So, first and foremost, this is NOT a remake. DO NOT PLAY THIS GAME IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE ORIGINAL GAME. Also, sorry this took so long and for the fact it will be less well done because of it, as a lot has happened since this game came out both personally and in the world in general so I remember less both of the game and of my personal thoughts about various parts of it. Because of how much this IS NOT A REMAKE this review is filled with spoilers about the original game AND the Remake, so if you don’t want those just stop reading now.
Anyway, again, I want to immediately start with it not being a remake because the title of the game is extremely misleading and probably got a lot of people who never played 7 to play this – in fact I know it did, people like that are very easy to find surprisingly. Yet the game is made with the assumption the player has gone through the original FF7, Crisis Core, probably Dirge of Cerberus but I barely played that one so fuck if I know, and seen Advent Children. Knowledge on some level from all of them, but mostly the original game, is central to the storyline and events that take place in the “Remake”. Almost everything about this that stands out is also completely reliant on you knowing it stands out at all, which you can’t tell if you didn’t know it was new or hinting at things that nobody should know yet or showing little hints of things that you, if you are new, wouldn’t recognize as anything meaningful. Most importantly though, the prior game already exists within the lore itself, so this is more of a twisted sequel rather than anything else and so knowledge of what came before is extremely important.
I understand the idea of the staff wanting to play with expectations by including some subversion and I also understand Nomura enough to know that “Remake” is not only a way to mislead the players but also a literal subtitle for this game because sometimes he’s a pretentious retard. With where the story goes you are LITERALLY recreating Final Fantasy 7 by going against fate – the original story – and making that story under your (well, Cloud and company’s) own terms instead of those of destiny’s. I can and do appreciate both meanings, it’s kind of a smart way to name it except it also isn’t at all. I really wouldn’t be surprised if the next “part” isn’t titled Remake Part 2 but has a totally new sub-title because this is basically just following the Kingdom Hearts naming convention at this point.
Regardless of being able to appreciate the context of the name, I really don’t like how misleading this was. FF7 is a huge name, everyone fucking knows “Final Fantasy 7” exists, even people who never played or cared about it or who hate JRPGs and anime. It is a monumental thing in pop culture history that has survived the ages and remained a relevant known quantity to this day. They had to know massive amounts of people would jump in at this who never touched the original (or any JRPG for many), thinking they’ll finally experience this touchstone of gaming, this legendary piece of the industry – and all of them were completely fucked by this instead because it isn’t for new players at all.
It seems kind of shitty and I’m sure it’s partially ruined FF7 for these people, at least some of them, because it’s nonsense if you come in not understanding a single thing or why anything going on is crazy or meaningful or anything at all. I mean hell, most of my experience with this after the first few hours was trying to pick apart what the FUCK was going on and discussing theories about it, trying to see if we could piece together what was happening constantly because clearly something was but you’d only know that if you played the original and that ended up being the entire purpose of this game; much of it was a “spot the difference” game in a way.
If you haven’t then just go play the original game first, it’s only 35-50 hours total, it really is not that long of a game and is easy to get on modern consoles and PC – including with a fast forward button to use in fights and cut that time down even further if you want to rush on through to get to this. It’s a wonderful game, it’s worth the time anyway and this will still be waiting – and by the time you’re done with both, Part 2 will still not even have a release date set so don’t worry about being left behind. Not to mention this is very different so there’s no downside like feeling bored of the same content again – rather, it probably will be even more enjoyable because you’ll be extra blown away by seeing the differences so much more clearly with it fresh in your mind. Maybe throw Advent Children in after if you want, it’s not a bad movie it just has some dumb shit – cool fights though. You’ll still miss out on a lot because of how important Crisis Core especially becomes, but not enough to have to feel required to go through the entire catalogue of FF7 material.
However, I don’t agree with some comments I’ve seen around the internet (not just here, but seriously fucking everywhere) that the game is negatively effected by some kind of Rian Johnson subversiveness. The fact is this being “something very different” was obvious for awhile now, with almost every trailer aside the first couple showing obvious big differences – hell, I even talked about this in 2015, though I had no clue it’d be THIS hugely different. Many questions were raised during the older trailers and the fact this would not just be “FF7 but with some fleshing out of old things and a couple new bits thrown in” was pretty clear. The EXTENT of that wasn’t, but the fact this was going to be something new built over something old rather than a bit of additions adjacent to something old was always apparent.
Then and arguably more importantly, within playing the game even extremely early on you realize something weird is going on. This is true for multiple parts in the first few hours – but becomes unmissable once the ghosts hunt down Jessie just to hurt her leg because she didn’t injure it in the reactor like she originally does; this moment confirms they’re not just a pointless addition but rather the most important thing in the game in a way.
