Final Fantasy 7 Remake Review – The Gold Standard of Remakes
Arguably the most highly-anticipated remake of all time, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a reimagining of the original game following ex-First Class Soldier turned mercenary Cloud Strife. Is it worth your money? Let's find out.
Standard Edition = RM239
Deluxe Edition = RM339
1st Class Edition = RM1,439
Digital Standard Edition = RM229
Digital Deluxe Edition = RM334
+ Breathtaking visuals
+ Mesmerizing soundtrack
+ Each playable character gives unique combat experience
+ Packed with plenty of new content
+ Simple, yet engaging combat system
+ Summons are more reliable this time around
+ Caters to casual, hardcore, and gamers in-between
+ Surprisingly fun minigames
- Awkward camera angle issues
- Loading speed is rather slow
- NPC may take 5 to 8 seconds before talking at times
This review is made based on an officially received copy of Final Fantasy 7 Remake from PlayStation Asia. There may also be some minor spoilers but we will avoid giving out vivid details of the storyline to the best of our abilities.
What is Final Fantasy 7 Remake About?
Arguably the most highly-anticipated remake of all time, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a reimagining of the original game. The game primarily follows the story of former Shinra First Class soldier turned mercenary Cloud Strife who was hired by eco-terrorist group Avalanche, led by Barret Wallace.
Avalanche has the ultimate mission to save the planet as they believe the Shinra Corporation have been draining the planet’s life energy to provide the world with an energy source. Unfortunately for the heroes, the quest to save the planet is on a far grander scale than anyone has expected.
This is the first episode of the multi-episode format of Final Fantasy 7 Remake. The game has vastly expanded content including playable areas and storyline compared to the original iteration. As such, playing only the original game will still yield a fresh, new experience for any gamer.
More Than Just a Pretty Face
As I’ve mentioned earlier, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is more than just a graphical leap from blocky visuals to real-time polygonal graphics. The game itself feels like an action-adventure game, giving you more freedom to move around and interact with the environment.
Furthermore, Midgar has gotten significantly larger so you have even more areas to explore that didn’t exist before. While the developers tried to recreate areas as accurately as possible in glorious high-definition graphics, you’ll most likely find yourself only recognizing specific areas and landmarks at best. This is great as it gives anyone a brand new experience.
For the most part, you have two things that you can focus on; main quests and side quests. The main quests are tasks that will further the game’s storyline whereas the side quests are optional and will yield interesting rewards. While main quests are mandatory, it doesn’t mean you have to take it immediately. In fact, the game always makes sure you’d want to proceed further as you would potentially lose out on rewards.
There are certain times during main quests where you are presented with choices. Most of the choices you make will have specific effects in the game, such as rewards, cutscene changes, and side quest availability. It helps build anticipation for what could be coming next and it also improves replayability as you will need to play it more than once to fully experience the game.
There are a wide range of side quests available ranging from simple fetch quests to subduing specific monsters in certain areas. These usually involve you helping a local resident on issues that they are facing. There isn’t that many side quests throughout the game, and some can be easy to miss.
Moreover, you will be greeted by a Shinra intern early in the game which offers you Battle Intel requests and VR Missions in exchange for Materia. These Battle Intel requests not only help you familiarize with the game, it also adds a sense of challenge for you to enjoy. While some quests may be a little draggy, it’s worth going through all of them just for the cutscenes alone as it enriches the whole experience.
One great addition to the game is minigames. At times, you will be thrusted into minigames, both mandatory and optional, which can yield rewards. They also serve as a good break away from the standard gameplay. I’m surprised that I didn’t find any of them as a waste of time and thoroughly enjoyed it. I personally wish for a Dance Mode to be added into the game. Maybe it will appear in a future update but no guarantees there.
I am also genuinely surprised that I find myself really enjoying the soundtrack of the game. Not just new renditions of the old music but also the new ones. The mesmerizing, upbeat feeling, and general sound profile seems like something from Final Fantasy XIII, which I personally love. This goes for both in and out of battles.
