Sitting in anticipation, I grip my controller as I watch the opening movie flash with the beginning scenes of Midgar.
Familiar characters and locations gleam as they appear one by one. That familiar tune begins to play as the loading screen appears. It is impossible not to get emotional while the nostalgic theme song of the original flow from your speakers.
The difference? Everything looks so real I want to reach out and touch it-like a kid in a digital candy store.
Brace yourselves; the long-anticipated Final Fantasy VII Remake game has finally arrived!
Review: Final Fantasy VII Remake
Final Fantasy is the most famous RPG franchise ever, and 7 is the most famous Final Fantasy ever. The original, released 23 years ago in 1997, sold more than 11 million copies and inspired spinoffs, animated movies, and fan fiction.
The octagon shapes and bright colors that once made up our beloved game have been traded for the highest level of graphic design. You can see every strand of Cloud’s hair shift when he moves. Every detail of emotion can be seen in Aerith’s eyes. It makes you wonder if this could be the true definition of magic.
The Final Fantasy VII Remake brings the nostalgia of our beloved story to life. With the newly enhanced graphics, upgraded designs, and storyline enhancements, it is enough to keep us all on the edge of our gaming chairs. Midgar looks beautifully realistic. You can practically smell the stench of the Mako.
The Remake game had a release date of April 10 and received very favorable reviews.
Grab a basket of your favorite flowers and let us once more begin a story that will shape the destiny of an entire world—the world of Midgar.
We will be reviewing upgrades, story plotline, and some details that may ruin a surprise or two. If you want to experience the surprise on your own, save this article to read after you play the FFVII Remake!
The Story Begins – A Quick Recap
Final Fantasy VII was one of the most revolutionary games around and was an introduction for many into the next generation of games.
The Final Fantasy VII Remake is not just a retelling of that iconic storyline. The first few hours of the game take on its own form of JRPG storyline, adding depth and details to the original. The main story is the same, but they added several enhancements to the story that go more in-depth.
The overall base of the story has to do with the Mako. Mako is the lifeblood of the planet and the fuel that powers the city of Midgar. By exploiting this resource through their Mako Reactors, the Shinra Electric Power Company has all but seized control of the entire world. A group of idealists, known as Avalanche, is one of the last bastions of resistance.
The main story itself revolves around the electric company Shinra, and the controversy of extracting the life force (Mako) from the earth and turning it into energy. Doing so is slowly killing the planet. Midgar itself is plagued by wealth inequality, split into two main sections separated by a massive plate: The business class society and the low-class slums.
You play as Cloud Strife, an elite operative turned mercenary. He is introduced by taking part in an Avalanche operation to destroy Mako Reactor 1 in the city of Midgar. If you haven’t heard of the infamous Cloud, he is the one wielding a sword larger than his entire body.
This is the base of where our story begins in both versions of the game, but the true question is, when does this one end?
The World of Midgar Reimagined…and Divided
Square Enix has made a bold move in utilizing the chapter feature. Rather than release the entire game in one shot, the developers decided to split it into episodes. And they have not revealed how many episodes are planned or how they will be connected.
The story progresses with chapters as if in a book. But how long will this first book be? You will have to play to find out.
Game makers have already confirmed that there will be at least two installments of the game, but they are still deciding on how many different installments there will be.
Due to this decision, they took the time to create new sections of the story that did not exist before.
Story Additions: Thickening the Plot
By the time you are a few hours into gameplay, you have already experienced some of the new additions to the story. They are some great extensions that add enriching details, pulling you even further into their world.
Curious about the difference? Here are a few changes that were made to the main storyline!
Shinra Blows up Its Own Reactor.
Unlike the original game, the bomb Cloud and Barret set in the Sector 1 reactor in Remake does not blow the facility up. Instead, Shinra does the dirty work itself, causing an explosion far bigger and more devastating than Avalanche had planned.
But why would Shinra do this?
Obviously, keeping the reactors running would make them plenty of money. Unfortunately, the only thing more profitable than the reactors would be war. Shinra wants to encourage the population of Midgar to support a second war with the nation of Wutai, and so it begins to spread propaganda that Avalanche is in allegiance with them.
One of the few completely new locations in Final Fantasy 7 Remake is the Sector 7 Employee Housing Area, a residential zone on Midgar’s upper plate. Here we get to see how the wealthier people of the city live, as well as visit Jessie’s family home.
Apart from this entire mission being new, including the attack on a Shinra warehouse to secure more explosives, we’re also introduced to a whole new villain in the form of Roche, a flamboyant member of Shinra’s elite SOLDIER division. This marks Roche’s first and only appearance in the whole game.
Sector 7’s Hidden Lab
After the company drops an entire sector of the upper city on the slums to try and wipe out Avalanche, the party discovers a hidden laboratory that’s been operating in secret beneath Sector 7 – something that doesn’t exist (or at least is never mentioned) in the original.
