Looking back at Final Fantasy VII (PC, PSone, PSN)

This week I’ve return to my childhood again (Shut up! I’m poor ok, I can’t afford new games every week, you could always donating games to me  so I can review them, No? Quit complaining then.) looking at one of the games that lead me down the path of all night gaming sessions and those incredibly nerdy conversations about Materia combinations and other things nerdy and geeky. Here is one of the all time classics, Final Fantasy VII.

I remember the first time I heard of this game. I went around to my friends house back in the 90’s and he was in his room playing this. I think I just sat there for what must have been hours watching him play through the latter part of disc 2. I knew I had to pick up this game. I immediately picked up the first copy I could lay my hands on. At that moment a friendship was born. I’ve bought this game 4 times so far in the 14 years of it’s life. This makes it a game I’ve bought more times than Oblivion and Silent Hill 2, and they are both very good games. That means something.

The story is the same as most RPG’s. Evil threat, you and your cronies are the only people who can save the world. So you put your best walking boots on and travel the world, save the world, then tentacle rape (if the hentai community is to be believed). Although nothing drives someone to do something better than the possible destruction of the plant, with the number of JRPG’s that have followed this rule to the wire, it is stating to get some what tedious . How about we mix things up next time? For example, the main characters girlfriend/wife/pet rock is murdered by the tyrannical king and it’s up to you to track him down, end his reign of terror and provide justice for the murdered party. Ok so that wasn’t a great example, but that was just off the top of my head, Square-Enix will have committees to decide this kind of thing.

Game play much like the story isn’t one to break the mold. Run around alot, vortex appears, enemies appear from the woodwork, battle commences, defeat enemies, celebrate, repeat, but hey, why fix what isn’t broken? It’s a formula that has worked for JRPG’s as a whole and as more recent Final Fantasies have shown in trying to replace the battle system, they really shouldn’t. I applaud them for trying something new but replacing something that works for something that doesn’t is just plain stupid.

So far you must all be thinking “This is a game that’s meant to be more popular than Jesus, Justin Bieber, Sponge Bob Square Pants and Twilight combined and your saying everything about it is formulaic. What gives?” 1) I’ve only brought up 2 points, Story and Game-play, which is hardly everything. b) Story and Game-play are where the similarities end. Final Fantasy VII is more popular than being dipped in chocolate and thrown into the naked lesbian pit because of the way it changed the rules of not just JRPG’s but the face of the whole computer game industry.

FFVII is to games what Star Wars was to films. Nothing was ever going to be the same after it. It was the first step down a whole new world of possibilities, which was made possible by Sony entering the console wars during the 5th generation and introducing the optical disc. This not only meant greater disc space but also faster stream rates, the implications of this were astounding. Stories could go on for days rather than hours, Full orchestras replaced 16bit sound bites, Worlds felt massive and expansive, FMV’s could thrill and entice us between game plays. Although this did mean an increase of development fees (Final Fantasy VII had a budget equivalent to $62million in this day and age). More importantly though it was one of the first steps in lifting computer games from the 2D.

The in-game graphics were horrible, even at release it was graphically sub par. the cubist representation of characters were laughable. Although this is to be expected since it was games such as Final Fantasy VII that were made at the dawn of the 3d era. They were the pioneers adding the 3rd dimension, give the computer game industry a new direction. Like Stephenson’s Rocket, sure it was slow, ugly and impractical, but it was to show that it could be done. An almost Concorde moment in the history of gaming.

Now to round all this off. Final Fantasy VII revolutionised the gaming industry, much like factories and mills revolutionised Britain, starting the Industrial Revolution leading Britain to be the worlds first dominant super-power. It shaped the very face of all computer games to follow it. For example, without The Beatles, there would never have been Queen. Without the Wright Brothers, there would be no Concorde. Without the Ford Model T, there would be no Bugatti Veyron. Without Final Fantasy VII, there would be no Call of Duty, no Mass Effect, no Skyrim and lets face it. A world without Skyrim would be a pretty bleak place to live in. Although at least I wouldn’t have to hear about people taking  an “arrow to the knee”.

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