Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion | Review – Return to Midgar

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Pau Monfort
@paumonfort
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Playing this re-release of Crisis Core was a real journey back in time for me. A not very happy time to tell the truth, that of the second half of the 2000s, when my great affection for the original Final Fantasy VII was repeatedly bored by the various works of its Compilation, for the most part disappointing.

The original Crisis Core, which arrived in 2008, is still very ambiguously remembered by fans today, but in general it is considered one of the best components of the Compilation at best, or at least one of the best titles on the PSP. However, in hindsight it is not such a flattering compliment, considering the level or quantity of the competitors.



I approached Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion with an open mind: I was ready both to find the same title that partially disappointed me almost 25 years ago, and to be surprised, to re-evaluate it in a new light.

Leaving aside for a moment the classic judgment on the game itself, what struck me the most is that succeeds, unexpectedly solidly, a unite within it two historical identities of Square Enix: the unscrupulous one of those past years, very dedicated to churning out numerous games (and disseminating them on various consoles) often lacking in inspiration and substance, and the current Square Enix, which perhaps still makes questionable choices (true, The First Soldier?), but which at least knows how to dedicate the right care to its main titles, as we have seen with Final Fantasy VII Remake, and as Final Fantasy XVI seems to promise.


Remaster: level up

Let's try to unravel a question that is not really important, but which will surely be afflicting many of you: is Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion a remaster or a remake? Technically it is more correct (or less wrong) to call it a remaster, however it is also true that it is something more, but not enough to be a remake.


All the playful structures, as well as the story, are the same as the original PSP title. To be "redone" was a large part of the graphic sector and the dubbing, as well as some adjustments here and there.

It is clear that a real remake project would have required an extraordinarily higher effort and budget, among other things going to slow down the work for the sequels of FFVII Remake. Yet, despite its "lateral" status, Square Enix has gone to great lengths to make Crisis Core up to modern graphics standards, engineering a new way of remastering.

Instead of simply increasing the resolution and tweaking the textures, the development team has recreated the polygonal models of the characters from scratch, giving them an infinitely higher level of detail than the original and making them more expressive. Were then implemented a whole series of graphics improvements, from assets to lighting, and even added some brand new cinematics for Summons.

The glance is absolutely impressive, and all of the art direction, but also the menus and the interface, visibly recalls the style orchestrated for Final Fantasy VII Remake, helping to re-establish a pleasant sense of graphic continuity.


  • Although the reference level is that, obviously don't expect a graphic quality of the same level as FFVII Remake, also because the limits of what is basically a PSP game remain the same. It's easy to remember this by looking at the still rough animations of the characters, or the level of detail of the NPCs, much lower than the models of the main characters; the settings are more detailed, but still remain small, bare and almost completely devoid of any possibility of interaction.


    The cutscenes related to the story have been taken from the original version, suitably optimized; this obviously gives rise to a slight grainy effect, yet I have to admit they weren't quite the eyesore I had imagined.

    The commitment made by Square Enix also involved the audio sector. Not only the voice acting of the main characters has been redone (in English and Japanese), contributing among other things to the continuity with FFVII Remake, but with the occasion the lines that in the original had remained relegated to texts were also dubbed.

    The soundtrack, which was already one of the strengths of Crisis Core on PSP, has been rearranged by composer Takeharu Ishimoto and always does a good job of engaging both during cutscenes and during fights. Too bad nothing has been done to avoid the annoying sense of repetition for the side missions.

    Embrace the truth

    As already reiterated in the preview of the title, the story has not undergone any alterations of any kind. And no, there isn't even a "corrective" ending that ties into Final Fantasy VII Remake. The narrative system has been kept in all respects faithful to the original for PSP, with all its strengths and (many) defects.


    If you have no idea what Crisis Core is about, it is easy to say: it is a prequel to the events of FFVII which has the protagonist Zack Fair, SOLDIER 2nd class of the Shinra. The adventure that runs includes only a few key events of the main storyline which mainly concern the past of Cloud and Sephiroth. However, the bulk of the story is a separate story with new characters involved.

    Without going into unnecessary details or slipping into spoilers, Zack's mission is to stop the rebellion of Genesis Rhapsodos, a former 1st class SOLDIER who deserted the ranks of Shinra bringing with him a large number of troops loyal to him. However, Genesis is also one of the few friends of Sephiroth and Angeal, Zack's personal mentor, and his betrayal has to do with Shinra's bad habit of using genetic engineering in an unscrupulous way in order to create their own "perfect soldiers". ” powered by Mako energy.


    Unfortunately the narrative aspect of Crisis Core has multiple critical issues and listing them all would make for a boundless rant. I'll just say that his story is unnecessarily confusing and questionably written, the characterization and development of the characters are mediocre and in some cases even annoying (I'm looking at you, Genesis). Among the most unforgivable things there is even a partial retcon of the events related to the original Final Fantasy VII.

    However, there are some aspects that are saved. Crisis Core gives us the opportunity to observe aspects that remained in the shadows in the original lore, such as the kind of person Sephiroth was before he sank into madness, Zack's friendship with Cloud and relationship and Aerith. Then there is a nostalgic pleasure in revisiting some iconic locations, especially the whole area of ​​Nibelheim which in the new graphic design is even more loaded with memories and gives us a small taste of what we can expect in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.

    Random honor

    As anticipated at the beginning of the review, the play system of Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion is basically the same as the original, which, to be honest, didn't already shine in 2008. We are talking about an action RPG with classic dynamics , which very well declined the Materia System in a much more dynamic context.

    Square Enix has nevertheless done its best to implement the original formula and the game has gained considerably in the dynamism of the fights. The hit combos and the dance of parries and dodges are now more responsive and fluid, even if there are some traces of the woodiness of the original.

    Hand in hand, the level of challenge posed by the enemies has obviously been adjusted, even if it must be considered that it never rises too much, indeed the AI ​​of the enemies leaves much to be desired. A welcome addition to the Reunion version's combat system is the ability to debuff or even interrupt boss special attacks.

    The developers have optimized the interface and game controls, entrusting most of the actions - especially spells and skills - to key combinations. While the gimmick isn't as ideal as FFVII Remake's comfortable battle system, it's a commendable touch.

    Of course, the detestable OMD (Digital Mental Wave) system is always present, ie the "mental" slot machine which, depending on the results, can give Zack a series of bonuses during fights or allow the use of Limit Break or Summon. A textbook example of what NOT to do in game design. The good news is that special attacks are now not triggered automatically, like in the original game, but the player decides when to launch them. And moreover it is possible to skip the cutscenes, avoiding interrupting the action continuously.

    For the rest we must keep in mind that it is still a game designed for a portable console, with all the necessary limits and a structure designed to favor short matches. Particularly anachronistic are the mini-games and secondary missions set in small corridor maps repeated to the point of exasperation.


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