Friday, July 19, 2013

Game Review: Final Fantasy VII Returns on Steam

By Grease Coakes

Lots of people remember the old Atari game systems with the old games combat and space invaders with very primitive graphics. A little later the Nintendo entertainment system stormed across the world with Super Mario bros and classics like Metroid and Zelda.

Fast forward about ten years or so and the First Playstation became the popular gaming system of the time. Squaresoft a gaming company from Japan well known for its Final Fantasy RPG game series came out with the seventh game in the series. Back in 1997 when it was released it had state of the art graphics not with the characters but with realistic looking environments. By today’s standards the blocky avatar you controlled as Cloud was a graphical joke. However the environments made a solid attempt of looking realistic especially in Midgar where you start the game. Considering this was back in 1997 before the year flipped to 2000 and beyond, Final Fantasy VII was a major feat.

In combat however the avatars are better looking 3-d models as your characters do battle with bad guys that you encounter to gain experience Gil and so on. In fact one of the main features of FF VII is the active combat system. Instead of turn based combat like in a dragon quest game where you can take your time deciding what to do your team will be attacked as you tell your characters what to do.

So yes if you do nothing and step away for a bathroom break or your roommate badgers you to death about taking out the trash when you get back your game may be over as the pixel Cloud and his buddies were told to do nothing.

The story itself starts in Midgar as you control a blond spiky man named Cloud who was an Ex-Solider. Caring for nothing but himself, Cloud was hired by Avalanche, a resistance group against the powerful corporation Shinra. Barret the group leader doesn’t trust Cloud’s arrogant attitude, but lets him help in the mission anyway.

Barret and Cloud sabotage a mako reactor as Barret explains it’s unethical for Shinra to drain energy from the earth to power homes etc. Cloud could care less as he just wants his payment of Gil. The game from then on starts as possibly one of the greatest role playing games in the history of video games.

The game play is simple where you command Cloud and your team to attack cast magic or use an item like a potion during combat. However each character can only cast magic if he or she has Materia equipped to their weapon and or armor. Having a Restore Materia equipped to Cloud lets him cast cure to heal hit points on himself or others. Fire Materia allows a character like Barret or Tifa to cast fire attack spells. Materia is created as condensed life energy and allows magical abilities. Most materia very slightly reduces physical attributes while very slightly increasing your magical power. Over a long period of time you gain AP or attribute points to make your material level up to give you stronger healing or lightning abilities. You could just constantly fight enemies early on to beat the system and level up your materia to fire and cure 2, but it would take a very long time to do so.

Another addition to combat is the limit break where a bar fills up a little or a lot depending how much damage your character takes. When the bar fills up instead of attacking your character can do a Limit break instead. Aeris a weak physical character her limit break heals everyone on your team. Cloud does a Braver, which is a super physical attack with his large sword. As you level up your characters gain new limit breaks along with higher hit points and magic points.

The game from years ago is still the same from 1997 with a slight brush up of the graphics along with the same music and sound effects. When I talked to a dog I heard a good attempt of recreating a dog’s woof. It missed by a mile or so, but I enjoyed the sound effect anyway. The movies in between scenes were graphically good though for the time. Pixar or another computer animation company could easily blow those scenes away in one of their movies today though. However Squareenix left the old school movies as is and only improved upon them cleaning them up. Cloud’s sword twirl at the end of each battle and Tifa’s stretching are still there. In fact when I loaded up the game for the first time there were the charging chocobos with the Squaresoft logo very much if I started up the game 16 years ago.

Another feature that I liked playing with was the color change feature to change the color of the background behind the menus and dialogue and combat. There’s a screen with four corners and you can change the color of each corner to customize your very own color scheme as you helped Cloud and his friends fight Shinra and whatever other baddies came your way. I remember changing the color scheme every so often.

There’s something shocking that happens later in the game, but if you never played FF7 I don’t want to give it away. If you really must know ask a friend or use the web. But if you want to find out for yourself and you tell your friends “No! Don’t tell me! I want to find out for myself!” More power to you I won’t give away what happens.

When I played Final Fantasy 7 for a little bit before I wrote this article, I greatly enjoyed playing through the game as I played on my computer years ago when I didn’t have a playstation. I’ll savor the game by playing a little bit now and again and not rush through the game as I barely got anywhere in the game anyway so far. Final Fantasy 7 is a classic game that even if you hate video games and RPG/s you can at least give a try, or you could be reading this article and you beat the game 100 times before and you want to beat the game 101th time on steam on your computer.

It’s available for download on steam at for a low price of $11.99. Swing Cloud’s big sword or shoot Barret’s hand gun (no really his hand is a gun) for the first time or you’re a hardened vet of the game. This game is a smart buy.

Grease Coakes

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