Downloading Final Fantasy VII last night there was a sense of anticipation I’d not felt in a long time. Excitement yes but also a concern that something that woke me up to the potential of games twelve years ago would be a disappointment now. Could a game that used two generation old console tech possibly live up to its iconic status?
I need not have worried.
Sure it looks dated in style and those cut scenes that blew you away in ’97 are not going to have the same impact now, but there is something undefinable about this game that is just magical. The static backgrounds still look incredibly pretty and once you get past the basic character design, the likes of Cloud, Tifa and Barrett have a charm all of their own.
I got taken back to those opening moments of play over a decade ago where I asked myself what on earth was going on as the screen deformed for my first random battle. There was nothing else like it on the PS1 when it came out and in terms of story telling, arguably, Square have never bettered it. The characters grow and develop in FFVII like in no other game and I’m not referring to their stats. You learn as they learn, about their abilities, about their planet and their fight to save it. There is just so much depth here. The best games are the ones that ooze ‘labor of love’ from every pore and FFVII has that in spades, you just know that the developers did everything in their power to make this a stunning experience for the player.
Eighty hours of gameplay to go and I know that I will savor every moment of it and if Square have put as much love and magic into Final Fantasy XIII then we have something very special to look forward to.
If you’ve never played Final Fantasy VII, this isn’t a review it’s a recommendation to play a classic. A game that defined a genre and made a much younger version of myself look at games and my PlayStation in a very different way. It will warm your heart, make you laugh and maybe, just maybe, make you cry.
Final Fantasy VII is now available in the US and EU on the PSN and works with the PS3 and PSP.