By Werner Dohse
Of all the Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy VII was probably the most successful. Ask any FF fan and I’m sure that 8 out 10 would say that VII was the best iteration. So it should come as no surprise that Square Enix would cash-in on this. Thus the Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Collection: 3 games (Before Crisis – Mobile, Dirge of Cerberus – PS2 & Crisis Core – PSP), 1 movie (Advent Children) and a crap-load of merchandise (limited PSP’s and even a Potion). With the utter failure and disappointment of Dirge of Cerberus, I hoped that Square Enix would regroup and not make the same mistakes with Crisis Coreâ€¦ which I’m happy to report, they did not.
The game happens seven years before the events in Final Fantasy VII. The story revolves around Zack Flair, a SOLDIER 2nd Class with aspirations of becoming a hero. Zack is not new to the FF VII franchise; he was seen as a flashback in the original. This is his story and showcases his involvement with Sephiroth and how the Nibelheim incident came about. The story doesn’t stop there however and is quite riveting. I don’t want to say too much as just about anything would be a spoiler. What I do feel I need to add though, if you never played the original game you’ll probably feel a bit lost and the story will be a bit confusing as none of the terms (likeJenova, Materia, SOLDIER etc.) are explained.
For those that are just thinking â€œAg, another JRPGâ€, you’ll be quite surprised. The game is not in the true sense of the word a JRPG, it’s more of an action RPG. Yes, all the hectically firm-hold gelled hairstyles are still there but the battle system and level-up system are anything but what you would expect. The controls are straight forward, use the d-pad or analog nub to move the character and the face buttons to interact. When you’re not in a battle, you can use the L & R buttons to pan the camera around Zack. In battle however it is not possible to control the camera as those buttons are assigned to traversing the horizontal menu (more about this later). There are no loading/transition sequences when entering a battle; you fight right where you are.
The battle system is real-time, so you can run around (or away from) your enemy. Because it’s not a turn based system, you have a horizontal menu to select actions (as you have set them up). It’s a bit difficult to navigate in the beginning as you have to look away from the actual battle to make sure you are on the right action. (Quite a few times I wanted to heal and found myself casting some other spell). I feel they should have incorporated quick buttons using the d-pad although I’ll admit that after a while you memorize how many times to press the L/R button to get to a certain action. Limit breaks (special moves), summons and leveling-up are all controlled by the DMW (Digital Mind Wave).
This three-reeled slot system is constantly spinning, dictating the above mentioned actions, all of which are decided on various match-ups of numbers and portraits showed on the reels. In the beginning the DMW is quite confusing and it takes some time to get used too It, but It was wonderfully implemented and made most battles very interesting.
Graphics are on par for the PSP, I experienced no glitching what so ever. The CGI movies are breath-taking, you can see they took the experience gained from making Advent Children and implemented it in the game. The movies are truly amazing. The music score is excellent, although the music was not composed by Nobuo Uematsu, it fits the overall style of the world (it should be noted that some of Uematsu’s pieces do make a returnâ€¦ was quite nostalgic). There are a few issues that I feel I need to raise.
Having no control of the camera while battling was a bit irritating at times, I found that sometimes I would not be able to see the character due to the monster being in my way. Loading times for any movie sequence (be it CGI or in-game) was a bit long at some stages although having those beautifully done CGI movies made up for it.
Overall the game is a well balanced experience. Crisis Core is a great PSP game, most definitely an honour to the FF VII legacy. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for any player so I’ll just say that Crisis Core’s ending is a must see.
Gameplay: 8.5/10 [Truly unique battle system]
Presentation: 9/10 [CGI movies are breath-taking]
Sound: 8.5/10 [Indeed very nostalgic]
Value: 9/10 [The story is very powerful and emotional]
Overall: 9/10 [Go buy it now]
Last Updated: September 10, 2008