A few years ago something magical happened. During Sony’s 2015 E3 Press Conference, they announced a remake to a much beloved title that was first released nearly 23 years ago, Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII. Final Fantasy VII Remake is an action role-playing game that is set to be released on March 3 of this year, exclusively on PlayStation 4. In this Final Fantasy VII Remake Preview article, we will go through all of the available information about the game and tell you what we know.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Preview
Genre: Action Role-Playing Game
Developed by: Square Enix
Published by: Square Enix
Release date: March 3, 2020
Platforms: PlayStation 4
The Game History and Story
Final Fantasy VII was first released back in January 1997 for the original PlayStation console. Developed by Square (now Square Enix), it was the seventh installment in the Final Fantasy series, and the reception for Final Fantasy VII was overwhelming to put it lightly. The game was a commercial and critical success, selling over 3.2 million units in Japan alone by the end of 1997, and as of 2019, the game has sold over 12.3 million copies worldwide making it the best selling Final Fantasy game to date, paving the way for the popularization of JRPGs in the western market.
Final Fantasy VII is also one of the highest rated games in the Final Fantasy series, holding a Metacritic score of 92, and a 95% on Steam. The game was praised for its gameplay, outstanding graphics (it was the best back then), riveting story and unforgettable soundtrack. Final Fantasy VII also won multiple game awards in 1997 such as Console Adventure Game of the Year, Console Role-Playing Game of the Year, and Best Roleplaying Computer Game of 1997. It was a game like no other and is widely regarded as one of the greatest video games of all time.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is basically a HD retelling of the original Final Fantasy VII, but with a deeper emphasis on its world and characters. Part 1 is set in the city of Midgar on Gaia. Players will be following the footstep of Cloud Strife, a former Shinra solder who joined the Avalanche as a mercenary. Avalanche is an eco-terrorist group hellbent on stopping the Shinra Electric Power Company because they are responsible for draining the planet’s life energy known as the Lifestream, threatening the existence of all life on the planet.
The Gameplay Mechanics
The game is going to be a full remake, and that means going away from the turn-based system of the original game and into real-time action for both exploration and battle much like Final Fantasy XV. The game will feature an updated Active Time Battle system or ATB from the original game. In the original FF7, you could select an order or action once the ATB gauge had been filled up, after the action, its rinse and repeat until you defeat the enemy.
In the remake, players are free to move, attack, block or dodge without using the ATB gauge. The gauge will gradually fill up on its own while in battle, but it can fill faster when doing basic attacks by pressing square. To use an ATB gauge action press X, that will slow down time and bring out a commands menu where you can choose between special actions such as abilities, spells, summons, and items. Each action will consume a chunk from the ATB gauge. And of course, it’s not a Final Fantasy 7 game without limit breaks.
Limit breaks are powerful attacks that characters can perform. They are basically “ultimate” attacks, and similar to the ATB gauge, it will fill up very slowly during battle. Currently, there are two known ways of filling limit break gauge faster, and those are taking damage and by filling the enemy’s focus bar. Speaking of the Focus Bar, Stagger is back and works much like Final Fantasy 13’s stagger system, hitting enemies with certain or specific attacks or dealing large amounts of damage will temporarily knock them off-balance. Once the enemies’ focus bar is full, the enemy is staggered, and all attacks you do deal 160% damage.
Another new mechanic that was introduced in the remake is the ability to swap or switch between active party members at any time, and each party member has their own strengths and specialization. Cloud, for example, excels in close-quarters combat and melee attacks, while Barret’s specializes in ranged attacks. He can fire from safe locations and hit enemies Cloud couldn’t reach with his sword. The mechanic is similar to Final Fantasy 15’s December Update that introduced the Character Swap system, but in a more seamless manner.
To some everything up; the gameplay mechanics of Final Fantasy VII Remake are an amalgamation of past Final Fantasy games. Mainly from Final Fantasy 15, Crisis Core, Final Fantasy VII and a hint of Dissidia.
Audio and Visual
As you can see, Final Fantasy VII has come a long way. The remake will have fully polygonal graphics, instead of the pre-rendered environments of the original. Don’t get me wrong I still love the pixelated goodness that was the original FF7, but now you can see it for all its glory. Need I say more?
But unlike the FF15 it won’t be running on the in-house proprietary engine Square Enix developed, the Luminous Studio, instead, they’re opting to use the Unreal Engine 4. I know the Unreal Engine 4 has produced some of the best games around, but Luminous Studio is just so pretty to look at and I was thoroughly impressed by the engine when playing FF15. While Square Enix didn’t give any specifics on why they opted not to use their own engine, we can only assume that they made this choice to avoid delays and problems that might arise if the stayed with the Luminous Studio.
On the audio side of things, the sounds effect of Barret’s gunshots and Cloud’s sword slash are oddly gratifying, and the soundtrack from what we heard so far has been nothing but a delight. However, I do miss Final Fantasy VII – fighting especially when a battle starts. Originally, Nobuo Uematsu, the person who was responsible for composing some of the most iconic music in the Final Fantasy series, and the person who composed the original music for FF7, was not announced as a member of the team as he left Square Enix in 2004 to be an independent composer. It was later revealed the Uematsu was indeed working on the game’s music but in an undisclosed role, so we’ll have to see how much of him makes it through.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is going to be broken up into several episodes, (yes, just like the telltale games) with the first chapter focusing exclusively on Midgar. While the original FF7 only had a few hours of Midgar in the game, we have nothing to be worried here. Square Enix has promised part 1, Midgar, will be a full-sized game of its own and it alone will take up 2 dics. As Tetsuya Nomura, the Director and Designer of the game said in a blog post:
Even in this Midgar portion alone, the density and volume are so great that I had to give directions to lighten them.
As explained earlier, while Final Fantasy VII Remake has the same story, it won’t be telling it the same way. It will have a more in-depth take on the original story, and the remake will be focusing more on the world-building and character growth. The development has already started on the second part of the game but that alone doesn’t tell us anything about the release date of part 2. Maybe it’s a PS5 title anyone?
Final Fantasy VII Remake releases on March 3, 2020, exclusively on PlayStation 4. But there was a different box art that has been floating around in the internet that shows a logo that says “PlayStation Exclusive, Timed Exclusive until 3/3/21”. Square Enix has yet to confirm or deny this information. Stay tuned and we will bring you more coverage as new info releases so be sure to follow us and keep an eye on our YouTube channel.
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