Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4)

Now for anyone who knows me on a personal level you’ll have some idea of how excited I was for this when it was teased all those years ago back in E3 2005. Despite all the “will they, won’t they’s” for the following 10 years after that before finally being announced that it was happening in 2015 to it’s release a few months ago. We finally come to the moment. Final Fantasy VII: The Remake.

Just before you proceed, thought you ought to know There will Be Spoilers.

As I mentioned all those years ago when I originally did a look back review on the original Final Fantasy VII. The game holds special meaning to me, as it was one of the games that I have replayed and re-bought on several occasions, I can’t recall the number of summer holidays where boredom would set in and I’d fish the game out for another run. So to play through the same experience with a current-gen overhaul could only enhance the experience, it would but that’s not quite what’s happened.

As far as I see it there are 3 types of remakes:

  • Remaster: Where it’s the same as the previous game but with graphical upgrades (e.g. Command & Conquer Remastered)
  • Re-imagining: Where the game significantly overhauls the game-play or story but follows common motifs(e.g. Resident Evil 3)
  • True Remake: Where the game is rebuild using more modern means to resemble the original, possibly with a few minor tweaks or improvements (e.g. Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy)

Using this as our guide I would put FF7R into the Re-imagining category. I understand that this decision was done as a true-remake would alienate new players to the game, but it does mean that to fans of the original game, more of it feels new than nostalgic. For example the bombing run at the beginning gave me chills of nostalgia but later on before the second operation I felt annoyed and disheartened. In this section you have to infiltrate a Shinra warehouse with the help of Wedge, Biggs & Jesse. This section was so disjointed and felt out of place with the rest of the game. Although learning about Jesse’s past and her motivation to join AVALANCHE was refreshing. However Roche annoyed me to no end. He felt like that guy that always tries so hard to be cool in order to be liked that they come off as obnoxious and arrogant, dancing around with all the subtly of a fireworks factory exploding on what might as well have been a motorbike made of flubber given how many time it defied the laws of gravity. The section ends with another terrorist cell appearing and taking Wedge, releasing Wedge, Biggs pulling down Wedges pants and staring at his ass (yes this does happen) and then the group parachuting back into the slums within the space of 10mins.

The combat system is a change that doesn’t offend me. You get to do physical attacks in real time but in order to use magic, abilities and the like you need to fill your ATB gauge before you can use them. This system felt a lot more organic but I must admit that the friendly AI could do with some improvement. A lot of the time they don’t act with any kind of sense of urgency, It might just be me misjudging the situation but I would have thought the fact that they were in a life or death situation would bring about some sort of sense of self-preservation. Apparently not.

The game ends when the gang prepares to leave Midgar and set off into the world. For anyone who hasn’t played the original this point is about a third of the way through the first disk. Given that the original game is 3 disks we are probably about 10% through the game as we know it. The game feels like it’s far too excessively padded for it’s own good, if some of this was thinned down I recon the game could have got us to the boat out of Junion without feeling rushed. Then again I suppose in doing this Square-Enix have created an audience for the next 7-8 instalments of the game that will be coming our way if the amount of faffing about remains the same. I thought the whole point of episodic games were so that shorter games could be released at lower prices and more frequently, Square-Enix has so far missed all 3 of these targets and has missed them hard. So as it stands if the next instalments are just as padded as this one we can see the whole development time being about the length of the Bronze Age, the game would take an average person their entire life to complete and would cost somewhere comparable to the debt of sub-Saharan Africa.

On a final note, I can see glimpses of the game that I loved so dearly though it’s obscured by excessive padding and needless content that adds nothing/very little to the story or depth of the game. It doesn’t improve anything, it doesn’t add anything and that infuriates me. In fact the part that received the most of my ire had to be the dance-off between Cloud and Andrea at The Honey Bee Inn. I mean WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK JUST HAPPENED!? The section was so out of place and so infuriatingly needless I had to quit the game afterwards and fold some washing to take my mind off it. I didn’t play the game for the rest of the day after that. If I’ve learnt anything from playing games as long as I have it’s that if a game does something to make you not want to play it, then it’s doing something wrong. I would love to have been in the committee meeting where that idea was brought to the table so I could shut it down with as much flying furniture as I could muster before it got traction. I’m not against mini-games, like the squats. They make sense, Cloud would have trained hard in the military so would be physically fit enough to do a series of squats without problem, but where outside the realms of Greace and Foot Loose would Cloud learn how to dance so professionally? What will he surprise us with next? My money is on a fishing mini-game being inserted somewhere before the end of the story. Why not? It’s only gotta be copy and pasted from Final Fantasy XV.

Resident Evil 3 (PC, PS4, XBOX ONE)

Given that we are all in the grips of a virus outbreak that’s crippling the world, it seemed only fitting that the next review I post be that of one that involves a virus outbreak that turns people also into mindless zombies (this one however doing so more directly). I bring you all once again back to Racoon City for the re imaginings of the 3rd instalment of the Resident Evil saga.

For those of you that don’t know, the game focuses around that of S.T.A.R.S member Jill Valentine months after the the mansion incident that brought the poor health and safety standards of Umbrella Inc. to light. This is further proven as the infection spreads to that of the local populous of Racoon City. Now Jill must escape the city while being relentlessly perused by the bio-weapon Nemesis who’s sole purpose is the eradication of S.T.A.R.S.