Then a little after you meet Aerith (I still disagree with this lispy engrish version of her name – and no, Japanese do not say Earth as fucking aerith as has been the most common defense of it for a long time, in fact they say it closer to Aerisu – but its official outside of the original game so I’ll try to be consistent) it just completely tells you very clearly that the original game has already happened; Cloud literally has a flash forward to her fucking dying and even cries for a moment without understanding why. They could not make it any more obvious that this is some new story built on the back of the old one – with the old one existing in-universe rather than just in terms of how it was written as a video game, and from then on loads of these flashes continue to happen. I really don’t think claims of subversion can really apply after that moment (and barely able to prior), nor the negative feelings it might bring if it was some last-minute ass pull. Other big moments should have also clued absolutely everyone in throughout the entire playthrough. In fact that teary eyed moment moment solidified my belief that this was some situation where Sephiroth reset time to change the outcome of the story, and I was surprisingly not that far off it seems.
For me this was the thing that made me love this more than I ever thought I could rather than something that damaged my enjoyment of it. If this had been just a mostly 1:1 remake with some added in fleshed out stuff I’d still love it, it’d be amazing to play through this game even without any changes even if very pointless. However, this is actually what I was hoping for since the announcement. Not this EXACT way they went, but something hugely different like this – something that wasn’t just a remake. I was hoping for a new story or maybe even a total new game that possibly rather than being a remake of the original GAME was a first go at finally adapting the original SCRIPT which was VERY different from the original game and was somewhat of a detective story looking in on the shady dealings of Shinra and the terrorist organization Avalanche.
I never imagined this game would turn out to be what it is because who would even think about that, but fuck if it didn’t keep me intrigued and engrossed every single second of the way more than I have in almost any other game in ages…aside the train graveyard. I loved every single second of the story itself from start to finish, even down to pretty literally killing FF7 (even if the 3 final boss things are technically the Advent Children kids) and the obsessive puritan fans conceptualized throughout as the ghosts. The concept of the cast (and the player) taking on the role of basically antagonizing and fighting against the solidly set for years story and events of FF7’s original release, against these dimensional ghost things trying to maintain the original fate of everything, is such an astounding and fucking wild idea in how it was done that I can’t help but completely love it even if similar things have been done from time to time the execution here was just great and played such a bigger and more mysterious part in the story than I’ve ever seen. The way they weave them in to the past events and even the little moments of other characters realizing whats to come once Aerith comes in contact with them like Marlene or Red XIII is really something I liked a lot.
I know I have already repeated myself a bunch, but seriously I would not have LOVED this game like I did if it wasn’t what it is. This is everything I was hoping for especially in regards to the story itself. It manages to tell the same story yet tell a COMPLETELY new story at the same time, flesh all the old stuff out more while also twisting it in a completely new way, and add in loads of just straight up new content, organizations, and characters. I mean we’ll probably even have a legit war between Wutai and Shinra at some point because they sure as hell are pushing for another one (and showcasing how militarized Avalanche’s main units are) constantly in this game and its even one of the biggest motivators of half the events that take place – even down to the very first hours of the game as the entire reason Shinra blow up their own reactor so badly using you as the scapegoats is to try and ignite another massive conflict with Wutai, and that would be another huge change.
Point is I fucking love how different this is – not “because it IS different” but because just how well done that difference is done throughout the game WHILE it also is different via giving everything far more than the light depth it had before. Honestly the original game, as top tier as it is, is pretty bad at anything really having meat to it beyond the main story itself. The characters were thinly written without much to them aside “I have motivation because of something” and lore was vastly underdeveloped – this fixes a lot of that alongside all the new stuff making for an overall better game in regards to even just the original stuff as well.
That’s enough of that though, let’s talk about the game as an actual game for a bit.
Let’s start with music, which I originally had a song here but I put it earlier since I have another one and they were too close together! I know many will disagree but I found nearly all the versions of the classic soundtrack in this game to be vastly superior to the original midi ones.
That isn’t to say I don’t still love the classic versions, but even comparing this OST to the billion official orchestral versions of the songs these really stood out to me as the best renditions they’ve ever had of MOST of the music. The biggest problem with the OST is, sadly, the Turks theme – it completely blows ass. I have NOTHING remotely positive to say about this version of the song which is really sad when the original is one of the most memorable tracks with it’s smooth suave sound and finger snapping. Now it’s just some kind of wild west gunslinger bullshit. The music is what actually got to me the most in the demo as well, it’s just fucking incredible.
