Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
A little over 10 years ago, a game came out that pushed the previously niche Console JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) genre into the mainstream. That game was of course Final Fantasy VII
, a game that propelled the Playstation brand to new heights and continues to be an exclusive main series for the Sony systems (there are side Final Fantasy
games on other systems, but the main thread has stayed Sony only minus the MMO FF XI
). I loved FF VII
, but I don’t consider it to be the best game of the series. Many out there who had their first taste of the series with that game will almost always choose that game as their favorite it seems. Now after a couple related properties (PS2’s bad Dirge of Cerebus
and the cool CGI movie Advent Children
) Square Enix has finally brought out a property to actually feel good about from a game perspective: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
on the PSP.
’s story starts out seven years before FF VII
and revolves around Zack Fair, a name that some people may remember from FF VII
. My co-worker who loves that game had no idea who Zack Fair was until I reminded him, so many may not remember his place in the game. From the FF VII
perspective, Zack is known as the guy Cloud emulates to the point of pretty much “believing” he is Zack during the game because he doesn’t remember ever knowing Zack. Eventually, in a confrontation with Sephiroth, Cloud remembers Zack and what happened in Nibelheim five years ago. Crisis Core
starts its story two years before the Nibelheim incident, but also includes said incident.
At the beginning Zack is a SOLDIER 2nd Class and trying very hard to get to 1st Class where people like Sephiroth are..
A bunch of 1st and 2nd Classes have deserted SOLDIER and backed one of the top operatives for the group, a guy named Genesis. It seems Genesis, Sephiroth and Zack’s mentor Angeal are all really good friends and in the case of Angeal and Genesis they grew up together. Sephiroth is considered the top operative in the program even though all three are SOLDIER 1st Class. Sephiroth is mostly a good guy in this game until the obvious turn that was documented before this game in FF VII
, so it is cool to see him on the side of the major protagonist in this story at the beginning. The game revolves around these four characters for the most part with some younger versions of FF VII
characters showing up, including Cloud. As you go through the story you will see a lot of similarities in the story here and the story of FF VII
, leading credence to the fact that history has the habit of repeating itself. The story itself is top notch and often told through excellent CGI cutscenes as well as through cutscenes that use the game engine itself. It doesn’t hurt that the story contained here is an excellent base for both characters and answering questions about the past from FF VII
The graphics are simply phenomenal for the PSP. Even though you can tell the difference between CGI cutscenes and ones that use the game engine, both are simply top notch for a system that supposedly has a little less power than a PS2. The only thing I could think of as I was playing this game was if Square Enix ever does go through with re-doing FF VII
and they plan on bringing it to the PSP they should use the tools they used here. Also of note is the music and voiceovers. The music, to me, is a perfect balance between orchestral homages to the original FF VII
music and a more rock and roll feel during battles. I know it sounds weird to say that kind of mashup strikes a perfect balance, but it just does. The voiceovers are also well done and the amount of things voiced is actually quite a bit, although I wish there was even more.
The gameplay itself will probably confuse you a bit at the beginning unless you’ve had some experience with the Kingdom Hearts
games. The gameplay is refined from that here and a little more strategy is involved, but if you’ve played one of those games you should get a semblance of what kind of game this is. Gone is the turn-based combat from the game this is a prequel to. Now you fight just as Zack in real time. You can attack with the X button, dodge with the square button and guard with the triangle button. Down in the lower right corner is a line of actions you can do. By hitting the L or R trigger you can go down the line and do such things as use magic and items through the X button. The strategy comes from knowing when to heal Zack or unleash some magic and when to attack and evade the enemy attack. If you go in full guns blazing you will find out quickly after roughly the first half of the game that you will die quite frequently. The game itself gives you plenty of on-screen notices to know when you need to heal yourself and when you have a malady, but a lot can be going on at one time and you have to think quick on your feet.
A new addition to the game and one that is a total change of pace is the DMW or Digital Mind Wave section.
As you fight creatures and major enemies you will see a slot system in the top left corner of the screen. As you defeat enemies you will see faces come up on the slots. If the left and right slot land on the same character the screen will say “Modulating Phase” and the slot machine blows up to full screen as you await the middle slot to stop and see if you get three of a kind. Then you also have to watch the numbers to the left of each picture. They increase your number of SOLDIER points, but also if you happen to get 777 you get a level up. This is the only way to level up in the game since there is no XP in the game at all. There are ideas out there on the Internet that the XP is hidden and the slots come to 777 when you would regularly level up, but I question this since I had a few battles where I received two or more level ups. Granted, they were battles with big enemies, but it seemed a bit weird. With three of a kind in the pictures you also get to unleash a Limit Break or maybe get a level up one of your Materias. The base fact is it all seems like the slots and what it gives you are totally random. The only negative in this section is the fact that you have no control over any of it, although your increased excitement around a situation is pointed out by some test and that will usually give you some good outcomes once you hit the slots.
This game is tighter in inventory/equipping and looser in the ability to do anything anywhere. There are only a certain number of positions allowed for such things as Materia, so you do somewhat have to plan before major fights what Materia you are going to bring to the battle. The upgrades to your equipment as you go through the game are also very limited in how many you can have at one time. The changes to Zack’s abilities need to be looked at before you choose which items to equip and which ones to leave behind. In many ways, Crisis Core
is a far more strategic game than even its turn-based sequel.
It is also a huge surprise to see that you can basically do anything you want at any point as you are moving along. You can bring up the menu and read the mail you’ve received, look at the DMW pictures you’ve unlocked and how powerful they are and you can even shop right from that menu. You can pick up however many potions and other items as you can with the gil you have since the Shop area is available to you at any point. This game is also very loose with the giving of gil and you should have no problem being well stocked for the tough battles should you not want to use magic points by unloading Cure on yourself.
The last thing of note with Crisis Core
are the side missions that you unlock as you go through the game.
The main game itself will take a while to go through, but the side missions increase the length of the game quite a bit. It is well worth it to go through the side missions since they unlock even more stories and connections to FF VII
that the main game does not cover. The only problem with the side missions is that you have to be at a save point in order to access and complete them, you aren’t able to just go to the menu and play them.
It is hard not to highly recommend anyone with a PSP to pick up Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
. I’ve only owned my PSP for a short while, but I have a hard time believing that there is another RPG on the system that does everything as well as this one does. This is quite literally the first must own for me on the system and is an easy pickup for anyone that played the Playstation game over 10 years ago. The story is intriguing, the action gameplay is top notch and the game is simply fun. It is a change of pace for anyone expecting a Final Fantasy VII
type of gameplay experience, but Square Enix has outdone themselves here and actually have made the PSP system worth owning from an RPG perspective. The nicest part is that there is finally a product around the FF VII
compilation series that is simply excellent. If you’ve played the game this revolves around, it would be foolish to not pick this up as well.
+ The graphics are really good for a PSP game
+ The cutscenes, both CGI and game engine based
+ The gameplay, although action orientated, is top notch
+ The voiceovers
+ The story both expands the history of FF VII
and creates its own new characters and story
+ The side missions are quite fun
+ Zack and Sephiroth’s story/evolution and how it flows into FF VII
- The new DMW system seems to be totally random, but its outcome can be tremendous
- Leveling is left up to the DMW and no clear fact whether there is a hidden XP total or not that decides when 777 comes up or not
- The evolution of Sephiroth from sane top SOLDIER to the insane man we know and love