Well, of course this was coming! You’d be naive not to expect it coming from me with all the information that’s been coming out regarding this 22-year-old masterpiece that was one of the first games I ever played and the first title that really showed me the true art of combining an intricate story with great game play. This is something that I (along with tens of millions of others around the world that were also mesmerized by the original) thought could only exist within the sphere of my own imagination. We asked for it, yet somewhere deep down, thought it couldn’t be done due to the limitations of modern technology.
Well, those barriers have been broken and today we can be happy and excited that we will get to experience this story as it was meant to be told. This year’s greatest gaming show E3 gave us a ton of information regarding the Remake of Final Fantasy VII and we are here to break down all of it to the last detail. So let’s dive in.
- The story will be told across multiple games. This was something already known to us, yet some people made the mistake of using the word ‘episodic’. That’s not true. Each and every part of this project will be the size of a full scale game, with a beginning and an ending. Simply because it won’t take players all the way to the Northern Crater, that doesn’t somehow make it half a game. All of them will be complete, plus doing it this way will probably allow the developers to expand further on certain aspects and tell stories that they weren’t able to do so originally. The perfect example of this would be the AVALANCHE crew, who I’m sure will make more of an impact this time around, rather than them just coming and going within the first few hours of the original.
- The battle system is a hybrid of old and new. While it remains action-oriented, there’s a large element of strategy to it as well. You can control up to three party members (just as the original) and you have an Active Time Battle gauge (again, just like the original). So those who were worried that this might be too much like FFXV can put their minds at ease. The difference here is that you don’t have to wait around doing nothing as your ATB gauge fills up and you’re allowed to take action. Attacking enemies with your base attack deals little damage, yet it helps speed up the ATB gauge and that’s when things get interesting. Once you’ve filled up a bar, you can decide how you’re gonna go.
Time slows down around you and you can choose your action. You can either cast Magic (provided you have the right Materia equipped), use an item, perform a Limit Break (if you’ve taken enough damage you will be signified by the familiar rainbow-flashing bar) or switch characters (which you can do on the fly). You can also assign orders to your other characters to perform while you’re not controlling them and have shortcuts on your actions for those who prefer faster pacing to their battles, similar to Kingdom Hearts. There’s a lot of unfamiliar terminology flying around here, especially for the uninitiated, but it really is quite easy to wrap your head around and, most importantly, it’s faithful to the original. It won’t alienate fans while also allowing for newcomers to feel like this is something fresh and fun.
- The story is just as engaging, yet now it goes further beyond. Just from the few short trailers and game play footage we’ve seen, it appears like this is a complete re-imagining of Final Fantasy VII. As if this is how the creators intended to make it, yet they just couldn’t at the time. It’s the same with the story. Players will begin from that same, familiar place, explore that same reactor, talk to the same people, see the same things happen, fall from the same place, crash the same roof and meet that same girl… It’s just that now, it might take them more time to do it, due to the larger volume of people they’ll be able to talk to, the more areas they might be able to explore or things they’ll be able to do. This is the city of Midgar after all and we’ll really be able to see the juxtaposition between the people living comfortably at the top of the plate at the cost of those barely making ends meet in the slums. That’s what it was meant to be about in the first place. But we’ll still get to do all the other things too.
- The designs of the main characters remain faithful to the originals. Those who were afraid due to how the characters appeared in the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children can now lay their fears to rest. Starting from Cloud, but even going all the way to secondary characters such as Jessie, Wedge or Marlene, there’s been an obsessive attention to detail on how these characters look. From the colors of their outfits, to their accessories and anything else in between, it’s obvious that the developers don’t want to add anything if they don’t feel like it belongs there or if it might be off-putting. It’s incredible how everyone immediately recognized a secondary character such as Heidegger in the trailer, without Square Enix ever even confirming it was actually him. This just creates even more excitement for the eventual reveal of fan-favorites such as Reno, Vincent or Red XIII.
- Tifa is simply mind-blowing. She deserves special mention. There was a lot of speculation regarding how they would handle her design (I won’t go into specifics because it’s just embarrassing, there’s no limit to how low some people are willing to go), yet they made her even better than the original dare I say. Her outfit is quite similar (with a pair of metal gloves that could punch the lights out of a fire-breathing dragon), yet she retains the caring smile that could even brighten up the day of someone as gloomy as Cloud. That says it all. They even went out of their way to make her eyes more red when compared to Advent Children, that’s the level of detail that’s been paid to her.
