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Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.7
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Written by  :  DreinIX (9422)
Written on  :  May 10, 2008
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Summary

“Gift of the Goddess”

The Good

Ok, I’m starting by saying that I didn’t want to relate the word gift with Crisis Core and the word goddess with Square-Enix but if you feel like doing so go ahead. I just took the phrase from within the game because I liked the sound of it. Now that we got that straight let me fill you in a little.

Plot: Being a prequel to FF7 it covers the events that happened 5 years prior to it up to the point where the events of FF7 are about to take place. The story revolves around Zack Fair, a SOLDIER who is assigned with missions around the world on account of Shinra. The introduction to the Crisis Core world starts with the Wutai War and like Zack’s love for Aeris that were simply mentioned in FF7, here are given a more significant role but still take only a small portion of the game’s story. The major part of the story has to do with human experiments, the Nibelheim Reactor incident and what follows it.

Characters: The game introduces new characters like Genesis – a 1st class SOLDIER who constantly quotes lyrics from a certain poem, Hollander – a Shinra scientist who’s responsible for some not so noble experiments and Cissney – a member of the Turks – the cutest one I might add, to name a few. And there are also the familiar characters that return from FF7 but without assuming any leading roles. They’re most like the surrounding cast of the game’s protagonist but at least some of them like Cloud and Sephiroth play a more vital role to the main story. And that leaves Zack whom I left to the end because I think he fits both categories. He is a familiar face but at the same time a newly introduced character since his personality was not further explored up until the current game came to life. From Cloud’s flashbacks in FF7 and FF: Advent Children I did create an image of him as that of a noble figure. An image that was greatly spoiled when I played the game at first and saw that he’s more like an impatient and impulsive brat who has yet to experience the real world. At least he was like that at first. I was glad to see that after some events that took place in the game he got closer to what my original image of him was.

Gameplay: Crisis Core is basically an action rpg but don’t let that put a smile on your face cause battles are random. Concerning the frequency of battles though, I noticed that when you are closer to the side of the path you’re walking, instead of the centre, the frequency of encounters drops drastically. I still haven’t figured out whether this was due to coincidence or not but either way you may wanna try it.

In the battle screen at the bottom right you have an Attack option at the beginning and an Item option at the end. While these don’t change, between them you can have up to any 4 Materia (6 later) from the ones that are in your possession. You use L, R to scroll through these and press X to confirm. You can also press the Square button to evade an enemy’s attack and Δ to defend yourself. At the bottom left corner of the screen there are the HP, MP and AP meters. Yes, there is an AP meter. This time and unlike FF7 your yellow Materia (abilities) need AP to execute. Apart from ability Materia like Jump (same as Freya’s and Kain’s ability from FF9 and FF4 respectively) there are magic Materia like Fire, Blizzard and Thunder, enhancing Materia like HP Up and Mag Up and other types of Materia along with a plethora of equipable accessories. You can’t change weapons in this game but it doesn’t really matter plus there’s a very good reason for it. OK, back to the battle screen now. Apart from the things I mentioned there is also the newly introduced DMW feature that stands for Digital Mind Wave. DMW is a feature that adds the factor luck to the battle and it’s always to your advantage. It works like this. On the upper left corner of the screen you see something that resembles a slot machine. This “slot machine” has pictures of certain characters you’ve met inside the game and numbers. If certain conditions are met you may have effects such as “No MP Cost” or “No AP Cost”. If you get 2 matching characters the slots will cover the entire screen and depending on where they stop you’ll get different effects. If you get 3 matching pictures of a character/summon then Zack will execute a Limit Break that may damage the enemy, heal him, etc. (depends on the character’s picture). When the slots with the pictures stop, numbers from 1 to 7 also appear. Numbers 1 to 6 correspond to a matching Materia slot. For example if you have Fire to Materia slot number 3 and you get twice number 3 then the Fire Materia will level up. If you get all 7 then Zack will level up. Don’t try to find a way to manually trigger these as they’re totally random. Later in the game you can buy items that increase the chances of executing a Limit Break.

Apart from battles the game offers er…more battles (?!). Yeah, that’s right. There are countless missions accessed via the Menu that you can do which are basically battles. The concept behind some of them is pretty cool actually but sadly failed in execution. For example you may have finished a part of the main story and moved on to the next one and a mission appears that tries to further explore the part of the main story that you just finished. As I said though the concept failed in execution because there are no cutscenes or dialogue during most of these missions, only a small briefing before you decide to do it. So missions are mostly for you to get new accessories, rare items and Materia and range from Very Easy to Very Hard.

The game also has a “Materia Fusion” feature. As the name implies Materia Fusion lets you choose two Materia and fuse them together to create one with enhanced attributes or one that is completely new. For example if you fuse a Lv.1 Fire with a Lv.1 Blizzard you will get a Lv.1 Thunder with a Mag+1 attribute that is added to your stats if you equip it. To complete the fusion you’ll also need an amount of SP points that you can get by defeating opponents.

Music: The game’s world is mostly filled with rock tunes. It definitely works for most of the occasions, especially for the action-based battles, but gives the game a cool feeling rather than emotional. There are still some acoustic stuff and some fine melodies thrown in though. My favourites themes are the theme that plays on “Church in the Slums” and the one that plays on “Gongaga – Outskirts”. There are also old themes from FF7 remixed for the – I don’t know – third, fourth time? Anyway, these are nice additions too.

The Bad

The game is a big spoiler to FF7. As is FF7 to this game. Depending on which game you’ve played first there are great chances that the other one will be ruined because of that. If you haven’t played any of these yet take my advice. Don’t play Crisis Core first just because it is a prequel. It doesn’t matter in this case and trust me you really don’t want to spoil FF7. Another good reason for playing FF7 first is that Crisis Core doesn’t really fill any gaps. It may be a prequel but it’s not like it was planned from the beginning. Everything that needs to be explained in FF7 is perfectly explained there.

Something else that has to do with Sephiroth and I didn’t like is that everything that made this character unique in FF7 is now "stolen" from other characters in Crisis Core. It’s not like he has the same personality as other characters within the game but there are characters that share same “traits” as him, something that I didn’t expect and didn’t want to see. Unfortunately I can’t go into further details cause they’ll be taken as spoilers (actually they are). Of course, you shouldn’t let that scare you. It’s only a subjective opinion that comes from the first play-through. Chances are a second play-through will make me see things differently. Well, maybe not.

As with other FF and games in general the eternal crisis called linearity is back. You’ll only be able to go where the plot dictates you and surprisingly the game still manages to have certain parts that are really frustrating, which only makes it worse.

Other problems are mostly trivial and include things like bad camera rotation (depending on where your character stands) and an irritating voice that you hear every time the battle initiates and ends.

The Bottom Line

Honestly I don’t know. But I have pretty good reasons to believe that Square-Enix is trying to pass a whole new genre in the industry. The “casual rpg” genre. You’ll probably ask, can a rpg be casual? Well, seems like Square-Enix has found the recipe. Games that belong in that genre usually have a good - from many aspects - story but without leaving a major impact to the player, controls that are easy to get used to and a duration of 20 hours or below. OK, I’m exaggerating. But I really wouldn’t put Crisis Core and FF7 in the same league. I liked parts of its story but not so much as a whole. Still, knowing certain events beforehand, I couldn’t help but sympathize with the characters, especially Zack and especially when the game was near the end so maybe I’ll give the game some extra points because of that and also because overall it’s a fun game to play.