Gameplay was overall pretty fantastic. They basically just reused the FFXV mechanics but with some tweaks to make it more ATB-esque. I think they did a great job with this and it had exactly the feeling they wanted it to have – being some mix of FFXV’s modern combat but still having the same feeling of the original system somehow tied in. Combat is really fun and cool as fuck visually as well, keeping an eye on your ATB and deciding how to use it and everything has nostalgia while being done totally differently which made it even more enjoyable but the most important part is that it was designed really fucking well so it’s really rewarding and fun rather than just cool for nostalgia. I’m really hoping they use the same but lightly fixed up version of the system for FF16 if they ever manage to get around to making that.
Things I didn’t like about combat mostly revolve around spell casting which has two big negatives. First off, most spells are basically delayed effect rendering them useless over half the time you use them. What I mean is if you cast blizzard for example it’ll lightly damage the enemy at first and then like 3 seconds later finally actually do the real attack – however it doesn’t follow the enemy and in those 3 seconds they’ve already moved completely away from the area of effect unless you’re lucky enough they couldn’t get out in time cuz of the first hit knocking them back a little. Secondly, you can get knocked out of casting and it uses both your ATB and your MP regardless. If it wasn’t so INSANELY EASY for this to happen I’d see it as a fair change to fit the new system but practically anything will stop your spell, it’s frustrating as all hell. I also don’t like that your party members aren’t programmed to do more, if I recall in XV they were much more useful – here they just do their basic attack and do a lot of blocking, everything else is on you. If the Tales series of JRPGs of could manage having smart party member set-up on a fucking gamecube I don’t see why a 2020 game can’t have a similar AI program menu or at least just better more active AI. You do get an auto-cure materia, but it only uses the first level of the spell (useless – though I still kept it on all the time anyway as an emergency backup) and its the ONLY auto thing that is in the game I believe aside one combo thing that never made sense and also was heavily limited and thus fucking useless.
However, at the same time (and maybe this was their purpose in designing it this way), I really enjoy that their lack of being useful means you are a lot more involved during combat than you typically would be in any other given JRPG. Here you’re giving orders to the others in the party, jumping around who you’re controlling, and it keeps you engaged. The weapon leveling up system is nice too as well as the weapon proficiency. They had me switching up gear for everyone and even using the other characters to get theirs to go faster, that way everyone could have a lot more skills to use.
The absolute biggest problem I had with this game and with the gameplay was easily the bosses. The ones early on are great for nostalgia and not that terrible to fight but after that it becomes an exceedingly rare event to find a boss that doesn’t completely ruin your enjoyment of the game while it exists and not feel rewarding to beat aside feeling grateful it’s over.
If you know me you know I hate bosses to begin with in all games aside like Souls or something where they are kind of the entire point – in most games they do nothing but serve as an obnoxious waste of time that gets in the way of the pacing and destroys the mood and momentum of a story. There are exceptions throughout my history of games for me – both those I can tolerate and those I actually outright love as really great sequences, but for the most part I’m not a fan. The thing is even people who ENJOY boss fights do not like many of the ones in Remake.
Every single boss with very few outliers is purely a damage sponge with 10 billion HP who also make all your attack power be reduced to 10 damage per hit. It’s ridiculous and not fun, it also makes the player feel very weak rather than empowered and badass which sort of works against one of the only positive things a boss fight can do by making you feel like tough shit for defeating a serious target that put up a good fight. Or, the alternative, an enemy that is some relevant story character – of which type almost none exist in FF7R – making for a meaningful and emotional battle which can be a great thing sometimes. In Remake it’s just busywork that goes on for far too long almost every single time and sometimes there are multiple bosses one after the next.
Oddly enough the early game bosses are the most enjoyable – for example the Airbuster battle, while very tough, is actually pretty fun and again it makes you feel like a badass taking it on and defeating it. It does have some similar issues to all the rest, but it’s far more tolerable and has a good pace to it. Plus, for this boss specifically they added a whole segment prior to the encounter where you can remove some of its fighting abilities making for a more fun involved entire sequence rather than just having a boss because there should be a boss here. Nostalgia is for sure at work here too.
Fighting Sephiroth also felt pretty alright but that goes into the “meaningful and emotional” type of battle from being who he is plus with what else is going on in the story at the time. The way it felt was well done too, for me I felt desperate to win and always close to failing, being overpowered by one of the most legendary villains in video game history while barely holding on. But then the opposite side of that, the fight with Rufus – it felt terrible. It was by far the absolute worst fight in the entire game for me. Boring, repetitive, obnoxious, overly slow yet not in an interesting way. 100% of your attacks are parry-countered, the ATB takes a year to charge – I timed it, 4 minutes and 40 seconds for 1 bar if you aren’t attacking and if you do attack you get parry countered and need to waste it on healing and start all over – and he just isn’t fun at all. I understand now you can TOTALLY cheese him by literally putting him to sleep and he can’t do fucking anything and you kill him in about 50 seconds total, you can also poison him to have more of a real fight but still win easily over time, however those are kind of the only options. You either cheese him thanks to knowledge from the original game or you take an hour hitting him once every 4 and a half minutes.