Most of you will be well aware of my affinity with the Resident Evil series. Still giving that, I went into this game with a bit more caution then I did with RE2 as I wasn’t expecting lightning to strike twice in the same franchise so soon. Low and behold I was right to be cautious as the game does fall a bit short when compared to the previous one. It’s not that it’s bad, on the contrary it’s rather good. I just wish there was more of it to enjoy. It is awfully short, I was able to complete the game in about 4hrs on my first attempt followed by just under 3hrs on my second. This wasn’t even me trying to beat the game as quickly as possible. The game feels like it’s the bits of RE2 that ended up on the cutting room floor mashed together with a few noticeable RE3 elements thrown in so it can be branded as such. True, the game is about the same length as one of the scenarios in RE2 but at least there was 4 scenarios to bulk the game out as well as the last survivor games as well. There isn’t even a remake of the Mercenaries mini-game from the original to unlock new weapons and the like. I know that the game is packaged with the Resident Evil Resistance multiplayer game but in all honesty I had and still have absolutely no interest in playing it. I’d rather they have put the extra effort into fleshing RE3 a bit more. Maybe have a second scenario where you play the game from Carlo’s perspective.

Just like the RE2 remake before it, it has a beautiful aesthetic behind it. Both the graphics and sound quality make the game just as immersive. Although RE3 does feel a lot more action based than that of RE2. Where RE2 is set in 2-3 different locations with jumping back and forward between them, RE3 doesn’t keep us in the same areas for long and rarely allows for revisiting old areas. This idea of a more action based game is reinforced with the new bells and whistles added from the last instalment. Unlike Leon and Claire, Jill is able to parry and counter some enemy attacks when timed right leading to more opportunities to stand and fight your enemy even when ammo is scarce.

The next big difference is that of Nemesis himself, much like Mr X in RE2 he will follow you around the map like he wants to talk to you about Jesus, although Nemesis is much more persistent than that of his predecessor, being harder, better, faster and stronger. Should you take Nemesis down at least for the interim, you are treated to some goodies usually in the form of weapon upgrades, a lot of which come in handy as enemies and Nemesis himself become harder.

Now for my final thought. The more I think about it and the more I write this, the less I enjoyed the game. I remember the early days of survival horror, the likes of Silent Hill and the original Resident Evil teaching us subtly and that “less is more”. The atmosphere of the game did draw me in but the action was that constant that the game didn’t give me the opportunity to lure me into a false sense of security, make me believe that I can step out the next door without worry. I find the best way to create atmosphere in a game is to keep them guessing. The less you see of an enemy the scarier it becomes. Nemesis was always there, relentless in his pursuit. Mr X however, you could get away from him loose him for a while only to walk through a door and find him staring at you from the other end of the corridor. That as a metaphor is why I prefer RE2 to RE3.

Resident Evil 2 (PC, PS4, XBOX ONE)

Things are still going slow so as promised I have another one for you. This time we are bring the past to the present a much loved classic remade for the 21st century. Now we delve into the heart on zombie infested Raccoon City as we play Resident Evil 2 (2019).

Most you are probably more than aware of the story behind Resident Evil 2 but for those who don’t know, Umbrella (ella-ella) has accidentally leaked the T-Virus into Raccoon City and as such the local residents have shown their distaste for this by making the city a huge mess and turning themselves into zombies. It just so happens that while this is going on Leon Kennedy turning up in town eager to start his first day at the local police station and Claire Redfield who’s come into town looking for her brother Chris because she hasn’t paid her phone bill and as such can’t just call him. The two must split-up, look for survivors and get out of there.

This will be the 3rd Resident Evil game I would have written about making it my joint most written about game series (the other being Mass Effect). Iv’e already mentioned my past love of Resident Evil and especially Resident Evil 2. The original was by far my favourite of the series, so with that in mind and how much I loved the re-make of the original Resident Evil, I was super excited when I heard Capcom were remaking RE2. I went into this game with a huge expectation and I’m glad to say that it both lived up and exceeded my expectations.

So, differences between the original and new one. The biggest change in game-play is changing from a fixed camera to the over-the-shoulder camera introduced in Resident Evil 4, which in all honesty is a god send. As much as I preferred the earlier games having a fixed camera and trying to shoot an enemy you can’t see on the other side of it was more than a slight annoyance. There have been a few little story tweaks but nothing that changes the story dramatically. A huge graphical upgrade, the original wasn’t anything great at the time and by today’s standard it lies somewhere between god awful and abysmal. The remake however looks highly polished, the lighting effects cast an eerie feel almost everywhere and the gore physics leave little to the imagination. There’s little on this earth more satisfying then sending your last pistol bullet into a zombies face and watching it’s brains escape just as quickly in every other direction.

Now for my final thought. The game is a much appreciated return of survival horror that I have wanted for many years. Despite it’s niggles I’d put it up for contender for my game of the year. There’s enough ammo to get you though the game but not enough to be wasting it at every zombie/ dog/ potted plant. Each scenario on it’s own feels a little short and can be completed in 2-3hrs but given that there are 4 of them (2 for Leon and 2 for Claire) as well as some added extras it will keep you entertained for a while (It took me about a month from first starting to getting the platinum trophy). The atmosphere is thick which really immerses you into the game. I can only imagine the number of sleepless nights my 8 year old self would have had in both joy and piss-expelling terror had the game looked and felt this good when the original was released.