While exploring its tunnels in search of Wedge, Barret and Tifa discover practically a whole army of creatures who attack them on sight. These creatures are failed experiments and appear to be Remake’s answer to the original game’s Makonoids; humans who have been saturated with Mako to the point that they have become monsters.
Take note, upon completion of the first game; you can revisit individual chapters to complete tasks you may have missed.
One of the best parts? You will be playing all of these characters with an unbelievably lifelike makeover.
The Revamped Character Designs
The original designs for the characters in 1997 were limited to the technology of the time. Though FF7 Remake certainly isn't the first time these characters were updated or redesigned, it's indeed striking to see them in 4K and on modern consoles.
The variety in character design is one aspect of FF7 that has remained a favorite among fans since the original, but some of them have had more of a glow-up than others.
What makes Sephiroth such an iconic character within Final Fantasy VII and arguably one of the most recognizable video game villains in history is his simple yet elegant design. They have kept his look fairly streamlined throughout but have added detail.
Seeing him in the new graphics really brings his original design to life.
In a similar level to Sephiroth, his classic iconic design has been kept intact. However, the upgrades in detail due to the new technology are striking. Every single detail has been perfected right down to the knitted detail in his turtleneck.
Although his design has remained pretty much the exact same, he now looks better than he ever did in Advent Children.
All of AVALANCHE received quite a few changes, but Jessie’s had the least as far as adjustments. Her design was one of the simplest in the original game, after all.
Still, the upgrades to facial expressions and body language really give Jessie a way more significant-feeling role than she ever had.
Wedge has come a long way since the original game, as well as the earlier builds of the Remake. He was always seen as a sort of comic relief background character with minimal design.
The new remake really lets him shine with his excellent voice work, and the rework of his facial and character design.
Out of all the minor AVALANCHE characters, Biggs is probably the one many least expected to look this good in the remake. However, it's an entirely fair statement to say that Biggs is a contender for one of the most attractive characters in the game.
This is, without a doubt, the best iteration of Barret to date, and is precisely how he was pictured past the limitations of the original game. Due to his bigger stature, his overworld model on the PS1 was arguably one of the worst out of all the characters, but he looks near perfect in the Remake.
Even though Tifa never fit the stereotype of fantasy characters donning ridiculously complicated and intricate outfits, instead choosing to rock a simple white crop-top and a short skirt for maximum close-combat kickboxing efficiency.
The remake still manages to make her look more stunning than ever. Not a single detail has been forgotten on her design.
From the first sight of the opening cutscene of the Final Fantasy VII Remake, Aerith shows the true scope of how far graphical capabilities have come in video games.
Her original models were already some of the best in the game, but Square Enix truly knocked it out of the park with her modern design. The details are impeccable, her hair looks real, and adding a voice to her really made the character design hit you right in the feels.
Several other characters received a huge enhancement in the game, including Heidegger and President Shinra.
The character redesigns are truly a work of art. Every detail was considered, and it shows.
But the reimagined character designs are another massive change people are talking about. Another colossal change is the battle system.
Battle System – A Hybrid
All of us that have played the classics grew accustomed to the original ATB system. This system relied almost completely on turn-based strategy as you had to be sure to utilize each character to its best potential. It ultimately meant just picking what your characters did from a menu and then watching the animations play out.
There will be some settings options for players who don’t like the new system, including a classic mode for people who want to just play the FFVII Remake in the spirit of the original. When you first begin the game, you will receive the option to select the classic gameplay.
The newly reimagined Final Fantasy VII battle system makes it feel as if it is a brand-new game. This new version blends the best elements of prior games into one cohesive system. This new system allows more freedom and is sure to give you an adrenaline rush.
They combined the battle systems of Final Fantasy with Kingdom Hearts to create a splendid blend of combat.
This is what would be considered more of an action-based RPG system. You can battle in real-time, experiment with fight abilities, and change characters with the quick click of a button. Every character has a unique style to them that feels like playing a totally different game when you switch over. Plus, there are tons of new customization options for weapons, skills, and the game’s materia magic system that stand to make overall combat much deeper than the original.
Remake Wrap Up
The Final Fantasy VII Remake exceeded all expectations. It provided its fans exactly what they were begging for and more. You can genuinely say it was not only remade, but it was reimagined.
With the new graphics, you can feel even more connected to your beloved characters.
The added storylines pull you further into the turmoil of their tale.
Some play games for fun, and for others, it becomes a part of their heart. Final Fantasy VII will always have a special place in many people's lives. Now the Remake made that piece a whole lot larger.
Whether you are a new or old fan, purchasing the game is well worth the money.
The question everyone wants to know is when will the next chapter be released? How long will we have to wait to visit Midgar once again? We will have to wait impatiently for Square Enix to answer those questions.
One thing we do know for sure, the wait will be worth it.