Sunday, 17 May 2020



These days the definitive editions, ports and remakes are flying around your head, but no game deserves to be remade more than Final Fantasy 7. The remake, announced years ago, is finally coming. Last E3 we got a demonstration from producer Yoshinori Kitase and we went hands-on. And you probably already see it coming: Final Fantasy 7 Remake will be a dream come true.

Developers love the word "reinterpretation." It does not create expectations of a completely accurate transfer and gives players the feeling of having a new part in their hands. While a nice marketing term, Final Fantasy 7 Remake actually seems to live up to those expectations. The game looks stunningly beautiful, delves deeper into characters, new environments in the industrial Midgar and the music is to tear away.

However, the graphics are the first to stand out. After all, the original is already 25 years old and the way Cloud, Barret, Tifa and the others now come to life is probably better than in your imagination. Kitase says that instead of photorealism, the team goes for a slightly more stylish appearance that honors the original artstyle, and in our opinion that approach succeeds. Characters are recognizable, but also have beautiful details such as defined muscles and even subtle chest hair in the case of Barret. And speaking of her: that of Cloud flutters beautifully in the wind.

The voices we have heard so far fit well with the writing style of the original game, although Barret can sometimes sound a bit disturbing due to his exaggerated gangster voice. However, Cloud is exactly who he should be at the start of the game: a cool mercenary who does his job, takes the money and leaves with the northern sun. How he develops throughout the game remains to be seen, as the demonstration and hands-on demo consisted only of the opening in Midgar. The first part of the remake focuses entirely on Midgar, which is larger and deliberately more colorful than before. "People often think that Midgar is very dark, but in the remake we want to show that the city is also colorful and varied," said the producer.

For example, more work is done on existing aspects, such as the story. The plot itself is the pinnacle of the game, of course, and it's still very relevant today, but with various cutscenes, characters get a little more context. For example, there is an altercation between Cloud and Barret, who doubts Cloud's motivations to help the rebel group Avananche. The developer promises much more of these interactions that expand the story and go deeper into the characters and their background.

The biggest adaptation to Final Fantasy Remake, however, is the combat system, which is largely real-time. Unlike Final Fantasy 15, you don't press and hold buttons to attack, you press individual buttons. In practice, fighting feels like a real action game with spectacular effects and damage figures, but not as restrictive or confusing as some jrpgs. It is striking how well the animations of attacks and spells resemble those of the original game. Barrets Focus Shot and Clouds Braver look exactly the same as before, but with more visual fuss.

Those who love action RPGs will be fine with Final fantasy 7, but there are several deeper strategic layers that bring the combat system closer to the original than you might think. At the touch of a button, the action takes place in slow motion and you can choose familiar options from the Command menu as if it were a turn-based game. There are skills, magic spells and items, after which you can even choose the enemy you want to attack. The game as good as freezing looks great when Cloud hands out another cut with his giant sword, but you can't keep doing this all the time. Skills and magic consume a part of the ATB bar, which replenishes more quickly with striking hits.


Then there are many more elements to take into account, such as the Focus bar. It rises when you hit enemies and puts them in a vulnerable state when full. Kitase says the beginning of the game is pretty forgivable, but the Focus bar is your best friend in the later hours, as well as knowledge of various enemy's weaknesses. For example, Thunder is still effective against robots, and so on. In practice, Final Fantasy 7 is just a lot of fun to play, with plenty of turn-based elements for fans of more traditional RPGs, as well as things like shortcuts for your favorite skills and spells.

Not to mention controlling multiple characters, which is perfectly reflected in the fight with the Guard Scorpion. Barret is specialized in long distances, not crazy with its large arm cannon, and is playable at the touch of a button and a very smooth camera transition. The interaction between two characters works very well and to speed things up you can give direct commands in the Command menu. That means that you control characters indirectly without having to switch to them, and that is just nicer.

All in all, Final Fantasy 7 is one of the most impressive games of E3 2019. The remake is as authentic as it gets with the changes a classic like this deserves. The combat system is wonderfully spectacular, making it ideal for a new generation of players, while still providing plenty of depth for Final Fantasy 7 veterans. It is almost a pity that the game appears in two parts, because just after Midgar there is so much to discover in the world of the game. Moreover, the story is so compelling and gripping that you actually have to experience it all at once. Anyway, we cannot complain. Final Fantasy 7 Remake is finally on its way and seems to be a wonderful reinterpretation.

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