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Test: Final Fantasy VII on the PS1

If there are works of art that stand the test of time in the eyes of the public, there are also games that do not go out of fashion in the hearts of players. The great lineage of the Final Fantasy is undoubtedly part of this category of titles that will have over time, impose their law in the world of video games, and for some of its representatives to enter the pantheon of cult games. It is certainly the case of Final Fantasy VII, great RPG if it is, adulated by many players around the world, and subject of this test. What is it really? What are the specificities of this title? What has made its real name? Back on a milestone in the history of video games.

If there are works of art that stand the test of time in the eyes of the public, there are also games that do not go out of fashion in the hearts of players. The great lineage of the Final Fantasy is undoubtedly part of this category of titles that will have over time, impose their law in the world of video games, and for some of its representatives to enter the pantheon of cult games. It is certainly the case of Final Fantasy VII, great RPG if it is, adulated by many players around the world, and subject of this test. What is it really? What are the specificities of this title? What has made its real name? Back on a milestone in the history of video games.

Screenshot-Final fantasy VII on the PS1
The ATB gauge, the limits and the materia make the richness of the combat system.

After a magnificent introductory cinematic introducing us briefly, thanks to an ingenious traveling shot, the city where the title will begin, namely Midgar, we discover the hero who will play during (almost) all the adventure. Called Clad (or Cloud in VO), we see him emerging from a train around what looks like a gigantic gray reactor, accompanied by a mysterious group called Avalanche. The leader of this group invites us to follow him, and we are embarked on the adventure, with no more indication of who Clad is, what he does there, or the universe in which he lives. After quickly discovering the combat system and getting acquainted with some secondary characters, we are led to play the “terrorists” and to blow up a bomb that will be used to destroy the reactor in which we find ourselves. It is on this departure for the least explosive that the story begins. Avalanche is in fact a kind of green group, which claims that these reactors draw the energy of the planet (Mako energy), and that the only way to save it is to stop the activity of all the reactors, no matter the way. Avalanche is opposed to the Shinra, political, economic and military entity that governs the planet, and whose capital, Midgar, draws its resources from Mako. Final Fantasy VII is inspired by a subject that is still relevant today: ecology, even if it is extremely reductive, because the title of Squaresoft is far from being limited to this aspect.

Most environments are beautiful in Final Fantasy VII
Most environments are beautiful.

Please forgive this ellipse, but to describe even the basic postulate of Final Fantasy VII in a few lines is not easy! Let’s look at its gameplay instead . Like any RPGself-respecting, Final Fantasy VII includes an exemplary freedom of action and movement once out of the city of Midgar. Indeed, we find ourselves on a gigantic playground, the map of the world, where the entire planet can be traveled. Of course, it will be necessary to advance in the scenario to access little by little the new cities and other new continents, but it is clear that the feeling of freedom is at its peak for the time! We are indeed leader of a small troop going on an adventure to change the world, and who will face all kinds of monsters to achieve it. Exactly, let’s linger for a moment on the ingenious FFVII combat system. In addition to offering players to customize the equipment of each of the characters (weapons, armor, and accessories that can be bought in different stores), the game introduces the system of materas, kind of small spheres of colour that give the wearer magic powers and various skills (attack magic, defense, invocations, special skills, etc.). The strategic aspect of the title makes sense, because it becomes possible to associate certain materials between them to obtain many devastating effects.

But the big slap that was Final Fantasy VII when it was released in Europe was not just about playability. Graphically, it was unheard of. The game was based on a system of precomputed decors and a 3D world map, in the manner of its successors on PSOne. The environments were breathtakingly beautiful due to their level of detail and diversity. Indeed, each corner of the world then had its own architectures (for example, the City of the Ancients, or the Utaï village, very typical Asian, which are wonders for the eyes). In these sets, only the characters were represented in three dimensions. Super deformed type (that is to say, small pace and not very realistic), they fit well enough in the universe, although their modeling has aged a lot today. Note in passing that Final Fantasy VIII, his successor, had changed a little direction at this level by proposing much more realistic characters. This seventh part remains nevertheless the first to offer not less than one hour of cinematics in 3D coming to decorate the very long unfolding of history.

Final Fantasy VII gold saucer screenshot
The Gold Saucer, paradise of the players – Screenshot

Be careful, do not see in the adjective “long” any pejorative form. On the contrary! The main strength of Final Fantasy VII lies in its ability to tap you for many hours in front of your small CRT TV connected to the console. If you plan to finish the title in a straight line without performing any side quest and following only the main frame, the game will keep you in suspense between 20 and 30 hours on average. And if you want to finish the game in its entirety, that is, beat the optional bosses (some of which are much more powerful than the bossfinal), finish all the mini-games (unlock the famous Gold Chocobo for example), get all the weapons and armor and all the materia, then increase in power these, and also mount your nine characters (including two optional ones ) at maximum levels, you can double or triple this lifetime. Final Fantasy VII will keep you going from start to finish, whether you are a casual player wanting to calmly follow the main storyline, or a more passionate player who wants to do everything 100%.

End this test with a word on the soundtrack of the game and more particularly on his music composed by Nobuo Uematsu, faithful to the series since its inception. The master composer has signed no less than 85 tracks, some of which are beautiful and have remained in the memory of many players (“A One-Winged Angel”, the mythical music of Sephiroth, is certainly the best known of all) . Needless to say, the game has no dubbing, which would not have anyway in the three CDs. Final Fantasy VII is in fact a whole, more than a game, a work of art that combines scenario with ultra charismatic characters, graphics and aesthetics sumptuous and not out of date, colossal life, and extraordinary sound.

The notes

  • Graphics 17/20

    Although the title has aged in many ways, including the modeling of characters that is now ready to smile, the game has lost none of its superb and its artistic quality. It is clear that some precomputed decorations have not aged. The cutscenes remain very watchable, although we do not reach the level of the eighth and ninth shutters.

  • Playability 18/20

    The material system is considered by many players as one of the best magic systems in the Final Fantasy saga. In addition, the string of objects, weapons and armor to harvest offers a great customization of playable protagonists. The menus also allow you to set your own keys, change the color of the dialog boxes, change the speed of the battles, and so on. Everyone can easily take control of FFVII and have fun quickly.

  • Life expectancy 18/20

    The lifespan of Final Fantasy VII far exceeded that of the previous parts thanks to the presence of substantial side quests. Count between 20 and 30h to complete the game in a straight line, and more than triple to complete the round. There are so many things to do in the game, and a lot of things to unlock. However, sometimes you will not escape the tedious but necessary level-up technique to make your protagonists powerful enough to pass some recalcitrant enemies.

  • Soundtrack 18/20

    The themes concocted by Nobuo Uematsu are a real treat for the ears. Although the songs are not orchestrated, some melodies will remain etched in the memory of many players. We regret anyway the lack of sound effects, some of rather poor quality.

  • Scenario 18/20

    The scenario of Final Fantasy VII is too rich to make a complete summary in a few lines. It is relatively catchy and features a lot of very charismatic characters. In addition, each of the nine characters in the group has a story of its own, and it is interesting to see the evolution of relationships between them.

If Final Fantasy VII has reached a certain age, it remains one of the major titles in the world of RPG and even video games in general. Long, catchy and extremely complete, it is still essential today and must be part of your toy library if you do not have it yet.

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