The Rufus fight was such a big moment in the original and here it irritated me so much, happens IMMEDIATELY after a different boss fight, which happened IMMEDIATELY after a another other different boss fight so was the third boss fight in a row with NOTHING inbetween but some cutscenes, and then when you finally defeat him you are rewarded with realizing this is it. The rest of the game is just fucking boss fights over and over and over again with the only bit that isn’t being a short few minutes on the motorcycle before yet another boss shows up which leads to a boss that is multiple bosses at once over and over because they revive themselves for story purposes and then another boss. It’s ridiculous and aside the story I absolutely hated playing through everything after the Shinra meeting. Fighting Jenova was alright, fighting Sephiroth was alright, but nothing else in that whole portion of the game was any good gameplay wise. I enjoyed the story but not the gameplay for that whole portion.
I think the most enjoyable fight was probably the optional one against the Behemoth – and that being mostly due to the fact that it was against a Behemoth. Ever since FF13 they have been my absolute favorite enemy in the franchise so battling one again was a great time and he didn’t feel stupidly overpowered or obnoxiously spongy. Sadly he is a Type-0 research subject thing, whatever that means, so he lacked the ability to do the usual “Behemoth hit 0 HP and now is standing upright instead of on all fours AND IS LITERALLY TEARING IT’S OWN SPINE OUT OF ITS BACK TO USE AS A FUCKING WEAPON BECAUSE IT HATES YOU THAT MUCH” transformation that they always do since 13 – but I hope it’ll come in the later parts of the Remake.
Aside from the bosses being terrible for most of the game, my other biggest complaint is the train graveyard. It goes on way too long, is boring aside the general aesthetic of it, and it really doesn’t fit. Yes, this was in the original – but it was about 2 minutes long and had no story to it aside jumping around on the roof of some trains. It seems near endless here and also has 2 boss fights in a row followed by a cringeworthy extremely cliche and obnoxious story beat about IT WAS ALL THE GOOD KIDDO GHOSTERINOS JUST WANTIN TO PLAY BY TRYIN TO KILL YOU OH GOOD LITTLE KIDDOS OH OH WHOSE A GOOD LITTLE KIDDO all while your fucking friends are in the background which you CAN SEE in a fucking WAR WITH SHINRA ON THE PILLAR DYING TO TRY AND SAVE ABOUT 100,000 PEOPLE’S LIVES while your cast sits there having a fucking cheery moment about a dead kid. I haven’t seen a single person who thought positively on any level about this part of the game, at least that makes me happy.
Speaking of the pillar though, this too came as a pretty huge disappointment. The pillar sequence is by far the most memorable part of the Midgar portion of the original game and one of my personal overall favorites of the full game itself. In Remake it’s directed very confusingly; rather than the high-energy, high-tension, badass firefight against Shinra forces to save Sector 7’s slums and plate and all the lives that would be lost from the destruction of both you get…really sappy, quiet, slow, almost somber music near silently playing behind you during obnoxious fights where the few enemies you encounter just fly out of the navigable by the player area so you can’t hit them and they just shoot at you. The music doesn’t fit the situation at all and makes no sense, completely destroying the whole sequence and just making it awkward and drag-on up until you get to another obnoxious boss battle where the music at least finally changes to something a little more fitting while fighting the Turks. It just really was a terrible sequence here with nothing to make it feel memorable or powerful aside the resulting massive destruction after it all. I did like that they added in returning and seeing the place all destroyed (albeit it should be far worse off, but oh well) yet it didn’t undo the lameness of the sequence.
Speaking of the Turks, they’re still pretty cool though I don’t really know how I feel about them being more Advent Children’d up – especially Reno who is now an ultra retard goof which kind of annoys me. Then again it somewhat fits with the rest of the cast wherein they all also a bit different thanks to being more fleshed out and instead of their personality kind of just being told to you actually being shown properly.
Let’s talk about some more characters since we already started.
Cloud is great here, he comes off perfectly as a guy trying too hard to be cool because that IS who he is. I don’t know how to add to that really – he’s Cloud as he always was but made more clearly so people won’t miss it this time (many somehow did originally, it’s why Cloud having no personality became such a huge meme). I also like that he’s kind of clueless at times because he’s so stuck in that mindset of “I GOTTA SEEM HARDCORE”, like when Barret asks about his age and his response is about his SOLDIER class instead because he misunderstood. That was always Cloud but they’ve gone way further and more realistically with it this time and it comes off fantastically, giving him a much more human personality and this great view of how hard he’s trying to seem like a badass while ultimately just being immature in his faux-maturity.
