Final Fantasy 7 Remake Full Review - I have thoughts. (spoilers at the end)

CritialGaming

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As many long time Escapist Magazine Forum goers will know, Final Fantasy 7 is my favorite game of all time bar none. I've made several threads in the old forum in regards to the Remake, from the announcement to several update threads every time we got a new trailer. To say I have been excited for this release is an understandment. I have clocked 47 hours in the game over the last 2 and a half days, completing the story and every side quest the game has to offer leaving only hard mode the last remaining challenge that I intend to tackle the moment I finish this review. Which might serve as a review in itself considering I've eager to go back to the game after literally just completing it.

However I feel like reviewing this is gonna be a bit more complicated than that. So let's break it down and review the easy parts first.

Graphics:
The game is breathtakingly beautiful for the most part.If you've seen the trailers you know just how good this game CAN look.Unfortunately the game is very problematic in this regard. The world itself as you play is littered with insane amounts of extremely low quality textures and assets. Outside of the main cast, the side NPC's, the ground textures, walls, clutter, and scenic elements seem to struggle to load.

I think this is a big more than anything though. I think the PS4 system simply can't load the assets fast enough, so instead it only partially loads them and hopes the player doesn't notice. Though even when lingering in an area textures will kinda pop it but never fully load. It's a strange thing that I believe can be fixed in a patch or for sure when the game gets ported to PC.



Quite frankly, if it weren't for the asset loading issue, this might be the best looking game ever made. Or made so far. It's gorgeous and the moments when everything works, the game is incredible to watch.

Thankfully in combat this isn't an issue, things like magic effect, particals of impacts, and the sheer beauty of the characters in motion is a sight to behold. I found myself struggling in some fights because I was so busy staring at the animations in awe that I forgot to keep playing. It's that damn good looking.


And credit to Square on optimization because I don't think I ever dropped a frame, at least nothing I noticed and I played on a base PS4.

Combat and Gameplay:

Again I have to give the game nothing but praise here, combat in FF7R is unbelievably fun and probably the best JRPG combat that has ever been put into a game. The action combat is just a thin blanket that covers the real depth of the TURN-BASED action system.The action is there to give players something to do to fill there ATB meter before using those ATB segments (of which each character gets up to 2 at any given time) you spend them to perform just about any action other than basic attacks and blocking. Which includes all magic and items. In this game if you are on the ropes and you have no ATB you cannot take any healing actions what-so-ever. This was something that had been a problem in FF15 where you could literally pause combat and instantly chug a potion to heal any party member. Not here. Your ATB is your lifeline and you need it for everything.



Because of this, you really have to think about the actions you are performing with every character at all times. Characters learn abilities from different weapons and collect those abilities as you use them. Once mastered you keep the ability even after changing to a different weapon. Mastering weapon abilities is how you expand the list of things your characters can do in combat (aside from equipping different magics) And every ability has a purpose. Some build stagger meter on the enemies, a mechanic that was hated in FF13 but given a much more toned down effort here, some deal burst damage, and some abilities increase your mobility or quickly juke an attack. Each character has a very different set of mechanics and abilies as well. No two characters have the same system, nor the same purpose in battle.

Barrett, for example, has a mix of utility abilities and offensive ones. For example he can increase his defense, but then he can also pull a % of the damage dealt to other party members directly to himself instead. This allows you to force him to take the majority of the punishment and thus you can have Aerith focus her healing upon him because you know where the damage is gonna go. However it's not that simple, as fights are much more dynamic than that and there is plenty of damage to go around.

You have to swap on the fly to every character over the course of a fight, either to just give them commands or to take control of them directly for a while to attack in a specific way or just for a change of pace.

The only place where the combat system falters is that the other two characters you are not directly controlling don't do much. The AI is not very good, and they mostly just block and try to minimize the damage they take. Which is helpful in a way but it also doesn't really build their ATB, so if you need a character ability in a pinch it might not be there for you if you aren't actively swapping. Admittedly this is a minor gripe, because the game wants YOU to control everything and if the AI was good, then it would feel like the game was not only playing itself, but that you also didn't have to plan ahead to use everyone's abilities. This dumb AI promotes the player to rapidly swap through all party members all the time, treating the game much more like a turn based system than the game appears. Like I said, the action combat look is a very surface level deal.

