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SummaryHey-hey, I saved the world again today!
The GoodYou know what´s funny?
Bob the Imaginary Gaming Friend: "What?"
It`s that I like the game, but now thinking about it it`s very hard for me to say anything good about it. Nothing comes into mind.
Bob: "Since you are the story kind of a guy, it probably was the story and characters."
But that`s the thing... I think I hated the story and I definitely hated the gameplay.
Bob: "Oh, well then... your guess is as good as mine."
But I don`t know... then again I loved the characters... actually I hated most of them... and the story was just basically save the planet.
Bob: "Perhaps it was the plot."
Yes. Thank you. It indeed was the plot... or the way it revealed itself that made it so fun and enjoyable. I now have played through 5 Final Fantasy games and therefore I can say that they all tell the same story, so their only strength lies in making the player forget that he is just saving the world again.
The plot starts somewhere in the middle, then reveals something from the beginning while constantly trying to confuse with over-abundance of information and only after the ending will you put all the pieces together.
Here is a brief introduction of the beginning: your playing a spiky-headed guy with a very big humongous sword who works for some terrorist organization, blowing up reactors and such. Life is good. You live in bar with Mr. T, his step-daughter and your busty childhood friend. Then on one mission things don`t go exactly as planned and voila! - the troubles start.
Oh, yeah... that busty childhood friend Tifa is definitely one of the highlights in the game. I very much enjoyed her badly pixelated boobs. Totally wah!
Bob: "You really like your anime girls, eh?"
Yeah... once you get past the super-deformed graphics all of the girls in the game are very enjoyable. They have... umm.... interesting personalities... yeah that`s right... well-defined characteristics. I only wish that there would be remake of FF7 so that I could enjoy their presence even more.
Back to the game. The plot and the girls do a good job of keeping you hooked. Considering how horrible the game itself was it was nice of the plot to throw surprises and cheesy revelations at you... it felt rewarding after all those 10000000 random battles and 100000 mini-games it took of you to make it into another story scene.
And I also liked Cloud. I very much bonded with him.
Bob: "That`s because he`s a schizophrenic like you. I guess hearing voices inside your head is all that it takes to form ever-lasting relationships."
I like hearing voices inside my head. It makes me feel special.
Speaking of voices, the music is pretty strong in this game. The emotional tunes work quite well and stay in your mind forever
I also liked the way the CGI movies were integrated into the game. Basically you have these characters standing on stale drawn background pictures but sometimes the background image switches with the CGI movie and it does it so smoothly... well it just looked cool how you running around switched with a CGI movie where you could still run around.
And the background images were also quite nicely drawn. Reminded me some of the early 90`s Sierra adventure games.
Well, I really don`t know what to say anymore. The plot was good and I really don`t want to say anything that would spoil it for you. Part of it`s strength lies in the unknowing.
Bob: "Oh, you mean like that Aerith..."
The BadWell, as I said before there was a lot that I hated about the game.
I totally hate random battles and FF7 doesn`t have just random battles... no... what FF7 has is: "Oh noes, another empty corridor with random combat after every three steps... please God, just kill me now". It was mildly irritating in the beginning, but after two weeks of playing I was ready to commit suicide.
Bob: "Why didn`t you?"
And rob you of your nice existence as voice inside my head? I could never live with the guilt.
Bob: "Technically, you wouldn`t be alive then."
Anyway, it`s as if the designers were thinking something like this when creating the game: "We with the guys were thinking that since FF-s are only played for their stories that we should just make the game full of places that you have to go where you always get imprisoned and then we will force you to fight with some weird-looking boss (with lots of random combat in between), whom we will make extra-hard to beat.... just for the sake of torturing the player... and wait, it get`s even better, and then we will let the player discover with an especially cool plot twist that all that forced waste-of-time nonsense had nothing to do with the story anyway... ain`t we brilliant?"
Needless to say, it gets tedious if not life-strength devouring very fast.
Bob: "Tell me how the battles looked like."
What? What do you mean by "how battles looked like"?
Bob: "How did it felt fighting monsters?"
How did it felt? Didn`t I already say how much I suffered because of the random battles? They looked flashy. They felt stupid: "Oh my god... that extra secret summoning materia did 568976 damage on that poor little monster. Wasn`t it good to spend 124142 hours of my life to get that extra cool damaging thingie and see this unbelievably rocking animation."
Basically... the only thing you need to do in battles is to kill monsters.
Bob: "Thank you captain Obvious!"
And it wasn`t just combat. The game suffers from "Mini-games-at-every-corner" syndrome.
Bob: "Poor game... so badly in need of psychological help."
Yeah, my point exactly. There are stupid annoying mini-games everywhere... sometimes 10 in a row. Here`s an example - you are in maze, you see locked door, to get to that locked door you have to go through a mini-game of dodging boulders, after passing that you see a funny guy who has the key to the door, to get that key you must chase him, etc.
