Final Fantasy VII Remake
…looks gorgeous, sounds wonderful and when it’s firing on all cylinders is an absolute joy to play.
Remakes in the video game realm have become almost as ubiquitous as their cinematic counterparts, replete with the same problems. Change too much and you lose the flavour of the original, change too little and you’ve got a lazy, unimaginative package on your hands. The best recent example of a stellar game remake would be Capcom’s excellent Resident Evil 2, a title that kept the ‘puzzle solving under duress’ concept of the original, but brought everything else up to modern standards. Final Fantasy VII Remake, possibly the most anticipated modern video game remake, is finally here and the results are pretty damn solid, with a couple of caveats.
Final Fantasy VII Remake tells the story of plucky hero Cloud Strife, an ex-SOLDIER with a mysterious past, who teams up with eco-terrorist organisation AVALANCHE, to save the city of Midgar from the evil Shinra corporation’s environmental destruction. Cloud will befriend the likes of gruff Barrett, ethereal Aerith and definitely-the-one-he-should-date Tifa on an adventure above and below Midgar. Fans of the original 1997 game might notice the setting of FFVII Remake barely comprises a quarter of that PSone classic, and indeed this particular title is the first of an-as-yet unknown number. While that’s likely to be an (understandable) sticking point for many, FFVII Remake is by no means a slender game, offering expanded and explorable versions of the original locations, all of them looking stunning and well-designed, and much more in depth storytelling.
Combat’s another area where FFVII Remake shines, boasting an intelligent and strategic style of action, that still manages to feel fast paced and kinetic. Being able to switch between characters on the fly, equip different forms of materia and unleash epic summons has been honed beautifully and the engaging violence never tires over the game’s 35 or so hours of playtime.
On the negative side of things, there’s quite a bit of filler thrown in the game. Unimaginative side missions, dull fetch quests and annoying backtracking are peppered throughout the adventure, and when set next to genuinely enthralling and exciting main missions, one has to wonder why. The easily pleased or obsessive completionists will likely want to squeeze every drop of content out of the game, but everyone else should probably just stick to the main story and experience a much more interesting journey.
Final Fantasy VII Remake looks gorgeous, sounds wonderful and when it’s firing on all cylinders is an absolute joy to play. You do have to deal with some expected anime-style bullshit, and the side quests are uniformly dull, but there’s a genuinely charming, engaging game at the core of the package. While splitting the remake into “episodes” feels a little cynical, that mercenary philosophy is thankfully nowhere to be seen in the actual title and Final Fantasy VII Remake is, for the most part, a very solid remake indeed.