You must, swap to cloud activiate Braver, jump to Barrett before the animation even begins and use Focus Blast, jump over to Aerith to Pray, back to Cloud for basic attacks to build the meter back up. And over and over this goes, with each character ending up with 4-7 different abilities by the end of the game on top of several magic spells, limit breaks, and summons. The magic only adds even more management to this because you can completely customize the materia for every character with each character usually being able to have 7 or so different materia equipped.

Which brings me to the enemies themselves. Every single enemy in the game (114 different enemies in total including bosses of which there are 21) behaves differently, and some have quirks that you must figure out to overcome. Ghost enemies will vanish after taking a few physical hits for a couple moments before appearing near a character for a surprise attack.

If you seen the demo, then you've seen the first boss of the game, the robot scorpion. This boss has different phases with cinematic transitions that jump it between several different behaviors throughout the fight. I'm pleased to report that EVERY boss is like this, cutscenes will play that both change up the bosses tactics as well as give you a well needed breather in a lot of cases. While it might seem to be nothing more than spectacle, and it partly is, what it really does is give you a brief moment to get your barrings again as most of these fights are nuts. And they are all fun.





Story:

Ok......so here's the thing with this.

This is a Remake of a 23 year-old game. We know the story and we know that this game is such a tiny tiny part of the greater FF7 whole. The big question everyone had was, "How the hell are they going to expand this to make a full sized game?" And the answer to that is.....they didn't.

Look the story that is here is great. But they didn't really expand on Midgar or the story at all. At best, they filled in the blanks that you didn't get to see in the original game. They give you more character moments and some extra things to do between the bigger story beats. But the key moments that happen in Midgar are still just about all that happen there. Where the expanded run-time comes from is that everything is voice acted and full animated so huge sections that were just a bunch of text in the original are full on watched movies, which takes longer than just reading.

Now look the gameplay sections are more realized, you aren't traversing a 2D backdrop anymore, you are moving through full 3D environments and they took the liberty of putting exploration and puzzle elements in these sections to make it feel like more of a journey than going from point A to B. There are no random encounters to slow you down either, every battle is basically a set obstacle in your path which keeps the pacing in these sections done well as they give the characters enough time to banter with each other.

And character is what this game does best. I'd say that this first part of the Remake has one job, and that's to make you love these characters. A job it does beautifully. You'll love the cast by the end, and you'll want more.

Final Fantasy 7's story has an interesting beginning with just the Midgar section. If you take that slice of the original game and look at just that part, you have what is probably the most grounded Final Fantasy story ever told. Shinra is a evil corporation and you are part of a group trying to stop them. It's a pretty realistic goal for a Final Fantasy game, a series which end up having you kill God at the end.


That sort of doesn't happen here, but also happens kinda?



People who are fans of the original already are on edge because of the overuse of Sephiroth within the Remake. Sephiroth doesn't appear at all in the original game anywhere in Mdigar and the game only references him here and there. I will say that there is far less Sephiroth in the Remake than people might think. Sure he does appear very early in the game, and it's played up as kind of fan service as it hints at events and scenes that don't happen until well after the Midgar chapter is over. I get the feel that the Development team knew they had to put Sephiroth in, not only because he is one of the most famous villains in video game history but also because you couldn't do a full FF7 game without him somewhere. That being said, his inclusion is actually very well done. Fans of the original game will like all the future events that are hinted at, while newcomers to the story will be left in wonder as to what it's all about. Honestly I think it was a good balance and a nice compromising way to use the character without really leaning on him.

Alright I have to go into spoilers here so only read this if you don't give a shit about them or have already beaten the game yourself



Noruma has a habit of trying to overcomplicate stories, he did it with FF13, FF15, and of course Kindom Hearts. Of course he does it here as well, with the shadow things you've seen in the trailers. These spectors are extremely confusing entities in the game because there are several sections in the game where they attack you, and come across as enemies. However towards the climax they do a lot to help you. It's explained that they are Watchers of Fate their role is simply to make sure that people continue on their fateful path. Which means stopping someone from doing something that would change their fate, or saving someone from dying too early. It's kind of a blurry bullshit line that really is stupid and the events of the game could have happened without them existing completely.