Barret sucks. I fucking hate Barret in this for the most part. He’s retarded and fits every stereotype of his cohort you’d expect – needlessly aggressive and murderous even to innocent people if they simply disagree with his views while preaching about virtues and morality. He even goes as far as threatening people who live in the same slums he does simply because they put on a suit and work for Shinra in an office doing busywork. He’s a regular “Justice For George” protestor, I’m surprised he’s not trying to drop the plate on his own slums rather than fighting against Shinra doing it because that’s usually how these people are.
[Have some more music.]
He was always my least favorite party member but now he is fucking obnoxious and never shuts the fuck up. He also does dumb shit like getting Cloud to pretend to be a SOLDIER the group just killed on the guy’s radio, Cloud does…then about 3 seconds later Barret rips it from his hands and starts screaming about how IM BOUTTA FUCK YO SHIT UP DAWG AYYYY YALL DONT KNOW PAIN YALL DONT KNOW SUFFERIN BUT IM COMIN AND YALL GONNA FIND OUT WHAT IT BE LIKE WHEN I PUT THE PAIN TRAIN ON YA ASS JUSTICE FOR GEORGE FOREMAN OR WHATEVER THAT HOMIES NAME WAS YALL NO JUSTICE NO PEACE YALL BOUTTA WAIT 8 MINUTES AND 46 SECONDS FOR MY SUMMON’S CUTSCENE TO END YALL putting on an entire fucking wrestling promo for no goddamn reason at all destroying HIS OWN PLAN TO FOOL THEM. Luckily, Shinra wasn’t listening (lucky for them too, because they’d have lost brain cells), but the scene serves as the best single moment to get across how fucking grating and just retarded this character is. He is as black as possible and he is ruined for it. When he isn’t screaming about injustice and muh planet and muh shinra he’s saying dumb bullshit like thinking up poses, he’s so fucking stupid I fucking hate him and was so glad when they had the Masamune shoved through his fucking chest. Too bad it got retconned immediately after.
Tifa is at her best here, but I’m also biased towards feeling that way. To be honest, she was right above Barret in the original and tied with Red XIII for second worst aside her fucking massive tits which were always great of course. I just never liked her much, there was nothing to her beyond “I have titties and I knew Cloud as a kid, also I fuck him before the final boss”. She was not endearing on any level to me and I really didn’t like having her in the party at all either, seemed useless. Over the years she’s really grown on me in a big way, I’m not even sure why but when the first reveal trailer for the Remake came out one of my first reactions was this huge excitement about when they’d reveal Tifa and wanting to see her and also hear how she’s voiced this time and none of it “because her tits” – well, some of it, but not all of it. I don’t know why but she became one of my favorite characters of the game now and that held true in Remake. She’s also fucking cute to look at even beyond her honkers, they gave her some kind of asian and hispanic look that works really well.
She’s also got so much more personality and character now, even if she doesn’t say retard anymore, and feels like a legitimate living being rather than a set piece with bazongas.
The same can absolutely be said about Aerith. I always felt she was sort of a nothing character, like they knew they were killing her so they just didn’t bother to write her at all. She was a plot element, not a character. Now she feels much more fully realized and has a really great personality to her that isn’t just overly perfect and prim girl but is more of a normal woman of her age even if still overly sweet and pure-ish. She’s more of a “Stacy” now to go along with Cloud being a turbo-“Chad”, and one of my favorite moments from her in the game was a ladder breaking while she was climbing it – but not in real danger of injury if she fell off of it – and giving the most genuine like forgot your wallet at home not a huge deal but if sucks “shit”. It was just great for some reason and SO unexpected from Aerith of all people and yet it comes out so naturally and cleanly that it does not feel remotely out of character. In fact it was one of the early moments of meeting her and it really set the tone for her new personality which is much more endearing and likable because she feels like a more typical everyday girl yet if she says a curse word you still notice it because she still has that innocent pure feeling to her on some level.
Nothing really to say about Red XIII given he’s only in the last few hours so gets no real time to do anything or say much – however he did seem a lot more likable than in the past. He has more of that teen side to him that he always technically had and it gives him a charm and some fun moments like denying being a lab rat dog.
Last, while there are plenty of other characters (including her two buds), I just want to specifically talk a little about Jessie. She was always a side girl and if you’ve known me long enough you know I have some kind of, I dunno, “fetish” for side character girls. I just always am very fond of them and often times they end up my very favorite characters in stuff. Jessie has always been someone I liked even when she barely existed in the original game and had nothing about her beyond a handful of lines before she ultimately dies in like 3 hours and barely existed more than as a background character. She stuck with me though, not hugely, but one of my strongest memories of the game has always been stopping and rescuing her during the escape from the reactor.
