t even introduced. Instead, you have a core group of heroes with the odd NPC joining in here and there.

Speaking of additions, Square Enix haven’t held back when it comes to extra content. For a start, each hub town you visit throughout the campaign has a selection of sidequests that you can undertake to earn equipment, consumable items, collectible music tracks and Materia. While it’s nice to have such additions in the Remake, a lot of these sections sadly feel like filler designed to pad out the run time and give you things to do to slow down the otherwise mostly unrelenting pace of the plot. With the exception of a mid-section sag, the story rarely lets up, and Cloud and co. usually have somewhere they need to get to quickly.

But the extra content doesn’t begin and end with sidequests. The character development and world-building have been given massive injections, even making the Avalanche trio of Biggs, Wedge and Jessie feel like important, fleshed-out characters. The writing totters on the edge of JRPG cheese only rarely (particularly after Aerith is introduced), but for the most part the script and delivery – especially from Cloud and Tifa – are on-point. Cloud himself is an almost inexplicably likeable protagonist, his dry delivery and no-nonsense attitude making him the perfect straight-guy foil for pretty much every other character, until his past catches up with him or he suffers a sudden bout of compassion that he quickly swallows down. His confidence in his abilities and the easy way he encourages others make him a natural, inspiring leader, even if he doesn’t want the job and would rather play the part of the callous mercenary to keep people, even childhood friend Tifa, at arm’s length. The story flows well, too, with clear villains and, of course, one of gaming’s most notorious antagonists in the menacing, almost spectral, Sephiroth, whose memory haunts Cloud even in his waking moments.

There are new side quests in the remake

A handful of new characters help to move the extra story along, and some beats you may remember are handled completely differently here. For instance, one of the most entertaining sections of the first half is in service of telling an old chapter in a new way.

If Final Fantasy VII Remake has a fault, it’s that, ironically, there’s simply too much of it. People worrying that they would get a short game because the story only covers the first few hours of the original are in for quite a surprise, but whether it’s a nice surprise or not will depend massively on your tolerance for obvious filler. There are story elements that have been added that didn’t need to be, some of which don’t yet make sense in this version of the world or in context with what I know happens in the original, but really that’s my only complaint. A lot of the non-combat sections are spent traversing to and fro on foot, and the odd environmental puzzle or deliberate diversion (usually rewarded with a Materia or item) make exploration not only essential but worth your time.

Aesthetically, it’s staggering at times. The city of Midgar and its environs have been imagined here in such detail that I found some of the vistas breathtaking – and not just because Square Enix so deftly conjure memories from my childhood. A sound-bite here, an image there, a line of dialogue, maybe. It creates an atmosphere that fans of the original will find unmistakable, and the effortless way the world mixes things that should seem ridiculous (Chocobos, for example, or many of the enemies) with a setting that feels tactile and tangible evokes the best moments of Final Fantasy XV.

 

I noticed some low-res textures here and there, but I think these are deliberate, given which textures they are: the inside of a grubby apartment door, the badge on a journalist’s arm that’s rarely ever in shot anyway, distant cityscapes that are there for backdrop purposes and scaling. Walking through the slums and districts of Midgar, you’ll spot few faces or outfits that are repeated, and hear few lines of dialogue on loop.

What you will hear, though, is an aural feast. The music, from the score to the district and character themes (all of which you can collect), is nothing short of spectacular. Sure, depending on your tastes, some of the tracks are take-it-or-leave-it, but the majority will conjure up memories for fans that money can’t buy.

I came into the Final Fantasy VII Remake as blindly as I possibly could. I had my memories of the original, of course, but they were heavily diluted by 23 years of playing other games. Yet there are so many subtle elements in the Remake that act like minute catalysts, like dew drops on morning flowers that make them open up to the sunshine again, tiny explosions of thoughts and feelings that fired my endorphins and had me smiling to myself before I realised why.

An image of Sephiroth from FFVII Remake

If you’re heading into Final Fantasy VII Remake as a newcomer, it’s fair to say you won’t pick up on these subtle hints, but what you will instead get is a brand new JRPG that arguably sets the bar for the genre. There is depth in the systems, though not, I suspect, enough to worry about things like build diversity; but the combat and story-telling, the in-engine cutscenes, the off-the-wall character and enemy design and the world itself are exceptionally well put-together.

Yes, it sags a little in the middle, and some of the sidequests feel like unnecessary busy-work, but I can’t fault the execution. I didn’t encounter a single bug, and at no point did I feel less than fully invested in the plight of Avalanche, the relationships between Cloud and Tifa or Cloud and Aerith, or the struggles of the people of Midgar.

Final Fantasy VII Remake is simply stunning. It’s a mesmerising video game from start to finish, and even in its many slower moments there’s humour to be found, or scraps of character, or Easter Eggs for the observant fan. It’s sadly not perfect, but it’s more than I could have hoped it would be, and a staggering masterclass in remaking something beloved for a new – and old – audience.