This is typical Nomura, these Watchers of Fate have no purpose but to make the story feel more complex than it is or that it should be.

Then there is the ending. Unlike some harsh people on the internet, I don't think the ending is terrible, but I do think it is unnecessary. You are not trying to escape Midgar like the original, but instead are trying to chase Sephiroth.....or more accurately Jenova. This ending is overly complicated because, while it does make sense to someone who's played and understood the original game, it makes no sense to someone who is new to this universe.Who are the robes guys, why to they look like Sephiroth sometimes, but other times don't? If you played the original you know it is because Shinra used alien DNA to experiment and try to make Sephiroth clones. However most of these experiments failed leaving shambling people as a result, but when the Alien Jenova escapes from the Shinra building, she uses these husks of people by tapping into her DNA that lies within them to something called the Reunion. Cloud is part of these husks though a much stronger attempt, Jenova uses the Sephiroth form to lead Cloud and his friends around the world to serve her desires.

I guess it ends up being an interesting compromise right? These sparks and hints are good, if a bit too complicated for a new comer, and they do allow them to throw in a big ending fight to cap off the first game. It could be worse, but it probably could have been done better.



Ultimately I'm very happy with what they did, but I'm also a bit sad. Because the characters are done so well here, and the story leads you on this great hook, you get to the end and it just.....ends but not really. You know there is more and it feels a bit of a bummer to not be able to continue. Top that off with a big fat ???? as to when the next game could come. Another 5 years?



My hope is that this game can be a jumping off point for the dev team and allow them to create the next part at a much faster pace than this game took.



When this Remake is all over.....I think it could be one of the greatest RPG sagas of all time easily.


Anyway have you played it? What did you think? Do you have any questions that I didn't cover? Ask away!
 

Hawki

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CritialGaming said:
I have clocked 47 hours in the game over the last 2 and a half days,
That's like...47 hours of playtime over 60 hours of day time.

Christ man, don't you sleep? 0_0
 

CritialGaming

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Hawki said:
CritialGaming said:
I have clocked 47 hours in the game over the last 2 and a half days,
That's like...47 hours of playtime over 60 hours of day time.

Christ man, don't you sleep? 0_0
Quarantine has done terrible things to me. The only plus was how much i was able to do nothing but play Remake :)
 

Dalisclock

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I'm glad to hear this game is pretty good though I'm still concerned about the whole issue of not knowing when FF7:EP2 will be out(or when it was planned for, because it's no doubt delayed now) and how much each episode will cover. They turned the first 5 or so hours of the original into a 30-40 hour game(which is basically a full sized FF in itself) so I'm dreading how long this entire process is going to take.

I'm sure I'll get it for Crimmis and play it next year, at very least. I'm just not feeling a massive rush because I know we're not gonna see the next episode for a while. It's basically the same reason I haven't been rushing GRR Martin books, because I know we'll have plenty of time to catch up...because Winter is(always) coming.
 

CritialGaming

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They?ve stated the following parts won?t take as long [https://gamerant.com/final-fantasy-7-remake-parts-development-time-shortened/] because they?ve built the baseline for the project already.

Anyways, happy to hear you enjoyed the game of your dreams (again). Perhaps try to get some more sleep now before tackling hard mode though, eh?
 

CritialGaming

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hanselthecaretaker said:
They?ve stated the following parts won?t take as long [https://gamerant.com/final-fantasy-7-remake-parts-development-time-shortened/] because they?ve built the baseline for the project already.

Anyways, happy to hear you enjoyed the game of your dreams (again). Perhaps try to get some more sleep now before tackling hard mode though, eh?
Actually im tackling another normal mode in order to max all the materia, character levels, and materia. I wanna be as strong as possible before tackling what I've heard is a pain in the ass difficulty. I'll sleep eventually.
 

