There are few games more iconic than Final Fantasy VII. The original built off the momentum of Final Fantasy VI, coming in at a time when gaming was starting to evolve into what we see today. At this point the original is showing its age, though the story remains one of SquareSoft/Square Enix’s best, one that we’re lucky enough to see a return in Final Fantasy VII Remake. While that series will ideally do Cloud’s journey justice, it was not the only Final Fantasy VII game released at the time. Shortly after Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- released on PlayStation Portable. The title is regarded as one of the best PlayStation Portable games, though it suffered from being exclusive to the platform. Given the success of the first part of Final Fantasy VII Remake, and an ongoing desire to help gamers experience certain classics, is Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion a must-play, or was it merely good for the time?
For those who never played the original release, Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion is a rather important prequel to Final Fantasy VII. It follows Zack Fair, who was a SOLDIER for Shira, alongside legendary characters like Sephiroth. What makes the story so interesting is how it elaborates on one of the biggest reveals, along with building to a moment fans might recall as an optional cutscene in the original. This makes the story important, but have enough freedom to really explore who Zack was, along with care about his journey over the destination.
I wouldn’t say it ever reaches the same highs as Final Fantasy VII, but it can certainly stand among the series of titles released around that time period. Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion does a great job of balancing fan service, with making players care about their journey, and establishing predetermined events. So much so, I would call it a must for fans and newcomers alike, as it really adds a lot to the narrative.
While Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion isn’t quite a remake, a lot of improvements were made to the core experience. Menus are a lot cleaner, and some of the quirky elements work a lot better, with the overall gameplay feels a lot nicer. Since the original release was an action RPG, it arguably aged a lot better than a number of titles at the time.
It’s So Simple
There is a basic attack system, which you can supplement with Materia (magic), special attacks, dodging, and so forth. The only quirky part of it was the Digital Mind Wave (DMW) system. Basically, it was a slot machine that would help alter the flow of battle. This includes making Zack invincible, having unlimited MP, or AP, enabling special attacks, and a number of other things. It’s a neat system, especially when you pay attention to it, even if it feels even more so like a gimmick these days.
Most fights require a decent understanding of that, coupled with fundamentals. With so few attack possibilities, players need to utilize weaknesses, and back hits for critical damage, along with priority. Even on hard, it isn’t too bad, mostly because there are plenty of options to succeed. Knowing how to engage/disengage enemies will help a lot, as will making use of DMW rolls. Just being able to repeatedly use Materia can save you from failure.
Unfortunately, since the system is so basic, it also doesn’t take long to get the basics down. Knowing how to dodge, when to damage, and which attacks to use is about all you need to know. Bosses generally offer a bit more, largely through the casting system. This is a neat mechanic, as it isn’t quite passed/fail like most modern games. Basically, they start casting a move and it will do 100 percent damage. Every attack you land reduces the impact of their strike, with the goal being to hit zero and remove it outright. It makes things fun, though most of this adventure comes down to the narrative.
Between story stages there are optional missions, which can unlock some cool things like Tonberry’s Knife, to help players understand the fundamentals. There are also some other neat mechanics, such as Materia fusion, the ability to change your equipment, purchase supplies, and more.
Graphics are Really Impressive
As for levels, they’re an interesting mixture of good, and bad mechanics. Encounters are frequent, each with their own brief before the actual fight. It doesn’t take long for these to get old, especially when you’re able to clear some of them in seconds. Levels help make up for this with optional content, along with choices having some impact on your experience. None of these are massive differences, though it’s really cool finding an optional cutscene, or new fight.
While the foundation makes this an easier remake, Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion adds some nice quality-of-life features. These include full voice acting, in both Japanese, and English, along with a fresh coat of paint. The graphics had a lot to work with, which makes the enhanced visuals so nice. It’s clear a lot of love went into the design, something fans and newcomers alike will appreciate.
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion Review Verdict
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion is another fantastic revisit to the iconic world. With a fantastic story, one with full voice acting to get the full effect, coupled with engaging gameplay, it’s an easy title to get into. When you add in the improved visuals, a reminder of Zack’s importance in Final Fantasy VII Remake, and the number of players who never experienced the original, it’s an easy suggestion for any player that is looking for an enjoyable action RPG.
[Editor’s Note: Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion was reviewed for PlayStation 5 and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.]