Hamakei
Avalon Hamakei   United Kingdom (Great Britain)
 
 
I only play single-player games, so not sure how much I'll use this, but I'll give it a go!
Currently Offline
Last Online 11 hrs, 15 mins ago
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16,977
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Perfect Games
68%
Avg. Game Completion Rate
Review Showcase
97 Hours played
This review contains no spoilers [I think], although you probably already know the big one.

Wow. Where do you even start with a review for a game like this? For some this is the greatest RPG ever made. For some this is probably the greatest game ever made. For some this is an overrated piece of garbage that has been getting far more attention than it deserved and just happened to come along at the right time.

I'm going to cop-out and say the answer is somewhere in the middle. Sorry.

I am not normally an RPG gamer. Whilst I like games with deep, involving stories, I generally don't have the patience for RPGs, preferring adventure games, whether point-and-click, action-adventure or even visual novels. My main dislikes of RPGs are the enormous time-sinks they can be - case in point I'm currently 55 hours into FFVII and still have some way to go - and the fact you can spend so much of this time grinding. I think roughly 15 of my 55 hours have been spent actively seeking out specific random encounters in the hope of finding certain rare items, levelling up or reaching higher Limit Breaks.

But I do have a weak spot for FFVII. Perhaps it's the blend of traditional hack'n'slash RPG story with a dystopian sci-fi twist. Perhaps it's the fact that the game itself is a deconstruction of then-cliched JRPG stereotypes [a fact that bypassed many because it was in fact their /first/ encounter with a JRPG]. Perhaps it just came along at the right time and was so massively popular that it was impossible to ignore. Maybe it's all of the above.

Just because something is popular doesn't mean it panders to the lowest common denominator. This is not an easy game. This is not a straight-forward game. Conversely, just because it's popular doesn't mean it's brilliant. The plot is at times difficult to follow [good luck finding the keystone on your first playthrough without either a guide or blind luck]. The game does require a lot of investment in order to get much reward.

I really do like this game. There you go. SIx paragraphs in and you get the opinion. I've bought FFVII 3 times - for the PS1, the PC [I wish I'd kept it - apparently it's quite collectable now] and now the Steam release. Whilst it isn't a game you can play for just half an hour here and there, it is something that I want to play through every few months just for the sheer experience.

Quite a lot of the negative reviews seem to focus on the fact that this game hasn't aged well. That isn't really the fault of the developers, who were struggling to produce a game that would run on the N64 before throwing in the towel and moving in with Sony. And no, it hasn't been remastered. You get the original PC release with a few tweaks here and there. If you want a remake, go and hassle Square-Enix. Yes, the backgrounds are blocky and the characters are made with laughably few polygons. There are mods out there [apparently] that change the character models, the music and suchlike. Use them if you want. For me, the appearance is part of the charm.

Things I like about FFVII: The battle mechanics: there are plenty of customisation options without ever feeling completely overwhelmed and the materia system works brilliantly. The story and the characters: when I first played FFVII back on release day [yes] I had never encountered such deep, complicated feelings in a video game. Frustration, anxiety, betrayal, the subject of mental illness, courage, determination, romance, shame, resentment, longing, hope and euphoria. Everything is here. You ask a player if they cried at the end of disc one. If they say no, they're probably lying [Actually, I was already blubbing thanks to Seto]. But that's the important thing. You wouldn't have such deep emotional involvement with a character if you'd only been introduced to them half-an-hour ago. The game is long and winding enough you get swept along for the ride and really feel for them all. Well, mostly. I never much cared for Cait Sith... You'll probably hate Yuffie if you somehow miss Wutai and her backstory. Oh, and the music is amazing.

Things I don't like about FFVII: The save system is a little annoying, but bear in mind this was made for a console and as such the save files had to be kept a reasonable size. It can take a while for the story to get going, but you'll be glad when it does. The massive J-turn when you are captured by Shina and wake up in the middle of the night to discover... well, you'll see... The "super-deformed" look is a little baffling, perhaps only from a Western point of view. But I find it quite jarring when many of the in-game FMVs use much more detailed models.

Just a couple of points now. This Steam version is based on the PC version released in (I think) 1998. The original PC version fixed many of the faults of the PS1 version, including: Increase in resolution [character models only - backgrounds are still low-res], increase in number of saves [from 15 per card to 150] and many of the glaring translation errors have been fixed [except for the syntax error which lets many first timers get killed by the scorpion]. Unfortunately they replaced the PS1s tracker module music with horrible MIDI sounds. The Steam version takes this, replaces the MIDI with recordings of the PS1 music, allows you to customise the control layout, adds achievements and a few other bits and pieces.

So, in conclusion, if you like RPGs, buy it to see what all the fuss is about. If you're an avid gamer but have somehow never played it, buy it to see what all the fuss is about. Just be prepared to put the time in. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have another stab at Emerald WEAPON....

Be warned that if you buy this game you have to register an account with SquareEnix and link it to your Steam account. This only has to be done the first time you play - after that you don't have to be logged in to play. Oh, and whilst it supports cloud saving, do so at your own risk. It seems to be broken and people complain about losing saves. And when you're 60 hours in, that could be devastating...
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