Finally having her be a true actual character was amazing, and boy is she ever a great one. They put a lot of love and work into making Jessie truly Jessie and not just “that random NPC that dies named Jessie” (and at this point who knows if she’s even dead), I mean she even has an entire little arc dedicated just to flirting with her and taking on a mission with her which leads to a really cool sequence of actually getting to go on the upper Sector 7 plate and even meet her parents (well, the player gets to at least). Jessie has gone from a barely notable NPC from the first few hours of a game to one of the most prominent and memorable things in Remake, and the game is absolutely better for it and for the wonderful fun loving, flirty, and non-stop teasing personality they gave her.
Oh, right, I also really like the redesign of Heidegger. Instead of a fat fucking retard he’s badass looking which suits his job a lot better and seems far more serious of a character thanks to it.
Visually the game ranges from fantastic to some absolutely shit stuff, it’s strange because these were clearly choices on their part. For the most part the game is gorgeous and I loved the throwback to the way backgrounds were done in the original and thought it was a neat little touch (though if you look around at some complaints, a lot of people didn’t “get” this and just thought it was some lazy corner cutting). I also really loved the character design – everyone looks fantastic and their new-ish designs fit them well (okay, Rufus excluded who is now just a visual kei rockstar for some reason in a skirt made of belts). Most notable is my personal favorite small detail; the materia slots (including if they’re linked or not) and materia in them being shown visibly for all characters and weapons even in cutscenes and keeping up with both what you have slotted and the upgrades you’ve put on it (up to a point as they didn’t want to render like 6 fucking materia on a sword), this never got less cool to see. Keep in mind for this post, all the images are compressed by PS4’s share button stuff so they don’t look nearly as good as they should and suffer from aliasing and artifacting and stuff.
Then for some reason you have the door to your apartment in the early chapters which is just a horribly low res texture even though you see it a bunch of times. Then, even worse, the Shinra logo on all the helicopters is unbelievably shitty. I mean it is EXTREMELY bad, it’s barely legible, it looks like complete shit. Yet they shove it in your face taking up the FULL SCREEN at times mostly on the helicopter with Rude and Reno during the pillar sequence and then again when Rufus shows up (same helicopter model with the same fucked logo). It’s fucking terrible and there’s no excuse for it, especially when they knew they’d zoom the camera on it so often. You also get a lot of pop-in issues from time to time. Overall it’s a beautiful game but that really makes the bad shit stand out even more…and seriously, that Shinra logo, just what the fuck?
Beyond that stuff the game has some really beautiful settings and backdrops which has me very excited to see how gorgeous the world is going to look on the outside of Midgar. Even just Aerith’s house surrounded by its flower garden and waterfall was astounding, and that’s just some little area surrounded by concrete and steel. Not many games can really wow me or pull me in in terms of settings, but a lot of Remake really managed to.
Another thing I noticed is that of course this has way MORE story cutscenes – yet it seemed to be lacking in regards to Shinra scenes which felt like there was a lot more in the original during this portion of the game. Aside near the very end Shinra was almost non-existent, I mean they were always around and relevant and you fought them a lot, but I mean in terms of the overarching plot they could to a new player seem rather under-developed. I feel like the original had a lot more build-up of the corporation during the Midgar portion, especially with an odd focus on Palmer for whatever reason.
Back a bit to the story, I feel it was paced really well; one thing this game never did was really totally let up. I always felt a push to have to continue playing and the story, even during it’s “lulls” of side quests, it didn’t really let you feel like it was alright to finally take a break. I never really talked about my favorite parts, just my disappointment mostly in the Pillar sequence. Almost all of it is fantastic from the totally new to the redone old stuff to the sort of in-between things that feel like content that would have been in some sort of FF7 Director’s Cut.
The moment I really knew this was above and beyond what I had wished for, and one of my favorite bits in the game, was the portion immediately after the first reactor mission – so just a couple hours in. It makes you walk around the decimation that your characters believe was their fault, seeing the real end result of a major terrorist bombing. Even as a player knowing it wasn’t truly fully your doing it still had impact because even if it isn’t due to you really it’s still this decimation you took part in indirectly as well as the true face of Shinra like we’ve never seen before – and in this part both their darker side and their much better side we rarely got a glimpse of in the original game.
