Reviews - Updated on December 26, 2022

Square Enix continues to do what it did in the decade before last – turns Final Fantasy VII into a separate brand. After the release of the remake in 2020, she released The First Soldier mobile battle royale (which will close in a couple of weeks), next year there will be another mobile game – Ever Crisis, and now we have a re-release of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, one of the best exclusives PSP. They didn’t invest as much effort and money in the project as in a full-fledged remake of the “seven”, but you can’t call it a classic remaster either.

Neither a remake nor a remaster

It’s hard not to notice how much the graphics have been improved here compared to the original. The CG videos recorded back in 2007 were not remade from scratch, limiting themselves to color correction, but everything else looks much more modern. The character models are similar to those in the FFVII remake, the monsters are much more detailed, the locations too – thanks to Unreal Engine 4. An unknowing person may not even understand which game the screenshot is in front of him – from the remaster or from Final Fantasy VII Remake.

At the same time, if you do not take into account the better textures and effects, the ears of a fifteen-year-old game stick out from everything else in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion. Having updated the picture, the developers left for the most part the previous animations, and the awkward movements of the characters do not fit well with modern models. It’s not as noticeable in the in-engine cutscenes, but it’s obvious outside of them, and that’s one of the reasons why this remaster wasn’t called a remake.

On the PSP, one could only dream of such rocks.

On the PSP, one could only dream of such rocks.

Much more strongly the age of the game gives out the gameplay, which was transferred almost in its original form. Since this is a project from a portable console, its structure is appropriate: the story chapters last no more than two hours, the story as a whole is not very long, and in addition to the main tasks there are several hundred additional challenges, each of which does not take much time – ideal for traveling in public transport or waiting in line. When you play the game on a home console, in front of which you are used to sitting for several hours, such a structure seems strange – the same tests are too monotonous to make you want to spend a lot of time on them.

The story missions themselves were also not touched – the journey through the linear locations is constantly interrupted by either the next cut-scene or the battle. Very rarely you can catch your breath here, the pace is fast – apparently, again, the portable origin affects, because the player wanted to show as much as possible before he turned off the console or ran out of charging. The story does not sag and there is always something to do, but at the same time, these breaks in the middle of the game start to tire. Especially because the battles in the game are random, that is, before the start of the battle, you very rarely see danger on the road.

Sephiroth of this casino

Luckily, fighting monsters isn’t boring thanks to the redesigned combat system. If fights were a dreary sight on the PSP, then in the remaster – the triumph of special effects. The protagonist puts a block and rolls, sparks fly from sword strikes, you can use magical techniques (“materials”) at any time – do not switch between them, as before, but hold down the button and quickly call up a menu with all equipped abilities. But the main thing is a system called Digital Mind Wave (DMW), which from now on does not stop the battle, but continues to work in parallel with your actions in battle.

DMW repeats the principle of how slot machines work: while you are fighting someone, reels with images of characters and creatures that the protagonist meets as he progresses through the story spin in the corner of the screen. If three identical images fell out, you can activate the help of a friend: someone will attack all opponents from the air, someone will temporarily allow you to deal critical damage with each hit, and someone will completely heal you. Creature calls (“summons”) are arranged in exactly the same way, but if it is enough for people to go through the story campaign, then for the sake of creatures it is necessary to complete additional missions.

In the original, the essence was the same, but everything looked much simpler.

In addition to images, there are numbers on the reels, and they also affect your abilities in battle. If three sevens are rolled, you will become invulnerable for 15 seconds. If among all the numbers there is only one seven in the middle, then for some time magic techniques will not consume mana. And if all deuces fall out, then mana will not be required until the very end of the battle. There are about a dozen combinations in total, so you get bonuses relatively often.

While this “one-armed bandit” has a plot explanation, the system is debatable. A fight with the same monster can take place in completely different scenarios, depending on luck. If a strong opponent has a weakness to some element and you can “spam” materials for a long time without losing mana, then it will be much easier than without such a bonus. At the same time, Crisis Core has the ability to increase the chances of dropping certain images – if you especially like some of the effects.

For how you spent and completed the next battle, they will give an increase to the characteristics for the next skirmish. A particularly tangible bonus will be for a battle without taking damage.

Another interesting feature of the game opens at the beginning of the third chapter, when you can not only equip your favorite materials in your inventory, but also mix them. This opens up a lot of new possibilities in combat, as some materials can only be obtained in this way. Now, when Crisis Core is already more than 15 years old, all the ideal combinations have long been discovered – the developers did not change anything. But if you prefer to experiment and not look for clues on the Internet, the fusion system will become a kind of game within the game, for which you will want to complete as many side trials as possible – there are many matters among the prizes.

What was before

All this makes the battles spectacular, dynamic and exciting, especially when you compare the remaster with the original. The same can be said about the plot: Crisis Core is a prequel to Final Fantasy VII, and players for whom the remake was the entry point to this universe will learn a lot of interesting things. We control not Cloud, but Zack, a member of the elite combat squad SOLDIER, which the Shinra Organization sends out on the most difficult missions. That is, we can study all this villainous cuisine from the inside, including finding out what happened to Sephiroth and why he became the main antagonist of the Seven.

The only thing that bothered me a little about the plot was Zach’s behavior. The writers obviously wanted to make him the exact opposite of Cloud – Zack loves to joke and has not forgotten how to enjoy the little things. However, sometimes the dialogue with his participation causes shame – although this is true for some other heroes, Zack looks like a fool more often than others, and with outdated animations, such scenes seem especially ridiculous. But other than that, Crisis Core is an enjoyable adventure for two dozen hours, allowing you to look at updated versions of locations that we did not see in the FFVII remake, but will see in its sequel with the subtitle Rebirth.

What’s wrong with you, Zach?

It is worth noting that Square Enix paid special attention to voice acting. If some characters of the game met in the FFVII remake, then here they speak in the voices of the same actors. So the actor who voiced Zach also changed. At times it seems that the game itself was not shown to him, and he reads some remarks not quite with those emotions. In general, he does a good job, although this is a matter of taste – the fans of the original Crisis Core disliked him.

The sixteenth “final game” will be released only in six months, the continuation of the remake of Final Fantasy VII will have to wait God knows how long – if you are hungry for the series and are unfamiliar with Crisis Core, Reunion is worth a try. It’s not a great spin-off, but it’s a good and not too long JRPG. In a full-fledged remake, she did not need – not the level. However, the remaster turned out to be not quite standard – here, not only the graphics became many times better, but the combat system got rid of many of the shortcomings of the original.

Pros: a good story about the events before Final Fantasy VII; updated graphics make the old portable game look like a remake of the “seven”; redesigned combat system with convenient innovations; the game is fully voiced by the actors who gave voices to the characters in the FFVII remake.

Cons: The structure of the plot, side missions and locations seems outdated – it suits a portable game, but not a console one; elements of randomness in battles look strange; not all narrative elements are well preserved.

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