Final Fantasy VII Remake has finally been released and it has been over two weeks since it’s release giving most of us ample time to play it. For new players, this game will be an experience in itself but for hardened veterans such as myself, we went in knowing much of the original game so we went in with our expectations pretty damn high. These are my thoughts on the Final Fantasy VII Remake, just be aware that spoilers are very much present going forward.
The characters are more fleshed out than I could ever imagine
After watching numerous trailers before the release of Final Fantasy VII Remake I knew of all the cast of characters I would meet with new characters and scenes being shown up till the final week. I also knew of key characters Biggs, Wedge and Jessie and how they would be having an overhaul in terms of character development and Square Enix has absolutely delivered on this. Heidegger, President Shinra, The Turks all have varying personalities that are as I would have exactly imagined them 23 years ago, the fact they make more of an appearance and their true intentions are felt more clearly this time and it really shows how evil Shinra really are.
The minor changes in the game do not hurt it in any way
Being a modern remake of a game that came out 23 years ago it isn’t always possible to keep certain aspects of the game the same. What Square Enix have done though is tweak certain parts and the results are amazing. For example, In the church after you meet Aerith there is a part where you have to save her. In the original, you would drop barrels onto Reno’s guards as you would have fought them off using Aerith if you missed or failed but that has changed slightly. The church now is overrun by the wandering spirits that have made a big appearance in the Remake already so the guardsmen aren’t able to get to her but you can monkey bar yourself across the top and cut the chandelier so it drops and scares off the guards and has them aiming at you instead.
The things we thought wouldn’t be here, are!
Many of us did wonder shortly after the E3 Announcement how would the Crossdressing scene be done and will ridiculous-looking enemies still be a thing? Our minds were put to rest after we saw numerous trailers of cloud donning a dress and having his make up done at the Honey Bee Inn. The whole dance scene was perfect, I am sure most like me were completely distracted by Clouds moves that we completely messed up the dance part with how well done it was. Some of the more ridiculous looking enemies are here also, Hedgehog Pie, Hell House, the poisonous Jar Heads in the Shinra Building all make an appearance in the remake.
The Music is arguably the best the series has to offer
I honestly do not know how I said that especially when every Final Fantasy game ever created has such great music. Before Final Fantasy VII Remake, my favourite soundtrack was from the Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers Expansion. Even though Masayoshi Soken wrote the music for Shadowbringers it is clear to say that all the composers are really turning the dial to eleven when it comes to modern Final Fantasy music. The music of Final Fantasy VII Remake includes the games original composer Nobuo Uematsu who wrote the new theme “Hollow”
Chapter 9 for me is when the music really kicked in for me, The Collapsed Expressway, this is when Cloud and Aerith take the route to go to Wall Market for the first time. This route has four different songs that play through the chapter as you are walking through the tunnel, two different battle themes one of which is a techno style remix of the original Wall Market theme that plays when you fight bandits, the other is also a techno style theme that plays when fighting normal enemies. The way that Square has incorporated the music into this chapter is unreal. It fits so well with the theme and while a couple of the tracks are new they kept originality here too.
Masashi Hamauzu and Mitsuto Suzuki who both worked on Final Fantasy XIII series worked on most of the music in the remake. While Final Fantasy XIII was not my favourite in the series the music for me was great, it was still not as good others in the series for me, the importance is clear though in the Final Fantasy VII Remake as not only is the music is grandeur, the composers have given it that style that they have adopted and refined to make Final Fantasy music the best it ever has been.
Final Fantasy VII Remakes music is superb that’s all I can say.
The City of Midgar is as I remember
From the moment I arrived at the reactor to when I left Midgar on the motorbike everything is as I remember it. The details of Midgar itself are amazing, we knew from the start that the upper part of Midgar is where the more wealthy citizens live while below is where the less privileged reside. This can be seen and felt ever so more clearly in the remake. While certain sectors look more upbeat and lively, Sector 5 is where the slums themselves are and it shows, as soon as you leave the church with Aerith you traverse the broken rooftops and traverse the roads where mass amounts of broken machinery lie. There is very little where growth resides in the undercity of Midgar but there are certain areas that really stand out from the depths of the slums such as the Shinra Building itself for example.
The flaws are minor
The game does have its flaws but they are minor. Aerial combat is something to be expected in the remake especially since aerial enemies have always been a key enemy in any Final Fantasy game. The trouble in the Final Fantasy VII Remake is that aerial combat is not the most fun experience in the game even though these fights are not often. When they do happen they can be a nuisance. I found most of these fights in the more contained areas making the camera act up especially when locked onto them, when you are fighting the Helitroopers is a good example of this. Not only does the camera act up but these enemies can fly out of bounds, unlike your party which are confined to the map which can be annoying when you are trying to physically build up an ATB charge, all you can do is wait and cast magic on them as soon as you are able to.
I like a challenge in a game as much as anyone who likes hard games. I do however have issues with the Hard Mode version of the game which unlocks after you finish the remake on Normal. The abundance of Gil and Items I now have are practically useless as I am not able to use either, Hard Mode is essentially Normal mode but with the inability to use Items (at all) and MP will not be restored on using a bench meaning you have to use magic to an absolute minimum. This to me doesn’t make the game hard, it makes it insane. Even some of the bosses have a few extra tricks up their sleeve which I would say is ok granted they should hit harder but allow you to use Items at the very least, save the inability to use Items and no MP restoration for a different mode (maybe Shinra 1st Class mode?) hell you can even take my Materia and HP restoration away for this new mode.
Overall my experience with the Final Fantasy VII Remake has been great, it has far exceeded my expectations, the storytelling, the gameplay and the music all together create an epic experience, one that I am only too glad to play once more.
The remake is already longer than the original full game. If the other parts in the series will be consistent in quality which I am certain they will be then the full experience will be worth it and create a full Final Fantasy experience that goes above and beyond anything we have ever seen.