Positives

Incredible world and characters
Gorgeous aesthetic
Combat is spectacular

Negatives

Too much unnecessary padding
Occasional low-res textures

Editor Rating
 
Our Score
9.0

SCORE OUT OF TEN
9.0


In Short
 

Final Fantasy VII Remake is simply stunning, and a breath-taking masterclass in recreating something beloved for a new – and old – audience.

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  • July 29, 2020 at 2:42 pm

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  • August 3, 2020 at 10:00 am

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    Toru is sort of vaguely getting together with Amadeus, Or at least in the same general area as these dude; They arrived together, May as well stick together at some level. He’s already got a rum and coke looking at him, Which he stirs at occasions with a stir stick. Amadeus’s request ice cream gets a bit of a raised eyebrow from the token Japanese kid, Who turns to percieve his buddy with a look tinged with horror. “individual, That sounds like something a twelve year old would think is sensible,

    She was said to be meeting Jaiden here, He said to wear something cute and they’d wonderful. Arriving tons too early, Delia shies into the club behind several grouped regulars. She’s wearing a cornflower assymmetrical dress that’s a little too preppy for this place, But she got it at a thrift store so the redhead can just claim it’s retro. short jewerly, A bracelets and her crucifix. all of this is matched to a pair with soft pink ballet flats.

    sliding off the road up to the bar, She pulls a bit of her long hair behind her ear and clears her throat to get some involvement. Spying Mel at the bottom of the bar, She gives her a shy smile and a little bit of a finger wave as something meant for someone else is dropped in front of her. It’s alcohol amber in color. She just shrugs and hands over the bill, Fully intending on carrying the glass everywhere for the rest of the night.

    Dressed in a black suit following his studio recording during the day, He didn’t change, essential removing his tie, Brad gets into the goth bar, Poised to sing very off key the actual evening. His red shirt peeks out inside of the organization black of the suit jacket, Adding just a punch of colour and likely showing that he’s not actually a goth. Bradley Russo’s eyes scan the area for familiar faces. He spots Melissa and shoots her a glint of a smile; He’d provides her he’d be here. His eye brows furrow, at the same time, At the redheaded wierder sitting at the bar. He presses his lips into a charming smile and will touch the rest of his expression before stepping towards her, His black dress shoes peeking out under his dark pants with every calculated step.

    The strides are confident as he slides next to the redheaded girl and grasps her drink. With a quirk of a smile he brings it to his lips and swallows a swallow, wiggling his head as he does so. It’s his use now.

    A smug smile is shot your twenty something as he slips her a bill in return, “you gaze too young to drink, The policy is honest before he tacks on, “prepared meals? I just saved you from a life of pain and persevering. achievable to thank me in five years,

    For already having greater than a couple of shots of whiskey in him, Wes Smedley isn’t looking a lot better than he did when he started his evening.

    That’s the real issue with curfew. With everyone expected to be tucked away in their homes as early as nine, New York City has changed from the youthful city that never sleeps to the geriatric city that’s in bed the second Jeopardy and the Wheel are over with.

    Which means Smedley had to buy headstart on his drinking. Knowing that drowning his sorrows in a bottle couldn’t survive wise to do on his own, He was intelligent enough to fulfill Edgar Smythe at the Pelican. A few cocktails later, And he’s teaching the slightly younger man how to drive the yacht to being able to make it back across the Narrows and start a proper crawl.

    Tartarus is not the first venue on their intangible list, whether.

    The pair almost crash using the doors, along with Smedley, For all his alcoholic lubrication, Still not looking extremely pleased with the world around him. that might be because it’s already starting to get a bit fuzzy. “The hell kinda place so is this, Edgar, He manages to say without slurring too horribly. “S’bunch’uh weirdos, Goths and cowboys are rarely a good mix. But it’s adequately warm that Smedley has gone without his coat, which suggests he’s dressed in a dark t shirt and jeans. His boots aren’t of the tooled host, either a, Which is probably an excellent. Still there’s no lick of black cloth on him.

    Ling looks sorely out of place among an additional denizens of the bar, ones almost painted up goths, To the casual people in rockband t shirt, To the bartenders bhind the bar, Ling stands out from every one of them. Venue means little to her as she stands outside the bar, wearing black slacks and a black button up woth shirt, Arms crossed as she looks out over everyone else. She could there really be, in theory, To see precisely what the club is like, In teh event she actually follows through on all the talk of her becoming a business manager and marketing head for the company. to be sure, it turns out that of all nights, Melissa has decided to bring ehr by on karaoke night.

    If there’s most important factor she’s not doing sober, It’s vocal singing.

    Not much behind Amadeus and Toru is the short, tattooed form of one Keira Fionn. She doesn’t look as rough and tumble as she quite often does, fitness an adorable dark blue pinup style flapper dress, Which comments her pale tattooed skin (There are lots of tattoos on that woman!). Completing this are a pair of heels that may possibly suit a stripper, Which add a good five to six inches tall to her height. Her heels click in the grass of the bar as she follows behind Amadeus, Her arms crossed as she casts a slight frown around the room.