One problem that the game has is loading speed. It can take about 2 to 3 minutes for the game to start after loading a save, and there are times when an NPC takes about 5 to 8 seconds before they start talking. This issue is due to limitations of an HDD as the PS4 storage, which can be painful given how big Final Fantasy 7 Remake is. When we finally make the leap to SSD in the next generation, this will no longer be a problem.
At the start of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, you are given a difficulty choice of Classic, Easy, and Normal. We played it on Normal as it is how the game was intended to play. In this mode, the combat follows an action-oriented Active Time Battle (ATB) system similar to Final Fantasy XV. As such, you are free to move and dodge without waiting for your turn.
Each playable character has a regular attack and unique ability, with the latter’s functionality differing with each character. For example, Cloud’s unique ability changes his fight mode whereas Tifa will have a special attack that can change based on how many times she has has used Unbridled Strength. It’s interesting how each character can give a very unique experience in combat.
As you continue fighting, your ATB gauge will increase. You can use the ATB gauge to execute commands such as using items, casting magic, and special abilities. The gauge will only increase as you attack so doing nothing won’t help. Magic will be dependent on the Materia you have equipped and special abilities can be learned by mastering them from specific weapons. The latter is as simple as using the ability over and again until you have reached 100% proficiency.
As you level up, you will gain Skill Points which can be used to upgrade weapons. It appears is a Crystarium-style skill tree where you can upgrade stats, damage, defense, and more. Each weapon for a specific character will have the same number of points so you don’t have to worry about spending them.
The iconic Materia system makes a return in this game. Each equipment will have a set of slots where you can equip a variety of Materia. This includes magic, parameter boosts, buffs, debuffs, and more. Linking Materia can lead to bonus effects like chain casting. Most Materia can be leveled up with AP which is gained through combat. What’s most interesting is that the equipped Materia will actually be shown on the character itself. It’s just colours but it’s a good visual addition nonetheless.
One special Materia that works differently and has its own special slot is Summon Materia. You can’t use it anytime you want and there are some conditions to it, such as taking a lot of damage or if a battle goes on for too long. You will know when you can use it when a Summon gauge appears and fills up automatically.
How it works is simple enough as you will have another ally in battle, albeit non-playable. You can use your ATB gauge to issue specific commands for the Summon. When the gauge depletes, it will unleash a devastating attack before leaving the battlefield. While its use can be rather random, it works better and more often than in Final Fantasy XV.
When engaging enemies, there is a Stagger gauge that you need to take advantage of. Essentially, attacks will fill up the gauge and when it fills up, the enemy will be temporarily disabled. You will be inflicting bonus damage during this period, with certain attacks further boosting the bonus damage potential. This adds a layer of strategy as you will need to take into account enemy weaknesses to be able to fully utilize the Stagger gauge.
Limit Breaks also make a return. As you continue taking damage, your Limit gauge fills up, which will allow you to unleash a flashy, devastating attack when filled. While it is great to have with awe-inspiring theatrics, I didn’t like how you can’t exactly save up your Limit Breaks for a future battle. Most of the time, the gauge will deplete after battle regardless of use. It’s not annoying, but would help when dealing with certain boss fights.
One thing I didn’t particularly like about the combat system is the camera angles. Smaller areas like tunnels can result in odd camera angles when locked on to specific enemies. In other words, your view gets obstructed. Furthermore, it seems to have trouble tracking locked-on enemies at times. It’s worth noting that the issue isn’t as prevalent as in Final Fantasy XV, but I do believe it can be fixed in future software updates.
If you prefer turn-based combat instead, check out our review of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 3 by clicking right here.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Verdict
Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a great game for both newcomers and gamers already familiar with the original game. The seamless transition with battles and cutscenes feel like a natural evolution as there’s plenty of new content for everyone to enjoy.
It does have its fair share of issues, like awkward camera angles and loading speed for example, but this is a definite must-have on the PlayStation 4 regardless. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “good gamer”, you can always play it in either Easy or Classic Mode to enjoy the game.
If you believe you can skip out simply because you’ve played the original, you’re gonna be missing out on a lot of new things. I won’t spoil it for you, but there are some storyline changes that take place. With that, I award Final Fantasy 7 Remake with our Gold Pokdeward.
Big thanks to PlayStation Asia for providing us an official copy for this review.