Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade

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Cloud Strife, an ex-SOLDIER operative, descends on the mako-powered city of Midgar. The world of the timeless classic FINAL FANTASY VII is reborn, using cutting-edge graphics technology, a new battle system and an additional adventure featuring Yuffie Kisaragi.

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Zloth

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I haven't done the "intermission" yet, but I think I can kick out a review of this. TLDR version: weak port but very fun to play overall.

Setting

The game is set in the city of Midgar, a circular city built on two levels. The more well-to-do live on top level while the poor live below it, under a steel sky. Around the outer edge are 8 huge mako reactors that power the city. While the poor do live in somewhat ramshackle buildings, nobody is starving in the streets.
Choppers.jpg

Most of the people are fairly happy with the city, though the poor obviously aren't so happy about their place in the system. A few folks aren't liking the system, though. Not at all. They've noted that the landscape around Midgar is becoming devoid of life, particularly plants. One such group is Avalanche. You'll start out playing Cloud, a mercenary hired by Avalanche to bomb one of the mako reactors.

The world's technology level is modern, but mako energy is used to power that technology, and that energy is quite magical. The energy can sometimes clump together, forming jewels (called materia) that give weapons and armor the power to cast spells.

The city government is run by a large corporation called the Shinra Electric Power Company. Naturally, they are all evil down to their rotten little cores! Well, actually not. The president and most of the top execs are a nasty bunch, but most employees are just typical folks doing their typical jobs. (They also have a huge number of security personnel that are happy to give their lives for Shinra. It is a video game, after all.)

Gameplay

The gameplay is mostly a linear set of missions telling a story. You will follow the path, kill the enemies before you, follow the path some more, eventually kill a boss, and get story fed to you along the way. The story is quite good, and Square/Enix does cut scenes VERY well, so this worked out very well for me. If you don't want to see all that story stuff, though, you can pause them and chose the option to skip each cutscene and right click a bunch to hurry in-game dialog along.

Occasionally, the game will open up and let you freely roam around town. They give you some little, optional quests you can do, too. A few of the quests aren't bad, but most of them are pretty uninspiring excuses to get you to run around town or go back through an area to fight some monsters. Feel free to skip the ones that don't sound fun. (They even put one in early on to fight some giant rats. I really hope the devs were just trolling us with that one.)

This is very much a JRPG. You will not be customizing your character. You get a few choices in the story, but they don't appear to be all that consequential. The game is mostly about telling you a fixed story where you get to do all the many fight scenes yourself.

When characters level up, the character's HP and MP go up some automatically. However, you also get some weapon points to spend on several things the weapon can do. You can spend points to simply add to its attack power, or add a new materia slot to it, make your healing powers work better when your HP are low, and so on. What's more, instead of having to decide which weapons should get the points, all the weapons get the same points, so you are free to improve any/all your weapons. If you want to add to the physical attack on one weapon and the magical attack for another, then switch between the two as you move from area to area, go right on ahead.

Oh, and you can save anytime outside of battle. There are also checkpoint saves that are fairly frequent. (The healing power save points gave you in the original game shows up again as benches you can sit on to rest.)

Battles

This is an action JRPG for sure, so there's a lot of fighting. You'll have 1 to 3 characters in your party (the story dictates which characters). You'll control one character at a time, but you can switch any time.

The fights play out a little like a pause-on-space system. You flail away with your normal attacks, adding to a blue action bar as attacks hit and damage is taken. You can dodge and guard against attacks as well. When the bar gets half full, you can press space and do an action. Actions can be special moves, casting spells, or using items like healing potions. A few actions require the entire bar instead of just a half bar. You can also press space before the bar fills up to pause (well, nearly pause) the action - you just won't have any commands available.

If you don't want to keep flailing away, you can pick one of the 'classic' difficulty levels. When you use this, the character you control will attack without your input. You can simply keep an eye on everybody's health and action bars, then press space and select commands as needed. If something in battle happens and you want to take over, that's fine, just start providing input and the game will take it. Stop doing anything and the game will take over the controls again.

Something entirely new in the game is the stagger bar, located under the (yellow!) hit point bar. If you can fill the stagger bar up, the enemy will fall over, allowing you to wail on them for bonus damage. If you can unleash your stronger attacks while the enemy is prone like that, the battle will end quickly. So, you'll want to use some tactics to try and arrange for the enemies to stagger when your heaviest hitting shots are ready to go.

Here's the last 7 minutes of a boss fight I did. Leviathan is pretty huge, so dodging was pointless, but I tried a few times anyway. You'll also see a lot of interrupting here. At 1:25, Tifa tries to cast a lightning spell at Leviathan, but the monster dives below ground level before the spell fires off so it does no damage. Getting hit hard while casting a spell will cancel the spell, too.
View: https://youtu.be/glBzHxKY9_U


Materia

As mentioned above, materia provides magic spells to characters by putting them in slots found in armor and weapons. Spells aren't the only things that materia can do, though. Some materia will add hit points or mana points to the character. Some will provide special commands like a provoke or steal command. A few allow you to summon a powerful being to help fight for you. There's an impressive set, but you'll only be able to slot a few at a time.
Materia.jpg

Most interesting (IMHO) are the blue materia that alter how one of the other materias you have acts. There's one that makes the partner materia act on all targets instead of just one, so a healing spell will hit all of your characters instead of just one, or a fire spell will hit all enemies instead of just one. An elemental materia on a weapon can make the weapon do extra fire/ice/whatever damage. On armor, it will reduce damage from fire/ice/whatever - or even cancel it at high levels.