    Despite the stink eye she’s giving to everyone and my way through the goth bar, She stays dear to Amadeus and Toru, Completely wordless. She’s kinda creepy straight away, In all actuality. absolutely creepy, truly.

    anybody she not only knows, But likes set out to pile in, Melissa’s smile gets a full blown grin. Delia gets a nod and children’s finger wave, As does Russo when he wanders up to the redhead. But then she takes pity on the indegent Ling, looking over towards the woman. “You look like you’d like to be anywhere but here, She remarks, Before switching to Nadira and crooking a finger. “Tequila for my situation, hon, And other things Ling wants is on me. I’m hoping con her into joining the Tartarus family,

    “we dunno, S’Mel’s place Edgar’s grimace as he glances around at the goths is quite a picture. Cowboys and goths are similar to crude oil and water, install a carnie? It’s like tossing raw blood potassium into the mix. He stops short as a group of giggling black painted girls cut glued to them, His hand coming up and smacking Smedley in tummy to stop him from walking into them. indeed, Edgar just drawn a walking shortstop.

    Making his way up into bar, The juggler finds a spot near Melissa and sort of sneers as he looks for the bar. “this is often wha’ you do ‘ere? Ehm. You go’ anythin’ tha’ll drown the sadness of a man in pain? Sum’then like tha’ hooch’er wha’ever most certainly,

    Smedley grunts when he’s ground to a halt so short by Edgar’s hand, But it’s girls who walk past him that bear the brunt of his grimace, Even if they pay no attraction. Men like Smed’n’Ed are far from the common fare in a place like this. Still it provides bar. that is what matters. For when the worries get to worrisome, An old man’s vices be far, much too temptuous.

    He pours himself onto the stool at the side of Edgar and leans his weight on the bar via his arms, pulsating at the row of bottle behind Melissa. “Hoocher? I don’t give a shit the goals so long’s’it’s straight, plain, And full,

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    The speedster is certainly not Goth by any means her shock of white blond hair strikes a stark juxtaposition against all the black and purple and navy and scarlet, Though her skin is pale enough to fit in with the natives. She’s dressed up in a black mini dress yes, A dress with high black boots, Having might a charity event at a small museum where she finished a job an hour ago.

    Dark eyes skim the club and she looks a bit amused, as soon as she sees others even more out of place than she feels. “definitely, Mel, She calls across a group of people, looking at her tiptoes and then peeking behind someone who moves into her way again right as she tries to sidestep him. Daphne places hands on the goth’s shoulders, Moving him one foot to the side and points a finger at him. “hold, and knowning that, She moves to pass a between him and the bar, going to Melissa.

    “C’mon and perform bitches, i wish to hear you all make sweet sweet cheesy as hell muuuuuusic, Raquelle has arrived the man wears a black fedora at a jaunty angle to complete his look but he throws up horns when he throws up his arms and the boy’s got some pipes he’s loud before laughing and blowing a kiss to random people and making his way upon bar. “Goth’s vocal karaoke, i decided to never see the day I’m lying, I’ve seen this day before He leans on the bar, Elbows resting against light as he addresses the bartender. “Vodkatini baby, mwah, a big heads up A soft sigh. “I swear, The first gentleman to sing Tatu or Evanescence? I am lowering. I won’t even feel bad about it meets pale as milk skin, Meets for their own good It muttered before he turns to scan the area thoughtfully.

    there’s a frown of protest from the curly haired redhead that Russo just happened to save from the drink. “in addition! that is mine, Not meant to be a childish whine, But it sort of falls in the family. Slapping her give her mouth, Delia takes the bill with the other and eyes it remarkably. $50 with regard to $5 drink “Whoah THANKS uhm you realize what? we’re able to karaoke later, good.

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  • August 3, 2020 at 10:33 am

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    As of 1980 the college had produced 2,887 graduate nurses. the particular early years those graduates never had to pay any tuition. But the free education eventually gone away and by 1980 students had to pay a $4,125 tuition for the 33 month long university education.

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    “The jr high schools, Which have made such a seasoned contribution to nursing education, And simply to the care of patients, across the world are Abington Memorial Hospital, Bryn Mawr doctor’s, Gwynedd Mercy vocational school, Lankenau emergency room, Montgomery medical, Montgomery County community college, Pottstown Memorial the hospital and Sacred Heart Hospital, proceeds the chapter.

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    “Nurses worked 70 hours a week and discipline was severe. Not until 1933 was the project week reduced to 64 hours. At the request of the American Red Cross during World War I, a healthcare facility increased the size of the nursing school classes, pronounces “The Second Hundred changing times,

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    Eighteen nurses who had graduated from the Bryn Mawr School of Nursing served in the military during World War I. They were not the only Main Line nurses to do so.

    In nov of 1991, battle II Army nurses were honored with a special display at Hayes Manor on Belmont Avenue in Philadelphia.

    an exhibition case included dog tags, Personal pictures and more that came from the private collections of Mary C. Brennan associated with Bryn Mawr, A major making use of Army Nurse Corps; Jeannette Arthur of Ardmore who served as an army nurse reservist in the late 1950s; Ann Madden as to Merion, An Air Force start; and as well as J. maggie Ada Mutch of Wynnewood, A lieutenant colonel with your Army Nurse Corps, Which she signed up with in 1942.

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