Something that I learn from years of playing video games is that not every game that I enjoy playing will get a sequel. So to my surprise when I had heard that Final Fantasy VII, one of my favorite games from my middle school years, was not only getting a sequel but a prequel as well as a movie. As much as I enjoy Final Fantasy VII, I never really got into its sequel, Dirge of Cerberus, due to the fact that I kept dying within the first ten minutes of the game, and I really suck at shooter games. So don’t expect me to review that game any time soon, let alone a shooter.
However, I really enjoy its prequel, Crisis Core. When I first heard about it, I thought that we would see some events before the original game through the eyes of Sephiroth, and see how he changed to the villain that we all know. I soon found out that I was half right. We do see several events before Final Fantasy VII as well as Sephiroth’s change, but we play as Zack Fair, a Soldier who only appeared in flashbacks in the original game. At first, I was surprise that we get to play him since it’s easy to forget him due to Final Fantasy VII’s overall story. In the end, I’m glad that Square Enix is letting Zack have a time to shine.
The plot of Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core is very simple. We follow Zack Fair during his time in Soldier until his death. And that’s it. I believe that there are two reasons for this. The first reason is for the player to get to know Zack due to his lack of appearance in the original game and his unfortunate fate. Zack has a positive attitude, is energetic, and always is looking forward to work. Also, he wasn’t the original owner of the Buster Sword. The sword was original owned by another Soldier named Angeal who’s also Zack’s mentor.
The second reason is to expand the world of Final Fantasy VII a little bit more. For example, we learn a little more about the Jenova Project. In Final Fantasy VII, we learn that, about thirty years before the game, a company called Shinra discovers the frozen remains of a creature who Shinra dubs Jenova. Believing that Jenova is part of a certain race known as the Cetra, Shinra has its scientists to inject Jenova’s cells into people to create human-Cetra hybrids who will lead them to the Promised Land as well as to create super soldiers for their elite military force known as Soldier. To our knowledge, Sephiroth was the only successful one.
In Crisis Core, we learn that there are two other members of Soldier who were successful in the project name Angeal and Genesis. We also learn that the project was divided into two branches, Project S and Project G. Sephiroth was part of Project S which was led by Hojo. Angeal and Genesis were part of Project G which was led by Dr. Hollander.
When I first played Crisis Core, I was iffy about how this game would handle the Nibelheim incident which is an important event in the original game, and is something that I had a gut feeling was going to appear in this game. In Final Fantasy VII, we learned that, five years before the game, Cloud returned to his hometown, Nibelheim, with Sephiroth, Zack and a trooper to check out the reactor in the nearby mountain. While there, Sephiroth discovers his “true” origin which leads him to go insane, and destroys Nibelheim. In Crisis Core, this incident plays out like in the original game. However, there is one minor difference which is the brief appearance of Genesis. After playing the game, I like how this game handles this event. It shows what we know from the original game, and adds its own flavor.
There are two things that surprised me while playing this game. The first thing is the graphics which are amazing even now for being on the PlayStation Portable. Because of how great the graphics are, there were times that I would catch myself questioning on why this game was on the PlayStation Portable instead of being on the PlayStation 3. The second thing is the ending. After hearing that we’re going to play as Zack, I knew even before playing this game that it will end with Zack’s death. However, what I didn’t expect is how epic his death will be. In Final Fantasy VII, we only see a few Shinra’s troopers shooting Zack. However, in Crisis Core, Zack dies while fighting a large group of Shinra’s troopers. I have to say that I really like how this game handles his death than in the original game. I have always felt that it was weird that only a couple of troopers had taken a high ranking solder out, but seeing that it was almost the whole army taking Zack out makes more sense to me.
Now, there are some characters from Final Fantasy VII who do make an appearance in this game. As much as I like seeing younger versions of those characters, I do like the new characters since they get the most development. Hell, we meet the director of Soldier. I have to say that it’s a nice touch to Angeal’s and Genesis’s development which both suffer from lost and identity like Sephiroth and Cloud in Final Fantasy VII. Throughout this game, Genesis rebels against Shinra to find a cure to his genetic degradation while seeing himself, Sephiroth, and Angeal as the three heroes from a poem called LOVELESS. As for Angeal, after learning about the circumstances of his birth, he starts to feel more like the perfect monster instead of the perfect soldier. Now that I think about it, Zack is the only one who is true to himself and his dreams even to the very end. It’s almost like the theme of this game is to embrace your dreams.
Some of you may be wondering if it’s better to play Final Fantasy VII before play Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. In my opinion, you don’t need to. Crisis Core is a good game without playing and/or knowing anything about the original game. Sure, there are some things that people who have played that game will enjoy little nods in this game like seeing familiar characters and the Nibelheim incident. But it’s not necessary.
There are some things that are different from the original like the combat and how Zack levels up and uses the limit break. In Final Fantasy VII, the combat is turn base which makes sense since the player is controlling multiple characters. However, in Crisis Core, the combat is in real time since the player is only controlling Zack. The combat controls in this game are similar to the Kingdom Hearts series where you scroll through a command menu and select an action like using an item or casting a spell. To level up and to activate the limit break, there is a slot machine called the Digital Mind Wave (DMW) which appears in the upper left corner of screen whenever you’re in battle, and it spin continuously and stops randomly. It also used to summon monsters.
There is one complaint I have, and it’s more of a nitpick. It’s hard to tell when some time has pass. For example, I figured that Crisis Core would start about a few months to a year before the Nibelheim incident. However, some other reviewers and fan sites states that the game starts seven years before Final Fantasy VII. Maybe it’s has been stated, and I simply didn’t notice.
With that all said, I do recommend Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core a must try even if you haven’t play a rpg before let alone a Final Fantasy game. Of this review, the cost of this game is about $20 to $30.