- Sephiroth is also here. It was really difficult for the main villain of the game to not make an appearance. And yet somehow, it feels out of place. What was truly intimidating about Sephiroth was his… total absence. The one-winged angel never needed to be there in order to scare the sh*t out of you, especially after all the rumors and stories you heard about him. Yet no one actually even mentions his name until the end of the Midgar section. However now we’ve already seen him in two separate trailers. Even if he only exists in Cloud’s mind, that still makes no sense. Cloud only thought of, well, spoilers, but Zack. I might be overthinking this but I really hope they don’t overuse Sephiroth in the remake. Just let him be a rumor. A shadow. That’s how he works best.
- Nobuo Uematsu is back. Of course one of the things that made Final Fantasy VII the behemoth that it is was its amazing soundtrack. And that too is making a comeback, only better. From the tidbits that we were able to hear, the “Opening: Bombing Mission” has been redone and so has “Aerith’s Theme”. The battle music plays on and off as you go into fights (I won’t call them “random encounters” anymore) and that too seems to have been touched up here and there. It’s going to be glorious listening to other tracks like “JENOVA” or “One-Winged Angel” redone. And as we already know, the legendary composer is heavily involved in this project.
- Ride on the Hardy Daytona. As witnessed in one of the trailers, there’s a scene where Cloud is riding on a bike with Jessie, slashing at enemies with his Buster Sword left and right. There’s no such scene in the original, yet it is fairly reminiscent of the escape from Shinra HQ, where Cloud is riding the Hardy Daytona and trying to ward off the soldiers who are attacking his fellow party members as they make their way out of the city on a mini-truck. So it makes sense that we can expect a similar re-imagining of that particular mini game near the end of the first game of this project.
- It just looks astonishing. There’s no way of putting it into words and the greatest example of this is when the camera does that traditional zooming out of Aerith to show the entire technopolis of Midgar. It was already good back then (which is why it gained such renowned fame), but looking at it today just blows your freaking head off! How did they do that?!
- The (first) game is coming out sooner than expected. Director of the Remake (and character designer of the original) Tetsuya Nomura had dubbed this the year of “7”. Square Enix held a memorable concert at Los Angeles specifically for Final Fantasy VII. As it concluded, a short trailer was shown only to those in attendance. And at the end of that trailer, the release date was made known: 3.3.2020! Less than one year away for our return to Midgar! That is quite remarkable, considering the project began back in 2014, yet needed to be scrapped and started over from scratch one year later. Square Enix made the decision to remove then co-developers CyberConnect2 from the team as they didn’t agree with the way they were handling the title. Looking at it now, I’m glad they made that decision!
- You can already get it! There are three (five, if you add the digital) editions out there in the wild just waiting to be collected. The normal (which if pre-ordered on the PlayStation Network gives you a neat Sephiroth theme), the deluxe (that comes with an artwork, a mini soundtrack, a steelbook case and two summon Materia) and the SOLDIER 1st Class (with all those things the deluxe edition has, plus a Play-Arts Kai figure of Cloud and the Hardy Daytona).
- All first impressions were positive. Sometimes when you’re all hyped up, it’s difficult not to be subjective towards something that you really like. Yet during all of E3, I have not seen anyone say something bad about how Final Fantasy VII Remake plays or feels. If it betrays the essence of the original, if the battle system is flawed, if the soundtrack is terrible and they should bring back the old one… Nothing. Not a single peep.
And it’s very easy for gamers to go off the reels, I believe we are one of the most spoiled and self-entitled audiences that exist across the entertainment industry, so I was prepared to take all criticism with a grain of salt. I mean, I’m ready to love this game no matter what just as long as the story remains faithful to the original, I don’t need much. But nothing ever came. Everyone who was at E3 and tried the demo (did I mention there’s a demo?) had nothing but great things to say about it. And it’s hard not to take their words seriously. I mean, the lighting, the feeling in every single scene, it all screams Final Fantasy VII. How could I not believe them… The proof is in the pudding!
- In conclusion: We got Tifa. We got Sephiroth. We got game play. We got a new hybrid battle system to appease the old and the new. We got enough footage to hold us off until Gamescom (or Tokyo Game Show, whatever). We got a release date. We got updated tracks. We got awesome editions. We got developers who (as Producer Yoshinori Kitase said) “will not betray our expectations”. We got Final Fantasy VII Remake… it’s alive and well, and will be here soon. Our Reunion is at hand!
Originally published at http://sopeoplewhatsup.blogspot.com.