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SummaryDoesn't hold up to its own legacy.
The GoodBack in the day this game must have been a technical masterpiece. The background renderings are very well made, are overflowing with interesting detail and allow fascinating viewpoints. The quality of the special effects and FMV are outstanding and especially the almost seamless transitions between game graphics and cutscenes is still impressing.
Final Fantasy VII does everything in its power to not bore its players: there is a big variety of tasks, the difficulty is low and it has a fast pacing. There are no dungeons which overstay their welcome (even the final dungeon doesn't take long to beat) and the game quickly sends the party to new places with different background scenarios. This creates a game which is hard to abandon because it lays enough obstacles in the player's way to stay interesting without becoming actually hard.
The BadThe story devolves into esoteric mumbo jumbo after the initial Midgard part, but it is basically fine. However, the dialogue - or at least the English translation - is terrible. It is stilted, unnatural and not even two consecutive dialogue boxes are guaranteed to match each other. I can't overstate how much this hurts the playing experience, especially because there are many too long sequences of endless talking.
I praised the rendered backgrounds, but they also come with a huge setback: they are often confusing to navigate. The character design is all over the place: during gameplay, the characters are crude figures while the battles show relatively realistic models - and the cutscenes freely switch between the two. I don't have a problem with both approaches, but they should have chosen one and stuck with it - as it is now, the clash ruins the immersion.
FFVII has a lot of mini-games of varying importance. Some are just simple reaction tests during the story while others have deep mechanics behind them. However, there is one aspect which connects all of them: they are unfun shit with bad controls. I neither have any appreciation for the people who designed this filth nor for all the people which let them get away with it. Kudos to everyone who has the patience to actually figure out Chocobo breeding, but seriously, the one awful mandatory race during the story should drive away every sane person.
The 2013 Steam version is a technical nightmare. The game crashed and freezed all the time (sometimes it even crashed Windows) and the controller support is nonexistent. It is only thanks to some community configurations that this game can be actually played, despite the inconvenient implementation into Steam.
The Bottom LineThanks to its graphical bombast and its status as first Final Fantasy for the 3D generation, FFVII has become one of the most treasured playing experiences of many gamers. This and its influence can't be denied, but unfortunately the quality of the game does not hold up to its legacy.
In the end, FFVII is a crude mix of competing concepts which never manages to form a cohesive experience. The game can't decide if it wants to be a goofy morning cartoon or a gritty afternoon serial. Everything it does right is marred by various drawbacks. Because of all these problems it is weaker than its SNES predecessors (with the exception of FFV) and I can't recommend it.