Final Fantasy VII Is Still Amazing
Call it nostalgia, call it overstating, call it a failure to recognize flaws due to fan bias. Call it whatever the hell you want. Final Fantasy VII is still freakin' amazing.
Thing is, all that great technology (which I absolutely do appreciate) hasn't only changed the way we see our video games; it has changed the way we play them, too. You just don't see games like this anymore; they're not made the same way. And you can tell Squaresoft put a ridiculous amount of time and effort into mastering the formula game makers (and specifically RPG creators) used back in the day.
It's not just turn-based that we don't have anymore; we don't have this fantastically paced, endlessly interesting and imaginative, character and story-driven RPG that isn't trying to give you more choices or freedom, that isn't trying to involve other players, and that isn't introducing elements of other genres. It's doing what Square always did best: it's telling a story, keeping you involved, and spinning it all out in a breathtaking, engaging world full of life, mystery and adventure.
People can say they don't like the first five or six hours, when you're "stuck" in Midgar and don't yet have access to the world map. But after playing through it again, I'm reminded of just how much storyline and character development is involved in that introductory section. And furthermore, look at what you do: you explore slums and a market, dress up as a girl to get into a playboy's mansion, invade Shinra HQ, and escape on a motorcycle that even involves a mini-game.
There's never a dull moment. The pacing just blows my mind. Look at the outside- from Midgar to Kalm (a huge part of the story) to the Chocobo farm to Junon to Costa del Sol to Corel the Golden Saucer to Cosmo Canyon to Nibelheim...no two places are even remotely similar, no two places have you doing the same thing, and every single design, story, and gameplay element just seems to work. Factor in the strategic aspects of the Materia and your growing party, and this is a true-blue addictive masterpiece.
I just don't know why they don't make games like this anymore. I'm not saying we don't have great RPGs; I'm just wondering why this particular format and style had to die. Too slow for the twitchers? Not flashy enough? Those answers don't make much sense; Skyrim may not be turn-based but it's hardly CoD; patience and diligence is a definite virtue, and that game shipped 10 million copies. Besides, can you imagine what some of the cut-scenes in FFVII would look like with modern graphics? Or the Summons?
I guess I just don't understand why this had to die. I may be a fan but I quickly notice games that don't age well, that just aren't the gems they were way back when. I notice them all the time. But FFVII withstands every test of time I can think of, save one: the control. In any 3D world, the analog is just always better to have. Not having the option and having to determine exactly what is up, down, left and right in parts of FFVII (like in Junon) can be just a little frustrating.
But beyond that...damn. 'cries'
12/16/2011 Ben Dutka