Final Fantasy VII Game Review

Final Fantasy VII is by far the best and most popular game in the Final Fantasy series. This role-playing game (RPG) is a combination of sci-fi and fantasy, which was developed by Square Enix and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is the seventh in the series, which was released in 1997 for the Sony PlayStation and was made available for MS Windows-based PCs in 1998. This installment broke barriers in the Final Fantasy series by being the first to use stunning 3D graphics and fully generated 3D images of the characters. It features nine playable characters with various specialty weapons and special skills called Limit Breaks.

The story revolves around a character named Cloud Strife, an ex-Soldier who joins the rebel group called AVALANCHE as a mercenary. He helps them in their campaign against Shinra Corporation whose shady operations are continuously draining the life of the planet. But during their conflict with this corporation, Cloud and his group encounter his old comrade named Sephiroth, the game's antagonist who would ultimately become the planet's greatest threat. Cloud's quest to unravel the mysterious purpose of Sephiroth leads him to various places wherein he meets other playable characters like Red XIII, Yuffie, Vincent, Cid and Cait Sith.

The game has three major areas such as the world map, field map and battle screen. The world map is a 3D environment that can be navigated by foot, chocobo (an ostrich-sized bird), sand buggy, plane, submarine or the airship called Highwind. The chocobo and vehicles in the game enable the character to go to areas with rigid terrains or across water masses, which cannot be travelled by foot. On the other hand, the field map depicts a 2D environment inside towns, structures, grasslands or mountains. While the combat mode portrays the 3D model of the characters and enemies, which moves and magical spells are illustrated in a brilliant fashion.

Character leveling is achieved through experience accumulated per battle. The experience gained depends on the level of the enemy defeated by the character. So the harder the enemy, the more is the experience awarded to the player. Skill or magic acquisition is through the use of Materias that can be attached to the weapons and accessories of the characters. In addition, powerful monsters can also be summoned using Summon Materias, which can be bought, acquired through quests or as the level progresses.

Another notable feature of the game during combat is the presence of special attacks called Limit Breaks. Each character has four levels of Limit Breaks, except for Cait Sith with only two. The Limit Break bar can be recharged as a character takes damage and it levels up every use when the meter is full. Limit Breaks may be in the form of special attack, boost or heal, but in the case of Vincent, it transforms him into a rampaging monster that attacks the enemy automatically.

The plot starts at the City of Midgar, wherein the protagonist Cloud and supporting characters like Tifa and Barret, join forces to destroy Mako reactors, which converts the planet's life-force into energy. Their adventures eventually lead them to the surviving Ancients named Aerith, and the antagonist, Sephiroth.

The sudden appearance of Sephiroth, who was long presumed dead after his sudden disappearance becomes an obsession to Cloud who later pursues him with the group. Along the way, they discover new places as well as new allies with unique personalities and different goals. In the end, they unite to defeat Sephiroth and guardians called WEAPON in order to save the Planet from destruction. As the story develops, they also inevitably clash with the cohorts of the new President Rufus Shinra, whose goal is to find the Promised Land teeming with energy.

A must see feature during the game's progression is the unveiling of the interconnected dark past of Cloud and Sephiroth. Along the way, Cloud discovers that everything he knew is not what it seemed to be, and somehow, Sephiroth had the answer that he needed. The past of the supporting characters were also detailed within their exploits and their goals are eventually realized.

Final Fantasy VII's fantastic storytelling coupled with unexpected twists, remarkable musical score and the amazing graphics of this game really makes it the "greatest game of all time" as described by RPG enthusiasts. No wonder it sold 10 million copies worldwide as of 2010, and the figures still keep on going up. The astonishing commercial success of the game produced prequels and sequels as well as spin-offs. Final Fantasy VII characters also appeared as guest in other video games due to their skyrocketing status.

The graphics were the best and state of the art during its time but it may no longer be that excellent based on today's standards due technological innovations. The characters also appear unnatural or deformed on maps although the models are more realistic in combat mode with its 3D rendition as opposed to the 2D sprites used in previous installments of the game. Therefore, a little improvement in terms of graphics for the remake is strongly recommended and is looked forward to by all RPG fans.

This game really brings back memories during my teenage years because this is the first RPG game that I have ever played and it was the game that introduced me to RPGs. Before, I thought RPG games were boring because all I see are texts and bunch of commands as opposed to the popular button-mashing action games like Street Fighter and Mortal Combat. Then I tried playing Final Fantasy VII out of curiosity because of the hype it was receiving during that time. Before I knew it, I was stuck in my chair leveling up my characters and excitedly anticipating every turn of events in the game.

I have played and finished this game numerous times but I still find it exciting whenever I find time to play it. So when I heard that Square Enix is considering making a remake of this fantastic game, I just can't wait until it goes out in the market.