Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Limit Break: Why Splitting the Final Fantasy VII Remake into Multiple Parts May Be a Good Thing

The initial reveal of the Final Fantasy VII remake was met with seemingly unanimous applause just a few months ago. Now that details of its release format and gameplay have been revealed, it seems fans have become a bit divided over this bold reimagining. I have yet to complete the original PS1 version of Final Fantasy VII, but the good third or so of it that I have played, I very much enjoyed. I still prefer Final Fantasy IV, but I cannot deny how well VII has aged, nor can I deny its role as one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed video games of all time.

Which brings me to my first point: given just how well-liked Final Fantasy VII is, someone somewhere was going to be let down with at least one decision or another. It’s the nature of the beast, and probably part of the reason that Square Enix was so apprehensive to try and recreate this game in years past. Even less heavily altered updates to classic games like the 3DS ports of the N64 Legend of Zelda titles were met with criticisms regarding changes made to their save systems and the inclusion of helpful hints for gamers who may have been too young to have experienced Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask during their original release.

Also, Final Fantasy VII is a very large game, in both scale and assets. This can be said about most Final Fantasy titles, yes, but each of the areas that Cloud and company visit are full of detail, with many rooms or sections to explore, not to mention the vast expanses beyond the walls of Midgar. And given that the developers intend to add more content than was originally included in the PS1 release, it kind of makes sense that they would want to take their time and stagger the release process instead of dropping it all at once, with less content than they had planned. So long as the remake of Final Fantasy VII is released in reasonably-sized chunks at a relatively consistent rate, I see no problem with this plan. If anything, the feedback Square Enix receives from each installment will help to improve their efforts on the next one.

I admit, I’m not entirely sold on their decision to utilize a new battle system. In my opinion, ATB is one of the best battle systems in any JRPG to date, and as the old saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” At the same time, the recent gameplay trailer only offered us quick glimpses of the new battle system, and I don’t think anyone outside of Square Enix is entirely sure as to how the combat works just yet.

I’m a big fan of the character designs for Cloud and Barret. Barret is a reasonably-proportioned human instead of some cartoonish hulking goliath, while Cloud looks tall and thin, much like his in-battle character model from the PS1 version. I feel their voices are also incredibly appropriate, and so far (fingers crossed that this carries on through the rest of the remake) Barret does not appear to act the part of the racist caricature that he was in an era gone by. Obviously, only time will tell how the ultimate end product looks and plays, but I feel that this remake has quite the potential to do its original incarnation justice, and perhaps even improve upon some of the world’s locations and character interactions.

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