Final Fantasy 7 Remake review – The FF7 Remake is worth the lengthy wait fans have endured
Murmurs of a Final Fantasy 7 Remake began in the early noughties, with chatter stepping up a few gears in 2005 after the PS3 FF7 tech demo and the Advent Children CGI movie dropped.
However it would only be a decade after that when Square Enix confirmed a FF7 Remake was in the works, with the much-anticipated launch coming five years further down the line.
To finally get to play the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, after so many years when it seemed like a far off, fanciful dream seems surreal.
But what is even more surreal is how Square Enix, despite the huge weight of expectation on their shoulders, has nailed every aspect of FF7R.
The Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a majestic, breathtaking JRPG that is worth every moment fans have waited for.
When you boot up FF7R and take your first steps back in Midgar one of the initial things that strikes you is just how pretty the PS4 exclusive looks.
The Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a gorgeous game, one of the best looking games of this generation that pushes the boundaries of what the PS4 is capable of.
This is highlighted by the in-game cutscenes which boast an astounding level of detail, especially in the sumptuous looking character models.
READ MORE: Final Fantasy 7 Remake release date UPDATE: Early launch news for PS4 fans
The way FF7R plays is just as impressive, with Square Enix creating a battle system that perfectly blends the best of old and new JRPGs.
The combat takes a lot of cues from Kingdom Hearts, which is to be expected of a game directed by that series’ mastermind Tetsuya Nomura.
At any one time players are in control of one party member, able to dish out physical combos with the Square button or hit X to bring up the Tactical menu.
When this happens time slows down, giving you breathing space as you figure out what spells to cast, abilities to deploy or curative items to use.
In the Tactical menu a press of the DualShock’s R2 or L2 buttons lets you issue orders to different party members, who by default are on autopilot.
So, if Cloud’s ATB meter (which is needed to perform actions) is not filled but someone else in your crew has a chunk available then you can dish out an order to them.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake review – The FF7 Remake is the most demanded game of the century
Alternatively, a press of the D-Pad lets you take direct control of other party members, which can be crucial to exploiting an enemies’ weakness.
For instance, Barret’s gun-arm is perfect for attacking airborne or long distance foes, while Aerith’s attacks are great at filling up an adversary’s stagger meter.
There are plenty of layers to FF7R’s combat system, which blends modern and traditional influences to create something fresh and entirely unique.
Besides being an intense experience, battles are also a sight to behold – aided by spectacular cinematics that feature in boss fights as well as alongside Summons.
The Final Fantasy 7 Remake only tells part of the original’s story, with Square Enix making FF7R an episodic experience.
However, that doesn’t mean the game scrimps on content, with each area of the RPG’s world significantly expanded upon.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake review – FF7R is a modern take on one of the most beloved games of all time
Sector 7 is a case in point, with Tifa and Barret’s home turned into a bustling metropolis that is just teeming with life around every corner.
Throngs of people line the streets, with Cloud able to hear their chatter as he passes by, with background dialogue helping to expand on the game’s lore.
While plenty of familiar locales from the original have also been lovingly redone with minute detail now added.
It’s easy for those that played the PS1 classic to just walk around the streets of Midgar and get lost in the new version of these well trodden sights.
Besides expanding on the vistas seen in the world of FF7, the Remake also expands upon the story.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake review – FF7R has a great combat system that blends old and new
We get to spend plenty more time with characters that had a bit part first time around, getting to know them better and learn more about their backstories.
Fans of the original will love the extra depth added to the supporting cast, while newbies may be left wondering how these extra plot points weren’t there in the first place.
Other fresh content in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake includes side missions, which in the main are a welcome addition that introduce you to more of Midgar’s colourful characters.
But there are the occasional missions which feel like a chore and laborious – with the main culprit being the drawn-out Wall Market fetch quest with Johnny.
Elsewhere, the only other quibble would be there are times when the level design can feel lacking and repetitive – with chapter 6’s never ending steel structures a case in point.
However. these are just minor contrivances when looking at the quality of the overall package.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake review – Battles in FF7 are spectacular, with Summons a sight to behold
The original Final Fantasy 7 is one of the most beloved games of all time, a special title which helped define the PS1 era and what Western gamers expect of a JRPG.
To say anticipation was huge for the Remake would be an understatement – FF7R is arguably the most demanded game of the century.
And with great expectation comes the terrifying risk of disappointing the legion of fans making such demands.
Yet somehow Square Enix, FF7R director Nomura-san and producer Yoshinori Kitase have managed to walk that tightrope to deliver something truly exceptional.
For me, Final Fantasy 7 is a game I hold extremely dear to my heart – one of my favourite games of all time with a soundtrack capable of bringing a tear to my eye even to this day.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake review – FF7R expands on the original in new and meaningful ways
With the Remake, it feels like the devs took a peak inside my head, saw how I dreamt FF7 could look when built with modern tech and spent millions making that vision come to life.
And for that I am forever grateful, and I’m confident there will be countless other fans who will feel exactly the same.
The Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a lovingly crafted adventure that not only honours the original but expands upon it in meaningful ways.
Those new to FF7 won’t get the nostalgia hit that fans who played the original will, but they will get one of the most polished, finely tuned games of this generation.
The Final Fantasy 7 Remake is an absolute triumph, an essential purchase which – like its forebearer – will come to define what fans expect of a JRPG.