Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion - Cool In A Crisis
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For any who were alive and gaming in the late 1990’s, and were cogniscent of the goings on at the time will recall the immediate impact of Final Fantasy VII when it first launched in January of 1997 in Japan, and then later that year in the West. In an already celebrated year of games that included the likes of Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night, Goldeneye 007, Star Fox 64, and the birth of franchises suchs as Gran Turismo, Diablo, Grand Theft Auto, and Fallout, none created a ripple through the industry quite like Final Fantasy VII. Since that pivotal moment in 1997 the legacy of the game has continued to grow, culminating in 2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake, but was, prior to that point punctured by other key pillars releasing in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII – 2007/08’s Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII being the most acclaimed of the Compilation, and now, 15 years on, we finally have a chance to play the game on a more preferential collection of platforms to the PSP where the game debuted. So the question that now needs asking is simple. Can a 15-year-old PSP game hold up in 2022 now that Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion has arrived?
It’s important to note, that with the clouded, and now splintered timelines created by 2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake, that Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion acts as a prequel to the events of the original 1997 release. Set seven years prior to the events of Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core focusses on Zack Fair, a 2nd Class member of SOLDIER, the Shinra Electric Company’s private army. Zack is young, enthusiastic, and is desperately chasing his dream of being elevated to 1st Class alongside his heroes, Sephiroth and Angeal. Things change significantly when Zack is sent out on a mission to try and track down Genesis, another 1st Class SOLDIER who had appeared to have defected. Whilst in the chaos of that mission, Angeal goes missing as well, and it’s the relationship between both Zack and Angeal, and Angeal’s sudden disappearance, that drives the incredibly engaging narrative forward. Along the way, Zack’s path will cross over with a range of iconic Final Fantasy VII figures, from Cloud Strife and Aerith Gainsborough to the sub-series’ iconic villain, Sephiroth. As well as being an enthralling plot in and of its own right, Crisis Core portrays the beginning of Sephiroth and the beginning of his slippery slope into becoming the monster we all know him to be – a monster that we know needs thwarting a game from now. The story, years on, still hits the mark. Emotional beats are still as charged as ever, though some of the voice-acting sticks out in comparison to other, contemporary works.
Before we get to that stage though, there is a lot of thwarting that goes on in Crisis Core. The action is far more action focussed than the original Final Fantasy VII, an in-fact is more akin to the 2020 title, with Zack attacking through repeated square inputs and a combination of shoulder buttons to execute materia magic and abilities. Despite the newer, flashier combat system, engaging in it harkens back to the golden days of the JRPG with random encounters being what spurs on those combat scenarios. The encounters do come along thick and thin at times and can wear you down with their frequency. By no means does the game overstay its welcome, wrapping up in a brisk 18-20 hours for those looking to surge through the primary plot, but beyond well beyond 50 for those looking to take it all in, completing side-missions, and more. Much like Final Fantasy VII itself, materia can be leveled up through use, while Zack can grow through accruing SP in combat. SP goes towards leveling up, but also towards the use of Limit Breaks via the DMW (Digital Mind Wave), a slot system that is fuelled by SP, luck, and Zack’s emotions. If the DMW slots land with three consecutive pictures of the same character, Zack can then execute a Limit Break move that corresponds with the character themselves. The system works well, and while you’re somewhat in the hands of the RNG gods, you’ll rarely find yourself so deprived of a Limit Break or a Summon that you cannot survive an encounter; having lady luck on your side helps, but it doesn’t make or break the combat experience, rather it enhances the scale of it.
Of course, it must be noted that while many gameplay and narrative pillars age quite well in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion, it’s the presentational aspects of the game that don’t present themselves nearly as well or are victims of the more primitive platform that the game hailed from. The voice acting, superb for its time, is at times painfully melodramatic in 2022, and stilted when compared to most other JRPGs that release. Visually, while the in-engine gameplay segments have been sharpened up and actually look quite good, the games cutscenes suffer in the same way that other remasters do – they look comparatively dated and quite washed out in contrast to every other aspect of the game, which is a shame because in 2007, even for the PSP, the cutscenes of Crisis Core looked eye-searingly good. Of course, like with any Final Fantasy game, the musical accompaniments are an integral pillar of the experience, and, much like Final Fantasy VII before it, the love given to Crisis Core’s score is first class.
An excellent game in its own right, and one of the PSP’s best, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII’s remaster stands shoulder to shoulder still with some of the best and most enjoyable JRPGs of the modern day. There are certainly some aspects that have aged poorly in relation to other aspects, but the core pillars of the experience sing as loudly and as strongly as they ever have. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was already one of the great JRPGs, and a major player in advancing the genre, but now, 15 years on, it’s still right up there with the very best. With Final Fantasy VII hype greater than perhaps it has ever been, now is absolutely the time to check out this all-important prequel chapter.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion was reviewed on PS5 with a code kindly provided by Square-Enix