Written by  :  Guy Chapman (2001)
Written on  :  May 07, 2008
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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You Are My Living Legacy....

The Good

Of all of the 12 present Final Fantasy entries (of the main series), Final Fantasy VII struck a resonant chord that surpassed even the most beloved entries of the series. In this case, a sequel has begat multiple sequels within itself.

Crisis Core is an integral, important chapter of the Final Fantasy VII lore, more so than any other film or game entry in the compilation. This title works as the missing pieces to an 11 year old puzzle that finally constructs the bigger picture fans have been wanting to know for years. Is it a worthy entry, or does it thrust the "facts" in your face haphazardly like the Star Wars movie prequels?

George Lucas could have learned a lot from this one....

Leave it to Square to make a character that was little more than a lightly referenced cameo appearance into a fully realized and likable character. Zack is very different than FFVII's Cloud, being cocky, impatient, light-hearted, eager, with a real sense of empathy and involvement in what happens around him. In that regard, knowing Zack's inevitable fate makes it all the more bittersweet upon reaching the conclusion.

As with any Final Fantasy title, the emphasis on story, music and graphics take priority here. As a PSP title, the game is gorgeous, easily being one of the best-looking titles to grace the system to date. This comes from the usually high-quality CG cutscenes that litter this title, to even the in-game engine, which is filled with numerous "oohs" and "aahs". Seeing familiar places from the original FFVII title is a real treat, but the new locales are just as, if not more so, stunning.

The music again pushes into a "great" category. Several classic themes are remixed for this title, and are well-done, but this score also brings some great new themes to the series. I wasn't too sure about the "hard rock" music for the battles at first, but it fits Zack's personality.

The story is.... As I said earlier, the puzzle is finally revealed, with character motivations and histories presented in a way where you can literally feel the pieces sliding into place, until by the end everything becomes clear. Characters re-introduced are not throw-away cameos and actually have relevance to the story. New characters such as Angeal, Genesis and Lazard blend in well with the established continuity. Sephiroth is presented as a hero that he was once referenced to, and his change into the main antagonist of FFVII becomes all to clear as to why.

The story itself has some much needed "light" moments, but there are numerous tragedies that Zack faces that are so well played out, they become emotional, and tragic. But this is a more personal story, being the chain of events in Zack's personal life that lead up to FFVII, and less of a "save the world" game. The characters are all that more compelling and believable by some top-notch voice acting.

The game controls well, with Zack doing what you need to (the control scheme feels very Kingdom Hearts), and there are numerous side missions that extend the life of the title, and provide some useful items. Combat has a new DMW (Digital Mind Wave) feature, that allows for summons and assists like a slot machine, adding diversity to the hack, slash, spell, and item heavy combat.

The Bad

As great as this game is, there are a few unavoidable issues.

The game itself is very linear and short. It is very Point A to Point B in its telling, which in many ways, the side missions feel like an artificial way of extending the playtime. They're not bad, but you can level yourself up very quickly without the use of hugely powerful weapons and materia and can still beat the game. If you've played Final Fantasy VII, you know what's going to happen, all the way to the end, but it's still presented in an interesting manner.

Gameplay is also a little simple, and many battles are easy by simply pressing the "Attack" button over and over. If you've played Kingdom Hearts, then you'll relate to the comparison. This isn't to say that it's bad, but it's certainly not very diverse.

Missions also seem to get a bit repetitive. It's a great way to power up and get rare items, but they do little to enhance the overall story. If you do them, great. If not, other than a few side comments, you won't be getting this whole new part of the story.

The Bottom Line

Crisis Core is a title that has made me look upon the PSP in a whole new light, and I would go as far as saying that it is a "must have" title if you own the system. It's a beautiful game in graphics and story, reaching a level of emotional depth I've not experienced in a portable title before.

Square still knows how to spin a good yarn, and this is not a cheap cash-in on a popular title. I would consider it an integral part of the Final Fantasy VII mythos, and due to the nature of the ending, I would strongly encourage anyone who plays this to see it through to the end, as it ended in a genuinely moving way, and sets up for the future.

To put it this way: If a certain scene from FFVII had triggered an emotional response from you, you will find something similar here.

Despite a few issues in difficulty and repetition, Crisis Core is a well-crafted tale, and a remarkable portable title. The graphics and sound will draw you in, and the story will keep hold of you.

Highly recommended, and easily one of the best PSP titles of 2008.