Seeing the normal citizens suffering and in fear screaming and crying in the destroyed streets among still falling and burning rubble, seeing Shinra police, Shinra firemen, and Shinra paramedics all doing everything they could to keep people safe and save the lives of those who were injured and just being people rather than EVIL SHINRA. It was such a dramatically different perspective that the original never had on anything plus it humanized not only the citizens of Midgar as a whole but even Shinra’s people – in fact the whole game really goes pretty far making people employed by Shinra to not be bad or inhuman monsters which I seriously appreciate and might be one of my favorite changes in Remake and in some ways fairly important.
Seeing Shinra being more like genuine people who care about the populace all the way from their police down to the recurring office worker trio who works in the slums (and I think died because I never saw them again after the plate fell) gave such a different light to everything going on in the story and put a lot more weight on the actions you are taking. Shinra isn’t just some evil thing now – in fact, it almost is not at all aside ol’ Papa-Shinra and Hojo.
Another moment I really loved was the Shinra Museum, it’s not as long as I wish it was but it’s a lot longer than I thought when I walked in and is both really cool and really fun with everything from little messages from the main Shinra staff showing some of their personality (including Reeve being the only one to do it properly) to a full on promotional video from Shinra you get to watch in full. Plus having a guided tour with a narrator talking you through was such a great touch. I loved this whole bit.
I also liked getting a handjob from a sexy lady, but really if I start going into more and more things and scenes I liked this won’t end – so lets just keep it to those including the handie.
I think this game also does a great job – and one it REALLY NEEDED TO DO GREAT AT – of proving this being a series rather than a single release was a necessary decision and the right one to make. The original game is about 35-50 hours total even if you basically 100% it depending on luck of chocobos and such to do that. Remake is about 35-45 hours that only covers the first 5 of those at-least 35 hours the original lasted. Not to mention all the massive twists and changes and new content. If they released the full entire game all at once we’d never see it and it likely would never be able to keep being funded – not to mention nobody would play it. Even the most hardcore JRPG fans do not want to play what could end up a like 200-500 hour long game. The size of the game would also be insane; this already is gigantic at just barely under 100GB which also took 14 hours to download on PSN. Imagine the full game if just the adaptation (and new stuff) of THE FIRST FIVE FUCKING HOURS was 100GB. BluRays can’t even fit that much which is why the release had to be put on 2 discs already – this would be like a 25 BD game or a multi-week long download situation.
Plus there’d be the time to develop it and the funding issues due to all that time without anything to sell to add to the development funds. The game would take like 20 more years to release and cost the full price of however much this will in parts but all at once without those releases of parts making money to continue creating the next parts.
Point is, after the first 7 or so hours I came to find total acceptance in myself with this “parted out” story because I see no other way this could even work.
This might not really be the review you were hoping for but without doing this immediately after playing that became kind of difficult – plus my memory of the prior FF7 games and other assorted media isn’t that great so I’m still being reminded of too much to keep a lot of those threads that’d be important to bring up properly together so I’d just say a lot of stupid shit which is why I’m not even going to try and touch on the final moments with Zack. Plus this is meant as a review not a deep dive into the plot.
However, if anything the time it’s taken me to finally write this means I’ve had loads of time to really go over my feelings and get past the honeymoon stage – something I’m really bad about being stuck in when I write reviews too quickly. My feelings for this haven’t changed one bit though, I absolutely fucking loved it and time away from it hasn’t degraded that. This isn’t just great because of nostalgia – even if the awestruck feeling of “I am playing FF7 for the first time again in 2020” never went away. It’s a genuinely fantastically put together game with the only caveats being a few bad parts (the trainyard), some frustrating boss design, an over-reliance on knowledge of the original, and ultimately the biggest issue being that it isn’t over when you finish it – but fuck if it doesn’t leave off on an amazing twist and cliffhanger.
But the biggest question still remains unanswered: What was Shinra’s tax policy?
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I somehow forgot to mention that Tifa actually, unironically saying “Maybe Shinra will let Aerith go when they’re done with her” is far, FAR worse than anything Barret has ever said or done. In fact I’d even go as far as saying that one line kinda ruined her for me in this game, even during my initial playthrough. Such an unbelievably idiotic, out of character moment for her, just so they could pad the fuck out of a game that was already bloated as hell.
I don’t even remember this happening so I had to look it up in an entire autistically transcribed wiki page of the entire game’s script for context;
“Elmyra: She had to come willingly, otherwise it wouldn’t work, they said. That’s why…even if they did take her away, I’m sure she’s still being treated like a guest… And that they’ll send her straight back home once they get what they need.
Cloud: I doubt it.
Elmyra: You’re not planning anything, are you? Don’t make things worse than they already are. If I lost her too, I don’t know if I could… if I could ever… Just don’t.
