Among the wide array of games part of both the Final Fantasy VII compilation and the franchise as a whole, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII can be considered one of the best as well as one of the most beloved, as the game managed to set a new standard for its platform, all while delivering to all one of the most personal and emotional experiences in the franchise.
Given that, it was no surprise that the reveal of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion, which promised to bring the title to PC and both current and last-gen consoles, now with up-to-date graphics and a wide array of improvements , feels the expectations of the fans to the sky. But did Square Enix manage to do justice to what made the original so beloved?
A New Standard for the Franchise
In Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion, we are able to once again experience the story of Zack Fair, from his days as a SOLDIER 2nd Class to the events leading up to Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII Remake, all while delving deep into the story of many of the series’ most iconic faces and presenting to players a new host of characters. With that said, the first thing which caught our eye when starting Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion was the game’s overall presentation, as Square Enix managed to completely knock it out of the park and set a new high for its future remasters by making use of new technologies in order to bring the environments to life through the use of both remastered assets as well as that of new and improved models, many of which were remade from the ground up.
Through and through, as many already expected through the materials showcased by the game’s marketing team, the graphical improvements are truly stunning and can be seen from the application of highly polished lighting and shadow effects, all the way to the game’s high-quality textures, reflective surfaces, and new and improved character models.
Overall, being able to see the new visuals of characters such as Cissnei, Angeal, and even more of Zack himself in way more detail through Unreal Engine 4 technologies is truly an almost unexplainable delight, especially for those familiar with the original PSP title.
As a true remaster, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion’s stunning presentation is paired with the return of the original’s acclaimed soundtrack, signed by Ishimoto Takeharu, which, just like the Buster Sword, still hits just as hard and manages to transcend its media in a way very few in gaming can. Truly, even today, 15 years after the original release of Crisis Core, “The Price of Freedom” continues to be one of the most fantastic pieces I ever heard, no matter the medium in question. The game’s theme song, “Why,” performed and written by Ayaka (Tales of Arise), may very well be one of the most instantly recognized pieces in the whole Final Fantasy franchise.
The game also features an improved UI, now featuring new artworks and a style heavily inspired by the one showcased in the Remake series. This change is welcome, as it does its job in both making the game’s mechanics less overwhelming and truly establishing what is very likely set to be adopted by all post-Remake Final Fantasy VII-related projects.
The Game’s Unique Experience, Now Better than Ever
Different from fully fledged remakes, remasters likely feature the same core experience featured in the original title, thus sharing both its successes and on many occasions, its shortcomings. With that said, the way in which Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion’s developers actively implemented a wide array of both quality-of-life and welcoming gameplay-oriented mechanics brought to life the definitive version of its unique combat, while also giving a boost to its gearing and social mechanics—all of which are the main cores of the experience.
To be more specific, the reason the additions are so successful is that they do not drastically alter the core experience and were instead focused on adding new layers to an already fantastic system. A great example of one such addition was the ability to make use of shortcuts while in combat.
As many will be experiencing Zack’s story for the first time through the remaster, it is vital to point out that differently from most JRPGs, you will only be able to level up both your character level and your equipped Materia by managing to get specific number combinations thought the game’s DMW system. This system works like a slot machine that will continue to roll during combat and provide players with stat changes, buffs, and powerful abilities.
The confection of new and more powerful Materia is also one of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion’s most vital mechanics, as Zack will be able to gain a wide array of more powerful Materia and effects through it.
It’s also vital to point out that another of the game’s most unique features lies in the way players can experience and unlock most of the side stories by reading emails in order to unlock missions, all of which can be accessed through the menu and save points respectively. This feature fits the narrative perfectly, as it stays true to Zack’s occupation as a SOLDIER. On a side note, I cannot emphasize enough that completing missions in Crisis Core is a must, as they will be the only way in which players will be able to get items such as Summoning Materia and rare types of equipmentso don’t neglect your emails or the mission board.
Some emails will only become available after players meet certain characters in the field or as part of sub-events exclusively available during set chapters or locations. Some missions, on the other hand, can only be unlocked, in true RPG fashion, by talking to NPCs in set areas.
What About Performance?
Regarding the overall flow of the game when exploring and completing missions as well as its overall performance, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion offers a solid and extremely fluid experience through the presence of real-time encounters and the lack of frequent loading screens. During our playthrough, we did not notice any FPS drops outside of some selected cutscenes.
At least in the PS5 version, the loading screens were only featured when accepting missions or when either transitioning into or skipping cutscenes.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is a perfect example of a remaster done right, as the game brings Zack’s story to a new generation of consoles in a way that both preserves the original’s experience and improves upon it in every way, thanks to the addition of a few new mechanics and features, as well it’s stunning overall presentation.
Overall, the game is a must-play for all JRPG fans, as well as the perfect entree for all of those who, like us, are anxiously waiting for the release of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. Just don’t forget to bring the tissues and crack the volume up to eleven!
This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game’s publisher, public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.
– This article was updated on December 13th, 2022