Perhaps one of the most influential JRPGs of the late ’90s, Final Fantasy 7 was a smash hit when it came out, igniting the imaginations of gamers and further establishing Squaresoft, now Square Enix as a powerhouse in the gaming landscape, especially when it comes to RPG’s. The game was so popular in fact that it produced spin-offs set in its universe, collectively called the Compilation of Final Fantasy 7.
The Compilation of Final Fantasy 7 consists of novels, movies, and most importantly, video games. Though Final Fantasy 7 is a true classic, subsequent games would vary in quality and some games in the Compilation were definitely better than others.
Director of Cerberus: Final Fantasy 7
Dirge of Cerberus, above all other things, was a tad disappointing. A third-person action-shooter RPG released in 2006, Dirge missed a golden opportunity to be a stylish action game in the vein of Devil May Cry, based on arguably one of the coolest and most mysterious characters of the FF7, Vincent Valentine.
What we got was a game with clunky gunplay and stilted action all hampered by the RPG mechanics. Though there were a few feel-good moments in the game, ultimately, it fell far from the fantasy of being Vincent. On top of that, the story was all over the place, with a lot of dramatic beats subverted by players not knowing certain lore minutiae or just plain bad writing, some of which may have been forgivable if they didn’t also happen to give Cait Sith the worst voice ever, a decision that Square Enix has sadly decided to stick with.
Still, this game isn’t without merit. The music was good and there were some bangers in there like Longing or Redemption. The cutscenes were also pretty fun to watch and hold up even to this day.
Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier
This game is the newest entry in the Compilation and is a class-based action-shooter battle royale for Android and iOS. Taking place 30 years before the events of FF7, this game puts you in the shoes of a candidate for the titular SOLDIER program, Shinra’s elite Mako Energy-enhanced fighting force. The gameplay is interesting enough, mixing gunplay, melee, and magic to winnow out SOLDIER candidates as well as taking out neutral monsters to complete quests a la Fortnite or Hunt: Showdown, solo or in a team.
Though the game looks the part, it doesn’t particularly feel like it belongs to the FF7 canon, lacking any story connections beyond its excuse plot, something the developers know and likely lean into given that there are skins and cosmetics available for characters that would show up further in the timeline of the Compilation, like Zack or Tifa.
It’s suitable for a phone game, but if you’re looking for a more authentic Final Fantasy experience or a better battle royale, you should probably look elsewhere.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7
Crisis Core is an action RPG released on the Playstation Portable in 2008, serving as a prequel to Final Fantasy 7 proper, putting you in the role of Zack Fair, a SOLDIER First Class and idol of Cloud Strife, who would go on to be the hero of FF7. The story adds a lot of history and intrigue to the FF7 Compilation mythos, as well as a new cast of characters and an alternate view of ones previously known and while it doesn’t always hit the mark, overall it’s one of the better-written expansions to existing FF lore.
Of particular interest is the portrayal of Sephiroth before his mind snaps from the revelation of his origins, who is actually a charming and interesting character. The gameplay is fun, if a little uneven at times, though never in a way that lessens its fantastic story. In fact, this game has one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking integrations of story and gameplay to ever exist in the history of gaming.
Final Fantasy 7
The classic that started it all – a JRPG in which you play Cloud Strife, an aloof mercenary under contract with AVALANCHE, an eco-terrorist group standing against the Shinra Corporation, a corrupt superpower that amongst other crimes is also draining the lifeblood of the planet . For many, this was their first taste of the JRPG genre and for most of those people, this game has firmly rooted itself in their hearts as one of the best.
From its compelling cast of characters who, love them or hate them, are anything but forgettable to the fun gameplay loop to the at the time state-of-the-art graphics to an unforgettable soundtrack composed by the legendary Nobuo Uematsu, this game was never going to be anything but one of the finest gaming experiences of the ’90s.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Thanks to the original FF 7 being such a high-quality gaming experience, it is treated as a bit of a sacred cow, and as such, people can get touchy when it’s compared to other games and while it is indeed a brilliant game, those same people ignore, sometimes willfully that it’s also very much a product of its time. That being said, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, as it is, is worthy of the legacy and may even surpass it, taking everything about the original that made it so memorable and wonderful into the modern era, all the while turning it into an entirely new and engaging gameplay experience.
It also left behind some of the original’s questionable portrayals of the LGBTQ community as well as some outdated notions of gender and sexuality, culminating in a scintillating display that plays with the flexibility of the gender binary. As a bonus, we also get to see Cloud demonstrate that he’s got the drip in any clothing.
Aside from old-fashioned portrayals of certain subjects, the game also corrects a misstep of the original, namely not putting enough effort into the characterization of the rest of AVALANCHE, more specifically Jessie, Wedge and Biggs– turning them from vaguely-characterized redshirts into genuinely lovable human beings. Overall, the remake is a proper tribute to the original, but more importantly it is also a step forward for the Compilation, being suitable for the adults that the fans of the original have become.
Hopefully, Square Enix keeps up the good work with the other installments and by the time the story is complete again, it will be regarded as another masterwork.
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