I got my hands on a copy of Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core a few days early and haven’t put it down except to sleep and bathe.
I know many people had reservations about a prequel to Final Fantasy VII, but I have to say not only was this game done remarkably well, but I think it really does enhance the story and characters in Final Fantasy VII. In other words, it’s not just a money cow for Square-enix to suckle dry. They actually put effort and time into the game, and it’s good.
How good? Really good.
First of all you play as the obscure Zack, Cloud’s mysterious friend from the Shinra Mansion in Final Fantasy VII.
The story is engaging right from the get go. I know some Final Fantasy games can have pretty slow "tutorial-feeling" starts, but this really isn’t the case in Crisis Core. From the moment I hit New Game I felt compelled to continue playing.
The story is not only engaging, but it’s also deep, intricate, complex... all the reasons people loved the plot in Final Fantasy VII. Character’s have pasts, involving pasts. You may mistake them for real people if it weren’t for magic, summons, and the fact that they’re living in a world controlled by a power mongering electric company.
When you run into well known main characters from Final Fantasy VII, it doesn’t feel like a cheap thrill. You actually interact with them and with their help parts of Final Fantasy VII which left you wondering "wtf?" become clear. I for one thought figure heads like Sephiroth for example would just be quick glimpses to keep you playing, but that really isn’t the case at all.
The voice acting is actually top notch. On par with Heavenly Sword, dare I say it. Also the musical score introduces not only many new immersing pieces but also higher quality remakes of some Final Fantasy VII favorites -- but I won’t spoil them for you. You’ll hear them.
Combat isn’t traditional RPG, which I thought was going to bother me. It’s something like Final Fantasy XII but better. Like they finally worked out all th kinks that made you not want to deal with a new battle system. It’s also real time, which makes fights pretty exciting.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up my professional unbiased demeanor! The game has it’s flaws, there just aren’t many.
The combat system, while fun can be a little tiring at times. I play on a fat PSP with my girly woman-hands so sometimes the fast paced battles can leave my hands sore. This would probably be less of an issue if I played on a PSP Slim, so take that how you will.
The combat involves a neat slots type system which randomly grants you bonuses and benefits during a fight, such as no MP cost (all spells are free to cast), or invincibility (immune to damage, obviously). Problem is, as I mentioned it’s random. So you may continuously wind up with useless bonuses, or totally over powered ones depending on the type of things you’re fighting against.
Also there seems to be little rhyme or reason to leveling up. If you get a 777 in the slots, you level up. If you don’t get a 777 in the slots, you don’t. This means sometimes I might level twice or more in a fight then go an hour or more at the same level despite fighting nonstop. Which can be a little annoying if you’d like to level up and breeze through a mission or something.
On the same note, I guess it prevents power levels such as myself from exploiting the system and leveling to 99 before getting to the second boss.
I’ll keep you posted as I continue playing. There’s supposedly over 100 hours worth of game play and I’m only 10 hours in.