There was even a California Games style snowboarding in it... right after the famous emotional death scene. It might be just that I have a good sense of style...
Bob: "Hardly true."
.. but in my opinion, if your going to make a game with serious story then you don`t put silly mini-games in your game... especially before and after emotional scenes.
Bob: "Let me put it this way... would you have had random battles instead of those mini-games?"
Well the thing is that the mini-games and random battles mostly happened at the same time. I really would do without both... but I`ll take mini-games of chasing funny midgets and pressing lots of buttons very fast over random battles everyday.
But Final Fantasy 6 for example managed to do without those silly mini-games. And it didn`t lose anything because of it. And I think thanks to it it even had better pacing than FF7.
And the pacing is one of the bad things in FF7. It takes too long to get from one place to another. This game is filled with long unnecessary locations with hundreds of mini-games and battles thrown into your way. It just takes too long to get from one story scene to another. It only manages to grieve the player.
And there are other reasons why I hate the mini-games in this game. The game starts in an extremely cool cyberpunkish city called Midgar. It`s recent technological advancements have destroyed the nature around it. The rich people live on the floating sphere and the poor people underneath it. A simple thing like flowers are a unusual sight in these days. Everything in Midgar was beautiful. The cold futuristic atmosphere, old abandoned churches with flowers growing in it, colorful brothels, etc. But after Midgar the game introduces silly colorful locations such as the Gold Saucer... an amusement park dedicated to mini-gaming. I missed the cyberpunkish feel of the first few hours. It never returns.
Somehow I never quite could put together the game and the overall storyline in my head. The stuff that happens in the plot is mostly quite serious (with a few unintentionally funny scenes here and there): stuff like schizophrenia, death of loved ones, revenge, human experiments, selective memory, etc. But the game ruined the seriousness with the mini-games and the old guys who live in caves and who`s sole purpose is to tell you how much monsters you have killed. That`s not what I would call deep genre-defining gameplay.
Bob: "So let me get this straight. Either the story lacks sense of self-irony or the game lacks sense of good taste?"
Hmm... now you got me thinking... I think I wouldn`t have minded the silly stuff so much if the writing would have been done in a more tongue-in-cheek approach. Actually yeah, sense of self-irony is quite needed when your telling a tale about saving the planet or universe. Just take Anachronox for example. It constantly parodied itself and managed to have emotional scenes also. So the serious storyline might also be bit faulty.
But still... you don`t put mini-games of repeatedly pressing button X and chasing of funny midgets in game with such a melancholical storyline.
And the dialogue... oh my god the dialogue... how horrible it was. Well thankfully the characters were designed so that they`d scream out their personalities by with their looks only... but still. It seems that the all the characters in FF7 have an unfathomable need to speak out their body sounds: "Blurrppp. Oy-oy-oy! We must save the planet! For future generations! Hmpf!". And that`s only under-exaggerating.
Bob: "Perhaps the designers intended the style of the dialogue to be that much needed self-irony for this game."
That was not self-irony. That was just plain horrible banality.
Bob: (waits patiently for the traditional soundtrack bashing in Winterwolf`s reviews)
The soundtrack... Sweet Mary have mercy! While it did have some strong emotional great tracks, it was mostly filled with annoying loopy oompa-doompa tunes. I still hear the battle music in my nightmares. As I said before, the music in this game is quite strong, which is not always a good thing.
The Bottom LineBob: "It still sounds like you hated the game though."
I didn`t... I liked it... but I just couldn`t ignore the bad things, considering what suffering I went through because of them. And this game can`t excuse itself by saying that it intentionally was so horrible like Shin Megami Tensei II could. There is a small difference in intentional and unintentional torture. Unlike SMT 2, this game wanted to be fun.
Bob: (surfs around in gamefaqs and other similar sites): "You shouldn`t feel so sorry for the game... it seems that most of the world considers it to be a fun game."
Bob: "And hey, it`s even praised as the greatest game ever created in all times."
Bob: "And some say, that I should worship Sephiroth and die.... hmm... probably some sicko."
No matter how many people love this crappy gameplay doesn`t change the fact that it`s crappy. If your ever going to play a FF game you should be prepared. I wasn`t and look what happened to me.
Bob: "To those who can`t see Winterwolf: it`s not a pretty sight. It seems as if he literally tore out his hair and his face is horribly disfigured."
If you ever want to play a FF game I would recommend the sixth - much better pacing, less flashy combat, almost no mini-games - knows how to do save-the-world stories with glamour.
If you are only going to play one Japanese RPG in your life then I would recommend Persona 2 - a psychological thriller that knows the word style.
But if you really want to try FF7 then... well play so far until you get the feel of the characters... if you don`t like the characters then don`t bother playing anymore... if you like the characters then it`s going to be a one helluva journey through different emotions for you.
Bottom Line: I hated the game, I loved the story. I will treasure some of the scenes in the game forever in my heart. And I kinda already miss Cloud and the company... but noway am I going to play the game again.