By Julia Capelli (Reviewed on PS4 Pro)
To read the review in full, please check out our website: https://www.lonelyoutlet.com which also contains superior formatting, game screenshots, etc. Thanks!
Good evening everybody! Remakes are a funny thing aren't they? Ever the cause of much discussion and debate, derision and uncertainty. We feel that, generally speaking, remakes are intended to introduce a new audience, or a new age of people to a much-loved property.
At the same time, there will always be the old fans who are interested in how it compares with the original. As such, we feel that a remake, especially of something as iconic and beloved as Final Fantasy VII, should be reviewed by two people, where possible.
One who has played the original and has much experience with it, as well as one who has never played it and has relatively few expectations or biases. We have also taken extreme care to avoid almost all spoilers - if there is anything small revealed, it can be experienced within the first couple of hours, so won't be detrimental to the overall experience.
"Experienced Review" by Julia Capelli:
TL;DR: "Overall, a good game with beautiful visuals, a great main story and fun gameplay that's hindered by the significant amount of padding, pointless side quests and questionable changes to the original."
I still remember the first time that I saw a commercial for the original Final Fantasy VII...
It was, as it always is here in Durennmork, a dark, dreary day, the temperature something like -28degC. Probably a bit warmer than usual. The heater in our tiny apartment was running non-stop.
It was a lonely Sunday and Dave and I had resigned ourselves to another day of doing little more than lying on the sofa, in front of the TV.
I had completed all of my ongoing feature-articles for the newspaper, and felt I deserved a little time over the weekend to indulge in my couch potato ways...
Keep in mind that this was a number of years before we joined the Lonely Outlet crew, so I didn't have access to the wealth of material that I do now.
I enjoyed video games, but prior to that point I hadn't played all that many story-focused titles.
I was a Sega Genesis girl and ended up spending much of my time with Sonic, Earthworm Jim, and a variety of Japanese Schmups. Fun stuff, but hardly high-class literature in video-game form.
Of course, there were more story-based titles like Phantasy Star, Shadowrun, and so on available for the Genesis, but remember,
at this point in time Durennmork didn't get all of the titles that were released elsewhere around the world.
Back to that day - the ad for FFVII came on, advertising the revolutionary cinematics, the great story, the hours upon hours of gameplay! I was mesmerised.
"Where had this thing been all my life?" I knew that I had to play it. On something called a 'PlayStation'? That thing cost an arm and a leg at the time.
And so, without droning too much, the very next day, after work, I walked into the local games store and hobbled away with one less arm, one less leg,
but with one PlayStation and a copy of Final Fantasy VII.
It may seem strange - to buy an expensive console, just for one game, without doing any research first.
Based solely on a single advertisement! It is strange, but here, where there is little to look forward to, where the day-to-day grind kills more than it helps, impulse purchases are common.
Even incredibly expensive ones. Luckily, I never regretted this one.
I shan't recount my experiences (at least not now) with the original game, needless to say that I loved it. It was, and remains, one of my favourite games of all time.
One of my most cherished experiences.
Sure, I can look at it now, with my older, more critical eye and find many flaws and issues that I overlooked at the time, but nothing will ever take away those exciting, carefree days,
playing through Final Fantasy in a dark, quiet room. Dave rarely got a chance to use the TV that week.
And so, dear reader, we come to the Final Fantasy VII Remake. A much requested, much anticipated title by many... and I'll be honest, I was not really one of them...
It's not that I didn't like the idea of an upgraded FFVII, but... I just didn't see the need.
Yes, the original's graphics have dated considerably, but it's still intrinsically, a great game!
Even if you're put off by the blocky bodies and lack of voice acting, if you take the time to give it a shot, you'll still find something special.
I suppose I'm just generally sceptical about remakes... of any kind. Look how well they tend to turn out for movies.
The fact that Square Enix announced that it would also introduce new, original elements, change the gameplay entirely AND to top things off, release the 'full story' episodically... things didn't look promising. BUT, here at the Lonely Outlet, we give anything and everything a fair shot.
I was more than happy to cast aside all of my preconceived notions and, like anyone who may try the original for the first time, "give it a shot". A fair shot.
So, now that I've actually had the opportunity to play the game, what say I? It's good! But, it's not without some, what I would consider fairly significant flaws...
not to mention some worrying elements for the future of the game/series/saga - what the heck do I even call it now? Let's work our way through, in Lonely Outlet fashion. i.e.
Slow, verbose and meandering.
The game is, in equal parts both stunning and ugly. At times one of the best looking PS4 games out there and at others, a bland, odd looking concoction.
The characters, the environments, the overall attention to detail is top-notch.
The cutscenes are of course, exceedingly attractive, as well as mostly well scripted and acted (with only a little anime-style cheesiness).
It feels cinematic, but in a different way to the original. There are some small graphical issues worth noting.
On more than one occasion, there were poorly formed textures and pop-in which didn't really detract much, but were noticeable.
More glaring was the look of most minor NPCs (usually from side quests and stores). Obviously, a lot of time and effort has gone into making Cloud and co.
look great, but not as much attention was given to less significant characters.
Considering that you still might deal with characters outside of the main cast for large amounts of time (depending on how much you 'explore' and how many side quests you attempt),
it's disappointing that they're so unattractive.
All of these points are still somewhat excusable though, as, once you get into the flow of things, most will likely not even give them a second glance.
Worse are the, at times, samey environments. Every place is, by itself rather nice, but once you've seen a couple of industrial settings, you've kind of seen them all.
There is some diversity in look, but due to the fact that the whole game only takes place in Midgar, you're not going to get the variety of environments that the original had to offer.
Images © 1997, 2020 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved. CHARACTER DESIGN: TETSUYA NOMURA / ROBERTO FERRARI LOGO ILLUSTRATION:©1997 YOSHITAKA AMANO
CONTINUED IN PART 2!