Dalisclock

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hanselthecaretaker said:
They?ve stated the following parts won?t take as long [https://gamerant.com/final-fantasy-7-remake-parts-development-time-shortened/] because they?ve built the baseline for the project already.
I hope that's the case. Unfortunately, I can think of other games where they did have the baseline done in the first game/part and the followup parts still took a surprisingly long time(ie Broken Age, Kentucky Route Zero).
 

dscross

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Thanks for the detailed and helpful review. It was actually quite measured considering how much love you have for the original.

I'm still not sure what to make of it - some of it sounds brilliant, actually, some of it sounds stupid. I might play through the original again first before I decide whether or not to pick it up. The fate ghosts sound ridiculous to me. If FF7 fans couldn't deal with time compression and Ultimecia at the end of FF8 I don't see why they'd like something EVEN MORE convoluted in an already established storyline.
 

CritialGaming

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dscross said:
Thanks for the detailed and helpful review. It was actually quite measured considering how much love you have for the original.

I'm still not sure what to make of it - some of it sounds brilliant, actually, some of it sounds stupid. I might play through the original again first before I decide whether or not to pick it up. The fate ghosts sound ridiculous to me. If FF7 fans couldn't deal with time compression and Ultimecia at the end of FF8 I don't see why they'd like something EVEN MORE convoluted in an already established storyline.
I really wanted to make sure my bias towards the material didn't factor into the review. I wanted to give the game all the critique I could think of, especially in regards to what other people might not like and give a fair warning about it.

One thing I really didn't mention about the game was just how many little things reference the original game. Tiny details, character comments, even items, that all appear mundane to someone who isn't familiar with the original or isn't HARDCORE into the original, but to someone like me who understands all the references and future plot points that are hinted at....Man I LOVED that shit.

And let me tell you something else.

I've never played a game that had me grinning from ear to ear one moment and crying with emotion the next, over and over and over again. My time with the game has been a delight from the moment it began, to.....well im still playing it. I can't remember if i have EVER played a game immediately again after just finishing it. I didn't even turn the game off after the credits rolled, I instantly started NG+ with no break and put another 4 hours into the game.

So my obsession is very much intact.
 

Drathnoxis

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Dalisclock said:
I'm glad to hear this game is pretty good though I'm still concerned about the whole issue of not knowing when FF7:EP2 will be out(or when it was planned for, because it's no doubt delayed now) and how much each episode will cover. They turned the first 5 or so hours of the original into a 30-40 hour game(which is basically a full sized FF in itself) so I'm dreading how long this entire process is going to take.
This. The original was a long game as it was. I shudder to think what a bloated monster FF7:R is going to be. Is this going to be a 200 hour game when all is said and done?
 

Dalisclock

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CritialGaming said:
Drathnoxis said:
Is this going to be a 200 hour game when all is said and done?
I HOPE SO!!!! :D
If it can sustain those 200 hours I'd be okay with it. So far I've seen very few games that can get close to that. The last game I played more then 100 hours of was Assassins Creed Odyssey(this includes the DLCs, each of which was like 20-30 hours long) and by god by the time I reached the end I was done. Even having the DLC broken up over 6 months into 10ish hour chunks(the DLC were episodic) didn't really help.

70 hours was about limit before I start asking for the check, even if I am having a really good time.
 

McElroy

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While I won't play the game before the exclusivity ends, as an action-RPG hybrid the game looks damn good. I especially like the in-engine cutscenes that almost flawlessly keep your equipment intact in them (and then when it does go to a pre-rendered one... well you just have to ignore it).

As I've said in the other threads about the game, some of the creative decisions that they made (for the fans) are objectively bad and bring the game down as its own piece. Some of them are more subjective, like how in the original game a large amount of time passes when the characters rest at inns, travel, and so on. It means that they must talk to each other off screen a lot (justifies in part the date mechanics too). Now the banter is there, and we don't have to imagine it, but all of it even put together is rather simple. Oh yeah, and 90% of the anime mannerisms can suck my ass.
 

dscross

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CritialGaming said:
I really wanted to make sure my bias towards the material didn't factor into the review. I wanted to give the game all the critique I could think of, especially in regards to what other people might not like and give a fair warning about it.