Most materia can gain levels, too. After enough use, your fire materia can cast more and more powerful fire spells, and your healing materia will cast better healing and regeneration spells. If you don't get them slotted, though, they don't gain levels and, as I said earlier, there are never enough slots. Just like in the original FF7, your decisions on what materia to slot will change how your game plays quite a lot!
 
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Zloth

I smell a... wumpus!?
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The Port

Blah. The game runs fairly well on my 3080, but there are almost no graphic options. There is an excellent mod that unlocks all the Unreal Engine settings, letting you turn off dynamic resolution, depth of field, and whatever else you like, but it isn't very easy to use, and I really don't see why SquareEnix didn't just provide the options in game. Ah well, at least I was able to get graphics I liked and even turned on some reflections.

Keyboard+mouse works pretty well through most of the game. Some of the mini-games are extremely difficult on K+M, though. There is rebinding available, but heaven only knows what that will make happen on the various mini-games found in the story. I just went with K+M, then grabbed my controller when a mini-game showed up.

On the plus side, you can easily switch between keyboard+mouse and controller any time you like. The prompts update immediately.

Candy

Eye candy is great. The characters look great, the city looks great, the battles look great - sweetness all around.

Voice acting is great at the top levels. The main characters all do a fine job. The not-so-main characters are more hit and miss. Chadley, a character that gives you battle-oriented missions throughout the game, is so stiff that I honestly expected to find out that he was an android at some point!

The music is extremely well done. The original's music was already amazingly good given the technology used. Now, with full orchestration, it's one of the best in the business. A pity you can't buy the OST. (I found CDs on Amazon, but they are crazy expensive imports. MP3s don't seem to be for sale anymore.)

Story

The original story of Final Fantasy 7 is easily one of the best in gamedom. Remake, however, isn't the whole story - not by a long shot. So, how did they fill the time?
Barret & Marlene.jpg
Well, some was taken up by those rather weak quests, but a lot was also taken up by exploring some of the things the original game glossed over.

For instance, in the original game, Avalanche seems to just have all the explosives one might need to mangle a huge mako reactor. In Remake, you need to go on a little adventure with Jessie, Wedge, and Biggs to pick some up, and you get to learn a good bit more about Jessie's character in the process.

They add some extra characters, too. Some of them work (like Lesie) and others, not so much (like that biker guy).

They had to bleed some stuff in from later parts of the story, too. Spending 40-50 hours on a game and ending up with just in the first dozen-or-so hours of the original game would have been pretty rough, so they toss you some tidbits. They also add in an extra boss fight at the end, because ending on the old "Motor Ball" boss fight would have been really weak.

The overall story has remained very much intact, though. All the major points and most of the minor points are still there. Maybe Cloud gets put in a dress at the Honey Bee instead of in the back room of the dress maker's shop, but he's still going to be wearing it. (How does he breathe in that thing!?)

Too Long, Didn't Read; But Wanted More Than Just One Line!

Good Stuff
  • Well done story with well done characters and very well done cutscenes
  • Pretty deep battle system that will keep you thinking as you fight
  • Good customization. It's not the traditional way of upgrading skills and stats for characters, but upgrades to weapons and choices in materia work just as well.
  • The game loads up surprisingly fast, at least for me. Hit Play on Steam to actually playing the game is about 15 seconds!
Bad Stuff
  • Weak graphic options. There's a mod to help with it but, at least currently, it isn't easy to figure out what Unreal parameters you need to set to get the graphics you want.
  • Some of the acting (both voice and animations) can get weak outside of the main cast.
  • Costs an extra $10, though it does include a DLC.
  • Tough to use mouse/keyboard throughout the whole game.
  • When you get defeated, why can't you load a save!?
Errrr???
  • Seems strange that they broke the "red for health, blue for mana" convention. It doesn't hurt anything, but it seems odd.
  • Why would they add a photo mode, then lock the camera down so tightly!? I had to get the latest Universal Unreal Unlocker to free the camera up.
  • Gimme the soundtrack!
  • Just part 1 of 3. You may want to wait for all three parts to show up before buying.
Tifa ready to pounce.jpg
 
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bjon045

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Thanks for the review mate, much appreciated. I'm not a jRPG fan but I might make an exception for this one as I played the original back in the day when it first came out on PC. I will follow your advice of waiting for all 3 parts to be released as well.
 
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Zloth

I smell a... wumpus!?
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Nice review. I'm curious though, why go K+M for something like this?
Thanks!

I'm just used to K+M is all. It's easier to make snap turns, I suppose, but I didn't really think about using the controller at all until a mini-game came up where I had to press "X" really fast. By that time, I had already gotten used to K+M.

Extra note on K+M that I forgot about...

You know how ESC brings up the main game menu? Not here. ESC is used to close windows, not open them. Bring up menus with the M key. :rolleyes: Easy enough to re-map the keys, but you can't change the ESC to be the normal toggle-menus-on-and-off that most games use. I got used to it fast enough (hence forgetting to put it in the review), but why Square? Why!?
 
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