Tifa: Cloud. Maybe she’s right about this. Maybe they’ll let Aerith go when it’s all over. Maybe…we’d be better off waiting a little while.
Barret: Let’s head back to Sector 7. Got things to take care of. Like…checking up on the bar.”
Plus this happens before anyone has been back to or seen the slums since they dropped the plate. Tifa has jealousy issues with her in the first place, plus her mom is right there saying don’t do anything, aerith went by choice and they could kill her or something if you do so she could be saying it to be comforting by making her think they have no intention of doing anything, and I think most importantly I see it as she is prioritizing her own friends and ‘family’ in the slums and wants to hurry up and head back. She has no real connection to Aerith at all, honestly the entirety of FF7 she never really did even in the original, so her being quick to brush it off plus in the context of calming down the mother, and wanting to focus instead on the people and town she does feel a strong bond to makes sense. It sounds more like being selfish rather than stupid and naive and I’d believe it, Tifa and Barrett are only so aggressive when it comes to personal attachments – but also Tifa is a woman and this is a mother who JUST said “don’t do shit or i will be scared they’ll kill her” so of course she’d say something about how they won’t do a thing. She also knows Shinra too much for this line to make sense for her to truly believe – unironic doesn’t necessarily mean ‘genuine’.
They also could have kept the same ‘padding’ in by simply having her say immediately after once the mom isn’t around that of course we need to save her but her entire city and loved ones just got psuedo-nuked so before they deal with her they need to go back to the slums and see how it is and who survived. If it was just for the sake of adding padding time to the game I think they would have just had her do that or say something similar in the same part either way like “well before that we need to…”.
Forgot to include it in the post but another not that big of a complaint but one I do care about; the platinum trophy is basically impossible to get, rather it involves nothing but like 100 extra hours of busywork and isn’t something worthwhile to bother trying for. It kind of sucks, I wanted to 100% this.
Having replayed FF7 last month, I strongly disagree with the original playable cast of characters lacking personality compared to the remake. Despite the notoriously shitty translation, you can still see all the same character quirks and nuances that you see in the remake, it’s just not as in-your-face. And the remake was infinitely more faithful in its portrayal of the characters than shit like Advent Children and Crisis Core.
I agree with everything else you’ve said, especially the train graveyard, but there were plenty of other areas that were just as bad i.e the sewers and Hojo’s Lab. It’s a shame because every time I think about replaying the remake I remember how little fun I had at those points and my drive to do so fades away. I know I’ve bitched about the time jannies before but after reflecting on it for a few weeks and watching/reading some reviews (including this one) I’ve softened up on them quite a bit and have come around to understanding their brilliance, though I still think they could have been integrated into the plot a bit better. I still feel the same about the Sephiroth stuff being poorly handled though even with the proper context, and the remake did a piss poor job setting him up as the main antagonist.
And this probably didn’t matter as much to you but referencing Genesis was the one thing I was praying this remake wouldn’t do, and it did, which makes me somewhat reluctant to buy the remake sequel if it means having to deal with the absolute worst character in Final Fantasy history being retconned into the plot and shoved down my throat. But that’s just me.
They have personality but it’s way more subdued in the original, its definitely there like I hinted at mostly with Cloud, but its not only missed by many but just isn’t as fully developed I feel. Aerith I especially stand by as being basically completely empty aside perfect, pure, and a plot piece rather than a human being. The others had something but like you said far less in your face, and I think presenting it this way really benefits the entire cast and the game as a whole. Plus the original game takes way longer to ever get around to building those personalities while this right away has that constantly being showcased. I just feel like in the original most of them felt pretty thin while here they are one of the most notable things about the entire game.
I completely forgot about the other annoying areas but at the same time most of them also provided something of merit to the story. They were mostly no fun to play but they at least had something positive accompanying them in some way, while the train graveyard just had absolutely nothing at all. Hojo’s lab is hugely important and has a lot of big twists and things even if it has a shit boss and goes on for far too long and the sewers while not being nearly as important were also annoying in the original game at least to me, even if way shorter (not including the stupid chase the fat pig thing part the second time through), plus I felt the boss there wasn’t that bad and that it overall wasn’t nearly as obnoxious as the trainyard. It also didn’t nearly get in the way of the story as much, while the first time thru your characters half-believe there’s a reason to hurry there is no verified reason for the narrative to rush them, unlike when you see a fucking war going on to save 100k lives right there and still take your time for a stupid ghost kid.
As for Genesis, I’ve only heard bad things but until maybe soon now that I have it accessible I’ve never played through Crisis Core – I know some key points but not enough to really even know much of anything about Genesis aside some gackt dude is a shitty character. I plan to try and play through CC soon so I’ll probably agree soon enough.