One thing I really didn't mention about the game was just how many little things reference the original game. Tiny details, character comments, even items, that all appear mundane to someone who isn't familiar with the original or isn't HARDCORE into the original, but to someone like me who understands all the references and future plot points that are hinted at....Man I LOVED that shit.

And let me tell you something else.

I've never played a game that had me grinning from ear to ear one moment and crying with emotion the next, over and over and over again. My time with the game has been a delight from the moment it began, to.....well im still playing it. I can't remember if i have EVER played a game immediately again after just finishing it. I didn't even turn the game off after the credits rolled, I instantly started NG+ with no break and put another 4 hours into the game.

So my obsession is very much intact.
As a fan of the series more broadly, I'm sure I'll enjoy all the nods etc to the original. Are you very satisfied with the direction they are taking it, without spoiling too much? That sounds like the bit that has been met with the most contention to me.
 

CritialGaming

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dscross said:
As a fan of the series more broadly, I'm sure I'll enjoy all the nods etc to the original. Are you very satisfied with the direction they are taking it, without spoiling too much? That sounds like the bit that has been met with the most contention to me.
I don't know what bothered people in all honesty. The events play out the same as the original, the difference here is they ramp up the escape from midgar to a much more notable climax, and give you a bigger bad guy boss fight at the end.

Ultimately the ending serves to drop more hints at the greater FF7 lore and just foreshadows what would come in future games. It's a good enough ending, although it does feel a little empty due to my personal knowledge of how much "game" is left beyond our stopping point here.

Really that's the big negative of the ending here, it's not the ending and we know that in truth this is where the real game barely even begins. So I think that is what people have such a nark on about. However we KNEW this was the stopping point of this game for a long time, and should expect and accept it.

The end is fine though, and people are just being salty about it because they are afraid of how much waiting they'll have for the next game.
 

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CritialGaming said:
I don't know what bothered people in all honesty. The events play out the same as the original, the difference here is they ramp up the escape from midgar to a much more notable climax, and give you a bigger bad guy boss fight at the end.
But...
Zack is alive, whereas in the original he died in that gunfight. With the heroes having killed the lead "Whisper", they're no longer beholden to what happened in the original story-- so the writers have given themselves carte blanche to change it.

Hell, it doesn't even seem like the Sephiroth you see in the remake is actually Jenova, as it was in the original. In the original game, "Sephiroth" doesn't even recognise Cloud when he sees him (because it's not really him). In the remake, Sephiroth seems oddly hugely invested in Cloud, inviting him to join him to "change fate".

It's enormously different!
 

CritialGaming

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Silvanus said:
CritialGaming said:
I don't know what bothered people in all honesty. The events play out the same as the original, the difference here is they ramp up the escape from midgar to a much more notable climax, and give you a bigger bad guy boss fight at the end.
But...
Zack is alive, whereas in the original he died in that gunfight. With the heroes having killed the lead "Whisper", they're no longer beholden to what happened in the original story-- so the writers have given themselves carte blanche to change it.

Hell, it doesn't even seem like the Sephiroth you see in the remake is actually Jenova, as it was in the original. In the original game, "Sephiroth" doesn't even recognise Cloud when he sees him (because it's not really him). In the remake, Sephiroth seems oddly hugely invested in Cloud, inviting him to join him to "change fate".

It's enormously different!
Actually I don't think that's true. I think those are the whispers trying to awaken Cloud to the truth of who he is and what he must do. So those scenes are just flashback scenes both to serve that point and also provide fanservice towards people who asked about the compliation stuff.
 

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Now I just have to decide if I want to finish or take another break from DS3.
 

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CritialGaming said:
Actually I don't think that's true. I think those are the whispers trying to awaken Cloud to the truth of who he is and what he must do. So those scenes are just flashback scenes both to serve that point and also provide fanservice towards people who asked about the compliation stuff.
Yeah sure,
like when they try to push Wedge away from "impacting the story" or whatever, and how they stop Cloud from taking down Reno in the church ('cause y'know, they're not supposed to even fight there)
Maybe just admit that you want the fan-favourite characters to escape their destiny aka their deaths in the original game? :p