23 years after the release of Final Fantasy 7, Square Enix pulls out all the stops: a remake is just around the corner and breathes new life into the iconic classic with breathtaking graphics, a changed combat system and numerous fresh features. As a long-established “Final Fantasy” fan girl, editor Laura got to grips with the new production and tells you in her test how it plays and whether you should give the remake a chance.
It is the year 1997. The first cell phone with a color display is launched, "Men in Black" storms the cinema charts and Final Fantasy 7 is released exclusively for PSOne.
Even though Final Fantasy 1 – 6 debuted on the NES and the SNES, Square (then still without Enix) decided to go separate ways with Nintendo. The reason for the separation? Above all, the strong limitation through the use of game modules, to which Nintendo continues to this day. Did you know that at that time N64 module up to a maximum of 512 MB fit while there is more than 650 MB of space on a CD? And Square needed three of them!
On said three CDs with more than 40 hours of play The seventh part of the cult series was a mammoth project, especially for those days, in which hundreds of developers were involved. From today's perspective, this may not sound unusual – in the 90s, however, when video games were far behind film and television as an entertainment medium, Final Fantasy 7 was an important step forward, which paved the way for upcoming (Japanese) role-playing games and also for them Made vests socially acceptable. With a Metascore of 92, this classic is still one of the best games today. So the question arises: why does Square Enix want to make such a good game even better and is that possible at all?
Just like the original, Final Fantasy 7 Remake takes you to the planet Gaia. In the mercenary's shoes Cloud strife you fight alongside the Resistance group "Avalanche"to thwart the machinations of a megacorporation called "Shinra". The story is more topical than ever: From the criticism of capitalism to the self-serving (use) of resources.
Although the remake is the Duration of a complete game achieved, this part is only the events that Cloud and his group experience in Midgar. While the original Midgar was completed in six to seven hours, the remake gives you the full bluster of desolation. Enriched with both new dialogues, characters and locations as well as a hybrid combat system that combines real-time action with command-based elements, you will experience the story of one of the most iconic games in a completely new guise.
Final Fantasy 7 remake is different from the original. Because even if it follows the core of the original story, the scenario is embellished all around, if not more colorful. It is one complete new productionthat lives up to the original. As a first act, the new edition doesn't tell much yet, but it casts large shadows ahead of what will happen.
Saddle up your chocobos, pack a few phoenix feathers – you'll need them if you're heartbroken on the couch – and get ready for an adventure that you won't forget for a long time. Because no matter whether you are newcomers or long-established fans of the series: The new edition touches. It shakes and leaves an emptiness that can only be filled by the next part.
These are the strengths from Final Fantasy 7 Remake
- Absolutely phenomenal graphic implementation of the main characters and backgrounds down to the smallest detail. The game is a dream in 4K.
- Not only the graphics, but also a multitude of new dialogues inside and outside of video sequences enable one more intense character attachment than in the original.
- The Music is amazing. Well-known compositions by Nobuo Uematsu are immersed in the game. Pieces, from soft ballet to exciting up-tempo pieces, give you goose bumps and a cocktail of emotions that even abstainers cannot refuse.
These are the weaknesses from Final Fantasy 7 Remake
- Because the first "act" of the series limited to Midgar the scenario seems monotonous and the story too linear.
- The revamped Combat system is a tightrope walk: While switching between action-packed attack combinations and tactical slow-motion is definitely fun, camera work in combat takes some getting used to.
- Compared to the main characters, the NPCs unfortunately don't win a beauty award.
"Progress, but at what cost?", wonders not only the people of Midgar, but also the developer of the new combat system. In contrast to the original, the remake moves away from the classic round fight. Instead, it offers real-time action with tactical elements, which not only makes the gaming experience more contemporary, but also more attractive for a new target group that has nothing to do with turn-based battles.
But this step not only brings advantages, it also involves risks. The camera rarely comes behind in particularly heated fights. Of the Lock-on is helpful, but develops with a large number of opponents often as a hindrance. This is not a problem on the simple level of difficulty – in normal mode, on the other hand, the camera is more of a challenge than an aid that Square Enix certainly has to turn a little until it feels natural.
In total you can choose between three different modes at the beginning: Classic, Simple and Normal. Simple and normal are self-explanatory – the classic mode, on the other hand, is based on the original round fight. While Cloud and Co. attack, block and evade, you give them commands in tactical mode as soon as their ATB bars are full. With this selection of different levels of difficulty, there is something for everyone.
In the Episode shape, in which the remake appears, there are opportunities, but also a lot of leeway to fail. While the developers can focus on decorating both the characters and the world down to the smallest detail to create an overwhelming atmosphere, you can only see the winding corridors of the slums, the walls of factories and reactors. You see sweat, rubble and screws.
The first episode is linear because of the basic storyline in Midgar leaves little freedom. If you played the original, you will probably not have noticed it that much, because at that time you enjoyed enjoying strolling through such a cool rendered game world. Nowadays, on the other hand, it is less fun to walk through many bare reactors and the restricted paths of the slums also offer potential for frustration. Just like back then, the game sometimes forbids you to take a different path. The reasons for this are of a substantive nature, but it is still not pleasant. Especially if you are used to "Open World" games.
Even if the events in Midgar follow a rocky path, a variety of optional missions, the hunt for collectibles and the submission of battle reports to explore new materia bring variety to the gaming experience. Because although the first episode is linear – you won't be bored. Promised.
The developers still leave open how many episodes there will be. The only thing that is clear: they are long. This act alone extends to the size of an entire game. Means? You will not only spend ten, but also 40 hours with him and hopefully enjoy every second of it.
Final Fantasy: Advent Children, Crisis Core, Dissidia, Kingdom Hearts – the list of games and films in which Cloud Strife appears is very long. As one of the best-known characters in the "Final Fantasy" universe, the remake portrays him better than ever. The strands of his distinctive spiky hairstyle fall like feathers on his face, his cool eyes soaked in mako captivate him. You don't want to fight eye duels against him.
Developed with Unreal Engine 4, not only experiences cloud but also the world around it, an insane optical upgrade. No matter whether on the PlayStation Pro or the older machine – both the motion blur, depth of field and the quality of the shadows are convincing. The performance also remains at a stable 30fps. The only thing you notice is that bump maps (the texture layer that is responsible for the level of detail) rarely load a bit delayed and some background textures look a bit washed out.
Also absolutely impressive is the lighting model, which looks great no matter what time of day or night. While most of the game takes place in closed rooms, artificial spotlights create almost photo-realistic interactions with the existing materials: from the heroes' clothes to the metal of their machine opponents. As overwhelming the light as the scenery in the cold, dark buildings is, every moment when the sun is shining is relieving.
It's breathtaking, like the developers iconic settings of the original shine in a new light to let. What were once simple “low poly” models against pre-rendered backgrounds makes even the completely 3D animated film Advent Children from 2005 swallow dust. Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a game with full real-time renderings that 1997 was not even a dream of.
As incredible as Cloud and its gang are, however, modeled and animated, most NPCs have had less luck with their looks. Even if it is completely understandable that the focus is on the main characters, it is even more striking that NPCs are often carelessly designed and move accordingly. With such a huge game, however, this is forgivable – the effort would neither be realizable nor good for the performance. On a positive note, however, almost all characters are set to music. Even the voices of passersby that you roam the streets of Midgar contribute to the dark scenario and provide important information.
You know what happens and you still want to play the game? Be prepared that it will not be easier to cope with what is going on around the troop. If the original has already broken your heart, it takes the remake and tears it into a thousand pieces. Little by little by little.
Because not only the graphics represent the characters human and approachable, too the additional dialogues and locations intensify the bond, that you develop to the individual actors. While Cloud is cool at the beginning, it also opens up with the advancing story. The remake lets you feel that he is more than the cool emo-antihero you expect at the beginning. It conveys a feeling of authenticity, warmth and sensitivity. In addition to Cloud, you will of course also learn more about Aerith, Tifa, Barret and the other members of Avalanche. Even the story of Aerith's mother leaves no eye dry. Go buy a supply of ice cream, you will need it.
How well do you know Final Fantasy? (Quiz)
The Final Fantasy series has existed for many years and can still inspire gamers – soon with the next part called Final Fantasy XV. To prove by then that you are the ultimate Final Fantasy connoisseur, you can now take this quiz!